• The Plant Den

Plant Pests: Know Your Enemy!

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Pests! At some point we all have to contend with them.

It's important to stress that our indoor gardens suffer far less from attack than our outdoor ones, but when bugs do appear they can spread rapidly owing to warmer conditions and the absence of any natural predators.

The good news is that our otherwise healthy plants can tolerate a pest providing they have been well tended; watered properly, fed regularly and given favourable light and temperature levels. Houseplants that are already struggling with some form of neglect aren't going to fight off an attack quite so readily, so the first line of defence is to keep your plants in tip top condition. A regular spot of houseplant maintenance should alert you to any emerging problems and in the first instance you should physically remove a pest by showering it off or dabbing it with a cotton bud soaked in alcohol.

We would always advocate for natural pest control because frankly there are too many chemicals in our homes already, so here are the key offenders and the appropriate remedies to limit or remove them.

1) Blackfly, Greenfly and Aphids.

These sap-sucking insects attack the soft tissue of a plant. Growing tips are their favourite gathering point. They excrete sticky honeydew over nearby leaves and surrounding surfaces and this residue may be your first indication of their infestation. They are easily showered off. Taking care to avoid the soil, direct a strong blast of lukewarm water at the affected areas. Repeat a few days later. An alternative is to purchase Ladybirds through the post and watch with macabre fascination as they feast on your unwanted guests bottom first!

2) Compost Gnats.

Compost Gnats or Sciarid Flies lay their eggs in the surface of your plant's soil. Their larvae are maggots that can damage the roots of seedlings. The adult flies are simply annoying whilst the maggots can be harmful. To deter them, sprinkle gravel or vermiculite over the soil surface. (Adults l