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How to Cure House Plants of Pests and Disease

Aug 10, 2008
Whenever you introduce a new house plant, it should be checked for insects and disease before placed alongside clean plants already present in your home. It does not matter where your plant came from, prevention is the best tactic. Begin by cleaning and applying an insecticide treatment to any new plant. If they are clean there's not much to worry about, as far as pests are concerned, but it is still recommended to apply pesticides frequently.

Cleaning, or sponging, a plant's foliage has multiple benefits. By removing dust from the leaves, you open up the pores, technically called stomata, used by a plant to breathe. Like anything that has life, plants must be able to breathe. House plants should be dusted monthly. Simultaneously, you should remove any insects, eggs or pupae present.

Pest Control

This method is perfect for plants with large leaves but for cleaning those with dense foliage, like ferns or grasses, dipping is preferable. This process should be done in a large sink, tub, or somewhere you can completely immerse your plant in an insecticide solution. You'll want to keep your plant in this location until it dries completely.

Sponging and dipping are effective in removing the following pests: aphids, a plant-eating, plant lice; thrips, minute insects with fringed wings; and red spiders, actually a type of plant-feeding mite closely related to arachnids. Unfortunately, there are more tenacious pests that necessitate more extreme measures. Mealy worms and scale insects are examples of these troublesome pests.

Telltale signs of a mealy bug's infestation are the actual presence of the small, yellow bug covered with a powdery, wax matter. Because this wax-like covering is quite water-proof, spray insecticides are worthless. Brushing each insect off and soaking them each methylated spirits will result in their demise. The second step, equally important, is to follow with sponging the entire plant, as described above. This two-step treatment is the most effective in providing your plant relief from these insect.

Because of their scaly coverings and shaper, scale insects are similar in appearance to that of freshwater snails, or limpets, thus the origin of its name. Individual removal of the insects, using a match or piece of wood, from any leaves or stems is required due to its impermeable outer coat resistant to insecticides. Again insecticide sponging is an essential step in treating your house plant. It will destroy any eggs that may have been left behind.

Special insecticides are also available for controlling ants, earwigs, woodlice and slugs.

Soil Quality

Although controlling pests is crucial, soil maintenance also offers multiple benefits. Vital to your plant's health is the use of clean dirt when adding top soil or repotting. To sterilize compost, it must be heated in a heat-resistant container to kill any insects, larvae, disease, weeds, seeds, and roots. This process also releases organic nutrients and improves the soil's fertility. During the 20 minutes of the heating process, at a temperature no greater 85?C, the soil should be stirred sporadically and later removed and spread out to cool off. Do not try using the soil until well cooled. The same results can be obtained by using naphthalene powder or ?Aldrin?, the brand name for a chemical soil sterilizer.

Fungal Disease

Mildew is the most common fungal disease and appears on the top of houseplants leaves and stems. This fuzzy white matter should be treated with fungicides, watch out on corn plants and bromeliads. By sifting the powder over the leaves and upper and lower areas of the plant, you will effectively cure your houseplant of this disease.
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