Mealy bugs - Yuck! 😣
Plants, including houseplants, are an integral part of the natural world. Insects are also an integral part of the natural world. So, it’s only natural that they go hand in hand.
However, finding bugs in your houseplants can be a big bummer! Discovering insects making a home in your monstera, crawling and nesting in the soil, munching on root systems, moving throughout stems, leaves and flowers, leaving behind a path of destruction can be heart wrenching. Trust me, I’ve so been there my friends.
Plant pests, even their appearance, can induce anxiety, stress, or sometimes fear. Personally, I’m so accustomed to bugs at this point in my career, they no longer frighten me...with the one exception of earwigs! OY! Their shocking appearance from out of nowhere as they scurry across my hand, across the soil only to dart head first into the tiniest crevice, has definitely taken my breath away more than once! So what are some natural ways to discourage bugs from feeling right at home in your plants?
Start by checking the leaves and soil each time you water your plants
This simple addition to your watering routine is the most valuable use of your time & energy. It’s important because you will be able to stop a full blown invasion if you catch it in time!
To add this pest control to your routine, simply take a moment, look closely at your plants, the soil, stems and be sure to turn the leaves over (thrips generally hang out on the back sides of leaves. Check out my thrips post here). Be sure to look in between succulent leaves, especially in the crevices between the stem and the leaf to spot the first sign of pests. Mealybugs and aphids love a delicious succulent buffet!
*Most plant pests are teeny tiny, so using a magnifying glass isn’t the worst idea in the world either!
2. Clean your leaves
This method benefits your plants in three ways, one: it shines up the leaves to look more aesthetically beautiful, two: it allows the leaves to photosynthesize more easily without a build up of dust or oil, and three: it provides another opportunity to check for unwanted bugs on your plants. I clean my leaves two ways, with a quick wipe down using a soft, dry cloth to remove dust. Or, seasonally I use a few sprays of our Sacred Leaf Tonic & Sacred Soil Tonic (Sacred Duo) mix with water.
With a soft cloth, I gently wipe down each leaf, being sure to support the other side of the leaf with my hand to prevent breakage or stress to the larger leaves like alocasia, monstera or ficus. If you find bugs, be sure to replace your cloth with a new one to prevent the spread of pests!
3. Top dress your soil
This method is super helpful when dealing with bugs like fungus gnats that love to lay their eggs in the top few inches of moist soil. I use dried moss, sand or small pebbles to add a layer of protection. I generally top dress plants that need more frequent waterings like calathea, ferns, alocasia, maranta and monstera. When the soil stays wet, it’s inviting to adult fungus gnats looking for a place to lay their eggs. Here’s another look at those pesky pests in action - yuck!
Hope this helps you and your plants to thrive!