Orchid pests in soil are pretty common in many orchid gardens, no matter how stringent the orchid care is. Many of these pests thrive in potting mixes and come out to feed on the plants, leaving devastating consequences.Orchid Pests in Soil

Read on as we discuss the causes of these pests to appear in the first place and the best ways to prevent them from destroying your orchid plants.

What Are the Causes of Orchid Pests in Soil?

The cause of orchid pests in soil are Infested potting media, poor cleaning practices, contaminated water, and fertilizers. In addition, it can also be due to having infested plants, extremely high humidity levels, overcrowding, overwatering, and improper drainage of the soil.

– Infested Potting Media

Contaminated potting media is one of the primary causes of orchid pests in the soil. You would typically grow your orchid plants in well-draining media such as bark, sphagnum moss, or a combination of various organic materials.

However, if you source your potting mix from an already infested or contaminated batch, it can introduce pests into your plant’s environment. Also, store your potting media in a space where the pests will be freely breeding in them, leading to an eventual they will cause infestation when you use them to grow your plants.

These pests may include nematodes, fungus gnats, or springtails, which can thrive in the damp, organic-rich environment provided by the potting media. While most of these pests are microscopic, the damage they can cause to your orchids through their feeding action is astounding.Causes of Orchid Pests in Soil

– Poor Cleaning Practices

Neglecting proper hygiene practices when caring for orchids can lead to pest problems in the soil. Using unsterilized tools such as scissors, tweezers, and pots can lead to pest infestation when working with multiple orchids or repotting plants.

When these tools are contaminated with different diseases, it will open up a space for them to thrive in. These tools may be previously contaminated with the eggs and larvae of pesky pests, and by using them for your gardening processes, you can inadvertently plant them in the soil, giving them an ideal breeding ground.

If you fail to sterilize your tools properly, you can transfer pests from an infested orchid to a healthy one, compounding the problem. Reusing old potting media without proper sterilization can reintroduce pests to the soil.

While many insect pests are tiny and invisible to the naked eye, they leave some tell-tale signs on your plants that you can easily identify. In such a case, aphids, mealybugs, and scales leave a sticky residue on orchid leaves, so you can easily identify an infestation with this symptom and associate it with any of them.

Also, if pests infest your plant, it’ll be in overall bad shape, and you’ll notice this in its leaves and flowers. Some symptoms of an unhealthy, infested plant include yellowing leaves and flower discoloration, and you will see how the plant will become weakened by its features and overall health.

– Contaminated Water and Fertilizers

Watering is vital to orchid care, but it can unintentionally contribute to soil-borne pest infestations. Many times, it won’t occur to you to sterilize the water you use for your plants, and as a result, you may use larvae or egg-infested water on them.

Using contaminated water, especially if it becomes stagnant water, as it may be the type of water containing pests or their larvae, can introduce them into your potting media. This way, it will be a matter that can be inviting for the pests to thrive and grow in the soil, and slowly, but surely, the orchid will be harmed.

Similarly, inadequately sterilized or low-quality fertilizers may harbor pests or their eggs, which can hatch in the soil, affecting the orchids. Many of these pests, like Scale insects that have a short life cycle, will develop and spread fast once they get into your potting mix.

– Infested Plants

If you unknowingly purchase infested plants from your local gardening shop, you may be dealing with a large pest infestation on your healthy plants and the soil in no time. Pests are often attracted to already-infested plants because they are weakened or damaged already.

From there, they can feed, multiply and spread to the healthy orchids in your garden and transmit the pests that will grow in the rest of the potting mixes of the orchids. Already infested plants can also lead to secondary pest infestations on your plants and in the soil.

– High Humidity Levels

High humidity levels are exactly the kind of condition many pests require thriving in the soil. As many orchid species need moderate to high humidity levels to survive, you can attract different kinds of pests if it isn’t regulated properly.

Insects, mites, and other soil-dwelling pests have specific moisture requirements, and excessively humid soil can meet those requirements, promoting their activity and population growth. The damp environment allows pests to reproduce more rapidly and increases their overall activity, leading to higher pest populations.

Also, excessive humidity in the soil can negatively impact plant health and weaken their natural defense mechanisms. Your orchids may become stressed or susceptible to diseases in high humidity, making them more vulnerable to soil-borne pests. Weakened plants are less able to resist pest infestations, allowing the different kinds of pests in the soil to exploit their weakened state and cause further damage.

– Overcrowding

When you grow your plants too closely together, you risk attracting pests and creating a favorable environment for them to thrive, where they are going to lay eggs and grow in number. Overcrowded plants will have limited airflow around themselves and in the soil, which is conducive to many bugs, like mites.

Also, overcrowding can facilitate the movement and spread of pests within the soil. When plants are closely spaced, pests can easily move from one plant to another, spreading infestations of different kinds.

They can crawl, burrow, or travel through your orchid roots, exploiting the proximity of the plants to establish themselves and multiply. The proximity of your orchids will also provide pests with a continuous supply of hosts, allowing them to move and expand their populations rapidly.

– Overwatering

When you overwater your plants, you create room for waterlogging and increased soil moisture contents. This alone creates a favorable environment for pests that thrive in damp conditions, such as soil-dwelling insects, mites, and certain nematodes.

These pests can reproduce more rapidly and survive longer in moist soil, leading to increased populations and potential infestations. When the medium is wet, excessively moist, this will be the right environment for pests to grow in.Orchid Pests in Soil Solved

– Improper Drainage

When your plants have an improper drainage system, water won’t flow properly, leading to waterlogging. This creates the right environment for some insect pests and soil dwellers, and before long, you’ll notice pest activity in and around your plant’s soil.

How Can You Eliminate Orchid Pests in The Soil?

You can eliminate orchid pests in the soil by using insecticidal soap and placing sticky traps around the plant. In addition, you can also try to water the plant properly, tackle the pests with natural oils, place some predator insects, and spray homemade solutions.Eliminate Orchid Pests in The Soil

– Using Insecticidal Soap

There are multiple methods of getting rid of orchid soil mites. The most efficient ways include using insecticidal soaps, oils, rubbing alcohol, is an important manner, and they will be helpful, just as you would use pesticides.

All of these are effective control methods if they’re done correctly. Orchid mites thrive in hot, dry conditions, so spraying them with water is a sure way to get them off your plants. For a large-scale attack, you can use insecticides to eradicate them. You should repeat some of these treatments to get the desired effect, and you will free the soil from pests.

You can follow this up by spraying affected plants with a mix of alcohol and water to kill any leftover pests, as you would be also mixing and use insecticidal soap, but be keen to dilute it very well.

In short, remember that you will need to repeat the application to ensure no trace of these pesky pests is left. It is best to trim off the affected areas of your plant so that your plants can direct important resources to healing.

When it comes to scales, these are pests that can be difficult to control, especially when the infestation is large. First, you’ll need to separate and isolate the affected orchids for treatment. For small-scale infestations, you can use rubbing alcohol to control these pests, and then you may aim to apply it on affected areas with cotton swabs and repeat the process for effectiveness.

– Placing Sticky Traps

Sticky yellow cards work great for trapping the flying adults as they contain adhesives that will trap the bugs that will then die. However, that’s not enough to eliminate them, as their larvae and eggs may be present in your potting mix.

– Water The Plant Properly

Since they enjoy overly moist environments, changing your potting mix frequently and reducing your watering frequency is a step in the right direction. This will create an uncomfortable environment for insect pests.

Subsequently, you can start to irrigate the potting materials that decay slowly and allow proper drainage. Together with this, keep fertilizers to a minimum and allow drying out periods in between watering sessions to discourage gnats infestations.

Lastly, it’s not enough to treat these insects using any of the methods mentioned above; you also have to make their habitat which is the soil mix, would be less conducive for them by repotting. Together with watering them in an effective way, they will free from the soil.

– Tackle Using Natural Oil

Mealybugs can be difficult to manage because of how quickly they can move from orchid leaves to the potting media. As a result, it’s necessary to repeat treatments multiple times to get the best results.

In addition, you can also consider how there are several natural oils, like Neem oil and eucalyptus oil, are effective in getting rid of insect pests on orchids, as long as you dilute them properly. Also, natural compounds like pyrethrum and cinnamon are great for pest control. All these natural insecticides are easy to apply on orchids.

– Place Predator Insects

If you’re dealing with Thrip insects Infestations, insecticides such as Malathion and Orthene are great for eliminating them. You can use biological predators like predatory mites if your orchids are outdoors or in a greenhouse.

You can combine the two methods for extra measure. However, that would be a good choice, as the insecticides will also kill the biological predators, and this would be more significant if the case, is of predatory mites.

– Spray Some Homemade Solutions

Aphids are relatively easy to eliminate. You can spray the affected plants with water to remove most pests. Using a homemade mixture of chili, liquid soap, and water also helps to get rid of them.Homemade Solutions for Orchids

Spraying your orchids with soapy water is an effective way of getting pests off them. You only need a spray bottle, plant-safe liquid dishwater, and water to make a solution. For this to work, you’ll need to spray the mixture generously on exposed roots, leaves, which are mainly the underside and corners, and flower stalks.


Prevention is great, but when an infestation happens, it’s best to know how to control and treat it; as mentioned in this article, many effective methods of eliminating pests exist, but to recap;

  • A few things or situations can cause orchid pests like Spider mites, Fungus Gnats, Scales, mealybugs, Thrips, and Aphids in the soil.
  • Gnats are harmless to orchids, but their presence usually indicates an underlying soil problem.
  • Scales leave a sticky residue on orchid leaves, attracting mold and insects like ants.
  • After treating pests with chemicals also helps make their environment as unconducive as possible for feeding and multiplying.
  • You can eradicate mealybugs by using isopropyl alcohol, oils, insecticidal oils, soaps, and regular insecticides or pesticides.

Now that you’re armed with information on preventing and controlling the most common pests, you can always be assured of your plant’s safety, naturally, if you have an infestation, your best bet is to deal with it as soon as you notice, to prevent the problem from getting more extensive than it already is.

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