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How To Protect Your Plants From Pests

There are endless reasons to love plants. They purify the air, improve our mental health, and give us something to care for. Unfortunately, pests love plants as well.

Sometime during your plant’s life, you’ll likely see small pests chewing or sucking the life out of your plants. But don’t fear; protecting your plants from pests is possible. We’ll provide you with some of the basics of preventing and controlling pests, so your plants remain healthy.

How to Prevent Pests

The first line of protection is prevention. To keep your plants from succumbing to insect pests, practice the following.

Keep Pests Out

The easiest way to prevent pest damage to your plants is to stop these insects from entering your indoor spaces. This starts with sourcing healthy, pest-free plants. Whether you’re bringing in fresh flowers for your kitchen or adding a new houseplant to your living room, these new plants must not be vectors for pests or diseases.

Before you add new plants to your home, inspect them for any sign of pests and disease. It's a good idea to place any new plants far from the rest of your indoor garden, for up to a month. In this way, you will make sure they won't infest the other plants in case they are carrying pests. If you don’t have enough space, consider a gentle insecticidal treatment just to be safe.

If you have moved your plant outdoors for the summer, you should carefully inspect and wash it before bringing it back inside.

Keep your Plants Healthy

Just like with humans, the healthier a plant is, the better it can fight off an attacker. By keeping your plants healthy, you’ll increase the likelihood they will be able to fight off any pests that arrive.

If you want healthy plants, you need to provide proper fertility. Plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. By giving your plant the required nutrients, you ensure that it has all it needs to grow and develop. Even more, properly fertilized plants can produce secondary compounds that fight off insects.

Another component that can make or break a plant’s health is water. Both underwatering and overwatering can decrease plant health and therefore increase susceptibility to pests. Additionally, overwatering can lead to increased problems with pests like fungus gnats and slugs.

Along with fertility and water, make sure to provide your plant with the proper temperature and light. Different types of plants have different needs, so research the environment your plant will thrive in.

When you find yourself repotting your plants, always use a clean pot and some sterilized potting mix. Make sure the soil you are using is in excellent condition: it could have been invaded by pest if the bag was left open outdoor.

How to Control Pests

Even if you take all the necessary precautions to protect your plants from pests, some attackers will likely still arrive. If you notice insects on your plants, your plants still have a chance of fighting them off — especially if you know how to help them do so.

The first step in controlling pests is determining what type of insect is attacking your plant. Most of the time, you can see the insect yourself, but sometimes you will only see signs of damage.

Here are some common pests that attack plants:

  • Aphids: small, soft-bodied insects that suck the sap from plants

  • Fungus gnats: small flies that lay their eggs in the soil; larvae chew on plant roots

  • Mealybugs: white insects that look like wax-covered cotton and suck plant juices

  • Spider mites: very small sap-sucking pests

  • Thrips: small sap-sucking insects that may turn leaves silvery

Once you identify the pest, it’s time to take action. If you only see a few insects on your plant, you can remove them with your hands and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. Another option is to use a spray bottle or hose to spray the pests off with water.

However, if you have a larger infestation, you’ll likely need to take another action. Since you’ll be hanging around your plants, it’s good to use non-toxic control methods. Fortunately, there are a number of safe options available.

  • Castile soap can act against soft-bodied pests like aphids and spider mites. Once the soap makes contact with the pest, it begins to break down pest cell walls, eventually leading to death. It’s important to note that you must spray the soap on the entire plant, soil and leaves, for it to work effectively.

  • Neem oil is derived from the seeds of the neem tree. When sprayed on pests, it kills juvenile aphids, mealybugs, and thrips through suffocation. Neem oil also discourages insects from eating your plants and disrupts insects’ life cycles. Therefore, it may take a few weeks to see the full effects.

  • Diatomaceous earth – a type of powder is another natural and effective insecticide. Sprinkle the powder on your Pilea so that there is a light layer on the leaves and the soil. Keep treating the plant every day for at least 7-10 days. The bugs will walk through it and die shortly after contact.

  • Beneficial insects don’t go after your plants. Instead, they munch on the pests that attack our plants. For example, ladybugs can eat enough aphids to knock down populations quickly.

Now that you know the basics of protecting your plants from pests, it’s time to set them up for success. By providing the proper environment and taking action against pests when they arrive, you’ll be able to continue enjoying your plants.

Many thanks to for the article.

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