House Plants Common Diseases: With diseases and insects a constant threat, find our best tips for getting rid of aphids and our natural spider mite control.
Most often, if plants are given plenty of fresh air and not crowded together, insects should not cause serious trouble.
No matter how many steps in caring for house plants one may take, house plant bugs/diseases are almost certain to put in an appearance, and steps to fight them must be taken immediately. Remember, though, that the best remedy is prevention, and the best prevention is to have good strong healthy house plants.
Perhaps the most common of house plant problems is neither insects nor disease. It is sour, soggy soil.
Sour soil is the result of improper drainage conditions, too much water, or both. It causes the leaves to turn yellow and stunts new growth. Correcting the harmful conditions will usually renew the health of the plant, but in bad cases it will be far better to remove the soil, wash the soil from the roots, carefully clean the pot (if the same one is to be used) and repot in good porous fresh potting soil. And make sure the pot is draining well. Keep on the dry side until growth is resumed. More on container drainage here.
As a rule, insects do much more damage to house plants than is caused by diseases. One characteristic of nearly all plant insects (which will surprise most gardeners), is the speed in which they multiply.
One today, and tomorrow a million!! No exaggeration.
Aphid Photo Credit: Mike E. Talbot
Aphids or green plant lice is the most commonly encountered of any house plant pest. It used to be dreaded, but now can be readily and effectively exterminated. There are several forms and colors of these pests. If you have attempted plant-growing, you are undoubtedly familiar with them.
In the house, shaded places, crowded plants, poor ventilation, dry plants...all are environments favorable to the development of aphids. Change these conditions at once!!
Getting rid of aphids can be done by spraying them off with water, or even submerging the plant under water. (A great natural aphid control)
Insecticidal soap is a great method as well. Bought from a hardware store, etc. this method gives good results.An insecticide spray noted for use with aphids can also be used, but some are not recommended for home use...use caution.
For more info on Aphids and another form of removal, click here.
Red Spider Mite
This very serious pest is about the size and color of a grain of red pepper...although sometimes appearing brown or dull red. To make himself inconspicuous, he works on the under side of the leaves and behind a tiny web. He makes himself known by the leaves on which he lives. They first turn light green, then show small yellow spots, turn yellow and finally drop off.
Red mites are very hard to get rid of when he is allowed time to become well established. The best weapon to use against him, where it can be done, is clear cold water with as much force as possible against the under side of the foliage. Damp atmosphere helps in the work; so keep the air damp, and be on a sharp lookout. Evaporated sulphur, or flowers of sulphur dusted upon the leaves will also help.
For more house plants common diseases info and more methods of extermination click here.
The mealy bug inhabits a white, cottony looking mass, which is easily seen. Remove this covering and the real intruder is there. It is most fond of the soft-wooded plants, such as coleus and fuchsias. They thrive in a hot, dry atmosphere, and will keep out of sight, in a mass of leaves or under some branch axis, until there are a large number.
If they are discovered before multiplying to any great extent, exterminate them with a fine brush or cotton ball dipped in alcohol.... if applied directly to them, this will kill them on the spot.
The scales that infest house plants are of two kinds. The more common is the brown scale, which has a hard, slightly convex, circular shell, one-quarter of an inch or so in diameter. The white scale is much smaller, and soon forms quite dense colonies. Both attack the thick-leaved, smooth-barked plants, such as palms, ferns, lemons, and abutilons. They do not appear to be doing any damage, but invisibly suck the juices of the plant. They should be destroyed at once. This is accomplished by the use of insecticidal soaps applied with a sprayer.
These do not often appear in the house, but may where plants are crowded in a shady place. They eat the substance of the leaves, leaving only the skeleton structure. They are small, about a quarter of an inch long, and brown or black. , pyrethrins, neem oil, etc. will keep them quiet.
Sometimes the leaves of a healthy plant will begin to look sickly with no apparent cause. It may be found upon examination that the blue root Aphids is at work, clinging in clusters to the rootlets. Remove and wash away the soil, and then wash the roots in insecticidal soap suds, and repot in fresh soil.
There are but two plant diseases likely to attack plants in the house: house plant fungus and mildew. The first seems to be a sort of decomposition of the leaf, leaving a black, powdery residue. It's fought by spraying with bordeaux. Bordeaux can be found in paste or powder form, which for small quantities is much better than to try to mix it yourself.
The house plant disease of mildew causes the tenderest leaves to curl up and some of them seem to be covered with a white powder. Flowers of sulphur, dusted over the plants while the foliage is damp, is a good remedy.
House Plants Common Diseases
CONDITIONS SUPPORTING GROWTH
|Aphids, green and black||Shade; poor ventilation; thick foliage||Spray off with Water; Insecticidal Soap|
|Aphids, blue||Stunted Growth; lack of water||Insecticidal Soap; repotting; tobacco tea applied to roots|
|Thrips, 1/4 inch long, brown or black||Shaded places; crowded plants||Neem Oil;|
|Mealy Bugs Other Scale insects||Corners; close, dry air||Brush off; Alcohol Soaked Cottonball|
|Red Spider||Hot, dry atmosphere||Moisture, sulphur, hot water|
|Rose Beetle||Hank Picking; wood ashes|
|White Flies (Aleyrodes)||Dry Foliage||Kerosene Emulsion|
|Slugs||Dark Corners; dampness; decaying wood||Air-slaked lime, sweetened bran|
|Ants||Insect Powder; molasses traps|
|Angleworm||Dampness; heavy soil||Lime; lime water; tobacco tea and tobacco dust washed into soil|
|Fungous Leaf Spot||Bordeaux|
|Mildew||Flowers of sulphur|