How To Combat Houseplant Pests and Diseases

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You might think your indoor plants are safe from the reign of terror of pests and diseases commonly found outdoors, but the truth is, you’re still likely to encounter an issue at some point. Bugs are sneaky, and they’re good at weaseling their way into your home undetected. If you don’t pay close attention to your houseplants, you might end up waking up to a colony of some very unwelcome visitors. Bringing outdoor container plants indoors over the winter can increase the risk of unwanted guests making their way into the house.

If you’re unsure of the early signs to look out for, or if you need to get rid of some indoor plant pests in St. John or Frankfort, this comprehensive guide can help you combat the pests and diseases that plague your houseplants. 

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Indoor Plant Pests To Watch Out For 

We all know how strangely attached we can get to our houseplants—especially after we’ve been caring for them for several years!—so we’re happy to share all the necessary intel on how to get pests out before they wreak major havoc. 

Your best defense against plant pests is a keen eye. If you notice any changes or unidentified matter growing on your plants, you can quickly intervene before things get serious. To prevent the onset of insect invasions before they happen, you can use a protective product like Bonide® Systemic Houseplant granules. Just sprinkle a small amount on the soil, and the formula protects houseplants for up to eight weeks. We love this product for fending off infestations before they start!

However, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re already dealing with some tiny intruders. Here are a few of the most common plant pests, and the recommended methods for getting them out:   

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Whiteflies, Aphids, and Mealybugs: These annoying insects are pretty small and tend to hang out on the undersides of plant leaves. You’ll need to inspect your plants carefully to find them. However, you’ll notice whiteflies if you nudge the pot; they tend to get startled and fly off the leaves, hover around, and get back to business on your plant. Like many other plant pests, they suck up fluids from the foliage, causing leaves to wither and turn yellow. They also leave behind a sticky liquid, commonly called honeydew.

To combat whiteflies and aphids, begin by removing any severely damaged leaves or plant parts. Next, give your plant a gentle rinse with water, shake out any excess, and then apply a treatment like Monterey® Aphid & Whitefly Spray once per week until the whiteflies go away.

Spider Mites: These teeny-tiny insects are tricky to spot with the naked eye, but their fine, yet fast-developing webbing is a dead giveaway that they’ve set up camp in your houseplants. Soap sprays and pruning can help remove them—especially neem oil.

Scale: People tend to get a bit confused by scale because it takes on the appearance of a fungus, but it’s actually an insect. They come in colors like orange, white, or red, but they build up a protective coating that causes them to resemble a lumpy, hard growth. Their armor keeps them protected, and sometimes several treatments of insecticidal soap and neem oil are needed to get rid of them. If you catch a scale infestation early, you can scrape them off gently with your fingernail, then apply an insecticidal soap, like Bonide® Insecticidal Soap, for good measure.

Indoor Plant Diseases And How To Treat Them

There are endless benefits to having houseplants at home. We grow attached to them just like pets! Studies even show that caring for houseplants reduces seasonal affective disorder (or SAD), so they’re great for beating the winter blues during those dreary months. However, just like us, our plants need a little extra attention once in a while to make sure their health is in check. Here are some common plant illnesses you might be familiar with:  

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Leaf Spot: As this plant disease develops, it covers plants in small brown spots and causes leaves to wilt. For a natural solution, you can fill a spray bottle with a mix of one tablespoon baking soda, two tablespoons vegetable oil, a small splash of dish soap, and a gallon of water. Alternatively, you can use a copper-based fungicide or a sulfur spray.

Powdery Mildew: If your plant has lots of dense foliage, or if the foliage is frequently exposed to water, the excess moisture coupled with inadequate air circulation can become a breeding ground for powdery mildew. It looks a little bit like a coating of powdered sugar on the foliage of your plants, but this fungus is not nearly as sweet. Beat it by using a baking soda treatment, but if that doesn’t work, you can mix one part mouthwash with three parts of water. This solution kills mildew, but use it with caution as it can hinder new growth in plants.

Sooty Mold: Tiny black speckles creep across the surface of your plant foliage when sooty mold takes over. It often pops up when honeydew left behind by aphids or whiteflies remains on plant leaves—all the more reason to deal with them soon as you notice them! The best way to prevent sooty mold is by eliminating plant pests early on and rinsing foliage thoroughly after treatment. If you have a severe case, a neem oil treatment should help clear it up.  

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Catching pests and diseases early on makes them much easier to deal with, but even some more severe cases can be treated effectively with the right products and treatment plan. If you need a little more guidance on how to treat whatever is ailing your houseplants, or if you’ve got pests or a plant disease that you can’t seem to identify, don’t hesitate to visit Alsip and ask one of our experts! We’ll gladly help save your houseplants from meeting their untimely end.