Are you noticing plants wilting? Leaf tips browning? Yellowing leaves?

If you are, you could have yourself some pesky pests on your house plants!

In this blog we will focus on pest problems. There are; however, other sources of reoccurring problems with house plants, mainly physiological and disease related issues.  These problems, including how to detect them, will be covered in future blogs – so stay tuned!

For now, let’s get back to those pesky pests!

The most common pests found on house plants are fungus gnats, mealybugs and mites.

Fungus gnats are small black flies. You will usually find them running around the soil surface or on leaves.  Symptoms and damage from these pesky pests will be wilting, poor growth and yellowing leaves.   The damage created on your lovely plants are caused by larvae feeding on roots and any leaves that are in contact with the soil.  These little guys love when you overwater your plants as it creates the perfect environment for the larvae. 

To control fungus gnats, reduce the amount of water given to each plant, where possible.  In so doing, you will avoid algae growth on the soil.  Insecticides can be brought in if issues continue after a couple weeks of adjusting watering practices. 

Next are mealybugs.  Although they have a rather fun name, they are not!  These pesky pests are white, almost “cotton-y” masses.  You’ll find them hiding in the leaf axils on the lower surfaces of leaves and on the roots.  Infested plants become stunted and severe infestations can cause plants to die.

You can begin to control these pests by running a steady stream of water on the lower leaves as well as on the soil. This will flush the water through the bottom and help drown those pests out.  If you are not successful, you can use a safe insecticide and follow the instructions on the bottle.

Mites… Small but mighty! Mites, specifically the two-spotted spider mite (just got a little more eerie didn’t it!) are very small pests that can be unnoticed until plants become extremely damaged.  The damage will be found by way of yellowing leaves, leaves that are specked (ie. The speckles on leaves may be dark brownish to black circles – these are the places where the mites feed), webbing (ie. Just like spider webs), loss of leaves and damage could ultimately lead to plant death if mites increase.

To control mites there are a couple of highly effective yet easy things that can be done.  These practices include, pruning the affected/infested leaves, stems and other areas.  Discard the materials pruned by securely bagging them and throwing away in the trash.  Insecticides/ Insecticidal soaps can also be used in areas with larger infestations.  

Tip of the Day!  Make your own insecticidal soap by combining 5 drops of Sunlight dish soap for every 2 cups of water.

These pesky pests may be pesky, but hopefully with a little knowledge gained you will be successful in maintaining healthy and long-lasting house plants.   Now you have extra reason to get close to those house plants….So next time, you’re talking it up with Franny the Fern or Phil the Philodendron, have a look to see if you can spot any of these pesky pests!  Keep in mind that although you may not be able to see them, they may still be there.  Like Sara the Sanseveria with yellow tips, we may not see them but the mites are there.

Please feel free to stop by our shop at 282 Richmond Road and speak with our horticulturalist if you have any questions or need any more information.  You can also leave a comment below this blog entry and we’ll try to answer you as best and quickly as we can.

Thank you!