Taking care of your houseplants regularly is crucial to their health and growth. But despite all your best efforts, an infestation of spider mites may wreak havoc. In this article, we will see, how to kill spider mites on houseplants.
A few spider mites can’t do much harm to your houseplants. However, leave them long enough, and they will multiply and spread. There is power in numbers, and the infestation will make your plant look unsightly. Severe infestations can stunt growth and kill plants. Let’s discuss effective kill strategies below.
Effective Strategies to Kill Spider Mites in House Plants
Confirming that you are dealing with a spider mite infestation is important. Do not treat the house plant based on fleeting suspicion because you could damage it.
Scroll down to learn more about the signs of a spider infestation.
Isolate the Infested Plant
The first step is to isolate the houseplant away from its neighbors. Your goal is to prevent the spider mites from spreading to other plants.
Another alternative is to prune out sections that have visible infestations. Discard these sections of the houseplant far away from your home.
Don’t forget to clean and disinfect the space that the plant was occupying. It would be best if you also washed your hands. We recommend using latex gloves before moving the plant.
Spray the Plant with Pesticides
It is recommended to use natural ingredients to prepare miticides and pesticides. Harsh industrial-grade chemicals will also harm the house plant, sometimes irreversibly.
The advantage of using natural ingredients is that it leaves the houseplant unharmed.
Let’s take a look at recommended pesticides.
Neem oil acts as a powerful deterrent against spider mites. It will obliterate many pests besides spider mites.
The best part is that you can prepare them in the comforts of your home. Stock up on the following ingredients:
- Castile soap
- Neem oil
- A container
Mix all of the ingredients into a container and mix them thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake it vigorously.
Now spray the neem oil all over the spider mites on the house plant. Do this at 3-day intervals until the pests have died.
Cinnamon oil is known for its intense aroma and taste. It is widely used to make food. The intense scent is used as a non-hazardous pesticide to kill spider mites in house plants.
Cinnamon oil works best on both eggs and adult spider mites. You can apply it two times a week to slowly kill the spider mites.
Just like neem oil, you can make cinnamon oil mixture at home. Here’s how:
- Mix a few tablespoons with water. Control the amounts of water to adjust the concentration of the cinnamon. Highly concentrated cinnamon will prove to be more effective at killing spider mites.
- Pour the cinnamon mixture into a spray bottle.
Now spray the cinnamon oil around until you get rid of the pests.
Hydrogen peroxide is toxic to plants. It should be used as a last resort in cases of severe infestations.
In small amounts, hydrogen peroxide may also boost plant growth because of the oxygen molecule. This means you’re killing two birds with one stone.
You can prepare a hydrogen peroxide mixture using the following steps:
- 3 tablespoons of level three hydrogen peroxide
- 1 gallon of water
Toss the ingredients into a container. Allow the hydrogen peroxide to mix with the water properly.
Afterward, pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Now lightly spray the leaves with the hydrogen peroxide solution. You can adjust the concentration of hydrogen peroxide depending on your needs.
Rosemary oil is an essential oil that has powerful pesticidal properties. It is a popular active ingredient in many commercial insecticides.
Here’s how you can prepare rosemary oil to spray on your house plants:
- Mix safflower oil with 4 ounces of fresh rosemary in a clear glass jar
- Close the jar and place it in a warm, sunny spot for three days
- Pour the oil through a strainer into a cup
- Now pour two ounces of the oil into a spray bottle
- Add 3 ounces of liquid soap to 8 ounces of water into the spray bottle
- Shake the spray bottle until to mix the components properly
- Now spray the rosemary oil over the infected plants
Ginger Garlic Chili Paste
This potent mixture is extremely cruel to spider mites. It combines the best of ginger and garlic to make a powerful insecticide.
You can make this mixture at home. Here are the required ingredients:
- One chili
- Small piece of ginger
- One clove of garlic
Mix the ingredients into a grinder and crush them into a fine paste. Toss the mixture into 1 liter of water.
Pour it into a spray bottle and mist the infected leaves. Keep the spray bottle at least one foot away from the plants.
Caution: Don’t use more than five drops of the paste because it would result in plant inflammation. The mixture is just as effective at lower doses without being harmful to leaves.
Peppermint spray has an intense smell that can ward off spider mites. You can prepare the mixture at home in a spray bottle.
Simply add a few drops of peppermint oil to the water. Keep the ratio of 10 drops of peppermint oil to one ounce of water. Add the mixture into a spray bottle and shake it vigorously to prevent component separation.
Pro tip: Spider mites are some of the most challenging pests on the planet. They will eventually build up immunity to your miticide.
Rotate the pesticides and miticides you spray to keep spider mites on their toes. Spray the insecticides once every seven days.
Use Natural Predators
A popular option is to use natural predators to eat and wipe out spider mites. Most people agree that the best predator is the Phytoseiulus persimilis.
This predatory mite is a fierce eater with a near-insatiable appetite. It is said to have the highest consumption rate of all predatory mites. Adults are known for eating a whopping 20 mites per day.
They will take their feeding frenzy well into dense webbing where mites commonly reside.
Note that these predators will starve if the spider mites are not available. So if you notice that their population is dying, it’s because they killed all mites.
The only problem is that they require particular conditions to live. The temperature range must not exceed the 20-30 degrees Celsius range.
Temperature higher and lower than this range will result in reduced activity. Make sure to apply these predators close to or onto the infected leaves.
You may have to do this multiple times to control the infestation completely. Alternatively, you can use Amblyseius californicus to eat the spider mites.
This predator is active at temperatures in the 10-33 degree Celsius range. You may combine the two predators to destroy the spider more quickly.
For extremely low temperatures close to 3 degrees Celsius, deploy the Amblyseius andersoni. They are effective when the infestation is still low.
Note: Do not use miticides and pesticides if you go down this route. Doing so will also kill the predator mites.
Learn How to Identify Spider Mites
Spider mites are extremely small pests closely related to ticks and spiders. They look like small white spiders but can appear in various colors.
Depending on the species, you might see them in black, red, yellow, and green colors. Spider mites may also exhibit seasonal changes to their appearance.
Some species of spider mite may also produce webbing. This becomes apparent in higher numbers. Webbing makes your favorite potted plant look like a mess.
You will see small, fragile webs in the corner of plant stems and underneath leaves. A closer look will reveal tiny creatures having oval body with eight legs.
It is often hard to detect the presence of spider mites until their population explodes. Spider mites can easily double their number in a few weeks.
Moreover, spider mite nymphs will become adults in just one week. They will breed and lay hundreds of eggs in the next few weeks. Spider mites are fond of laying eggs on the underside of leaves.
They prefer to breed in warm, dry conditions. The infestation can worsen if your HVAC system removes moisture from the air.
They are windsurfers and ride their webbing on breezes. This means it’s only a matter of time before spider mites invade your house plants.
The Lifecycle of Spider Mites
The typical lifecycle of a spider mite includes the following stages:
The eggs are usually laid on the underside of the leaves. Spider mites will achieve adulthood after just one week. This means that it is easy for the spider mite population to grow exponentially.
How do Spider Mites Spread?
It can be hard to pinpoint how and where the infestation began.
- Experts believe that spider mites spread by the following methods:
- Buying a new houseplant that is infested with spider mites
- Repotting houseplants with infected potting soil
- Bringing infested flowers and vegetables close to your houseplants
- Hitching a ride on the wind breeze (the most common method)
Signs of a Spider Mite Infestation
The first thing you will notice are the white spider webs. In some cases, the plant will look a little dusty. You might think the plant isn’t getting enough water and is drying out.
Here are a few definitive signs of a spider mite infestation:
- Tiny white spots on the leaves
- Silky webs woven around the plant’s leaves
- A bronze or tan appearance on the plant. This is indicative of a heavy spider mite infestation
- Flower petals gradually losing their brightness
- Reduced photosynthetic activity
- Removal of chlorophyll
- Speckling and yellowing of leaves
If you notice any of the above symptoms: it’s time to look closely.
Use a magnifying glass if you have one. Now hold the plant up to the light and look under its leaves. You should be able to spot the tiny mites racing around the plant.
They will fall off the fine webbing if you lightly shake the plant.
How to Prevent a Future Spider Mite Infestation
As the old saying goes: prevention is better than cure. It is suitable for your plants and keeps pests at bay – for the most part. Let’s take a look at some prevention strategies.
Keep the Plants and the Indoor Area Clean
The best way to keep spider mites at bay is to keep your houseplants clean. Use the following tips to maintain hygiene:
- Use a moist, soft cloth to wipe smooth-leaved houseplants. This method is best used with plants with few leaves, such as snake plants
- Use a soft brush to clean plants with sticky leaves that aren’t easy to clean
- Plants that have many leaves can be sprayed with lukewarm water
- Always keep a good pesticide, such as neem oil, nearby
- Inspect your houseplants at regular intervals to see signs of pests
- Dunk smaller plants in water by holding the base of the plant at soil-level. Use plastic wrap to contain the soil before inverting the pot
Pro tip: Never use a feather duster to clean your houseplants in California. Dusters are bad because they can spread pests all over the room.
Keep Your Plants Watered
Plants that experience water stress are susceptible to spider mite infestations. Make sure your houseplants in California are properly hydrated.
This may also mean having to fix the soil. Consider adding organic matter and compost to the soil. Organic matter will improve the soil’s ability to retain moisture and keep the plant hydrated.
Long-term water stress may also kill your plants. They will either permanently wilt or stop growing. In this case, spider mites are the least of your worries. So keep your plants watered!
Remove Dead Plants
It is a good idea to remove dead or yellowing leaves. They may be too far gone for you to try saving.
You may remove weak leaves by hand. Don’t apply too much force if the leaf is resistant. Instead, prune away leaves that are too weak to resist you.
So there you have it, a quick guide on how to kill spider mites on houseplants. Make sure to stick to organic miticides and pesticides.
Use natural ingredients, and remember to rotate your insecticides. How do you deal with a spider mite infestation? Please share your experiences and anecdotes with us!
Other articles you may like:
- How to Identify Thrips on Houseplants
- How to Get Rid of Scale on Houseplants
- Houseplants That Can be Planted Together
- Is Bong Water Good for House Plants?
- Why Are the Roots of My Potted House Plants Turning Black?
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.