Spider Mites -- everywhere!
This is my first year for getting serious about indoor plants -- I've always had a few (luckily, they thrived on neglect ), but I've graduated to a huge plant shelf, which is full, plus about 15 pots on the floor.
I'd noticed that a couple of them were failing to thrive, although I was watering carefully (when top inch of soil was dry) and thoroughly. The room is chilly at night (55-60 degrees) but during the day a space heater is used, so it can get warm and dry.
Then, more of my plants started to look ill. At first I thought the problem was low humidity, so I started misting and leaving lots of open containers of water around the plants. It was at this time that I noticed it -- webbing. Ugh. On most of the plants! It didn't take me long on Google to realize I had spider mites. On *all* my plants.
I have hauled all but one (huge) plant upstairs and into the bathroom, and they've all gotten a shower (getting the undersides of the leaves and the stems well); I'm going to repeat that in a couple of days and do it again in about a week.
However, this does not help with the huge thunbergina (sp?) vine with its own 8' trellis. There's no way to get that thing up the stairs, I don't have a sprayer on my sink, and it's too cold to do it outside. So far, I've continued misting (a couple of times a day) to increase humidity, as I know the mites don't like that, tried to keep the heat down more during the day, and have tried to use a paper towel soaked in water with a couple of drops of dishsoap to wipe off the bottoms of the leaves.
However, there are a LOT of leaves. And I can't get to all of the stems because they're wrapped around the trellis (and the plant shelf, and each other, and . . . )
So I have several questions. I've read a lot about different kind of homemade solutions, and want to try a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water (with a couple of drops of dishsoap). Will a 5:1 ratio of water to alcohol be enough, or does it need to be stronger? I know there are folks who think there are better solutions, and I'm all ears :) but rubbing alcohol is what I have on hand Right Now. It will be next week at the earliest before I would be able to pick up Neem Oil or insecticidal soap. (And if this or other suggested concoctions don't work, that's my next step.)
I've read somewhere on this forum that citrus peel can be a helpful additive to the mixture. How much, for your typical spray bottle? What does the peel do?
Is there a particular brand of dishsoap that you all prefer? I know it's only a couple of drops but if there's one that's preferred I can pick that up next week.
I've also read a recipe that called for steeping one clove of garlic in a half-liter of water for 24 hours and then spraying onto the plant. Would I add the two drops of dishsoap to that? Does anyone know what the garlic is supposed to do -- does it repel them or kill them? Has anyone had a plant that had a bad reaction to garlic?
I've also seen a recipe that used flour, milk, water, and dishsoap. Does that coat them so that they can't breathe? Will that go through a sprayer? Do you have to wipe it off the plant after it's been on for a certain amount of time?
Finally, how long can these little *^&$@s live without food (in case some dropped on the floor or whatever)? I understand this will likely be a long, ongoing battle, and I'm willing to fight it, but any and all guidance will be greatly appreciated.