If you’re diligent about monitoring your houseplants, you may catch pests early enough to wash off the bugs and apply an insecticidal soap every week for a month and successfully beat back a mild infestation. For more advanced infestations, this type of treatment may not be enough. If you need to take more aggressive steps, here are our top three houseplant pest control solutions.
Adding a Whole House Humidifier or Dehumidifier
Individual houseplants may suffer from plant pests because they were already weakened in some way. Whether it’s aphids, mites, mealybugs, or fungus gnats, it doesn’t take long for the plant to be decimated. Neglected for too long, the entire plant may be infested and spread the problem to nearby plants. These pests can also be travel on the bottom of shoes, clothes, and pets.
Nevertheless, when all the houseplants in a home or living space are infested, the problem is often system. As such, there also needs to be a holistic solution. In most cases, this means looking at your home humidity level and the type of houseplant pest you’re dealing with. If you live in a dry climate and you’re fighting aphids, mites, mealybugs, thrips, or whiteflies, you may need to add a whole house humidifier to prevent these pests. If you want to salvage the houseplants you still have, you can also invest in a crop of predatory bugs that can be mailed to you. These predatory bugs often need moderate-to-high humidity levels to thrive, creating a powerful two-step pest control treatment. The opposite is also true. Peroxide may help keep fungus gnats at bay, but a permanent solution may also require a dehumidify to reduce fungal spores.
Propagate a New Houseplant
If you love a houseplant that has sustained moderate-to-heavy damage, the best chance you have to save the plant may be to create a cutting or divide the plant for propagation. This solution has the highest risk of failure or reinfestation. The more aggressive you are in discarding the affected plant growth, the greater your chances for long-term success. Rather than dividing a houseplant and hoping the soil under the healthy part of the plant is pest-free, you may want to take a few leaf cuttings and try to propagate the plant by stimulating new root growth in water or fresh potting soil mix.
Many houseplant pests have larvae that can survive common pesticide treatments. If even a single larva is in the soil, roots, stems, or leaves, then the pests may be part of the new plant as well. These larvae are the biggest reason why houseplant pests are hard to get rid of entirely without throwing out the plant and starting over. It’s not impossible and there are plenty of success stories out there, but there are few guarantees.
How to Sanitize Pots from Pests
A lot of people are leery about reusing a houseplant pot that has experienced an infestation. So long as you take a few precautionary steps, there’s no reason to worry about taking the pests with you. Most gardeners will tell you it’s a good idea to wash and disinfect your pots before you plant, anyway. First, you should clean the pots with soap and water. Make sure you remove any significant patches of dirt or grime. Dirt particles render bleach and other sanitizing agents ineffective. Thus, the better job you do cleaning the pots, the easier and more effective the sanitation process.
You shouldn’t have to add anywhere near 2 cups of bleach per gallon of water to disinfect pots. If you do a good job cleaning, 2 tablespoons should be enough. Some people don’t like to use bleach at all but prefer an environmentally friendly option. You can also use vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, but you need to let these disinfectants sit for about 10 minutes. To sanitize your pots, you can use the concentrations found in common household products and brands. This is 5% vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide.
Types of Houseplant Pests
The best pest control and treatment plans come from knowing the enemy. Learn about different types of common houseplant pests and what you can do about them.