Houseplants: Expert shares tips for natural pesticides
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Houseplants are just as prone to pests as outdoor plants and may well need to be separated from other indoor plants if they become infected. While it may be tempting to turn to chemical insecticides, these can do more harm than good. Chemical solutions can also be more expensive too.
So how can you tackle pests on your houseplants?
Houseplant expert and all-round gardening pro Alice Vincent shared her tips in a video for Patch Plants in 2018.
Before trying to tackle the problem head-on, Alice first suggested doing some research and diagnosing the problem.
She said: “With pest control, you can either choose to use an inorganic pest spray which will totally get rid of your bugs or you can go for a more natural option.
“Before you start, make sure you know what the issue is.
“Take a look at our information on common plant illnesses and how to cure them.
“Treating your plant for the wrong thing can do more harm than good.”
Once you know what’s infecting your plant, you can start to look for natural treatments.
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Alice said chemicals can also be dangerous to use around children and pets in the home.
She explained: “Chemical pesticides and fungicides can contain a lot of toxins, often reintroducing exactly the ones that we brought plants into our homes to remove, so making a natural alternative can avoid bringing those chemicals into our homes and it’s safer to keep around if you have pets or children.
“So with organic pesticides a good place to start is with a mix of mild liquid soap and water sprayed onto houseplants.
“One teaspoon of soap per litre of water will do the job and it sounds simple but this formula will treat a lot of common, household pests – and it’s a real favourite among organic gardeners.
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“If you’ve got problems with mould as well, if you add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to that soap mix it will become a great fungicide as well.”
Another common solution is to use something called neem oil.
Neem oil is from a tree in South Asia called Azadirachta indica.
As an insecticide, neem oil can kill small soft-bodied insects like aphids, mealybugs, mites, thrips and whiteflies.
Alice added: “It’s usually bought online and again you just mix it with water, normally around two teaspoons of neem oil and one teaspoon of mild soap with a litre of water and you can spray that on to infected plants.
“It also has a residual effect so you know it’ll keep working away in the background as you treat your indoor plants.”
Using chilli is another way you can repel insects, according to the gardening expert.
However, Alice said she’s “uncertain” as to how well it works if pests are already there.
“Other people totally swear by chilli spray to repel insects although that’s definitely a preventative measure,” she explained.
“We don’t know how well it works once the bugs are there and in that case you want to mix one teaspoon of chilli powder with a litre of water and a few drops of mild soap and spray the whole lot onto your plants.”
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