If you’re a plant parent, sooner or later you’re going to come across a creepy-crawly or two—or, more likely, a few dozen. After all, when you bring a piece of nature indoors, usually nature brings a few friends along with her. While there’s no real way to completely prevent this from happening, by taking a few simple precautions you can greatly reduce the number of houseplant bugs you encounter. Chances are, you’ll save a few plant lives, too.
Here are 5 houseplant pest prevention tips:
1. SHOP SMART
Not only is this the most obvious tip to prevent houseplant pests, it’s also arguably the most effective. Before taking any new plant babies home, do a careful and thorough inspection. Look closely for webbing, odd leaf discolorations, sickly looking stems, as well as actual insects, too. Take your time and pay close attention, pest symptoms can be subtle and quite small.
If you happen to notice anything out of the ordinary while plant shopping, let an employee know. This will allow the shop to isolate the plant, treat it for bugs, and will help prevent other shoppers from taking home an infested houseplant.
2. QUARANTINE NEW PLANTS
To prevent potential bug problems from spreading, it’s a good rule of thumb to isolate new plants from your current collection for around 30-60 days. This will give you ample time to carefully observe your new plant baby for signs of illness or infestation before introducing it to the rest of your plant family.
3. CLEAN PLANTERS & POTS BEFORE EACH USE
Whether it’s a new addition from your local nursery or an old one you’re reusing, planters should always be deep cleaned before each use. This will significantly decrease the likelihood of cross-contamination for not only pests but also fungi and harmful bacteria.
To clean pots, fill your kitchen sink with a mixture of water, natural dish soap, and ¼ cup vinegar. Scrub for several minutes, dry, and you’re ready to re-pot!
4. MIND YOUR SOIL
It might seem obvious: but always use fresh, sterile soil. Using soil that’s been left outside unsealed or previously used soil is just asking for trouble. Eggs, bacteria, fungi, and various harmful insects are all known pitfalls.
5. REGULAR CHECKUPS
While doing your weekly waterings, make a habit of also closely inspecting each of your plant babies and giving them a quick clean. Large-leaved plants like Alocasias and Monsteras will especially benefit from weekly washes, as dust and other debris can quickly accumulate on their big leaves, which can interfere with photosynthesis.
Take this time to look for signs of houseplant bugs, such as sickly leaves and stems, webbing, or sticky residues. If you spot anything, immediately isolate the plant and consider lightly spraying it 1-2 a week with a non-toxic, plant-safe insecticide.
To clean your houseplant's leaves, simply spritz it with water and wipe it dry with a microfiber cloth.