How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Plants
Plant care takes many forms. Giving them enough sunlight and water are considered essentials, but protecting them from potential parasites is also vital. If we neglect this aspect of their care, they can destroy the plant and it won't matter how much water or light we provide. One of the most common are the little bugs we see in our garden or on indoor plants from time to time. Some of them are noticeably red in color, but they vary considerably since there are around 1,200 species. They are one of the most common and destructive pests on plants.
In this oneHOWTO article, we look at how to get rid of spider mites on plants. We look at both how to kill the plant mites and how to prevent them appearing in the first place.
Do my plants have a spider mite infestation?
Knowing the signs your plant, whether an indoor plant or one in the garden, has spider mites is essential even for the most amateur horticulturist. Detecting them as soon as symptoms of an infestation appear and acting quickly can make all the difference to the survival of the plant. In many cases, you will first notice the spider mites due to the appearance of white, orange or yellow spots on the leaves and/or stem of the plant.
The yellow spots tend to be centered on the central stem. If the spider mites are not got rid of, they can cover the entire of the plant in just a few days. The resulting yellowish fuzz can lower its capacity for photosynthesis due to the lack of chlorophyll. This fuzz is a web created by the spider mite, but a lot of the damage is done by the mites feeding on the plant itself.
At this point, the leaves of the plant will likely become weak and die. Since they create their webs with such speed, we need to act quickly and get rid of the spider mites from your plant.
When you see little red spots, these are the mites themselves. Although they can be of varying color, red are the most common. You can even see the mites move across the plants. As the webs grow, the parasitic mites grow in number also. This is why we provide the best ways to kill them below.
If you have some specific plants you are worried about, check out our article on how to get rid of pests on rose bushes.
1. Kill spider mites with sulfur
There are fungicides that contain sulfur, an effective chemical to eradicate red spider mites. Some are formulated with powdered sulfur and can be applied with the dusting method. This means using powdered sulfur to combat the spiders. The use of sulfur is very common in agriculture, especially when used to protect crops such as tomatoes, peppers and strawberries. However, it can be just as effective with houseplants such as the ponytail palm.
2. Kill spider mites with potassium soap
You can also go for products like potassium soap to get rid of spider mites. This valuable plant care resource has the property of weakening various parasitic organisms until they die. The application of potassium soap has various other benefits, including:
- It does not intoxicate other insects, such as butterflies and bees, and does not damage any fruits which may be on the plant.
- Protects the plant from toxic residues.
- It is completely harmless for other animals and for people. It does not put the health of the individual who applies it or that of pets, children or people in the environment at risk.
- It is easily removed and is biodegradable, so it does not have a negative impact on the environment.
To properly apply potassium soap, use potassium soap powder. You will not be able to use a bar on the plant. Application of the potassium soap is best done during hours of low sunlight. Do not apply the powder directly to the flowers.
3. Kill spider mites with neem oil
Neem oil is another valuable product which can be used to protect our plants from spider mites. It is a natural insecticide which is extracted from the fruit of the neem tree. In addition to getting rid of spider mites, it can also be used to eliminate various other pests, such as bed bugs, lice and aphids. You can even learn how to use neem oil as a mosquito repellent here.
Apply the neem oil to the plant infested with spider mites, ideally one hour after using the potassium soap.The combination results in an even more effective treatment to eliminate spider mites from the plant, as well as prevent other pests from trying to attack it.
Check out the article we share here for even more natural pest repellent ideas.
4. Kill spider mites with garlic
Using as natural ingredients as possible is the best way to keep your plants safe. There are few other products as helpful and as natural as garlic. Although there may be a faint odor, it shouldn't be enough to cause any problems in the home. The upside is that you don't use powerful chemicals which might be dangerous, especially if you have children and/or pets.
To make a pesticide for spider mites using garlic, first crush a few cloves and add the garlic juice to equal parts water. Apply the garlic and water solution to the plant where the mites are gathering. This will act as a great natural defense against fungi, bacteria, insects and, of course, mites. You can put the garlic solution in a spray bottle and apply this to the plant. Do not do it when it is in contact with direct sunlight as it can burn the plant.
Find out more about how to avoid harmful pesticides for your house plants here.
5. Kill spider mites with tobacco
Another of our home remedies for spider mites on plants is tobacco. You must follow these guidelines to correctly use tobacco to eliminate spider mites on plants:
- Mix the tobacco (60 grams) with 1 liter of water. If you are going to use less quantity, take into account the ratio. E.g., if you are going to use 1/2 liter of water, then you will have to add 30 grams of tobacco.
- Add natural soap (10 grams if you are preparing a liter of water) to the mixture and stir so that everything is integrated.
- Let it sit for 14 hours and then you can apply the mixture with a spray. It is recommended to use it once a week for a period of approximately two months if the infestation is severe or if there are several pests.
How to prevent spider mites on plants
Even if you know how to get rid of spider mites from plants, it is always best to prevent it happening in the first p0lace. Follow these tips to prevent spider mites on plants:
- Reduce the nitrogen present in the compost, since an excess attracts pests such as spider mites. In this other post you can read about how to make organic fertilizers at home.
- Observe your plants daily to detect possible pests. Act quickly when you do.
- Maintain a correct watering schedule, both in amount and time. Red spiders tend to infest waterless and weak plants.
- As far as possible, and according to the characteristics of each plant, place them in areas of high humidity. In these these environments this spider mite does not proliferate. Be very careful not to overdo it because there are plants that do not tolerate high humidity well and could result in just-as-nasty fungal infestations.
Now that you've learned all this about how to kill spider mites, feel free to learn more about the world of gardening to take good care of your plants. For example, you can check out these other oneHOWTO articles on how to care for devil's ivy or what are the best indoor plants for low light.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Plants, we recommend you visit our Gardening & plants category.