Gardening Tips and Tricks : Orchid Pest Control – Five Household Remedies
These tips cover five household remedies for the control of orchid pests.
- The best possible “natural” remedy is prevention rather than cure. The optimum way to deal with pest problems is to avoid them entirely or catch them early by regular inspection of the plants. Practice proper hygiene – keep the area around your plants clean and dry. Keep plants up off of the ground where possible. Use sterile tools for plant trimming. Inspect all plants regularly for symptoms of insect or disease, such as leaf holes or yellowing or mushy leaves. Take action immediately to stop the spread of the pest, quarantine the infested plant. If you don’t recognize the pest or disease, consult a good orchid book, or take a sample or photo to your garden center. The same book or garden expert will suggest a treatment.
- To treat soft bodied insects, such as mealy bugs, aphids, and thrips, use 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol direct from the bottle. A typical sprayer top will fit right on the alcohol bottle. Touch insects with a soaked cotton swab or spray the entire affected area of the orchid. Apply in the early morning or late afternoon, when it’s cool, and repeat every two to three days.
- To treat hard-shell insects such as scale, mix 1 to 3 teaspoons of cooking oil and 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap per quart of water. Shake well and spray the plant thoroughly, wetting all affected surfaces. The soap will penetrate the waterproof coating of the insects’ shell and the oil will cut-off their air supply. Apply only when cool, repeat every 2 to 3 days. This remedy is also effective for spider mites.
- Here’s another homemade remedy for red spider mites – add a couple of drops of liquid soap to a blend of equal parts of water and buttermilk. Spray the plants thoroughly to the point of runoff to reach and kill the infestations.
- For mealybugs, use 3 percent hydrogen peroxide as a heavy spray. It will kill both the live bugs and the eggs, and will disinfect the exposed portion of the potting medium at the same time. Use a cotton swab to open leaf axils to allow the spray into the smallest crevices of the orchid.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that you are using these tips at your own risk – remedies that work for others may not work in your environment, so you should test the remedies on a single orchid first. Even though these are homemade or natural remedies, they are still chemicals and toxic (at least to pests.) Therefore, personal protection is important. Use proper gloves, and eye and skin protection and exercise caution when applying. Never apply any of these remedies in the heat of the day as they can damage your orchids. Do not use on hirsute (hairy) orchids. And do not store left-over mixtures in violation of federal labeling laws which require identification and warning statements on all chemical containers.