Indoor Gardening Maintenance

How To Identify and Eliminate Indoor Plant Pests

Pests can be annoying, and the last thing you want is to see that your plant baby is being attacked by them! Pests are most often seen on outdoor plants, but they sneak their way into your houseplants from time to time. Here is how to identify and eliminate the most common indoor plant pests.

Common plant pests and how to squash them.

1. Fungus Gnats

Common plant pests and how to identify and eliminate fungus gnats.

Fungus gnats are often the most noticed pest because they fly around your home. They are a nuisance because you can see them wondering around your plant and room! Thankfully they do very little harm to plants but are annoying nonetheless.

Symptoms: You will see small, black flies zipping in and out of your plant substrate or soil surface. The larvae look like small worms approximately 1mm in length, and wriggle around when the soil is wet.

Treatment: Pick off any dead plant matter from the top of the soil and ensure you dry out the soil. To keep the surface of the soil dryer, bottom water your plant as this will reduce the fungus gnat population.

You can use yellow sticky traps to catch the adult population of fungus gnats. This works well for reducing the amount of gnats flying around but doesn’t solve the problem.

Other popular gnat killing techniques include using a layer of ant sand on the surface of the plant, adding pebbles or bark to the soil’s surface, bug spray and pest killers.

2. Mealybugs

How to identify and eliminate mealybugs, a common indoor plant pest

Mealybugs are attracted to plant sap, sucking it from the plant as food. They look like furry, white woodlice and cluster on the plant leaf. If you leave your mealybugs, their damage will cause leaves to yellow and die.

Symptoms: Colonies of mealybugs tend to group on the undersides of leaves and in leaf joints. The infested plant will begin wilting and appearing dehydrated. Leaf loss might come on quick suddenly and honeydew residue will appear.

Treatment: Wipe them off with a wet rag, or spray the plant with water. Then follow by spraying small amounts of liquid soap/water solution onto the plant.

3. Aphids / Blackfly / Greenfly

Aphids or black fly or green fly, a common indoor plant pest

Aphids also suck the sap from plants, however attacking soft plant growth, tips and flowers. They usually hide on the underside of plant leaves to keep out of sight. Like mealybugs, aphids clump together as a colony, making them easy to spot with the human eye.

Symptoms: An aphid infestation can be identified by a large mass of aphids, sticky honeydew residue and white/grey husks in the soil. The leaves of your plant will likely turn yellow and growth will become distorted.

Treatment: Create a warm soapy water mix with warm water and a small amount of liquid soap. Spray the plant with the solution, limiting the amount touching the soil. Wait five minutes and wash off the soap mixture. Repeat in a few weeks if necessary.

4. Red Spider Mites

Red Spider Mite Plant Pest

Red Spider Mites are one of the most difficult pests to get rid off and are dreaded by most plant lovers. They are arachnids and therefore related to regular spiders. Spider mites spin webs on your plant but don’t feed on insects but instead on the liquids within the plant leaves. They use webs to protect their colony and create shortcuts to other parts of the plant.

Symptoms: The most obvious sign of an infestation is sticky webbing. Other symptoms include mottled leaves with small brown dots caused by the spider piercing the leaf with its mouth.

Treatment: You can treat mites with water and humid conditions. Pop your plant in the shower once a week to shower it and help wash off webbing and reduce spider mite numbers. Mist the plant daily to increase humidity.

5. Scale

Scale indoor house plant pest

Scale have hard outer brown shells that camouflage into the plant. This can make it hard to identify.

Symptoms: Sticky honeydew is a simple sign that you have a scale problem. It will turn black and create a soot like mould. They make an appearance on the underside of leaves as small round or oblong brown disks.

Treatment: You can use the aphid spray method to soften the scale discs. After approximately five minutes, wipe the leaf with a damp cloth. You can also try rubbing or picking them off to kill them or dab the individual scales with alcohol to dissolve them.

We hope you’ve learnt something and now know how to identify and eliminate your indoor plant pests.

If you’re having other plant problems, check out our list on the most common indoor plant problems.

Indoor Gardening Maintenance

The Most Common Indoor Plant Problems

As you start decorating your interior spaces with plants, be aware that they are living beings and even though all they need is a little bit of water to live, placing them indoors is often suboptimal and that it would often survive better outside. The most common indoor plant problems come from overwatering.

Here are the most common indoor plant issues you may encounter and how to remedy them.

Pots of plants placed in a cluster indoors.

1. Root Rot

Root rot occurs when the plant isn’t able to absorb the moisture and nourishment from the soil. It instead suffers from dehydration despite the soil being moist. Curing root rot can be quick difficult, so it’s best to prevent it at all costs by ensuring that you have a regular watering schedule and that your plants have adequate drainage.

If your plant is already affected by root rot, remove the soil by rinsing the roots of your plant and trim away the rotting roots. With fewer roots to sustain your plant, you may also need to trim some of the leaves.

2. Burnt or Wilting Leaves

Burnt leaves are a sign that your plant is in an area too hot for its liking and is getting burnt by direct sunlight. Tropically foliage is the most easily affected by burning, so keep your tropical friends away from direct sun and position them in bright, indirect light.

3. Curling Leaves

Plants get affected by leaf curling when subjected to drought conditions or low humidity. To remedy this, try to water regularly and mist the leaves of your plant.

4. Yellow Leaves

When plants get older, yellow leaves will drop off as the ageing process continues. This is considered completely normal. However, if your plant is young and a majority of the leaves on it are yellowing, including new growth, it could be a sign that the plant is getting too much light. Adjusting the plant’s position in your home to get indirect light may improve its conditions.

Yellow leaves can also be due to a lack of light, low humidity, poor soil drainage and wet soil as well as low temperatures caused by drafts and air conditioners.

5. Leaves Dropping

Dropping leaves can both be due to under and overwatering. You can test the moisture of the soil by sticking your finger in the top layer. As a rule of thumb, it is best to wait a couple of days to see if your plant is dehydrated. Saving an underwatered plant is much easier than an overwatered plant.

Defoliation can also occur as a result of poor lighting conditions and injury via low temperatures.

You may need to repot into a larger pot and check for insects and diseases. Low humidity and extreme hot and cold temperatures may also be the cause.

6. Browning Leaf Edges

The edges of your leaves might turn brown due to dry air conditions or under watering. Another cause may also be over-fertilising which causes leaf burn.

Soft water, dry soil and low temperatures can also cause brown leaf tips.

7. Sparse Growth / Leggy Plant

Leggy or sparse growth is an indicator that your plant is not getting enough natural light as it tries to reach toward the sunlight by creating thin, extended growth patterns.

8. Lopsided Growth

Lopsided growth can occur when one half of the pot faces the sun and the other doesn’t. Ensure that you are rotating your pots to get even growth.

9. Pests

The most common pests in indoor plants include: aphids, mealybugs, mites, scale, thrips, and whitefly. These critters often find their way into potting soil or may come from nurseries infected by pests. They can cause stunted growth, distorted and curled foliage.

There are a variety of chemical products and home remedies to get rid of your annoying pests.

So there are the most common indoor plant problems. We hope you’ve learnt the next steps in making your plants happy and healthy.

Check out our article on types of plant pots to pick a pot that has sufficient drainage for your plants.