A wide variety of pests attack interior plants, the most common being mealybugs, scale insects and two-spotted (red) spider mites. If left unchecked, they not only make the plants unsightly, but they can severely damage the plants, which may shorten their life.
The key to keeping plant pests under control is to understand the reasons why the pests are there and to know about the full range of control measures available.
Why pests damage interior plants
Many insect (and mite) species rely on plants for their survival. They live, feed and breed on plants and have evolved to coexist with them. Under natural conditions, plants are able to thrive even if there is a large population of insects living on them. The plants are able to outgrow any damage caused and the insects are kept under control by natural predators such as other insects, birds, reptiles and small mammals.
Indoor plants do not have the advantages of a truly natural environment where plants and insects live in balance. If the plants are unable to outgrow any damage caused by insects and the insects are not controlled, then they become pests that need to be dealt with.
Prevention is better than cure
It is always preferable to prevent insects becoming damaging pests rather than control them after they have caused a problem. there are several ways of achieving this. First we try to prevent any insects from infesting the plants. This can be achieve by making sure that plants are grown in clean, well-controlled conditions and do not have the opportunity to come into contact with infested plants whilst still on the nursery.
Next, we can do our best to keep our plants clean. Regular cleaning not only keeps plants looking attractive, but it is also a very effective way of dislodging any pests that have begun to infest the plant and removing any webbing or nests that the pests have built.
Finally, we can do as much as we can to keep the plant healthy. A healthy, actively-growing plant is going to be better able to withstand the ravages of a pest infestation than a weak and poorly-developed example. By making sure our plants are growing in just the right environmental conditions and are fed and watered properly, we can do our best to ensure that the plant remains in perfect health. A sick plant may attract damaging insects as well as give those that are already present an opportunity to multiply.
By keeping a close eye on the condition of our plants and understanding the way that plants and insects interact, displays can be kept healthy and attractive at all times without the need for expensive re-planting or treatment,
Find out more about the most common species of pests that cause damage to indoor plants
Find out more about the most common diseases that can cause harm to indoor plants