Pesky pests and harrowing plant diseases are inevitable truths in every gardener’s growroom. Not only will they bug you to no end, these critters can compromise the quality of your garden. It can even add more complications to indoor gardens as they can invade your very home leading to certain afflictions. While finding solutions ASAP is commendable, it is wiser to first identify what pest or disease is affecting your beloved greens and blooms.
The Usual Pests
Whether indoor or outdoors, pests can make gardening complicated. Some of the most disdainful and often present pests are the following:
- Whiteflies. Tiny moth-like white critters at around 1-mm long, they suck at your plant’s juices leaving them dry, yellowed and with white-like spots. They leave behind “honeydew”, a sticky substance where sooty mold thrives. Larvae of this pest usually stick on a leaf’s underside.
- Mealybugs. Still white as snow yet small, wingless and fuzzy, mealybugs munch on a plant’s leaf axil or under young leaves and such on its sap via their stylets, a long sucking mouthpart. They are usually found in ornamentals, indoor plants, and fruits particularly avocado. Like whiteflies, mealybugs also leave behind honeydew resulting to sooty molds.
- Aphids (AKA plant lice). Coming in a variety of color such as white, gray, black or green, aphids usually attack new plant growths such as the buds, young leaves, and flowers. They suck their sap out and turn them yellow. They’re usually found along a plant’s stems.
- Spider Mites. Tiny arachnids that grow less than 1mm, they look like grains of sand usually congregating on a leaf’s underside. Their pointed mouth parts usually puncture plant cells sucking nutrients out of them then, living them dried out. Take note: adult females can lay around 20 eggs per day allowing infestation fast. Webbing is a tell-tale sign of infestation.
- Scale. This pest is flat in shape and brown in color. They are quite unique as they’re encased in a hard shell which allow them to cling unto the stem of a leaf’s underside.
- Thrips. This teeny-weeny, thin and dark pest actually have fuzzy wings but don’t fly. They hop like rabbits and leave black spots, which are actually fecal droppings, on plants. Adult females usually bore holes on leaves to lay egg leaving them dry with yellowish spots.
- Fungus gnats. Last but definitely not the least popular in terms of disdain, these tiny black critters have transparent wings to infest your garden to no end. They don’t fly though but rather hover or crawl on soil attacking plant roots stunting plant growth. Larvae look like teeny-weeny black specks to the naked eye.
Home Plant Diseases
While some may just need more watering or perhaps, a sunnier spot, your house plants may have actually succumbed to the usual diseases. Here are some of the tell-tale signs to remember:
- Powdery Mildew. Looking like white powder sprinkled on a plant’s leaves and stems, it is usually caused by cleistothecia, a type of fungus. Aside from stunted plant growth, it can also cause lead drop and yellowing of plant cells called chlorosis.
- Downy Mildew. Caused by Plasmopora Viticola, a kind of fungus, early infection manifests as yellowish mottling on a leaf’s top portion that turn into red, yellow or brown. White fuzzy down mildew, on the other hand, appears on the underside. Usual cause: prolonged wetness.
- Gray Mold. A disease caused by Botrytis sp., a fungus, it starts on a dying or wounded part of a plant leading to brownish, gray rotting abrasions.
- White Mold. Caused by another fungus, Sclerotinia Sclerotiorum, it manifests as a wet baking soda-like clingy substance on a plant. It causes plant to wilt while making leaves look tattered and bleached. It then, becomes hard and black later on.
- Root Rot. Usually caused by soil-borne pests, over-watering may also result to rotting root. Aside from stunted growth, apparent wilting, and yellowing of plants, it may also leave roots turn mushy.
- Bacterial Diseases. Bacterial spots usually manifest as small and dark raised spots. They often occur in warm, wet environments. Bacterial Blight occurs in cool, wet areas looking like large, yellow spots on leaves that will eventually turn brown. Bacterial wilt, on the other hand, is caused by contaminated soil or by weeds.
Prevention and Treatment
Prevention, as always, is better than cure. While it is commendable to learn proper home plant pests and diseases identification to help carve effective treatment and solution, cleanliness and constant, consistent attention will ultimately help trump off any signs of infestation. Disinfect your tools and monitor pH level in your indoor garden. Use potting mix instead of soil from your backyard to prevent pests coming in, too.
Also, make sure to have a fungicide (like the Ready-to-Use fungicide spray from GardenSafe above) ready for the first sign of disease or infestation. In everything else, remember this rule of thumb in carving a thriving home garden– identification, prevention and solution. Now go and smell the flowers!