Let's be perfectly honest here. If you are gonna have anything living (plants or pets) you are gonna deal with some unsavory other little living things. It doesn't matter what precautions you take when you bring your little plant babies home. You will have to deal with some pests eventually.
Over the years I've dealt with spider mites and fungus gnats (I'm talking indoor plants only on this post). Either way I've tried (and failed!) with many pest control remedies. I've found some excellent options that are fairly budget friendly.
These demons from the underworld are the WORST! One day my tradescantia will be oh so happy and the next it is absolutely COVERED with little webs and these awful whitish tiny bugs just crawling everywhere. Check on your plants daily, friends. It's the only way to get ahead of these critters.
Anyway, I've tried everything. I bought special organic mite spray, neem oil, and all that crap. Did it work? No but I like to think it does on my outdoor plants.
You know what I've found does work? Here's EXACTLY the steps I take now to get rid of them.
once you see any sign of mites, take the plant away from all the others! Don't let these babies spread and destroy the babies you actually love.
take the infected plant to the shower! Spraying down a plant completely with water actually rinses most of the mites away and down the drain. Also plants LOVE a good shower every now and then. Another option is to give it a bath! (you need a deep tub for bigger plants) Completely submerge the plant in the water and kinda give it a bit of a swirl, you can let it sit for a couple minutes and then take it out to dry.
Once I've removed the plant from the shower/bath (I haven't noticed a difference if it's wet or dry) I spray it down with my homemade spider mite spray (see recipe below). DO NOT PUT IN FULL SUN AFTERWARDS. Keep it in partial shade til the spray has dried completely (honestly with plant lights it doesn't really matter) so that the plant does not get burned.
Spray weekly until there are no new signs of mites. And BOOM you're done. I spray all my plants twice a month with this to prevent mites as well. Keep in mind that mites are so small they can fly in on the wind through your window screen. Also they can appear even if you never open your window. How?? I don't know they're literally spawns of the devil here to ruin your life.
Spider Mite Spray
-2 drops peppermint oil (spiders of all kinds HATE peppermint)
-1 drop of dawn dish soap (DO NOT USE ANY OTHER SOAP)
-1 teaspoon baking soda
Mix all the ingredients in a spray bottle, the bigger the better. Shake before use. When mine is getting a little low I add more water, the other ingredients are pretty strong and will last a good long while.
Here's a printable version here!
These don't kill plants too quickly (in my opinion) but boy do they annoy the absolute crap out of everyone in my house and probably yours too. Where do they come from though? The soil. These suckers thrive in moist soil (which unfortunately, quite a few plants prefer). They lay their eggs in the soil and the larvae actually eat at the roots of your plants. And they quite literally do a little population explosion everyday. You see one gnat, oh hun there are 1000's more that'll show up tomorrow.
I've tried it all for these too. Those yellow sticky pads, sprays, bottom watering, peroxide soaks, and changing out ALL the dirt. The sticky pads are lovely but rather gross to look at and only deal with the adults. Bottom watering for sure helps but once you've got a lot it doesn't seem to slow them down.
Here's my tried and true favorite.
time to mix some new soil! No this method I'm sharing isn't quite organic, but it works the best and has no effect on pollinators (not that it matters as again I'm doing strictly indoor methods right now). Mix 1/3 cup of Mosquito Bits per 2 gallons of soil (honestly the directions are on the bag of the bits I just tend to wing it)
plant with new soil, first rinsing the roots in a hydrogen peroxide/water mix (actually you can use straight peroxide it doesn't hurt your plant).
now you can put your plant back and get ready for a real ZINGER!
I use a plug in bug zapper! You just plug it into the wall and have it on at night. The gnats are drawn to the blue light and ZAP! They're dead. Definitely not as gross as the sticky traps. The bits take care of the larvae and the zapper kills the adults! I occasionally have some buzzing around but definitely not the infestation I dealt with before!
In essence, my go-to's are mosquito bits, a plug in bug zapper, hydrogen peroxide, and my special little bug spray. What pest control methods are your favorite?