Houseplants are usually easy to grow, but they can sometimes be attacked by insect pests. Some of these pests are very small, and at first glance look like little dots, bumps or fuzzy patches on the stems or leaves. You may notice the plant wilting, having twisted leaves, or dropping leaves, as the pests grow in number.
Popular houseplants are usually slow growing and tolerate normal household temperatures. Many do not need a lot of sunlight; some even thrive under office lights alone. Although they are usually easy to care for, like all plants they can sometimes be infected by insect pests.
Where Pests Come From
Insect pests are more likely to affect a houseplant that is stressed from too much or too little water or light. Pests can be on the plant when you purchase it, or be spread from other plants. A healthy plant is not as likely to be affected by a few small pests. But a large infestation can weaken a plant or even kill it, and may spread to other plants nearby.
Aphids and mealybugs are two common insect pests that affect houseplants. Aphids are tiny green insects, not even as big as a pinhead. They often cluster underneath leaves or in the forks of stems. Mealybugs look like little dots of white fuzz. They also prefer the underside of stems and leaves. These and other pests drink the sap of the plant and weaken it.
Getting Rid of Pests
Small infestations of pests can be removed by gently spraying the plant with a mixture of dish soap and water. Use a few squirts of a mild, unscented dish soap in a standard spray bottle of water. Spray the plant every few days until you no longer see the insects, being sure to spray underneath all the leaves. If there is no improvement in a week or two, you may need to ask your local garden center to recommend an insecticidal soap or spray.
Each kind of plant has certain needs for light, water and fertilizer. Find out how much each of your houseplants needs, so that you can keep them as strong and healthy as possible. Strong, healthy plants are less likely to be attacked or damaged by insect pests.
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- Insects, Bugs and Pests that Invade your House Plants
- Common Houseplant Pests
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