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Natural Insect Control for Houseplant

Houseplants attacked by pests will have the insects multiplying quickly. So the first sign of wilting should have you checking for the bugs that would be sucking fluids from leaves and stems to leave it bereft of nutrients. It is best to provide nontoxic treatment quickly through natural remedies.  

Infested plants should be isolated immediately. New houseplants are to be quarantined for at least two weeks. Stunted yellowish growth indicates Scale insect problems that are difficult to identify. Minute and stationary they are to be removed with a twig and scraped off. Remove infected plant parts if possible.

Scrub with a soft toothbrush and mild soap to dislodge large colonies of scale insects. Wash affected areas with a soap/oil mixture. Mix 1/2 tsp. insecticidal soap, 1/4 tsp. horticultural oil into 1 qt. of warm water. Wash the leaves individually with the soap/oil mixture. Rinse well. Pyrethrin, an organic pesticide made from chrysanthemums is effective.

Examine leaves for white, fuzzy clusters indicating mealy bugs. Give the plant a gentle shake. This will disturb whiteflies that may be infecting the plant. When repotting take care to add a scoop of compost to the soil mix to add on microbes and nutrients. Earthworm castings also make an excellent soil additive for houseplants.   

Whiteflies are attracted to yellow sticky traps, but you may suck the weak-flying insects with a handheld vacuum. The waxy body of scale insects affords them protection against many organic sprays. Control outbreaks of any kind by wiping leaves with cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
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