These common houseplant pests are the problem you never want to deal with! However, it’s always best to be prepared. Learn how to recognize and treat common houseplant pests with our easy guide.
Pest problems are much more common in an outdoor garden, but your indoor plants are not exempted. How these common houseplant pests find your beautiful plants is not a mystery either, especially if you love bringing a new plant home. We have mentioned that one of the signs of an unhealthy plant is speckling or spots on the leaves as this can be a sign of damage from diseases or pests. If you are buying houseplants, you should always check the leaves underneath or on stems as pests tend to hide in these areas.
While it’s true that providing the correct light levels and the right amount of water are two of the most important steps in keeping your houseplants happy and healthy, it’s also important to be observant of your houseplants and act decisively and fast when you notice there is a problem. It’s one of the rules if you want to save your houseplants from pest infestation.
So if you and your houseplants want to make it out of the battlefield alive, with minimal or no lasting damage, learn how to recognize these common houseplant pests and how to properly deal with them.
Aphid is one of the common houseplant pests that have the most visible damage on tender new leaf tips. Aphids have soft, translucent oval-shaped bodies that suck plant juices and leave plants withered. Aphids reproduce asexually and rapidly per year. They leave behind a sticky substance called “honeydew,” which attracts sugar ants. Sugar ants can also damage your houseplants by building nests in the pots and damaging roots with their burrowing.
Treatment: Get rid of aphids by pinching or pruning off infected stems. Use a hose or sink sprayer to get rid of aphids on your houseplant’s leaf axils or undersides (be careful not to damage your houseplant). Repeat every few days, then use insecticidal soap or neem oil to keep aphids’ population down.
Fungus gnats thrive on high humidity and moist soil conditions. You may find fungus gnats on ferns or other moisture-loving houseplants. Fungus gnats’ larvae damage your houseplant by eating tender new roots, which can weaken your houseplant over time. Similar to aphids, fungus gnats’ population can grow quickly, so if you detect fungus gnats, the first thing you should do is to let the soil dry out as much as possible without stressing your houseplant.
Treatment: Get rid of fungus gnats with hydrogen peroxide! Mix one part of 3% hydrogen peroxide with four parts water and water your plant with the solution. Hydrogen peroxide will flush out bacteria and fungal growth. You may have to repeat the treatment a few more times until there are no more new eggs laid by adults. You can also release beneficial nematodes or completely repot your houseplant.
Mealybugs are one of the common houseplant pests that are experts at hiding. Check your houseplant from time to time for tiny cottony specks at the intersections of leaves and stems and on leaf undersides. One of the signs your houseplant has mealybugs is falling leaves and yellowish leaves.
Treatment: Get rid of mealybugs by hand. Yes, it seems icky, but use an alcohol-dipped cotton swab to remove mealybugs from the leaves and stems.
Scale is an immobile shell-like bump attached to leaves and stems. It sucks the juices out of your houseplant’s vascular system, which can weaken your houseplant. They also spread quickly, so acting decisively and quickly is important.
Treatment: Get rid of these bunkers by hand. We know it can be tedious but use an alcohol-dipped cotton swab to remove scale. Finish with insecticidal soap to kill young scale insects. Repeat weekly.
Spider mites are arachnids and, like spiders, they make webs on the undersides of leaves. Your houseplant may look pinpricked, speckled, or may turn into a sickly bronze color. Similar to other common houseplant pests, they can do a lot of damage and spread rapidly.
Treatment: Get rid of spider mites by cutting off the infected stem and disposing of it in a sealed plastic bag immediately. Treat your houseplant with horticultural oil like neem or insecticidal soap. Repeat once every week for two to three weeks. Prevent spider mites from coming back by keeping good air circulation, providing extra humidity during summer or winter months, and watering consistently.
Thrips are one of the common houseplant pests that leave your houseplant wilted with spotted or streaked leaves. Injured houseplants may turn pale and die from thrip attack. They look like slivers or tiny shards.
Treatment: Get rid of thrips by spraying your houseplant thoroughly with water and insecticidal soap or neem oil. Repeat once every week for two to three weeks.
Whiteflies are one of the common houseplant pests that swarm around your houseplant. Whiteflies are sap-sucking insects that are often found on the undersides of leaves. Damaged houseplants look limp and pale.
Treatment: Get rid of whiteflies by spraying your houseplant thoroughly with water and insecticidal soap or neem oil. Repeat once every week for two to three weeks.
Avoid these common houseplant pests by maintaining the humidity, sunlight, and temperature of your houseplants. Additionally, don’t wait until your houseplants are struggling from pest infestation. Check them regularly for signs of these common houseplant pests.
Check out our Plant Care blog to learn more about different houseplants and tips on how to keep your plants alive and healthy.
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