4 Steps To Heal Houseplants From Thrips

Posted by Sacred Elements on

Let’s just jump right in. Thrips are the most persistent and annoying houseplant pest I’ve dealt with in my many years of plant parenthood. There, I've said it. Yes, even more annoying than those pesky fungus gnats that fly right into your face. 

I would think thrips were gone for good, pat myself on the back for a plant mama job well done and then, a month later, notice another leaf showing the tell tale sign of thrip damage. Here are a few pics that illustrate these signs to help you identify these little, highly destructive bugs:


See the tiny white bugs? Those are thrips in their larval stage. Dang it.

Example of past leaf damage on my monstera.




First step is to identify the pest, which can be tricky as they come in many shapes, colors and sizes. One important note before we begin: thrips tend to thrive in hot, dry environments so increasing your ambient humidity can help prevent infestations.
Thrips come in many forms, over 6,000 actually, but they all have similar life cycles. They not only damage plants, but they can introduce diseases too. The trail of destruction is quite impressive considering how tiny they can be! But the trail they leave behind is quite unmistakable. Damaged unfurling leaves tend to be brown around the edges and deformed, yellow spots on leaves where they feasted is also a sign of their annoying presence. Look closely for tiny yellow or brown bumps, those dark spots are their feces left behind to cause scarring and discoloration on the leaves. 

Sometimes you’ll even see the tiny larva walking around that damaged area and occasionally you will see the adults. Some adults have wings which make them even more destructive as they can travel. I’ve noticed they prefer to set up homes in my monstera, avocado, philodendron, and alocasia more than any other houseplant.

Here is a visual of the one type (there are thousands) of thrip and it’s life cycle. Hope this helps you imagine the pest you’re up against. (Image curtesy of HortiNews)


Ok, now that you've confirmed your plant has thrips, take a deep breath. It's ok, it happens to us all. You're going to need a fair amount of patience because this is not an overnight fix. It can take a few months to fully rid your plants of thrips, but it is possible.

It is very important to stay consistent with treatments for at least 2-3 months to completely break the lifecycle of thrips. This may sound like a lot, but I promise it can become a sweet ritual where you slow down, sip some tea, and walk around feeding and spraying your plants. Healing plants completely from pests is a process, but one you can absolutely find success with, and you'll experience the added bonus that your plant will be happier than ever as a result. 
So let's get into it! 

Ok, your very first step is to cut off all super damaged leaves and throw them away (do not compost). Then, quarantine all plants with thrips and be sure to check all other plants for signs of thrips. I do recommend giving all the plants in the room a Sacred Leaf Shower, just in case!



Get cleaning! If your plant is mobile enough to transport to the shower or outside with a hose, do it, it makes these first few applications easier. If you have a large houseplant and cannot move it to the shower or to a hose, here’s the next best thing and what I tend to do if I’m feeling lazy. Place a towel or old sheet, cardboard or newspaper under the plant to soak up any mess. 

Next, grab a freshly mixed up batch of our Sacred Leaf Tonic (remember to shake up your concentrated bottle first then add a 1/4 teaspoon to spray bottle of 16 ounces water) and get spraying! 

Completely coat the front and back of the leaves, stem, crevices and topsoil. The first time is best to apply heavily, then let the tonic soak in for at least an hour, then, just this first time we want to give your plants a rinse. If a hose or shower option isn't possible, grab a clean towel/paper towel/old t-shirt, soak with water and then gently wipe the leaves clean. Be sure to get both sides! 

*Be sure your plant is out of any direct sunlight after these treatments. The natural oils in Neem and Jojoba act a bit like sun tan oil on our skin and can invite unwanted sunburn!  

Next, mix up a batch of our Sacred Soil Tonic (1/2 teaspoon to 16 ounces of water which is double dose of the normal maintenance of 1/4 teaspoon to 16 oz) and give your plant a health soil drench. We have steps for creating your very own Sacred Soil Bath too! Make this experience less stressful and more rewarding. Here's how to whip up a batch Plant FAQs



Repeat this process three times the first week, twice the second week, then move on to drenching once a week for a few months. Our tonics work their magic over time not only by battling the actual insects, but by boosting your plant's own natural immune system. Our tonics offer nourishment to the entire plant system, from soil microbes on up so the end result will be a glowing, thriving, stronger than ever plant!


Remember to coat all the surfaces of your plant including the topsoil as some thrips spend can spend of their life there too. After a month (or two depending on the infestation), you will be thrip free for good! However, I cannot stress this enough, you must be vigilant! Every time you water your plant, check the leaves and the stems! Even a few months later. It’s good plant parent practice to check the leaves of all your plant friends often after an infestation to make sure everyone remains healthy and pest free.

You got this!! We're always here to encourage or help you too! You can send us an email anytime and we'll do our best to respond quickly.

Cheers friends,

Karina & the Sacred Elements Team


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