Bringing Houseplants Inside

PatSeptember 25, 2011

When you bring your houseplants inside from a summer outside, do you water with an insecticide or anything to be sure any bad buggers don't come in with the plants? I have a friend who uses Malathion (sp) but I'm afraid of it. Any advise would be very appreciated.

Pat

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gravyboots(7B)

Patann, I'm going to spray foliage with organic horticultural oil; you could also spray with Neem oil. Just beware of phyto-toxicity issues & spray at dusk. I've never done a soil treatment... maybe a serious pot-flush before coming will drive the bugs out of your pots?

GB

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 1:08PM
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brodyjames_gw

I use Safer Insecticidal Soap and it works well. You can combo it with some kind of systemic that you place in the top inch of soil. The systemic makes the plant unpalatable to the insects and takes care of whatever the Safer's may have missed.

Nancy

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 1:14PM
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birdsnblooms

Pat, forget harsh chemicals. I use a mixure of: Water in mister, 2-4 drops dish soap, grated or powdered garlic, hot pepper and lemon juice. 'Prepare the night before spraying, add 1 clove of garlic in this brew.'

The day of spraying, I also add 1 capful of Fish Emulsion in the mix. FE keeps Scale bug at bay, or if there are Scale, kills them.
Nothing in this mix is harmful, won't hurt you, your family or pets.

One word of caution. Fish Emulsion has a fishy smell that lasts 2-3 days. If you can bear it, your plants will do fine.
Fish Emulsion is an organic fertilizer. By spraying leaves using FE, not only is it a great organic insecticie but a fertilizer, too. Since I stop fertilizing in Oct, spraying the leaves w/FE is a last supper too.
There is a scent-less FE, but I've never tried it, so can't review honestly.

Soap and water kills Mites.
FE kills Scale.
Most house plant insects do not like the smell of garlic, citrus and hot pepper. Fantastic repellents.

The only insect I haven't figured a way to rid is Mealy Bug. Other than Rubbing Alcohol, 'which works at times,' and dried and crushed scented Geraniums, 'if it works,' I don't know of a natural way to kill/rid them.

Before spraying, hose plants off. After leaves dry apply the spray.

Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 4:27PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Pat, just to be sure that you aren't confused by what Toni added to this thread...malathion is a 'harsh chemical', but the others mentioned are not. Neem, horticultural oils, insecticidal soap are all safe to use inside the home. As are Toni's recipes.

One thing to be aware of is that some plants are very sensitive to oils and soaps. Read the label and do a bit of research on your individual plants. OR you can ask in here and we'll help.

Some people like to put their plants into a basin of some kind and fill it up with water. That is sure to chase out a lot of critters that have taken up residence inside the pot such as worms, milli- and centipedes, ants, slugs, pillbugs, etc. You can treat the foliage with your choice of options at the same time. Don't just spray...inspect the plant carefully.

Be very careful about systemics, as the fumes they emit will be brought into the home.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 5:03PM
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gravyboots(7B)

That should read "phototoxicity," not "phyto-"

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 6:48PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Gravy....are you SURE about that? ;-) (the photo/phyto thing, I mean)

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 11:12PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I'm in the rootball-submerged-in-water camp. Then I inspect the foliage and manually remove any critters. Remove any dead leaves that have blown into the pot to decrease risk of fungus gnats. Removing any sub-par foliage is a good idea, IMO. Those leaves would probably soon be on the floor, anyway.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 9:26AM
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gravyboots(7B)

My poor, spotty Monstera says "Yes! Spray Neem at dusk or risk sunburn!"

We had big wind here yesterday, so all the flagging conifers (holding old needles/leaves) got cleaned up... right into my plants! Now it's raining, so it will harder to blow all the foreign bits off of wet foliage, especially Dracaenas & spider plants with their beautiful whorled leaves.

Due to the wind, now there is too much/too small junk to pick it all out of the pots, so I will just hit the debris with hort oil too & hope there's not too much scale... then lug everyone back outside in 2 weeks for a follow-up.

Patann, make sure you follow up treatment according to mfgr's instructions, especially to get any scale!

GB

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 10:44AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

gravy, glad that debris-in-the-pots is all the wind did to your plants. I wish I had too many pots to be able to pick out the leaves. Envy! Thanks for giving others with lots of pots an "out" to what I said. LOL!

One of the things I love about gardening is the options. Most of them almost always lead to success, can fit different lifestyles, and if something it doesn't work, you can try another technique. It's very rewarding and such interesting discussions ensue. I hope everyone's chosen methods go well this year!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 11:41AM
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Pat

I thank you all. I knew I'd get great answers here.

Yesterday I drenched everything with about a half-cup of Murphy's Oil Soap in my watering can. In the past I had good luck with actually spraying bugs on all plants with MOSoap straight from the spray bottle.

The scale on my succulents is going to get the fish emulsion as soon as I can get some. And I will follow up on directions, gravy. I may not put my succulents outside in the summer again. Something really enjoyed munching down my jades and golums (sp). Not pretty.

I did soak my foliage plants (including my amaryllis) in a tub of water and watched for floating critters. My, those centipedes do get big in the summer, don't they?

Thank you everyone again.
Pat

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 1:32PM
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gravyboots(7B)

Welllll.... the actual leaves get picked out & pine needles are big enough to remove, but fir needles & cedar leaves = nothing doing! They're simply too small! I left my windward bedroom windows open all day - with screens in - and my bed, which is a couple feet away, was covered with fir needles. Yeesh.

Everyone is in a pretty fast mix now, so there is little risk of fungus gnats or rot; I might just turn the conifer debris into the first 1/2" or so after treatment for bugs... needles break down pretty slow (I think they actually count as "brown" in compost, vs. "green"), so I figure worst-case-scenario is a little extra acidic organic matter.

GB

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 4:26PM
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Joe1980(5)

In the past, I've tried the soap and/or oil thing, with not too much luck. I don't keep any houseplants outdoors except jades and succulents. Mine are all smaller in size, so I physically look over them VERY thoroughly before bringing them in. I've found that most all succulents dislike any kind of pesticide, oil, and soap. As for my houseplants, in the past when I've had some insect problems, the soap and oil performed below average. Things would look good, until I'd notice that many of the bugs were still there, alive & well. I gave up on the less offensive remedies, and blasted with malathion. Mind you I did this outside in the morning, let the plants dry all day, and sprayed them with the hose in the evening before bringing them in. Total insect elimination. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to go gung-ho and skip the less harsh methods, but at the same time, don't let your babies hit their death bed all in the name of not using chemicals. Sometimes you gotta break out the big guns.

With all that said, for simply bringing them in, no need for the big guns. I'd just give them a good once over, keep them seperate from anything that wasn't outside, and watch for problems. But, it sounds like you have handled your biz though. Anyway, in the future, NEVER place any plant on the ground, or you're asking for uninvited guests. Keep them up on something, or on a deck or table. If you have critters chewing, usually chipmunks, make a chicken fence or hardware cloth cage to protect them. Or just shoot the chippies; they're no good for yards anyway. Those succulents need that summer sun, so do what you gotta do to keep them out there.

Joe

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 11:11PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Quoted from Purple :"One of the things I love about gardening is the options. Most of them almost always lead to success, can fit different lifestyles, and if something it doesn't work, you can try another technique. It's very rewarding and such interesting discussions ensue. I hope everyone's chosen methods go well this year!"

You are SOOOOOO right! I agree one thousand percent.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 1:27PM
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birdsnblooms

Rhizo, glad you're still around.

I have a question about a comment you made Sept 25, 2011..'this thread, regarding systemics. "The fumes they emit will be brought in the home."

Someone suggested I use Bayer Systemic before bringing plants indoors.
Never using a systemic, I don't know a thing about them, other than hearing this, 'poison' is the safest of other chemical-insecticides.

How long do fumes last? I have birds to think about.

I haven't bought the systemic, and now that you mentioned fumes, doubt I will.

The only insect I worry about is Mealy. Had a battle w/them since last winter. Tossed out 90% of my AV's because they took over, not to mention several favorite Clivias.

Supposedly, Bayer is supposed to kill outdoor spiders/ants that crawl in soil, too. What do you think? Thanks, Toni

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 2:26PM
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