Many gardeners choose to garden in containers for the ease of planting and the convenience of placing containers in any area without regard to the existing soil. Pots, buckets and barrels filled to overflowing with brightly colored flowers or vigorous plants promising a crop of fresh young vegetables line steps and patios across America. These easy-to-care-for gardens provide the opportunity to grow a selection of plants at your fingertips. Care differs slightly from traditional garden plots, particularly when it comes to pest control.
Inspect foliage, blooms and fruit often for any signs of insect damage or disease. Examine the underside of leaves and stems, as some insects hide in shaded areas.
Remove any infected leaves or plant material and discard. This includes removing yellowed or dying foliage that may be naturally occurring. Unless there is excessive leaf drop or discoloring of leaves, a few yellowed leaves on the bottoms of stems typically is not a concern, as this occurs naturally when the plant grows.
Wash foliage with a mixture of a few drops of mild dish detergent to a quart of water. Plants in small containers benefit from a bath in this mixture once a month. Swish the foliage in the soapy mixture (coating all areas) and allow to dry. Large containers may require hand application or the use of a sprayer.
Treat serious infestations that do not respond to soapy water with commercial products designed to control the specific pest. Visit you local home improvement store and look for organic or natural products if insect pests persist. Currently many manufacturers offer safe alternatives to chemical pesticides. Observe the precautions on the container and always follow application instructions. Although the product may be safe with proper use, storing it out of the reach of children and pets is often advised, as accidental ingestion or exposure to mucus membranes may cause discomfort.
Separate infected plants from healthy plants by isolating the container until the plant is pest free for 10 to 14 days.