Having houseplants improves air quality and humidity levels, reduces stress and anxiety, and elevates the overall interior aesthetic of your space. But like in fairy tales, beauty attracts the beast. In this case, your beautiful plants may entice tiny beasts known as bugs. Here are six ways to keep your indoor plants healthy and pest-free.
How to Get Rid of Pests in Your Houseplants
At first glance, It’s easy to assume your indoor plants are free from bugs. But if you don’t inspect them carefully, you might give these tiny beasts free entry into your home. Say bugs have found themselves in. Here are ways to let them out for good.
Let There Be Natural Light
Homes designed to let in natural light feel alive and peaceful. Indoor plants feel the same way. It supports their growth and shakes off bugs that thrive in damp and dark environments. Take your indoor plants outdoors and expose them to the sun to absorb the energy needed for healthy growth and survival.
The sun will also kill harmful bacteria and absorb excess water from the soil, making moist-loving bugs scurry away. Inspecting indoor plants out in the sun makes it easier to see and cut damaged leaves or stems. You can also check the roots for infestation and replace healthy soil in your pots. Make sure whatever pests found in the previous soil don’t return to your pots.
Make Natural Insecticides
Regular exposure to synthetic pesticides is harmful to you, your family and the environment. Plus, synthetic insecticides tend to lose their efficacy as pests develop resistance. Instead, create your natural insecticides using home ingredients and materials. Try the following options:
Cinnamon is a common kitchen ingredient. Aside from flavoring your food, cinnamon is effective for getting rid of ants, fungus gnats and preventing mold and mildew growth in indoor plants. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on the topsoil around the base of the plant after every watering. You can also put cinnamon sticks on your pots, which act like scarecrows for the ants.
Neem Oil Spray
Neem oil is a 100% natural oil that can control various pests. It’s also cheap and relatively simple to make.
You just need liquid soap (as an emulsifier), warm water, a spray bottle, and pure neem oil (cold-pressed). Fill the spray bottle with warm water and add 1 teaspoon of neem oil. Then add 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of liquid soap.
Thoroughly shake the spray bottle to combine the mixture. Spray generously to affected plants. Have good home ventilation to improve the efficacy of the spray.
Aside from their calming effect, essential oils from herbs can help keep pests at bay. Mix a few drops of essential oil of your choice into a dishwashing liquid spray, and it’s ready. Here are four essential oils to consider:
- Lavender Oil: Lavender oil contains antibacterial and antifungal properties. Its strong scent is unappealing to most pests found in indoor plants. Lavender oil helps repel spider mites, ants, aphids, and fungus gnats.
- Thyme Oil: Thyme oil contains thymol, which has insecticidal and antifungal properties. It helps repel aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs.
- Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil can fight fungal infections on your plant’s foliage while repelling many insects due to its strong scent. However, too much of it can burn the leaves. To avoid this, add a few drops of tea tree oil to a liter of water.
- Peppermint Oil: Its potent smell keeps spider mites away from your indoor plants as they are irritated by the scent.
Use Hydrogen Peroxide Solution When Watering Indoor Plants
Hydrogen peroxide not only serves as a great household disinfectant, but it can also help kill pests. Blend three parts water with one of 3% hydrogen peroxide for a potent plant treatment.
This concoction eradicates bugs and their young while oxygenating the soil, assisting in root development. Avoid hydrogen peroxide solutions above 10% concentration to protect your plants.
Use Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a finely ground powder derived from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms known as diatoms. When pests such as mites, aphids, and other small insects are exposed to DE, its sharp particles pierce and cut through the exoskeleton of these pests.
DE is safe and chemical-free, and pests cannot develop a resistance to it as it’s a mechanical pest control method. To effectively use DE on indoor plants, sprinkle or dust the DE onto the plant and the soil’s surface.
Keep this substance dry as its effectiveness decreases when exposed to water. Regularly monitor the plants and reapply DE, especially after watering.
Isolate Infected Indoor Plants
If your new plants are infected, isolate them for two to four weeks to prevent pests from harming your other indoor plants. During the quarantine period, ‘invisible’ pests from your new plants may or may not begin to emerge. Regularly monitor them and provide enough light and humidity to keep them healthy.
Call a Pro in Pest Control
When problems go beyond your pots, contact a licensed pest exterminator. You know a situation calls for it because you will feel that the infestation is beyond your power to control.
For example, you see ants crawling in one line from the bottom of your pot toward the floor and up to your wall. Let’s say you managed to solve this issue. The next day, you see the ants again, but this time, their line goes to a different section of your house. In addition, if you hear weird sounds beneath the wooden floor where your indoor plants are, it could be a sign of heavy termite infestation.
The first five methods above are suitable for minor pest infestations and as a preventive measure. For severely infested plants, remove them from your house and contact your local pest control experts.