How To Prevent House Plant Problems
Diseases and pests threaten the health of your indoor plants. Fortunately, you can take
simple steps to protect it.
Rule of thumb, be vigilant!
First, when you buy new plants, isolate them for 4-5 weeks until you're sure they're healthy and pest free.
Always watch your new plants to discover any infestations that
develop. Return diseased or pest-ridden plants back to where you
bought them immediately! NEVER put new plants next to house plants
you already have that are pest free.
Don't forget to examine cut flowers!
Insects love to hide under the leaves and in the soil of plants. Using sterilized
soil for potting rather than using dirt from you garden to fill new pots may prevent introduction of soil
Water and mist in the morning. Follow as closely as possible the exact
irrigation requirements for each plant.
Over or under watering can be fatal to plants. Yellowing leaves is
an indication of over watering.
Wash your hands thoroughly after touching an infected plant. Discard old plants that are beyond
saving in a trash bag, do NOT put the soil or plant in a compost pile or in
Wash all the garden tools you used and the container and tray the plant
Clean the pots before using them again, scrub them with a brush, remove all
salt and anything on the pot like moss and mildew.
For your plants, remove all dead leaves and spent blossoms, and clean plants often.
If insects invade a plant, first try washing them away with soapy water. If that doesn't work, use chemical
Pyolar Insect Spray
(organic pesticide made for plants from plants). Spray outside
and NEVER in an enclosed area.
The identification of the problem is the most important. You need
to know what's wrong so you can fix it. After you learn what is
making your plant sick, the solution to bring your plant back to
good health is readily available.
Aphids, mealybugs, scales, whiteflies, and mites feed by sucking plant
juices causing poor growth, stunted plants, or curled leaves. Most excrete
a sweetish, sticky liquid-- honeydew-- that imparts a shiny appearance to
the foliage and provides a base for the growth of sooty mold. Mite injury
is first visible as light speckled areas on leaf surfaces. Later the
leaves bronze or yellow, and may die or drop. Heavily infested plants
become stunted or die. Flowers may be faded. Thrips are not truly sucking
insects as they feed by rasping open leaf tissues before sucking up the
More Common Sucking House Plant Pests
Control: You can often control
house plant pests by
- Aphids: Common aphids are less then 1/8 inch long; are green,
pink, red, or black; and have soft pear-shaped bodies with long legs
and antennae. There are usually both winged and wingless forms. Some
aphids appear powdery or wooly because of a waxy covering. Aphids
cluster on the undersides of leaves, on succulent stems, and on flower
- Mealybugs: Mealybugs are soft bodied and dusty white with
waxy filaments; they feed on the stems, in leaf axils, or along leaf
veins (undersurfaces). Eggs are clustered in white waxy masses.
- Scales (primarily soft scales): Most species are brown,
1/16-1/8 inch, and hemispherical or oval; they infest both stems and
- Whiteflies : The adults (1/16 inch) have white, wedge-shaped
wings and fly readily when disturbed. The scalelike young are mostly
pale green to yellow-white, oval in outline, and flat on top. The
immatures are attached to the leaf undersurfaces.
- Thrips: These are small, slender, yellow-black insects with
narrow fringed wings. Both young and adults attack the foliage making
silvery abraded wound areas and leaving spots of dark liquid excrement
over the surface.
- Mites: Two types of mites are common house plant problems:
- A. Spider mites (red spiders): Several species are pests
of house plants. These tiny, oval, yellow-green or reddish mites
are barely visible to the naked eye. Found first on the
undersurfaces of leaves, they spread to other parts of the plant.
In heavy infestations, they spin a frail, silky webbing over the
leaves. Mites can be seen as they crawl over this webbing.
- B. Cyclamen mites: Under a magnifying glass, the very
minute adults are oval, amber, semitransparent, glistening mites.
The young are even smaller and milky white. The eggs are oval and
pearly white. Mites are found mostly in protected places on young,
tender leaves, young stem ends, buds, and flowers. They crawl from
plant to plant where leaves touch or are spread on hands or