Pests are like bad Craigslist roommates for your plants. They eat their food, intrude on their personal space, and disturb your plants’ general living environment. And if pests are your plant’s roommates, then by the transitive property they are your roomies too. Gross.
While finding pests in your plants is as inevitable as taxes, there are plenty of ways to mitigate them (the pests not the taxes), starting from the moment you go shopping for a plant. See below for our suggestions on keeping your plants’ unwelcome guests from (literally) bugging you. And while we don’t recommend it, it’s possible a few of these tips might do the trick for your unwelcome human roomies too.
Before buying your plant
- Do your research. You’re about to buy a living thing, this is serious! Buy from a trusted nursery, or a wholesale market if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby.
- Check the foliage for holes and discoloration. If you wouldn’t buy a browning banana, don’t buy a browning plant. If you would buy a browning banana, please rethink your life decisions. Yes, all of them.
- Do a quick inspection of the plant. Mites, mealybugs, and aphids love a good hiding spot, so peek under the leaves and check the stem for any living things sneaking around. We once even found a cricket in our beloved fiddle leaf fig!
- Check for pest tracks. If you see tiny white dots and sticky residue anywhere on the plant, move along. These are tell-tale signs that pests have already done the plant dirty.
At-home plant care
Once your plants have moved in with you, there are several options to get rid of pests if you find them claiming squatters rights on your greenery.
If you find pests on the leaves:
- Clean off your plant leaves with a gentle spray of water from a bottle with a nozzle. Be sure to spray the foliage carefully so as not uproot the plant itself.
- Give your plant a little bath by cleaning the leaves with diluted soapy water. Soap kills pests on contact and we personally love the natural qualities and smell of this peppermint-scented Dr. Bronner’s soap.
If you find pests in the soil:
- Give your plants the dunk tank treatment. Dunk small plants (excluding cacti and succulents) in water for 15 minutes to evict squatting insects.
- For larger plants, you can get a little more aggressive by applying a non-toxic pest control applicant, such as Gnatnix to the soil and surfaces of larger plants.
- If you’re the DIY type, try a simple, inexpensive, and all-natural homemade herbal spray.
- When watering your plants, add 1 tsp of white vinegar and 1 tbsp of dish soap every other time you water.
In general, make sure to keep your plants’ living spaces healthy and clutter-free by removing dead material from your plants and wiping down the leaves with a moist rag all year long.
Have you ever found pests on your plants? Which of these tips worked best for you?
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