Monday, February 8, 2010

Where Did Those BUGS Come From?

No matter how careful you are to treat your outside plants for insect pests in the fall, before you bring them in for the winter, you'll likely encounter some anyway, before winter's over.

The last couple of years, I finally got the fungus gnats under control.  I learned not to overwater and that was a huge help. I'll see one now and then, but not nearly like I did that first winter that I had so many plants in the house.

That first winter, I also had problems with white flies on the Brugmansia plants.  I thought I'd never get rid of those. Took me half the winter to do so.  Back then, I didn't pay much attention to using organic means to rid my plants of them and while I can't remember exactly what I used, I know it's not something I would use now.

One pest I've had to battle every single year since are spider mites on my Brugmansias.  The little boogers seem to love them.  They don't show up right away and I always wonder where they come from, since I have never had a problem with them when the plants were outside. But just let me bring them in the house and eventually there they are, clustered on the stems and leaves, in their webs.

The best thing I've found to control them that I'm comfortable using in the house (or out, for that matter) is Neem Oil.  It doesn't smell bad, isn't toxic, and it works.  It may take more than one treatment to rid the plants of them, depending on how badly they're affected, but once they're gone, they're gone for good.

For this reason, I've chosen to carry Neem Oil concentrate in my OpenSky shop.  I only carry products there that I believe in.  Most of them I use personally. 

Neem oil comes from the fruit and seed of the Neem tree (Azadirachta indica), which is native to India and is widely used in organic agriculture.  It's easy to mix the concentrate with water and more cost effective to buy that way, even though it's not an expensive product anyway. 

I've found it to be a great multi-purpose product you can use as a spray to control spider mites, aphids, white flies, thrips, mealy bugs, and fungus, among others.


Jean Campbell said...

I'm generally not bothered by pests when I bring plants into the little greenhouse for the winter. Maybe it's because tiny tree frogs and anoles also come in with them. A few stacked clay pots give them a hiding place from the cat.

Nathan (2af) said...

I don't usually have a lot of pest problems on house plants but I did once have a lime tree infested with scale. Rather than use pesticides I just through the tree out. I think that method is organic. :)

Kylee Baumle said...

Nell Jean ~ Wow, that's a great method of pest control! Send me some? LOL. Over the past few years, I've experienced aphids, mealy bugs, and the spider mites, but the spider mites by far are the worst and I've always been told that Brugs are especially susceptible to them. The aphid thing and the mealy bugs were just a one-time thing and easy to get rid of. The mealy bugs showed up on a new Clivia, so I'm pretty sure they were on it when I bought it. Neem cleared them right up!

Nathan ~ I had scale one time on a China Doll tree (Radermachera sinica). I painstakingly rubbed the slimy things off - took me f.o.r.e.v.e.r. - and they'd already done too much damage before I caught the problem and the tree succumbed. I've not had that problem with any other plants I've had. Those things are ICKY!!

Anonymous said...

I generally don't bring any plants inside for the winter, but this is a great tip for those who do. :)

tina said...

I just noticed spider mites on my inside plants too. I am very upset about it. I will be looking for some Neem oil now to prevent it next year.

Andrea said...

hi i'm new here, just followed you via Jodi's. I know neem tree is repellant to insects but didn't know the oil can be applied to plants directly. What is your dilutions and what do you dilute it with, palm oil? For some insects i just use laundry detergent pour on them or spray.

Kylee Baumle said...

Nancy ~ Do you have any houseplants (that stay inside all the time) that ever have problems? Sometimes I wish I didn't overwinter so many things, but then spring comes and I'm always glad I did. :-)

Tina ~ Neem will do it! Like I said, it might take more than one treatment, but it will kill them. Good luck!

Andrea ~ Welcome! Jodi's a dear!
Yes, it's applied directly. The dilution for Green Light Organics concentrate is two Tablespoons to one gallon of water. I've used dish detergent diluted with water before, too. What I like about the Neem oil is that it can be used for so many different things.

Melanie J Watts said...

Great tip Kylee. I've got fungus gnats this year for the first time. I'm trying to control them by watering very sparsely. Diatomaceous earth and rotenone works as well.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Kylee,

The lichen with the red tip is called British Soldiers.

I love them and once had a group of them inside a terrarium. Looked magical.


Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Shady Gardener said...

Sounds like some great tips... so far the only things I've brought indoors are a few ladybugs and a couple of spiders (taken care of!). Ha. Have a fun week, and Happy Valentine's Day a little early. :-)

garden girl said...

I feel your pain Kylee - plant pests are not fun indoors. I wouldn't mind a few tree frogs and anoles in the basement to keep things under control!

Spider mites have been a problem here too. Another thing that helps with them is giving the plants a shower, especially on the undersides of the leaves. It has to be done fairly regularly, and I will readily admit it's a pain!

This year I had white flies on a hibiscus, and was very glad it wasn't in the basement. It doesn't seem they spread to anything else. I have a sticky trap on one of the branches, and that seems to have solved the problem.

I had a similar issue with fungus gnats the first time I overwintered outdoor plants, and found the same solution as you through watering. We still get a stray one here and there, and those yellow sticky traps get rid of them quickly. I was glad to find them on sale last year, but they're generally pretty inexpensive even at regular price.

Your neem oil is very economical - concentrate is definitely the way to go.

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