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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 pests.

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 your garden. Wash all the garden tools you used and the container and tray the plant was in.

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 sprays or 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 liquid contents.

 The More Common Sucking House Plant Pests

  1. 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 buds.
  2. 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.
  3. Scales (primarily soft scales): Most species are brown, 1/16-1/8 inch, and hemispherical or oval; they infest both stems and leaves.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 clothing.
Control: You can often control house plant pests by non-chemical means!

Pyolar Insect Spray

Pyolar Insect Spray
Signature Product. Canola oil with pyrethrins.  An insecticide from plants for plants.

Gardener's Supply Company

Controlling Garden Pests Naturallyorganic pest control, Inc

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