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Your Winter Garden: Pest tips for houseplants

Winter is time for indoor gardening (Anthurium)

Just like in our outdoor gardens, we need to keep an eye out for pests in our indoor winter gardens (houseplants). Pests may sometimes hitchhike on houseplants that spend the summer outdoors, and emerge in the warmth of our homes. New plants may also bring in new pests. Insect eggs laid on the underside of leaves or in the soil may hatch indoors and suddenly appear too.

Groom plants that come in from the outside. Clear away dead plant debris (leaves, flowers) and prune off dead or overgrown stems and branches. Remove dust that can filter light by wiping off leaves with a soft, damp cloth or spraying the plant with water.

Scout for signs and presence of pests. Look at the undersides of leaves and along edges and the bottom of  pots for insects and egg masses and remove or treat. Shiny, sticky leaf surfaces (honeydew) is a sign of sucking insects like scale and aphids. Fine webbing is a sign of spider mites.
Some plants may be outgrowing their containers and need re-potting. Take this opportunity to check the underside of the plant as well as roots, and to prune off any roots that are dark brown and mushy. Re-pot plants in a clean pot using sterile potting soil.

Use fresh soil and a clean pot
 to re-pot houseplants (Amaryllis
Give new plants plenty of space from the rest. Quarantine new plants for a couple of weeks away from your current, pest-free plants to make sure the new fella is pest-free too.

Follow pesticide labels. Many pests can be eliminated from houseplants by hand-picking, wash or a blast of water. If you do choose to treat with a chemical, use one for houseplants and follow all pesticide label precautions. This is especially important with indoor plants as they live where we live. Managing insect pests on indoor plants

Author: Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator,  Horticulture

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