Overcoming Houseplant Pests
Author: John Wellington
If aphids are not actually seen on plants the first sign of attack will be twisted, warped and discoloured leaves and shoots, particularly at the growing tips, soft and succulent.
Unfortunately red spider is not so easy to sec as aphids. Be suspicious if leaves begin to yellow and fall. If this mottled appearance is seen, feel the affected leaf between your fingers. If it feels slightly rough to the touch turn the leaf over and look at the underside. It is possible that you may be able to see the tiny mite (it is not a. spider despite its name) without a glass, but it is very small and multiplies rapidly again. To make quite sure, dust a little powder or some cigarette ash on the underside of the leaf and if this is held you will he able to see the little web-like strands.
The commercial grower also has facilities and chemicals which we cannot possibly have or use on our own homes. He can spray with insecticides far too toxic for us to use. For these reasons it is seldom that we bring pests or diseases into our homes from newly purchased or newly received plants. It is far more likely that if they appear they are the result of our own carelessness or lack of attention to good cultivation.
A weakly plant can quickly become the host in summer to greenfly which has flown in through the window or has been brought into the house on a bunch of garden flowers. Regular inspection of the plants will reveal their presence and they can then be cleared at once before they either do any harm or before they multiply and spread to other plants. The prevalent sin of overwatering can lead to fungal attack, and if watering is done carefully and wisely it is most unlikely that our plants will suffer in this way.
Probably the most likely pest to be encountered by plants in the home is the aphid, probably greenfly and less likely blackfly. We have all seen these insects in our gardens and will recognize them if we examine our plants closely.
Some systemics can be bought in handy aerosol packs which give a very fine spray. Make sure that every part of the plant receives some of the chemical, the undersides of leaves, leaf joints and every other little nook and cranny. Aerosol sprays are ready mixed. If you mix your own and use a garden spray always follow the directions exactly. Never add a little more of the chemical for luck as this can harm your plant.
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