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Protecting plants from insects

November 22, 2012
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

It is that time of the year when we are busy not only moving into the house our houseplants from the great outdoors, but we are also seeing the beginning of holiday houseplants that are purchased or given to us.

Houseplants are often grouped in our homes which make a lovely setting but it also can allow our houseplants to share pests that either came with them when we moved them indoors or when we purchased them.

The question, once we find insects on our plants, is how to get rid of them.

There are many nonchemical means of removing insects from your houseplants. This may be a necessary tool if for some reason you do not wish to use chemicals in or around your home. A good example is if you have small children or pets in the home. Generally speaking, however, it is best to use nonchemical means if the infestation is light.

You will find that most houseplants can tolerate a nice warm shower. This will help to wash off many of the insects that cling to the leaves and stems of a plant. There are some plants, however, that standing them inside a shower will surely kill them as quick as the insects may. You can also handpick the insects, use sticky traps or if it is one or two branches or leaves that have the insects on them, prune them out and dispose of the material. If you have a houseplant that really has a heavy infestation of insects, then you may want to consider just throwing out the plant.

There are many good houseplant insecticides that you can use within your home. It is important to look closely at the label of the insecticide since not all will treat all of the insects that may be out there or the insect that you have.

The active ingredients are often the best place to start, along with figuring out just what kind of insect you might have. If things have become crazy and you have a deep problem with a particular insect going on, then you might want to go with the extreme way to get rid of the pests. If possible, purchase or locate a large bag such as a dry cleaning bag or old bag that a plant may have been delivered to you in. Spray the insecticide of your choice over the plant and then enclosed every plant you have in these bags.

This works especially well if you have a flying insect problem. This will allow the insecticide time to work and leave no room for the insects to escape. The plants do well in these bags since it is for a short time and most of these types of bags are clear, which helps to allow light into the plant.

The bags are left on for about a week to 10 days and then removed. But, don't throw them away. Keep the bags handy just in case you start to see some of the little insects start to show up once more - this may be the case in particular with spider mites, thrips (which can fly, jump or run), fungus gnats and white flies.

If currently you do not have any problems with your houseplants, keep a watchful eye on them as we proceed through the holidays and especially if you purchase or receive a holiday plant or purchase a live Christmas tree. These types of plants, especially the Christmas tree, can harbor insects that are only too glad to move into your warm home.

A watchful eye on your houseplants will keep them blooming and looking great until they can be once again, moved outside to enjoy the great outdoors.

For more information about gardening, you can reach me at



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