How to get rid of aphids on indoor plants, is a question that has plagued many gardeners, horticulturists, and plant enthusiasts who have faced these tiny, troublesome pests. But you have nothing to worry about because, despite the damage these sap-suckers can cause to our plants, you can restore balance to your indoor plant sanctuary with proper knowledge and a proactive approach.
So, whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a newbie, after reading this guide, you’ll be armed with enough tips to protect your prized houseplants from persistent aphids.
- What Are Common Causes to Have Aphids on Indoor Plants?
- How To Free Indoor Plants From Aphids?
What Are Common Causes to Have Aphids on Indoor Plants?
The common causes of having aphids on indoor plants are giving poor plant care, placing contaminated plants on your healthy ones, and having open windows and doors. In addition, having infested potting soil, or infested plant cuttings, over-crowding the plant, and using infested gardening tools.
After growing, nurturing, and carefully tending to your houseplants with care, it can be daunting to start noticing curled or yellowing leaves, sticky residue, and even some tiny, pear-shaped insects congregating on your beloved foliage.
– Poor Plant Care
Improper plant care can create conditions that attract aphids and make houseplants more susceptible to infestations, and this will be a common way that the pests will feel welcome and increase. Inadequate watering, improper lighting, or lack of essential nutrients can weaken indoor plants, causing their natural defenses to weaken and making them more vulnerable to aphid attacks.
Neglecting to clean indoor plants and their surroundings can lead to the accumulation of dust, debris, and fallen leaves. This can provide shelter and hiding places for aphids, allowing them to establish colonies rapidly.
Improper fertilization and lack of essential nutrients can weaken your houseplants and make them easy feeding targets for aphids. This is because these pests would naturally drawn to plants with imbalanced nutrient levels as their health is compromised, and they can’t defend themselves, and they would take shelter and grow.
– Open Windows and Doors
Open doors and windows can serve as easy entry points for aphids to invade your houseplants. Aphids are notorious for infesting outdoor plants, but when your windows and doors are left open, especially close to already infested outdoor plants, they can easily find their way to your houseplants by flying or wind.
Without screens or physical barriers, aphids can be drawn to healthy indoor plants that are visible or even follow their scents to find a suitable food source. Just as your plants are growing, they would start growing there, because the atmosphere indoors would attract them, and they will find sheltered away from any predator. The visual cues might be due to the color of your houseplants, especially those that are vibrant.
– Contaminated Plants
One of the most common mistakes gardeners make is bringing in new plants without inspecting or quarantining them for infestations. When such plants come in close contact with your houseplants, the aphids spread and contaminate your healthy plants. Since aphids are tiny and can be difficult to detect, especially during the early stages of infestation, a plant that appears visually healthy can still have them present under the leaves or in the soil.
The eggs and nymphs of aphids are even more difficult to spot since they are smaller than the adults. Since the plant is contaminated, it will grow and develop, and if you give the plant the right needs, it will thrive as they absorb the healthy plant’s sap. They can hatch and crawl onto nearby houseplants, causing rapid growth of their population in your indoor space.
– Infested Potting Soil
Aphids typically lay their eggs and have nymphs inside the soil of their host plants. These eggs and nymphs are often hard to spot because they are tiny and well-camouflaged. Hence, when using potting soil for indoor plants, especially those obtained from outdoor spaces, it is very important to inspect and treat it before use.
Otherwise, the aphid eggs contained in the soil will soon start to hatch and create a new generation of aphids, leading to an infestation of your houseplants. At the same time, a similar matter can occur when transplanting infested plants, as they can easily transfer to fresh soil and infest healthy indoor plants from there. Just as the plant is growing, the infestation will grow as well, because it is already in the soil and found itself the right needs to grow.
– Infested Plant Cuttings
When taking cuttings from infested outdoor plants or even invested plants indoors without properly treating the infestation, they can easily hitch a ride and settle on your healthy houseplants as a new food source. Even if the cuttings seem healthy, aphids can be hidden in the crevices of the cuttings or nestled deep within the foliage, going unnoticed and infesting their new environment.
If the infested cuttings are placed near or in direct contact with healthy indoor plants, they can easily crawl into them. The plant growing in will go through this issue and hurt it in the long run because the cut is already damaged.
When indoor plants are overcrowded, adequate airflow becomes restricted, providing a favorable environment for aphids to thrive. Stagnant air creates a microclimate that retains moisture and warmth, attracting aphids and facilitating their reproduction.
Humidity levels within the immediate vicinity increase, and the presence of moisture on plant surfaces and in the air encourages aphids to infest and colonize crowded plants. When you are misting the surrounding, and the plants are next to each other, the pests will develop and aim to take shelter in the surrounding plants as well, because the space is all theirs.
Additionally, tightly packed plants make it easy for aphids to move from one plant to another, rapidly increasing the rate of infestation in your indoor plant collection. Overcrowded plants also make it difficult for beneficial insects such as lacewings and lady beetles to prey on aphids, allowing their population to grow unchecked.
– Use of Infested Garden Tools
Properly sterilizing your garden tools before use is often advised, as they could be contaminated. This is also true when using them on indoor plants, especially when they have been used on aphid-infested outdoor plants. These tiny pests can cling to the surfaces of tools, such as pruning shears, trowels, or sprayers, and remain viable even after the tools are stored or cleaned.
When you use them on your houseplants, they can easily dislodge into the plants, initiating an infestation. These garden tools may also have sticky residue or plant sap remnants on their surface, which attract aphids and serves as a food source until they can find a host plant: your houseplants. As a result, it is best to have separate tools for your indoor and outdoor plants to avoid cross-contamination.
How To Free Indoor Plants From Aphids?
To control aphids on your indoor plants, use insecticidal soap and spray some water on them. You can also remove them manually, or spray some neem oil solution, tackle them using homemade sprays, use rubbing alcohol solution, and lastly, place sticky traps.
– Insecticidal Soaps
Using insecticidal soap is one of the most common and effective methods of aphid control. It is considered a relatively safe option for indoor plant aphid control since it is generally non-toxic to us and even to your pets when used as directed.
The soap contains fatty acids that disrupt the cell membranes of soft-bodied insects like aphids, penetrating their protective outer layer, causing the cells to break down and leading to dehydration and, eventually, death. When you try to aim and kill them, your plants will develop at all ease, and you won’t have to deal with these pests indoors again.
When using insecticidal soap, you should mix the concentrate with water following the instructions on the label. And apply the soap spray using a bottle directly to the aphids, ensuring you thoroughly cover the buds, stems, and foliage; repeat the application as necessary to treat any newly hatched eggs or anyone missed during the initial treatment.
– Spraying Some Water
A strong stream of water, such as from a hose attachment, can physically dislodge aphids from your plant’s foliage. The force of the water knocks the aphids off the plant, making it difficult for them to find their way back up to the plant. It also helps to wash away their eggs and nymphs, reducing their population.
Additionally, water helps to wash away honeydew, the sweet, sticky substance that aphids secrete and can accumulate on plant surfaces, attracting ants and promoting the growth of sooty mold. You should go for using this method because it is freely available, but because at the start when you use it, the result is an effective one, and also think about how it wouldn’t cause any smell when using it indoors.
However, using water to remove aphids on your indoor plants is suited for small infestations. Larger infestations require more vigorous treatment. You can use a sink sprayer or shower head attachment to rinse aphids off your small indoor plants.
– Manual Removal
You can manually pick off aphids from your indoor plants if you want a hands-on approach and immediate relief from early infestation. When doing this, focus on the undersides of leaves and new growth, where aphids often congregate to feed and reproduce. Wear gloves and gently slide your fingers along the stems and leaves to crunch or dislodge them.
You may even use a soft brush or cloth to wipe them off, and with all ease, you can get them; just make sure that you wash the brush afterward, and don’t leave any of the pests around other plants. In short, if you choose to dislodge them, dump them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them. Or you can discard them outdoors to prevent them from coming back inside.
– Neem Oil
Neem oil is one of the most effective essential oils for eliminating aphids on your indoor plants. It is obtained from the seed of the neem tree and contains compounds that act as a natural insecticide. When applied to plants, it coats the aphids’ bodies, suffocates them by blocking their spiracles, which are the breathing pores, disrupts their feeding activity, and kills them.
It also interferes with their growth and reproductive processes. It can disrupt their hormonal balance, preventing the nymphs from maturing into adults and inhibiting their reproduction ability. You must also consider how the oil’s bitter taste and strong scent make the plants less attractive to aphids, deterring them from infesting the foliage.
– Homemade Spray
You can make an effective and organic homemade aphid spray using household items such as dish soap, because this is the product that will act as a surfactant that suffocates and coats the bodies of aphids when applied, disrupting their ability to breathe and feed.
Peppermint and garlic have strong scents that repulse aphids. You can make an organic spray by crushing either of these ingredients and mixing them in water, then thoroughly applying them to your houseplants.
These scents and flavors can prevent aphids from feeding on the treated plants, making them less attractive, and it will soon start reducing the likelihood of infestation. However, before applying these sprays, it is best to test them on a small plant patch to check for any adverse effects.
– Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol, when sprayed or applied directly on aphids, quickly evaporates and dehydrates their bodies. It disrupts the protective outer layer of the aphids, causing them to lose moisture and ultimately leading to their death. Additionally, it helps to clean and sanitize plant surfaces by removing the honeydew residue left by aphids.
However, it can be damaging to your houseplants to apply this alcohol directly, this is why you should dilute two part of the alcohol in five parts of water and put it in a spray bottle, and a few drops of dish soap.
Do a little patch test first, so you can check your plants’ sensitivity before applying. Ensure you cover infested areas of the plant thoroughly and reapply the solution as needed.
– Sticky Traps
Sticky traps may not directly eliminate the entire aphid population, but they serve as an effective monitoring and trapping method. These traps, usually in bright colors like yellow, attract aphids with their visual appeal.
Once they spot the sticky traps and come in contact with the adhesive surface, they become stuck and unable to move. The traps act as physical barriers that prevent the aphids from infesting other plant parts, laying eggs, and producing a new generation.
This gradual reduction in the population can help control the overall aphid infestation and prevent its escalation. Sticky traps also help you to identify aphid activity and take prompt action before it becomes a severe infestation, and with some time, the aphids will be trapped.
Addressing the issue of aphids on indoor plants requires a comprehensive approach that combines various strategies, so here is a summary of the ones we’ve discussed so far:
- Aphids can come on your house plants if you leave the window open or have multiple plants around it.
- Handpicking and using a water spray can be sued to get rid of aphids naturally.
- Dish soap, peppermint, garlic, and neem oil sprays should be tested before applying to houseplants.
- Sticky traps are best used to monitor infestations and determine the most effective control methods.
Successfully combating aphids on your indoor plants requires a tailored and proactive approach. But by understanding the causes of this infestation, such as we’ve provided in this article, and the necessary control measures, you can effectively prevent their arrival and spread.
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