Although most houseplant pests are small enough to fly under your radar, the thought of any insects invading your home is enough to make your skin crawl. So how do you keep these pests from invading your home and killing your plants?
Here are three of the most common houseplant pests and how to deal with them.
3 Common Houseplant Pests
These uniquely slender, black or yellow-bodied insects take up residence on a plant and soon the plant is discolored and deformed. “Thrips” is a broad term for what is more commonly known as “sucking” pests. They use their rasping mouths to feed on new buds and draw out the sap from every part of the plant. Luckily, they’re easy to get rid of if you catch them early enough! Here are four steps you should follow to get rid of thrips on your houseplant:
- Isolate. Thrips are opportunistic and will travel from pot to pot
- Spray with water. Soap is not necessary as it could remove the plant’s protective wax
- Eliminate. Use drops of rubbing alcohol to kill off the insects for good
- Inspect. Routinely check for more, especially during March and June
As the name suggests, you know you’ve got a whitefly infestation if you see white specks accumulating on the underside of your plant’s leaves. Much like thrips, the whiteflies are sucking pests. They suck on nutrient-rich sap leading to the plant’s eventual death. As they do their work, the plant will yellow, growth will be stunted and an obvious white cloud will appear. So, what gets rid of them?
- Fungus, specifically, beauveria bassiana. This fungus will weaken the insect’s immune system and cause death. It is sold under brand names Naturalis O and Botaniguard.
- Insecticide. Use pyrethrin, diazinon and malathion. Follow the label’s instructions and be cautious if treating your plants.
3. Spider Mites
Without a close examination of your plants, you may never know these pests are living in your home. Spider mites are microscopic animals, so they cannot be seen by the naked eye until they’ve already done their damage. An indicator of spider mites is a silver shine on the underside of the leaves, indicating loss of sap. They spin tiny webs that prevent topical treatment from reaching the leaves. Tips for getting rid of spider mites include:
- Inspect. Remember those tiny webs we talked about? If you spray a mist of water over your plant and hold it up to the light, you can see those webs, which indicates the presence of spider mites.
- Treatment. Mix three tablespoons of liquid dish soap with one gallon of water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray your plant and rinse any soap solution off the leaves within a few hours to reduce the risk of leaf burn.
- Repetition. To ensure that these pests are completely gone, treat your plant with this mixture once a week for three weeks.
Protect Your Houseplants From Pests With Proper Care
Houseplant pests might be annoying, but they come with being a plant owner. And the benefits of having houseplants — like beautifying your home and purifying the air — far outweigh this minor nuisance. Protecting your houseplants from pests is just one element of caring for them. Just Add Ice grows a wide variety of phalaenopsis orchids, anthuriums and other houseplants, like money trees, that are easy to care for, requiring only a few ice cubes each week.
For more tips on caring for your orchid and other houseplants, download our orchid care guide.