‘Damages seedlings’: The ‘key’ to keeping ‘nuisance’ houseplant pests at bay all year

Aphids: RHS gardening expert gives tips for dealing with pests

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Houseplant pests can be extremely infuriating to get rid of. Not only is it frustrating, but indoor plant bugs can quickly kill the plant too. Indoor plant owners may have already had issues with a houseplant pest infestation before and never realised it. Perhaps their plant seemed perfectly healthy one day, then the next it started to die and you couldn’t figure out how to save it. Although some indoor plant owners may know that their plant is infested, they may not know how to get rid of the pests.

Gardening-Guru at Miracle-Gro, Kate Turner has explained the “key” to removing houseplant pests.

She said: “Although houseplants are usually trouble free, some indoor plants can suffer from pests, so vigilance is key when looking after any plants.”

Houseplant pests are tiny bugs or mites that feed on the leaves, stems and/or roots. 

There are many different types of bugs that can infest indoor plants.

Some will crawl around on the leaves or in the soil, and some can fly. 

Others don’t appear to move at all, and look more like a fungus or disease.

Below are the most common houseplants pests and how Kate advises to tackle them.

Fungus gnats

Fungus gnats are tiny flies that hover around indoor plants and fly up in a cloud when disturbed.

The adults do not do much damage, but the larval stage feeds on feeder roots along with organic debris and fungus in the potting soil. 

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Kate explained how they are more of a “nuisance” than other pests.

She said: “They are usually more of a nuisance than a pest, although their larvae can damage seedlings. 

“To avoid them, make sure your compost isn’t too wet as they love moist warm conditions. 

“If your plants do attract gnats, allow the compost to fully dry out before watering and add very fine grit to the surface.”

If these pests are persistent, then Kate advises plant owners to re-pot their plant.

Aphids

Aphids look like small green, white, yellow, or black spots that can appear on all parts of a plant.

They weaken plants by sucking on the stems and leaves.

Kate said: “These little insects can colonise indoor plants, so be vigilant for tiny green sapsuckers as they like new shoots. 

“They will hide on the underside of leaves so it’s important to look everywhere when you do tackle them.  

“To get rid of them, simply spray a diluted solution of washing up liquid onto the leaves.”

Spider mites

Spider Mites leave telltale webbing, especially on the inner joints of plants and in plants with lush foliage. 

The tiny mites are about the size of a pinhead and injure plants by sucking their juices.

Kate explained how spider mites are similar to aphids.

She said: “Spider mites are also sap-suckers like aphids, who cover the plant with a fine layer of webbing. 

“Like aphids, in order to get rid of them, simply spray a diluted solution of washing up liquid onto the leaves or squish them as and when you see one.”

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