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Recurring Pests? What conditions common pests like and how to keep them from returning

Houseplants bring so much life and beauty into our homes, but with that beauty comes the occasional presence of some common houseplant pests. While discovering these critters might be unsettling at first, it's important to remember first and foremost that they can't harm you, your pets, or your furnishings. Finding pests on your plants is a normal part of your plant journey, and it doesn't reflect negatively on your abilities as a caretaker. Plants are a part of nature, and sometimes bugs simply happen.

However, each of the most common houseplant pests is uniquely adapted to thrive in specific conditions. If you find yourself facing them on any kind of regular basis, it could be an indicator that adjustments in your care routine or plant setup are needed to reduce or eliminate their presence in the future.

Spider Mites Like it Dry

If you notice spider mites regularly infesting a particular plant, there's a good chance that the moisture level, either in the air or in the soil, is too low. Spider mites are highly susceptible to pathogenic fungi, which thrive in moist environments. Consequently, they tend to target places that aren't excessively wet and where they can find easy sources of food. But how do they know your plant is suffering from moisture deficiency? Your plant is in constant communication with the microbiota around it. When it signals that it needs water, spider mites detect a stressed plant – an easy source of food – in a drier environment.

If you're struggling with your plants' soil staying too dry or drying out too quickly we can help you adjust your substrate recipe so you can water less often without attracting mites. Send us a text or schedule an intake with our plant clinic to get started!

We find that having watering tools that you enjoy drastically increase the frequency that you'll think about watering your plants.

(Shown: severe (but also sort of pretty?) spider mite colony on palm)

Watering tools you'll love

Soil Mites & Fungus Gnats Think Root Decay is Yummy

Both of these critters are soil dwelling and are fantastic decomposers of organic matter. Much like spider mites they too are learning about where the best spots are by picking up on signals your plant is sending out. Both gnats and mites are common after repotting or a change in season and aren’t anything to worry about in that case. If you get them consistently or they spread quickly it’s likely the soil in your pots is staying too wet. This could mean you’re watering too frequently, your planters are too big, or the soil is too dense.

If your soil is taking too long to dry out and regularly attracting mites or gnats we can help! Let's adjust your soil recipe to include humidity control and airflow. Schedule your plant intake or send us a text to get started!

(Shown: Closeup of fungus gnat)

Learn more about soil mites

Mealybugs Love Warm & Humid

Mealybugs are soft bodied creatures with a fuzzy coating which protects them from high temperatures. They move around and reproduce most freely when things are warm. Mealybugs are a pretty common greenhouse visitor for this reason. Plants that have been recently moved or repotted are a bit stressed and provide a source of their favorite food and the warm temoeratures and high humidity of say your plant cabinet make it ideal for them to move around freely.

If you frequently find yourself with mealybugs it could mean your plants are too close together, or your grow lights are too close to your plants. Both of these conditions will cause your plants to respire (exhale) more than usual in order to stay cool. This creates a lot of excess humidity and some low level chronic stress for your plants.

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Scale: Warm and Dry Loving

Scale insects are small pests that have have protective, waxy shells that resemble tiny scales or bumps on plant stems and leaves. These pests feed on plant sap, weakening the plant and causing yellowing and stunted growth. Scale insects are known for their ability to thrive in warm and dry conditions. They're like the sunbathers of the plant world. If you find them on your plants, it's a sign your indoor climate might be too hot and dry.

If you're finding that scale is a reoccurring issue for you we can help you adjust your soil mixture to help keep humidity and soil moisture more consistent.

You could also add misting to your routine to increase humidity, bunch plants closer together (treat the pests first to prevent spreading), and be mindful of nearby heat sources like grow lights and vents.

Our favorite misters

Encountering common houseplant pests is a natural part of plant ownership. By understanding the specific environments these pests prefer, you can adjust your care routine and plant setup to reduce or eliminate their presence in the future.
Remember, you're on a learning journey, and each challenge is an opportunity to become a more skilled and informed caretaker.
Embrace the process, keep growing, and always remember that we're here to help if you need us!

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