Flowering houseplants add color to a home, but they need careful attention because various pests and diseases can quickly kill them. Besides affecting flowers and leaves, diseases and pests can also attack a plant's stems and roots. It's important to recognize common symptoms to prevent pests and diseases from occurring. A typical sign of a houseplant having a problem is leaves that are wilted and discolored.
Mealybugs suck sap from plants, which causes their leaves to shed. These soft-bodied insects, which secrete sticky honeydew, are especially prone to attacking flowering houseplants such as African violets, poinsettias and gardenias. They hit different parts of a plant, as well as roots. Wilted, discolored leaves that drop off prematurely are common signs of infestation. They're treated using insecticides besides other methods such as moth control.
Spider mites are one of the most common pests plaguing flowering houseplants. They're not insects, but are mites which are more related to ticks. Because of their tiny size, they can easily be overlooked. Usually they're noticeable when misting plants because a fine mist can highlight webs they create. One of the most obvious signs of a plant infested with spider mites is the appearance of yellow blotches on leaves, followed by leaves falling off the plant.
Cyclamen mites are another serious pest that infects many flowering houseplants. Besides cyclamens, they also affect begonias, African violets and others.
Aphids are tiny soft-bodied insects that can suck the life out of a flowering houseplant. They're known to especially attack oleanders during late winter. Although most aphid species are green, some are red, brown or black. They usually cluster on the undersides of bud and leaves, besides other tender plant parts. A common sign of aphids is a black sooty mold that develops on a plant.
Thrips are a common problem, especially for African violets. According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension website, these minute insects are only 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch in size. They have elongated bodies that are usually brown, although paler or even darker forms are also common. These minute insects are recognizable by the irregular silvery areas they leave on leaves. They infest developing flowers and buds, producing scarred petals. Thrips are also a problem because they transmit diseases to other plants.
Diseases are generally harder to detect on houseplants than pests, according to the Gardening Know How website. Flowering houseplants can also be infected by diseases caused by fungus, viruses or bacteria. Some of the most common diseases affecting flowering houseplants include root rot and powdery mildew. Root rot is mainly caused by overwatering where plants lack proper drainage.
Powdery mildew appears as white blotches on leaves giving them a speckled look. It causes leaves to yellow and drop off prematurely, as well as prevents flower buds from opening or developing normally. This disease also attacks buds and stems. Other common diseases affecting flowering houseplants include rust, black leg, botrytis, rot and sooty mold, which is a black-covered fungus.