Friday, September 3rd, 2021
Disclaimer: Product stock and prices are subject to change after blog publish date.
Tropical and desert plants cannot withstand freezing temperatures. Therefore, if they were placed outside during the summer they must be brought indoors during the winter. We recommend bringing your tropical plants inside when the nighttime temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius. Typically, nighttime temperatures drop this low sometime in September, so be sure to keep an eye on the forecast if your tropical plants currently reside outdoors. Some tropical plants can handle slightly colder temperatures, but a frost can easily kill a tropical plant. It is better to be safe than sorry!
Before bringing your tropical plants indoors, it is extremely important to check for insects and mites. Insects and mites are usually unable to infest your tropical plants when they are outdoors as certain factors, such as rain, wind, etc., help keep pests under control. These factors are eliminated when tropical plants are brought inside, thus creating the perfect opportunity for pest infestations to occur. We would absolutely hate to see these pests spread to your other indoor plants, so, what can you do to control pests on your tropical plants when bringing them inside after they have been outdoors all summer?
First and foremost, be sure to thoroughly inspect your tropical plants. Insects and mites are masters of disguise. Most pests hide on the underside of leaves, near leaf veins and in crevices where leaves and stems meet. They also like to hide on new growth.
If you do not spot any insects or mites after a thorough inspection, we suggest treating your tropical plants with an insecticidal soap anyways as a preventative measure. Plan to do this 10 days before you bring your tropical plants indoors. Here are the steps, as well as some tips, for treating your tropical plants with an insecticidal soap.
First, spray your plants with water using a hose or a pressurized handheld sprayer. Water pressure works wonders when it comes to combatting pests!
Next, apply insecticidal soap. Do not spray your tropical plants with an insecticidal soap in the afternoon. Early morning or evening is best. Insecticidal soap applied in full sun will burn your plant. After treating your tropical plants, move them to a shady area so that the sun does not hit them as they dry off. When applying insecticidal soap, ensure that you spray all of the spots mentioned previously that pests like to hide in. Repeat the process 7 days later.
When your tropical plants are ready to come inside, keep them away from your other indoor plants for at least two weeks. After two weeks, thoroughly inspect your plants again to make sure they are pest-free before incorporating them into your houseplant collection.
Now that you know how to prepare your tropical plants for the indoors if you do not spot a pest, you may be wondering, what if I do spot a pest? How do I know what sort of pest it is and how do I get rid of them?
Aphids, Scale, Spider Mites and Mealybug are some of the most common pests you will find wreaking havoc on your tropical plants.
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can be just about any colour, but oftentimes are green, white or black. Aphids like to invade flowering tropicals, such as hibiscus, and are often found feeding on new growth or flower buds. To combat them, remove the bulk of the aphids by cutting back new growth. Then spray the plant with an insecticidal soap. Repeat the process 5 days later. Another great product you can use to keep aphids at bay are Safer’s Sticky Strips! Sticky Strips are yellow, double-sided traps that attract flying insects. By catching aphids with Sticky Strips before they reach the plant, the build up of pests can be controlled.
Scale often appears in the adult stage as small, brown, or white rounded lumps on your plant’s leaves and stems. Palms and wide leaf tropicals, like bird of paradise and banana plants, are more prone to scale. Fighting scale can be difficult as it spreads easily, but it can be controlled. One way to kill and remove scale in the adult stage is by using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can also use a horticultural oil to control scale in the crawling stage. Repeat the process 10 days later.
Mealybugs are small, oval-shaped insects that look like little pieces of white fuzz. Mealybugs are drawn to just about any tropical plant. The best way to fight off mealybug is by cutting back infested sections of the plant and by killing and removing any visible mealybug with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can also spray mealybug with a horticultural oil. Repeat the process 10 days later.
Spider Mites are tiny spider-like mites that form webs in plant crevices and on the underside of leaves. Spider Mites especially like alocasias, calatheas and palms. Unfortunately, Spider Mites are hard to spot until damage has already been done (speckling on the leaves, yellowing leaves, etc.). We suggest spraying your infested plant with water using a hose or a pressurized handheld sprayer and then using an insecticidal soap. Once dry, treat with One Shot House & Indoor Garden Insect Killer, which is an aerosol spray. Repeat the process 5 days later.
All of the aforementioned products that will help you fight off tropical plant pests are available online and in-store while quantities last. See below for the names and prices of the featured products:
Schultz Indoor Insecticidal Soap (354 ml) ($9.99)
Safer’s Sticky Strips (5 traps and hangers) ($9.99)
Green Earth Horticultural Oil (500 ml) ($12.99)
Wilson One Shot House & Indoor Garden Insect Killer (400 g) ($9.99)
Feel free to contact us at any time if there is an insect pestering your plants and you are unsure what it is. The best way for us to identify pests is by seeing an actual sample. Simply bring in a piece of your plant (preferably with leaf, stem and flower, if possible) or the bug and bug affected area in a sealed plastic bag and our plant doctors will go to work on the spot. While a sample works best, if you cannot bring one in, please take some photos to show us or email us and we will try to identify the problem and suggest treatments for it.
We hope that this email has been informative and you feel more confident transitioning your tropical plants indoors for the winter!