Is It Possible to Eradicate Houseplant Pests From Your Home?

There are lots of different approaches to dealing with pests while growing houseplants.

Many of those approaches vary depending on what we want the result to be.

Today we will explore:

  • What is the difference between pest management and pest eradication?
  • Is pest eradication a reasonable goal? Can you eradicate all pests?

Table of Contents

What is the difference between pest management and pest eradication?

Pest management and pest eradication are different but are sometimes used interchangeably.

Pest Eradication

Pest eradication means that you are completely eliminating pests.

The goal is to perform treatments that will result in zero pests or bad bugs in your home and on your plants when you are done.

Words that I might associate with this approach are sterile, clean, and disinfected.

In a perfect world, many of us would love to have plants that never have any pests, and eradicating them can be very alluring.

Pest Management

Pest management means managing the pests that come into your home. This can include any number of methods and goals.

You might have the goal of eradication, but you may also have the goal of keeping the number of pests at reasonable levels.

You might have the goal of using intense chemicals to control infestations quickly, or you may have the goal to use no chemicals at all in your home.

And there are thousands of variations between the two options discussed above, depending on your preference for yourself, your plants, and your family.

Not all types of pest management aim to eradicate pests, but eradicating pests is certainly one type of pest management.

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Is it possible to eliminate all houseplant pests from your home?

Eradicating all pests from your houseplants can be a reasonable goal, depending on several factors.

To effectively consider houseplants pest-free, the owner must:

  • Be very dedicated to consistent treatments that are timed based on the lifecycle of the pest
  • Use effective methods of control for the pest being treated
  • And perform routine maintenance for future prevention of all pests

Pests are very good at procreating quickly because that is what they were designed to do!

Spider mites, for example, can hatch every few days and adult females can lay more than a dozen eggs daily. Yikes! No wonder infestations can seemingly appear out of nowhere.

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If you own 100 plants, you may need to spray 100 plants every 3 days for a few weeks to be truly free of spider mites.

Not everyone can commit to this type of regime. However, spraying every few days might feel manageable if you only own 1 or 2 plants.

Not all treatments work on every bug.

Care must be taken to choose the right treatment and to apply it at the right frequency.

For example, products labeled for insects do not work for spider mites because they are arachnids. As such, any product labeled for use on insects, such as insecticidal soaps, will not be effective.

Spider mites require specialized products aimed at mites themselves or more natural methods.

Horticultural soaps and sprays are often die-on-contact solutions that require the pest to be touched by the spray for the spray to work.

This means that every bug and egg has to be sprayed for the plant to receive a clean bill of health.

Spider mite eggs, for example, are teeny tiny and can hide and be protected by the webbing that spider mites produce. They are sneaky, and even spray that lands on top of where the egg is may not actually reach the egg.

Mealybug babies can hide beneath the mom and the nest, protecting them from sprays. The same is true of scale babies.

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You can see how this process can be very frustrating.

Systemic pesticides can be applied, which the plant absorbs through its roots as it uptakes water normally.

The plant becomes a toxic plant with chemicals running in its veins. The bugs ingest these toxins when attempting to feed on the plant and do not survive.

Many systemic pesticides are effective on some pests, but not all. Thorough research should be done.

Many pesticides also negatively affect us and our environment, as these are powerful chemicals, particularly if used regularly.

Attempting to eliminate all pests in large collections is challenging. Attempting to eliminate all pests without chemicals is even more challenging.

And, it cannot be assumed that pests will never return.

It is possible for pests to show up in new potting soil, blow in through open windows, hitchhike in on produce, and venture in on any new plant purchases.

As such, quarantining new plants is a must, and preventatively treating plants is recommended.

As someone with a very large collection of plants, I gave up trying to eliminate pests from my home long ago. We will talk about my personal management techniques in next week’s post.

What Pest is on My Houseplant & What Can I Do About It?

What Color of Sticky Traps Do You Need for Different Houseplant Pests?

Is Neem Oil Actually Effective at Houseplant Pest Control?


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