The plant doctor is back to solve your houseplant problems!
Houseplants can get infected occasionally by a variety of pests, including spider mites. We will show you how to detect and control spider mites before they wreak havoc in your indoor garden.
What are spider mites?
Spider mites are a tiny type of arachnid – reddish brown or pale in colour and oval-shaped. Living in colonies, spider mites feed off plant fluids by sucking the sap from the leaves.
Identifying spider mites
The key to getting rid of spider mites is early detection. The most common signs of spider mites are:
Yellow or white dots on the leaves of your plant
Numerous leaves turning yellow or brown, before drying up and falling off
Fine, white webbing on the underside of leaves
Tiny red or white specks moving across your leaves (the mites themselves!)
You can confirm whether it is spider mites or other pests like aphids, by tapping a leaf against a sheet of white paper, and observing if there are mites on the paper.
Controlling the damage
You can get rid of spider mites through natural, organic and chemical ways.
Regardless of your choice of solution, the first thing you should do is isolate the houseplant, and spray down its leaves and stems thoroughly with a strong stream of water from a high-pressure spray or hose. Repeat the process a few times.
A natural way to control spider mites involves releasing natural predators such as ladybugs and predatory mites, which will eat up spider mites and their eggs. Harmless to the plants, these insects may be purchased from some nurseries, and are especially effective for those with a larger collection of houseplants.
If you opt for chemicals, choose miticides rather than general pesticides, to avoid killing beneficial insects that prey on spider mites. Spider mites are also known for being highly adaptable to synthetic pesticides, as they quickly develop resistance. Thus, you may wish to opt for organic methods, such as the application of plant-based oils like neem oil.
Preventing spider mites
Various factors, including water stress and dust, can trigger mite infestations. As mites thrive under warm and dry conditions, watering your houseplants regularly can help prevent their spread. Keep the soil as humid as possible, and mist the underside of the leaves occasionally.
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