Common Pests Guide
Even the best of us can get it wrong some times. Here's a guide to some of the pests and common problems that affect houseplants and remedies to help recover your houseplants
- Dab the mealybugs with a cotton ball swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to dry the insects out. Wash the plant with a gentle detergent and water to help control mealybugs. Spray the indoor plant with an oil spray or soap spray. These sprays will suffocate or dry out the mealybugs and kill them.
- Almost too small to be seen, pass into our gardens without notice. No matter how few, each survives by sucking material from plant cells. Large infestations cause visible damage. Leaves first show patterns of tiny spots or stipplings. They may change color, curl and fall off. The mites activity is visible in the tight webs that are formed under leaves and along stems. Prune leaves, stems and other infested parts of plants well past any webbing and discard in trash (and not in compost piles). Don’t be hesitant to pull entire plants to prevent the mites spreading to its neighbors.
- To get rid of scale insects prune and dispose of infested branches, twigs and leaves. When scale numbers are low they may be rubbed or picked off of plants by hand. Dabbing individual pests with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab or neem-based leaf shine will also work when infestations are light.
- Root rot can have two sources — one is a prolonged exposure to overwatered conditions that can cause some of the roots to die back due to a lack of oxygen. As they die, they can start to decay or rot away. The rot can then spread to healthier roots and kill them as well, even if the soil conditions are corrected. The other source can be from a fungus in the soil. The fungus may lay dormant in soil indefinitely and then may suddenly flourish when the plant is overwatered once or twice. The root rot fungus attacks the roots and causes them to die and rot away.
- Start to treat root rot by removing the plant from the soil and washing the roots under running water. Wash away as much soil and affected roots as possible while being gentle with the plant. Next use a sharp, clean pair of shears or scissors to trim away all of the remaining affected roots. When you treat root rot, you may have to remove a significant amount of the root system if the plant is badly affected. If this is the case, clean the shears or scissor with rubbing alcohol and prune back one-third to one-half of the leaves on the plant. This will give the plant a better chance to regrow the roots, as it will not need to support as many leaves. Continue treating root rot by disposing of the soil in the pot that the plant was in. Wash the pot thoroughly with a bleach solution. If possible, dip the remaining healthy roots in a fungicide solution to kill off any possible root rot fungus. After treating root rot in the plant, repot the plant in clean potting mix. Make sure the container has good drainage and only water the plant when the top of the soil is dry. While the plant is regrowing its roots, do not fertilize the plant, as this may stress it. You do not want to have to treat root rot again in the plant.
- This can be due to watering with tap water, swap this for rain water or filtered tap water
Brown spots / patches on leaves most likely means your plant is under watered. However if the leaves are soft and dark brown it could be a sign of overwatering. Watch carefully the balance of keeping the soil moist and not completely dried out from the last watering. Once the balance is correct the spotting should disappear.
Brown leaves could be a sign of too little or not enough sunlight. Also could lack in humidity. Check the plant to make sure it is in the best conditions. Regularly misting will fix increase the humidity.
Leaf curling or dropping leaves could mean it is been slightly overwatered or it is not in warm enough conditions. Move the plant to a more suitable space.
Wilting leaves means the plant either needs more water or is drowning. Alternatively the plant may have a bug feeding on the roots in which case it is best to throw away.
Sudden leaf fall means your plant has gone into shock, either from extreme cold or heat, or from complete dehydration. If the plant gets moved around a lot it could be in shock.
Stunted growth could be due to poor drainage, light conditions or low humidity. Best to repot the plant and moving it into a well lit room or space.