To keep your houseplants healthy and handsome, inspect them carefully for insects each time you water. Most insects are easier to control if you catch them before your plants are heavily infested, and your plants will certainly be better off.
The most common problem insects on houseplants include:
- Aphids – These tiny green insects are soft-bodied and slow-moving. Their damage usually shows as distorted new leaves, stem tips, and buds. They also excrete a sticky residue.
- Mealybugs – One of the more serious problems of houseplants, they appear as cottony masses in the leaf axils. They secrete a waxy coating, making them difficult to control.
- Scale insects – These are noticeable when plant nodes, stems, and leaves are covered with cottony, cushionlike white masses or crusty brown bumps, or somewhat flattened reddish gray or brown bumps. The damage shows as leaf yellowing and eventual leaf drop.
- Spider mites – Related to spiders, these mites cause damage by sucking sap from the undersides of leaves. The damage shows as yellow stippling of the leaves; once the populations are high, you will see webbing on the undersides of leaves. Mites thrive in heat and low humidity, and controlling those environmental conditions will often take care of many of the mites.
- Whiteflies – The tiny, winged insects feed mainly on the undersides of leaves. They are covered with a waxy white powder. When the plant is touched, insects flutter around it. Leaves may be mottled and yellow, and a sugary material may coat the leaves.
Your best defense against these problem insects is to keep them out. Since most houseplant insects enter the house on new plants, be sure to thoroughly inspect plants before you bring them in from outdoors or before purchasing them at the store.
If you do find them on your plants at home, the easiest way to control all of these insects is with rose & flower insect killer.