In our previous article, 4 Natural Ways to Insect and Fungus Proof Your Orchids, we addressed four natural remedies that you can use to keep insects and fungus at bay. However, after observing some of the questions and comments on that post, we realized that we needed to provide a more comprehensive natural remedies guide.
This post will address where to find these products, how to use these products and the frequency of use.
1) Neem Oil: Neem oil may sound exotic, but you can find this East Indian staple right around the corner at your Home Depot. Neem oil has been used since ancient times as an insect and parasite repellent. It’s harmless to humans and to animals and is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency for use on food crops.
How to Make Neem Oil
A simple recipe to keep pesky insects away is to mix 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of neem oil and ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) of a gentle, plant-safe liquid dish soap to 1 quart (.9 l) of warm water, or 4 teaspoons (20 ml) of neem oil and 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of liquid dish soap to 1 gallon (3.8 l) of water. A 50:50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and warm water can be substituted for plain water. Don’t use this oil in temperatures warmer than 85° or in direct sunlight. Apply every week or every two weeks until the problem is under control.
2) Cinnamon: This common household spice found in your supermarket aisle can also deter fungal infections. If your orchid is showing signs of a fungal infection, take swift action it can spread rapidly, especially in the summer. Cut away the infected tissue using a single-edge razor blade, in addition to an additional inch of clean, green area. Coat the cut area well with cinnamon. Repeat every few days until the problem controlled.
3) Pyrethrins: This insecticide is made from pyrethrin daisies and stops insects dead in their tracks. This natural insecticide has a low toxicity for animals and humans, but can be harmful when used in conjunction with other toxic materials, like PBO (piperonyl butoxide), which is a synthetic synergist that boosts insect killing strength. You can purchase solutions made with pyrethrum online on sites like Amazon. If you would rather make a homemade alternative insecticide, start by mixing one pint of 409 household cleaner and a pint of rubbing alcohol with water to make 1 gallon of spray. This is especially effective as a preventative or to control light infestations of mites, mealybugs and aphids. Lightly spraying your plant every few days is a good rule of thumb to help manage your problem.
4) Eucalyptus Oil: Found mainly in Australia, the oil from the eucalyptus plant has been used as a disinfectant for many years. You can easily buy eucalyptus oil online or opt to use this homemade oil-based recipe to drown out pesky insects from invading your orchids:
Mix 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of a horticultural oil (neem oil, superfine oils, peppermint or eucalyptus oil), ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) gentle, plant-safe liquid dish soap into one quart (.9 l) of warm water. For a larger batch, combine 4 teaspoons (20 ml) horticultural oil, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of dish soap and 1 gallon (3.8 l) of water. Shake the solution during use to keep the ingredients well mixed, and make up a fresh batch for each application. Thoroughly coat all surfaces of the plants being treated; the oil smothers insects, so making contact with the pests is essential for the oil to be effective. You can find these botanical oils online or in your local health food store.
Repeat these treatments every week for maximum insect control. Subscribe to our blog for more orchid care tips and suggestions.