There is so much advice out there about how to get rid of pests once they have taken a hold of your houseplant, but it’s not as common to find advice about how to prevent them in the first place. Pests can be a real nightmare for plant parents, they are difficult to get rid of if you don’t spot the problem early and they can very quickly kill your plant if not treated.
How can you prevent houseplant pests?
Don’t worry! we have learnt the hard way to figure out the top 8 things you can do to prevent pests from settling on your plant to begin with. They aren’t difficult and don’t really require any extra cash so you’ll want to implement these ideas straight away!
Inspect a plant carefully before you buy it
When you bring a new plant home, whether that’s from your local nursery, plant shop or even just from a friend, you want to inspect it fully before choosing to purchase and bring it home. Give the plant a thorough once over looking for yellowing leaves, brown spots, white powder, webbing across the leaves, holes in the leaves or even simply visible pests. Plants are kept very close together in transport to nurseries so it can happen that pests find themselves at home on your new plant.
Another way to make sure you aren’t introducing pests into your urban jungle is by isolating your new plant for two weeks before bringing it closer to your other plants. This gives some time for you to keep an eye on your plant to see if any of the above symptoms are showing up. Pests reproduce pretty quickly so if after two weeks you still don’t spot any insects or signs then you should be all good.
Always use fresh potting mix
When the time comes for you to propagate or repot any of your plants, always make sure you are using fresh pots and fresh potting mix. Pests can hide out in soil without you noticing so it can be very easy to accidentally spread the pest infestation by reusing old soil.
There is a risk that your fresh potting soil may have some bugs in it too so we always recommend buying a high-quality mix from a reputable brand and inspecting it before popping your plants in. Use a magnifying glass to go through a little bit of the mix as you should be able to spot bigs moving around if there are any.
Clean your plant tools before and after use
Another place you may find pests lurking around is in your houseplant tools and equipment. It’s really important that you clean your shears, scissors, pots and gloves before and after handling your plants. This will eradicate any risk of transferring unwanted guests between your beloved houseplants.
Cleaning your tools is also a great habit to get into to prevent coming into contact with toxic sap from plants. Whilst some houseplants are completely safe for humans and pests, there are some that can cause skin and stomach irritation. This is why it’s also really important to clean your tools to avoid yourself, others or your pets coming into harm.
Don’t let the leaves of your different houseplants touch
One of the most annoying things about houseplant pests is that they can jump across leaves and across plants. Although it looks great to have a group of houseplants all grouped up, this is a danger when it comes to pests. If even just one of those plants develops a few nasty pests, they’ll soon be able to climb around the plants close by and the infestation will be pretty unstoppable. Therefore, we recommend putting your more special or expensive plants a little further away from other houseplants to decrease this risk.
Regularly inspect your plants
As with new plants, it’s also really important to regularly inspect all of your houseplants to spot not only pests but early warning signs that something isn’t quite right. This will help spot the issues or the infestation early, giving you the best chance at fixing it and bringing your plant back to full health.
Use a magnifying glass to inspect the leaves, stems and potting mix of each of your plants carefully. Brown or yellow spots, webbing, powder or holes in the leaves as well as visible insects are the main things to look out for. When inspecting your plant, look very closely at the undersides of the leaves as this is where pests like to hang out.
Regularly shower your houseplants
Introduce showering as part of your monthly care routine for your houseplants. It’s a great way to not only get rid of dust on the leaves but it will wash away any pests that may be secretly hiding in your plant. The amount of water pressure you use depends on the delicacy of the plant stems and leaves but giving them a wash once a month will really boost their natural shine as well as reduce the risk of pests.
Care for each of your plants in the right way
Plants that are unhealthy or unhappy are much more susceptible to pests and diseases as they aren’t strong enough to fight them. Waterlogged soil, dry air and incorrect lighting are also the perfect breeding conditions for various pests so always make sure you’re giving each individual plant the conditions that it needs to thrive.
Good air circulation
Another thing that is often overlooked when caring for houseplants but it can be really beneficial to help with water evaporation from misting, stopping hotspots occurring and preventing condensation on the leaves which then reduces the risk of fungal infections and rot. By increasing the air circulations through fans and open windows it will help your houseplants to be healthier and less susceptible to pests.
Those are our 8 key ways to help prevent a pest infestation on your beloved houseplants. There is of course no way to guarantee that your plants may not occasionally house a few bugs, but by following these steps, you’ll definitely reduce the risk significantly. It’s better to act now whilst your houseplants are still healthy and prevent the pests in the first place, than wait until you have an issue to fix as sometimes plants can’t survive a pest infestation and you may have no choice but to throw your plant away.
Written by Billy Dawson