Knowing how to treat spider mites on plants is an essential skill that every indoor gardener should learn. Spider mites cause aesthetic damage to plants and eventually kill them. While spider mites don’t bite pets or humans, these pests can significantly harm indoor plants.
If you want your indoor garden to thrive, you must know how to identify, manage, and prevent spider mite damage. Not knowing how to treat spider mites can lead to the destruction of your indoor garden.
How To Treat Spider Mites 101: What Are Spider Mites?
Spider mites are one of the most common garden pests and cause damage to many kinds of plants. Spider mites are smaller than the head of a pin, which is why identifying them is challenging. These tick-like bugs are related to spiders and can be brown, red, green, or yellow in color.
Spider mites love to feast on plants during the spring or when the weather gets warm. These pests can weaken your plants and make them vulnerable to many diseases and other problems. In addition, female spider mites can lay hundreds of eggs, causing a severe infestation within days or weeks. So expect to see exponential population growth once you spot these pests in your garden.
What Are the Common Signs of Spider Mites?
Spider mites are tiny, which is why you need to look closely to identify their presence in your garden. Neglecting to check your garden for signs of spider mites can result in an outbreak for all of your houseplants.
Generally, spider mites appear as yellow or brown spots on the leaves of the plant. If spider mites badly infest the plant, expect to see yellow leaves. Spider mites can also cause plants to stop growing.
Aside from discoloration, spider mites also leave webbing on your plants. As mentioned, spider mites are related to spiders and build webs to protect themselves and their eggs.
Another way to determine if your plants have spider mites is to shake their leaves gently with paper underneath. If you see specks that look similar to pepper on the paper, spider mites have already infested your plants.
How Do Spider Mites Get Into Your Home?
There are many ways spider mites can arrive in your indoor garden. Most commonly, they arrive on a newly acquired plant that is harboring an infestation. When left undetected, spider mites can damage all plants in your garden and multiply indoors quickly.
If you’re careless with soil, an unsterile potting mix may be another source of spider mites. Additionally, the wind may deposit them onto your plants if you keep them near an open window. Spider mites can also hitch a ride on your clothes or pets. Be especially careful if you regularly spend time at local garden centers.
Methods for How To Treat Spider Mites on Indoor Plants
Spider mites cause significant damage to your indoor garden, but there are many ways to prevent this from happening. You don’t have to worry about spider mites as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
Generally, you shouldn’t use pesticides when getting rid of spider mites as these are ineffective and harmful. Instead, you can treat spider mites by using natural remedies that are effective and safe for all types of plants.
Moreover, your efforts in treating spider mites should always start by removing the contaminated plant from your indoor garden. Isolating the contaminated plant will prevent the spider mites from spreading and causing damage to other plants.
1. Prune Affected Leaves
If you see yellow leaves or webbing on your leaves, prune them immediately. Discard the contaminated plant parts outdoors to prevent the pests from spreading indoors. Leaving the contaminated plant parts indoors will still put your garden at risk for spider mites infestation.
Once you’ve pruned the leaves, be proactive and treat the rest of the plant for a potential infestation. Some examples of natural and effective treatment methods are in the additional tips listed below.
2. Rinse Plants Regularly
Knowing how to treat spider mites doesn’t always include complex practices or expensive products. Often, the solution is already in your home, and you just have to use it as regularly as possible.
One of the easiest ways to remove spider mites from your plants is to rinse off the contaminated plant. The water pressure from a shower or hose is enough to remove webs and dislodge pesky mites.
When using a hose to remove spider mites from your indoor plants, do it outdoors. Staying outside will prevent spider mites from sticking to other surfaces indoors.
3. Use Soap Spray
Another way to treat a spider mite infestation is with a soap spray. Mix one teaspoon of soap (castile soap and liquid dish soap work best) with one quart of lukewarm water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake well. Use the spray on the contaminated plants until all the spider mites are gone.
Aside from spraying, you can dip a sponge in the solution and wipe down the plant to remove spider mites. Then, spray again as often as needed until the plant shows no signs of an infestation.
This homemade solution works well because the soapy liquid coats the spider mites’ bodies, causing them to dehydrate and die. Additionally, insecticidal soap is safe to use around pets and children and is appropriate for organic gardening methods.
This DIY soap solution also works well in killing other houseplant pests, like scale insects, whitefly, thrips, aphids, and mealybugs.
4. Use Neem Oil
Neem oil is a popular solution for getting rid of all kinds of household plants, namely spider mites. Neem oil derives from the seeds and fruits of the neem trees and contains Azadirachtin. Azadirachtin interferes with insect hormone systems, preventing pests from growing and laying eggs.
The recipe for creating an organic mite spray is two teaspoons of neem oil and one teaspoon of Castile soap. Add one quart of lukewarm water to the solution and shake thoroughly. Use the solution ]on the leaves, stems, and flowers of the contaminated plant. Using this solution regularly is enough to remove spider mites from your indoor garden.
Using neem oil has become a popular option because it is safe for humans and most animals.
5. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is an all-around household cleaner, but did you know you can use it against spider mites? Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic and creates an environment that spider mites despise.
You can make an apple cider vinegar spray using products commonly found in the kitchen. Start by mixing ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar with one tablespoon of baking soda. Then, add a few drops of liquid dish soap and one quart of lukewarm water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and shake repeatedly.
Use the spray whenever you see signs of spider mites activity on your plants.
6. Use Rosemary Oil
Aside from giving off a relaxing scent, rosemary oil can also remove spider mites from your indoor garden. Studies confirm that rosemary oil can effectively clean spider mites from tomato plants and other edible plants.
Dilute one teaspoon of oil in one quart of lukewarm water in a spray bottle and mix it by shaking. Spray the solution onto all of your plants to prevent the growth and spread of spider mites.
7. Use Rubbing Alcohol
If you don’t have the time or resources to mix different solutions, use rubbing alcohol instead. Rubbing alcohol can effectively remove spider mites from your plants as long as you apply it regularly.
Dip a clean cloth in 70% isopropyl alcohol and wipe the leaves of the contaminated plants. You can also mix equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water to spray onto your plants.
But because some indoor plants have delicate leaves, you might need to reduce the concentration of alcohol. If you see signs of burns on your plant leaves, try following a 1:3 alcohol to water ratio in your spray.
Knowing How To Treat Spider Mites Is Just the Beginning
Use the information in this guide to identify spider mites quickly and eradicate them effectively. Spider mites are often challenging to detect, so inspect your plants regularly to keep them happy and healthy. It won’t take long for a single spider mite to damage your entire indoor garden.
Treat your plants as soon as you notice signs of a spider mite infestation. Knowing how to treat spider mites on indoor plants is an essential step toward a pest-free indoor garden.
FAQ About How to Treat Spider Mites on Indoor Plants
The first step in treating a spider mite infestation is usually to remove any plant parts that the infestation has damaged. Be sure to take these discarded pieces out of your home to prevent the infestation from spreading. After removing the damaged parts, treat the rest of the plant using a proven spider mite treatment method.
Water is a great way to treat a spider mite infestation. Use a hose or shower to rinse your plant’s leaves and stems. The water pressure from these sources should be sufficient to remove all spider mites.
You can use a variety of organic-friendly treatments for spider mites. Neem oil, rosemary oil, castile soap, apple cider vinegar, and rubbing alcohol are some of the most popular choices.
There are many ways spider mites can make their way into your home. Quarantine new plants for a week or two until you’re sure they are free of pests. Also, keep plants away from open windows to prevent the wind from depositing spider mites on your plants. As an additional precaution, change your clothes when you get home and keep your pets away from indoor plants.
A single spider mite can lay hundreds of eggs, resulting in an infestation that seems to pop up overnight.