Insects and plants exist together; in natural growing environments, weather and predators help to maintain a healthy balance between the two.
Indoor plants lack the environmental factors that help to control insects, so to avoid infestations, plant-keepers can practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is the implementation of effective, and environmentally sensitive techniques, to help prevent problematic populations of insects on plants before they become infestations.
Here are some IPM practices:
Learn about your plant and what growing conditions it prefers. Plants that are stressed are far more susceptible to infestations.
- Meet your plant's watering and lighting needs.
- Insect Identification: knowledge of what type(s) of insect(s) tend to favor your plant, and what they look like.
- Be aware if your plant is sensitive to having water or preventative sprays on its foliage.
Fertilizing & Top Soiling
- Use mild indoor plant fertilizer during the growing season (March-October).
- Replace the top layer of soil on your plants at least twice a year (every 3-4 months is even better!). Plants use up the soil nutrients in their pots more quickly than we realize, and this is a great way to provide them with a little boost; especially during the winter months when fertilizing is not indicated.
- Gently wipe the tops and bottoms of leaves with a sponge or cloth.
- Removing old plant debris.
- If your plant tolerates moisture on it's foliage, give your plant lightly pressurized water showers, targeting all surfaces of foliage.
Application of Products
- Use Gentle Preventative Sprays (Insecticidal Soap, Horticultural Oil) on a regular basis to prevent or treat any insects that may be present on the foliage. Know which products treat which insects, and if your plant can tolerate them. Keep in mind that over-application of spray products can impede the plant's ability to breathe and absorb sunlight. It is important to use products lightly, and to keep up with regular water misting and foliage cleaning (when applicable).
- Add Diotomaceous Earth to the topsoil to help prevent and treat insects that live in soil.
- Use Sticky Traps: trapping adult insects prevent further egg-laying, and allows you to monitor for infestations.