How to Control Pests on Indoor Plants - Walls of Plants

How to Control Pests on Indoor Plants

Houseplants are a delight to have in your home or office due to the many health and wellbeing benefits they possess. Not only do they brighten up your space and bring a sense of peace to any room, but they act as natural air purifiers too.

Like all good things, houseplants are susceptible to damage. Studies have proven that alongside the fear of lacking green fingers, having bugs in the home is one of the leading deterrents of people investing in all they have to offer. But, when you are equipped with the appropriate knowledge to prevent and tackle common pests, you can rest easy knowing that your plants are thriving, and pests are not.

So join Walls of Plants as we explain everything you need to know about indoor plant pests, and how to control them.

Common indoor plant pests

Spider mites: Mites are tiny red pests that suck the fluids from plants and are most commonly found on the underside of leaves. Signs of infestation include light spots on the leaves, and in extreme cases, leaves will turn yellow and you may find a fine amongst new growth.

Fungus gnats: Fungus gnats are small flies that are commonly associated with damp compost. They breed quickly which means infestation can occur within days. Fungus gnats do not damage plants but can become a nuisance in your home/office if not dealt with quickly.

Aphids: There are many types of aphids but the most common ones found on house plants are light green and brown coloured. Aphids travel quickly between plants, so regular inspection is vital to preventing infestations. They attach themselves to stems, and are clearly visible. New leaves will look crinkled and there will be other obvious signs that your plant is unwell.

Whitefly: Whiteflies are small flies that resemble tiny white moths with yellow tinted heads. They are resistant to many pesticides and other control methods so prevention is important for keeping them at bay.

Mealybugs: Mealybugs feed on sap and live together in clusters. They excrete a substance that looks like a sticky white wax where mould grows. These impact the growth of plants and can cause the death of existing leaves.

Thrip: Also known as spider mites, thrips suck out the fluids in plants by scraping and puncturing the skin of plant leaves. Leaves will become dull green and be marked by dark spots of excrement.

What attracts pests to indoor plants?

Indoor plants themselves are not magnets for pests, but there are certain conditions in your home, as well as features of your plants, that can make infestation more likely. When you control these, you reduce the likelihood of attracting pests, as well as giving them a suitable environment to breed in.

These include:

Moisture: Pests are attracted to moisture so humid environments and plants that are overwatered can attract pests that thrive in moist soil like fungus gnats.
Nutrient-rich soil: Soil that is rich in organic matter can attract pests like fungus gnats, aphids, and spider mites that feed on decaying plant material or organic nutrients in the soil.
Poor air circulation: Stagnant air around indoor plants can create favourable conditions for pests like spider mites and aphids.
Lack of natural predators: Indoor environments often lack the natural predators that help control pest populations outdoors.
Infected plants: Bringing in new plants without proper inspection can introduce pests into your indoor environment. Pests can also spread from one plant to another if infected plants are not isolated or treated promptly.
Stress: Weak or stressed plants are more susceptible to pest infestations. Factors such as inadequate lighting, improper watering, or nutrient deficiencies can weaken plants and make them more vulnerable to pests.
Seasonal changes: Certain pests may be more active during specific times of the year, such as spider mites being more prevalent in warm, dry conditions.

How to prevent common pests

1. Choose healthy plants

Select healthy plants from reputable retailers. If buying plants from a physical shop, inspect the plants before you bring them home to check for signs of ill health or infestations before bringing them home.

If you’re buying from an online shop, make sure you check the reviews to make sure other people are happy with their plants. Pay attention to the quality when yours arrive and use this to inform your future buying.

2. Isolate new plants

Before integrating new plants into your indoor garden, isolate them in a separate area for a few weeks. This precautionary measure allows you to monitor them closely for any signs of pests or diseases without risking the health of your existing plants.

Clean them regularly before you introduce them to your plant room.

3. Get into good watering habits

Overwatering can create the perfect breeding ground for pests like fungus gnats. Use these tips to keep your watering habits healthy:

1. Be consistent: Establish a watering routine based on each plant’s needs. Be mindful of the moisture levels in the soil, and wait for the top inch of soil to dry before watering.
2. Use good quality water: Room temperature rain or filtered water is best for healthy plants.
3. Ensure proper drainage: Always keep your plants in a self-draining pot within your decorative pot so water can drain out of the bottom. Avoid leaving standing/stagnant water in trays beneath your pots.
4. Research your plants: Different plants have different watering requirements, and will thrive with different watering routines.

4. Circulate the air in your home

Proper air circulation helps deter pests and promotes overall plant health. Place fans strategically to improve air movement around your indoor plants. This simple step can prevent the buildup of stagnant air which attracts common pests.

5. Keep the area clean

Regularly remove dead leaves, fallen flowers, and any debris from the surface of the soil. Pests and their eggs often hide in decaying plant matter.

By keeping your indoor garden clean, you eliminate potential breeding grounds for pests and reduce the risk of infestation.

6. Monitor your plants

Regular inspection is crucial for early detection and intervention against pests. Look for signs of pest activity such as discoloured leaves, webbing, sticky residue (honeydew), or tiny insects crawling on the foliage.

Promptly address any pest sightings to prevent them from spreading to other plants.

7. Keep your plants healthy

Healthy, well cared for plants are far better at controlling pest infestations, and will bounce back from infestation quicker.

Provide your indoor plants with the appropriate amount of light, water, and nutrients they need to thrive. Avoid stressing plants with sudden changes in environmental conditions, as stressed plants are more vulnerable to pest attacks.

8. Use natural pest control

Implement organic pest control methods whenever possible to minimise the use of harmful chemicals. Options include introducing beneficial insects like ladybirds, spraying plants with neem oil or insecticidal soap, or using sticky traps to catch flying pests.

Treating a plant with an infestation

Successfully combating a plant infestation is simpler than it might seem if caught early, and the right approach rarely comes from the application of pesticides. In fact, this can sometimes do more harm to your plants than good.

Follow the step-by-step process below to naturally treat your plants and remove pests from your green space:

1. Inspect your plants:

Early detection is key to treating pest infestations as you will be able to control the spread of the pests, and remove them before they breed or spread to your other plants.

We would recommend conducting daily checks. These don’t have to be extensive, as you will learn the condition of your plants quickly and eventually be able to spot the signs without trying.

Check the undersides of leaves, stems and soil for signs of:

  • Pest colonies
  • Webbing
  • Mould/fungus
  • Stunted growth on leaves
  • Yellowing/browning leaves
  • Unusual or irregular spotting

2. Identify the pest:

Knowing which pest is on your plant will give you a better idea of how to treat the infestation. For example, fungus gnats can’t be removed through the wiping of leaves, but soaking the top layer of soil in soapy water will kill the larvae.

Make sure you research the pest and find the best treatment method.

3. Isolate the plant:

If one of your houseplants is showing signs of pests then you need to isolate it to prevent the spread to your other plants. Find a room in your house with no other plants, but make sure the conditions are still healthy for that particular plant.

4. Deep clean:

Deep clean your plants with soapy water and a damp cloth. You can use a solution of natural washing up liquid as this will not harm your plants, as long as you wipe them dry following the clean.

5. Use natural pesticides:

Natural remedies like specialised oils and herbal sprays will deter pests whilst keeping your plant healthy.

6. Hang sticky plant traps:

If your plant is infested with a flying insect, then leaving sticky plant traps next to your plants can control the spread. These traps are coloured yellow to attract the insects.

Keep in mind that these traps will not completely treat the infestation, but they can aid towards controlling it throughout treatment. Placing a few in the soil of your houseplants as standard can also help you identify their presence at the first sign of infestation.

7. Remove damaged leaves and stems:

Pruning your plants and removing any dead/damaged leaves and stems will remove the most infected areas from your plants, and prevent decaying matter from building up in your plant pots.

Decaying matter will encourage the spread of infestation and attract other pests.

8. Monitor and maintain consistent treatment:

Pest infestations on indoor plants won’t go away overnight, so treatment must continue until you can be certain that the infestation is gone.

At Walls of Plants, our chief gardener has a wealth of knowledge on how to keep plants thriving and bug free. His odd ability to know everything about plants means he is on hand to find the best plants for your plant wall, and make sure they are healthy and free from pests upon installation.

Our auto-feed tank systems are designed to remove the pressure of watering from your shoulders, and keep your soil as healthy as possible, reducing the risk of pest infestations.

Contact us today to discover how our Greenwalls and Slimwalls can enhance your indoor space.

    Your Basket
    Your basket is emptyReturn to Shop