Surrounding yourself with gorgeous indoor plants is perhaps one of the fastest and most effective ways to lift your spirits up and make your space photo-ready. Thanks to the generous and collaborative community of proud plant parents on Instagram and Pinterest, sourcing ideas on how to creatively show off your plants, style every corner of your abode with lush houseplants, and unsolicited advice on how to take care of them properly has become easier than before.
Interestingly, it is in the comments section of these same Jungalow-worthy posts where you will discover broken-hearted plant owners who are confessing to their cluelessness and asking where they might have gone wrong with maintaining their potted plants. Typically, overwatering, underwatering, or limited access to adequate sunlight or grow light will be the top suspicions. All of which are possible causes of a plant’s poor health or irreversible death, of course.
However, there is one major plant shopping step, which you might be guilty of skipping, that could have probably avoided such unfortunate scenarios.
The Problem: Plant Pests
How do you select which indoor plants to bring home with you? Is it enough that they are Instagrammable or that they would look lovely for a spot you’ve been wanting to spruce up? When going on a crazy plant shopping spree, is it is all too common to get carried away by how beautiful the plants appear and consider them healthy and thriving because of their appearance.
But little did you know is that store-bought plants, whether from plant nurseries or the gardening section of a grocery store, can come with pests, mites, and fungi that lead to deadly plant diseases. That being said, it is critical that you vigilantly inspect for signs of pest infection before bringing a plant home with you because they can spread the infestation to your existing plants. Check the leaves, stems, flowers, and the soil for creepy crawlers or whitish growth.
Remember, prevention is better than cure.
Common Pests Found in Houseplants
There is a long list of plant pests to watch out for but here are the most popularly encountered ones in indoor plants.
Mealybugs (Pseudococcidae families)
These plant pests are pink little woodlice when you zoom in but covered with white, sticky, and wooly cotton. They feed off the plant by slowly sucking its sap. Mealybugs can prey on almost any plant but are typically found on indoor plants, including orchid plants, African violets, cacti, and succulents.
Common brown scale (Coccidae and Diaspididae families)
They can be easily mistaken as brown, textured, and woody parts of a plant stem. But when you look a little closer, you will see that these are actually scaly insects attached and sucking your plant’s nutrients like vampires. Homestead Brooklyn recommends concocting a natural rosemary-based soapy water spray and spraying it onto the plant. Brush the scaly insects afterward off of the plant. Rinse plant rigorously with water.
Aphids (Aphidoidea superfamily, Aphididae family)
Another plant-juice-sucking pest is the aphids. They appear in colonies and can become really problematic for indoor plants when left unaddressed. Bring the infected plant outside and spray the aphids with water. Do this for consecutive days until the aphid infestation has cleared up.
Practical Plant Shopping Tips
The best way to avoid plant pests is by being more mindful when shopping for houseplants and flowering plants. Here are several simple but effective plant shopping tips to help you.
Check the new plant’s overall health.
Discolored leaves, rotten stems, soil and stems too wet, and of course, any form of pest, mite, or fungi. It is also advisable to inform the store attendant about your concern.
Impose a quarantine on all new plants.
Keep them outdoors if possible. Do not bring them near your existing houseplants for up to two weeks to avoid the spread of possible infection.
Wash pots thoroughly first before repotting new plants.
This effectively gets rid of pests, mites, and fungi that could be lurking from dead plants that once used the pot.