Mid-Winter Houseplant Problems

January is when people start noticing that their houseplants do not look “perfect”.

After our furnaces have been running all Fall, the humidity percentages in our homes drop to the single digits. Plants and people do better when the humidity is at least 10-15%.

Dormant eggs of insects like scales and white flies hatch when the temperatures are warm and humidity is low (room temperature is “warm” to insects). The first signs are sticky surfaces under the plants and on the upper leaf surfaces. This is “honey-dew”, droppings from the feeding insects.

The best way to prevent these problems is to treat the plants preventatively with systemic insect controls. They are granules that are sprinkled over the surface of the potting soil; then watered into the soil. The granules get washed down into the root system. The active ingredient is absorbed by the roots and transported up to the leaves. It usually takes 5 days. Then it stays in the plant for 8 weeks. When the insects suck the juices of the plant they ingest the insect killing chemical. There is no spraying, so it is a great solution for inside the home. By treating every 2 months, all of your plants stay neat and tidy.

Chalet’s favorite brand is Bonide’s Systemic Insecticide. It comes in 8 ounce and 16 ounce sizes. It is recommended to use 2 ½ tablespoons per every 6 inches of pot diameter. If you are not sure which insect you are dealing with, bring a plant sample to Chalet and we will put it under the microscope.