How To Remove Pests From Indoor Plants And Herbs
You may be a seasoned green thumb, a beginner plant parent, or a plant enthusiast who loves cultivating herbs, vegetables, and indoor houseplants. Whether you have an indoor or outdoor garden, every type of gardener has one thing in common—coming across different kinds of pesky bugs that made your plants their easy meal haven.
If your plants are outdoors, pests can be managed to a minimum but when plants are indoors, the pest problem can get particularly challenging. And while the presence of insects on your plants is natural, it can get very damaging if your plants are left untreated.
Your purpose is to get rid of the pests but it’s also important to use natural solutions so as not to put further damage to the plant, as well as to maintain its freshness and natural health benefits.
Some of the most common pests include mealybugs, whiteflies, scale insects, aphids, thrips, springtails, spider mites, fungus gnats, and cyclamen mites. But whatever kind of bug problem you have, there are available solutions in any household. Together with overall proper care and diligence, then you can avoid or at least minimize the pests from your beloved plants.
Ensure plants are in the best possible or ideal growing conditions
You may have chosen the right indoor plants with growing requirements that are adaptable to the indoor environment, but it doesn’t mean they will simply thrive on their own if they are positioned in the wrong places.
It’s important to remember that plants have their own ability to fight off pests too—when they are healthy and in the best possible growing conditions inside your home. So, make sure the plants are not under pressure due to overly wet or dry soil, too little light, or too hot and too cold temperatures.
Be knowledgeable about your plant’s nutritional needs
Different plants require varying nutritional needs and care attention, so make sure you understand well the kind of nutrition your plants need. For instance, some plants need more fertilization while some others don’t—if they do, apply it at half the recommended amount and best when the plant is actively growing.
Most gardeners already know that overwatering and poor drainage can make plants rot and attract pests, but while this applies to all herbs and indoor plants, it’s safest to know just exactly how much water your plant needs. Always water the soil from the plant base and not from the leaves and most important of all, never let your plants stand in water not even in a short while.
It’s also crucial to keep your plants clean by taking out dead leaves, stems, and flowers and washing the leaves with a damp cloth; as well as using new and clean sterile potting soil (never from your garden or soil from open bags) and washing soil off the plant roots when repotting them.
Examine all your plant parts for early pest detection
It’s recommended to inspect all parts of your plant—the top and underside of the leaves are the areas where there could be webbing, holes, and eggs. Check if there are discolored leaves as well. Also keep an eye out for the presence of honeydew that is commonly on the upper surface of leaves, on tabletops, under, or around the plant.
Scrutinize your plant containers too for any signs of pests while some pests can become more evident when plants are being watered such as springtails and fungus gnats; so it’s best to make your inspecting rounds when you water, clean, or fertilize.
Natural pest management solutions
There are many varying ways to manage pest problems without resorting to pesticides and some of the ingredients are easily available in your kitchen. You can start with the most basic—the water spray—just strong steam from the shower or hose spray nozzle works efficiently against whiteflies.
Some other solutions include the following:
- Soapy water (4 cups of water, 5 tbsp of dish liquid);
- Garlic (spray – 15 cloves of garlic mixed with 1 liter of water or stick a clove into the soil);
- Pepper spray (2 tbsp red pepper [or black pepper, chili pepper, paprika, ginger, and dill], 6 drops of dish liquid, 1 gallon of water);
- Herbal water spray (crushed leaves of sage, lavender, mint, rue, basil, rosemary, and thyme, soak overnight and strain or dilute essential oil variants of these herbs in water);
- Nicotine (1 cup of dried, crushed tobacco leaves in 1 gallon of warm water and ¼ tsp of dish liquid, strain after 30 minutes);
- Beer and grapefruit or orange rinds (set them in saucers as traps);
- Pyrethrum spray (from dried chrysanthemum flowers, mix the powder with dish liquid and water);
- Neem oil (from seeds of neem trees, repels mites, aphids, and other small insects).
Besides physically removing pests using tweezers or cotton swabs with alcohol, pruning is also helpful especially when only a few leaves or stems have pests, cutting the plant for when infestations are severe, and using yellow or blue sticky traps against flying insects.
And when you have a new plant, separate it for one or two weeks to see if there are pests as this is to ensure it doesn’t spread to the other plants. You can also buy a ready-to-use insecticidal soap but make sure it’s Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) certified.
Whatever solution you choose, remember these key takeaways: spray only until just wet then air dry, moving the plant away from sunlight two hours after spraying, and best to spray in the morning and late evening.