Taking up indoor gardening can be a very beneficial task during the colder seasons. However, that does not mean there aren’t challenges. A particular challenge comes in the form of tiny insects that adversely affect plant growth — pests.
There are many pests that can affect plant growth. To get started, here are a few of the more common houseplant pests and how to deal with them.
Aphids are small insects with soft, pear-shaped bodies. Typically, these insects are green but are also known to be pink, brown, black, or yellow in color.
These insects suck the plant’s sap resulting in yellow, misshaped leaves. A plant can also experience stunted growth from an aphid infestation.
In addition, aphids excrete a sugary material that can cause leaves to be shiny and sticky. This material, honeydew, can encourage sooty mold fungi to grow.
These insects tend to congregate on the underside of a plant’s leaves or around new growth.
To deal with a minor aphid infestation try handpicking the infested areas, spraying the plant with water, or wiping the insects with a swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Mealybugs are small, pale insects. They are commonly found on the lower parts of the leaves or where the leaf attaches to the stem.
The mealybug sucks plant sap causing stunting and distorted growth. Much like aphids, mealybugs excrete honeydew, thereby allowing an opportunity for sooty mold fungi to grow.
A minor infestation can be handled by removing individual insects by hand or wiping them with a cotton swap dipped in rubbing alcohol. A heavy infestation of mealybugs may require the plant to be discarded completely.
Spider mites are more commonly problematic for plants that remain indoors year-round. They are extremely small and, similarly to the mealybug and aphid, cause damage to plants by sucking on the plant’s sap.
The first sign of spider mite presence is plant damage that includes light-colored speckles on the surface of the plant’s leaves. Leaves can become a yellow or bronze color and will eventually die if the mites are left alone.
Pests like aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites can do irreparable damage to plants. So, it is important to always be on the lookout for any damage to the plants as they continue to grow.