Keeping houseplants alive and healthy may seem to be a mixture of science, good luck, and maybe some sort of “green thumb.” If you lack that particular talent, don’t worry. With a little TLC (tender loving care), some research, and attention to your houseplants, your green friends will thrive.

Care and Feeding

It is important to understand what your plants need and what can hurt them. Your local nursery or garden centre will gladly provide useful information about most any type of houseplant. Some merely require good potting soil and water. Others may need additional fertilizer. It’s important to recognize which plants need special nutrition.


It’s also vital to learn about some common diseases and pests that might afflict your houseplants, and how to deal with them. It’s not unusual to find insect pests on your houseplants, even in the winter. This is especially true if you have new plants or plants that spent any time outdoors during the warmer weather. This is where a little research can help keep plants healthy without using strong, toxic pesticides. Quite a few insect pests can be eliminated by simply running water over the plant or wiping the leaves with a damp cloth. Others are easily removed with a cotton swab or tweezers.

Other pests (such as fungus gnats) require taking the plant outdoors for some rescue work. The easiest way is to water the plant thoroughly and then remove some of the soil mixture after the gnats rise to the surface. Treating the plant with a biological insecticide such as Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis) will help control any remaining larvae. Here are some common pests who affect houseplants:

  • Spider mites
  • Aphids
  • Leaf miners
  • White flies
  • Fungus gnats
  • Mealy bugs


Houseplants are rarely affected by disease because indoor conditions are seldom favorable to pathogens. The easiest way to prevent problems is to carefully inspect plants for disease when initially making a purchase. Good plant care begins before you lift a spade or watering can. Make sure to use pasteurized soil for potting and use clean, sanitized pots. Rinse pots with a 9:1 water/bleach solution to kill any pathogens or harmful fungi. The following are some diseases to look out for:

  • Anthracnose
  • Fungal/bacterial leaf spots
  • Root/stem rot
  • Powdery mildew

Successful indoor gardening and enjoying a healthy indoor environment means taking care of your indoor ecosystem. Contact Mr. Pest Control today for help; our staff are trained and experienced to handle every type of pest — from invasive wildlife to bed bugs: 1-888-794-7378.

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