Preventing Pesky Plant Pests

Have you recovered from all of the horrifying pest pictures I shared in my last blog? (I hope so!)

Many of you may be wondering how you can avoid these gross critters altogether.

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Keep in mind that many times, all it takes to begin an outbreak is one tiny insect, sneaking in unaware on a new plant to cause massive damage to your entire houseplant family.

Always do a visual inspection of a plant before you buy it.Take your time when plant shopping to look carefully at the plant. Examine the stem, flip over the leaves, even poke the soil a little. If you do find some sort of pest, be sure to take the plant to the shop owner/greenhouse owner and let them know about the presence of pests. And definitely do NOT buy the plant.

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Use fresh soil and a clean pot.In one of my recent blog posts <link> I discussed how different types of plants prefer different types of soil. This is definitely true, and you will want to consider this when you are repotting a new plant. However, one of the main things to keep in mind – regardless of the type of soil you’re using – is to use fresh, sterile soil. You don’t want to use soil that unknowingly has pests in it, only to infect a perfect fine plant.  The same goes with pots – be sure to wash any old soil from a pot before reusing it with a new plant.

Check out the root ball when repotting plants.Sometimes, pests will lurk within the soil of a plant and may not be immediately evident. However, when you repot your plant into new soil, be sure to check out the root ball. If you see anything that even remotely resembles a pest (specifically look out for eggs and/or larvae), be sure to wash all of the old soil off of the roots before repotting the plant in a new pot. You will also want to monitor the plant closely for a while to be sure that you didn’t miss any eggs/larvae that could have matured into adults.

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Isolate new plants.By keeping a new plant separate from all the rest of your plant babies for a few weeks, you can ensure that if some pest DID sneak in, it is not going to hurt the rest of your plant family. During the isolation period, check on your plant frequently. Examine the stem, flip over the leaves, and poke at the soil again. If everything looks good after a couple of weeks, you can introduce your plant to the rest of your plant family (i.e. move it to it’s intended spot in your home).

Ideally, your plants should not touch each other. (This is something that I honestly don’t do in my own home.) However, pests that crawl can use leaves that touch as a mechanism for moving from plant to plant.

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A good way to help in preventing outbreaks of infestations is to wipe down your plants leaves every few weeks, or once a month. This also gives you the opportunity to notice anything unusual.

And here’s the thing: sometimes, pests happen. You can think that everything is good, you’ve followed all of your precautions, and suddenly – there’s a pest problem! Keeping a careful eye on your plants and periodically examining them for pests is an important part of continuing to keep plants pest-free! That way, if you discover a pest infestation, you can deal with it ASAP!

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I hope you have found this series helpful! Here’s wishing you all a fantastic, pest-free summer!

– the {house}plant momma

 

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