With autumn in full swing and Halloween right around the corner, I wanted to compile a blog post full of tips that deal with one of the scariest parts of plant ownership; pests.
While finding pests on your favorite house plants may give you quite a fright; many times they can totally be dealt with and managed with consistent treatment and a few simple tips.
Read along for some helpful tips on dealing with most common plant pests and specifically on how I deal with fungus gnats.
Firstly, it happens to everyone…
I know the feeling all too well; one of your plants isn’t thriving like it used to and upon further inspection, you discover bugs on your prized plant. You may feel like you have failed as a plant parent, but I’m here to re-assure you that it happens to the best of us. Often pests sneak into your home from the outside; from a new plant at the greenhouse, or is transferred from a different infected plant.
One of my best tips for avoiding pests in your home, is to take time at the store to inspect your plant thoroughly. Lift the leaves, inspect the soil, and get up close and personal before introducing a new plant to your home. Once you have given it a good look, bring it home, isolate it from your other plants (I quarantine mine in my en-suite bathtub), and give it a thorough treatment using Plant Vitamins Protect. I isolate my new plant for 3-4 weeks, treating weekly with Protect before introducing it to the rest of my collection. These steps really help cut down on the possibility of your new plant infecting your older ones.
So say you’ve done everything right and you happen to discover pests on your plants…
Step one; breathe, and then isolate any infected plants from your other healthy plants. Many plant pests spread very rapidly from one plant to another and so keeping the infected plants away from the rest of your collection is key. Next, rinse down the leaves as best as you can, using the water pressure to remove as many pests as you can. Once you have given the plant a good spray, follow with Plant Vitamins Protect diluted in a spray bottle with a drop of dish soap. Spray the plant thoroughly on the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Once the plant is fully sprayed; follow with a cloth to remove any last pests that may be lingering. Pay careful attention to any nooks and crannies that pests may be hiding in. Continue this routine until you have rid your plants of the insects and feel confident re-introducing your plant into the mix.
How can I avoid pests in the future?
My advice is to keep your plant as healthy as possible. Healthy plants are less succeptible to insect attacks and can resist pests better than unhealthy plants. Adequate sunlight, an attuned watering schedule, and regular fertilization all contribute to a healthy plant. Through the fall, I help my plants thrive by keeping them closer to sunny windows, bottom watering, and using Plant Vitamins Thrive on the first watering of a new month. If you’re new to fertilization, and just introducing a fertilizer to your plants now in fall, I would recommend diluting half strength as your plants adjust. Plant Vitamins makes it easy to measure with their clear instructions, and dropper-style bottle. They also sell it in a larger size for avid gardeners.
Lastly, the question I get asked the most on my page: how do I deal with those little flies buzzing around my plants?
Fungus gnats are one of the most common pests and luckily, they do not cause damage to your plants. While super annoying, dealing with them isn’t too hard. The first order of business is to let the top layer of soil dry fully. If you are struggling with fungus gnats, it’s likely due to overwatering and the top layer of your soil is staying moist. Switching from top watering to bottom watering will make a world of difference.
Once the top layer has dried completely, sprinkle some cinnamon all over to top layer. This works really well to deter fungus gnats from laying eggs in the soil. Lastly, if those two methods aren’t doing the trick, purchase some sticky traps to place in the soil.
I hope that these tips today helped take some of the scariness out of dealing with plant pests. Join me on my Instagram feed or on TikTok for more plant tips on the regular!
‘Till next time,