Indoor gardening has many advantages over outdoor gardening, a major advantage being less exposure to common garden pests. Sometimes there are pests that find their way indoors though. One of the most common indoor garden pests is the spider mite. Spider mites are very tiny arachnid mites that multiply quickly and form a webbing over the infested area of the plants. They will suck the life juices right out of affected plants.
What can be done to stop spider mites?
There are many tips and tricks one can come across when looking for how to deal effectively with spider mites. Some solutions work better outdoors than indoors. Some common solutions are as follows:
- apply insecticidal soaps to plant leaves
- apply an organic insecticide such as neem oil to the plant leaves
- keep plants spaced far enough apart
- vigilantly remove dead leaves and plant materials
- ultrasonic pest repellers
- companion planting
- healthy plants deter pests
There are products one can purchase called insecticidal soap for garden use that can be mixed up and applied to plant leaves but regular dish detergent soap can also be used. Dilute it down to a few percent inside a spray bottle with water and apply to the plant.
Neem Oil for spider mites
Neem oil is an effective natural pesticide made from the Neem tree. It is an effective product but when using indoors keep in mind that it does have a strong odor and can make surfaces such as windows and tables have an oily coating if they get sprayed. Adequate ventilation is a good idea and follow the instructions or warnings.
Give plants room to grow
Plants that are packed too closely together have a tendency for the leaves not receiving enough light to start to die off. Dead or unhealthy leaves can attract pests such as spider mites and once the mites have colonized the dieing areas of the plant they may march on towards the rest of the plants. If the plants have some space between them this minimizes the die-off of leaves (provided they get adequate lighting, and nutrients) and it can keep the plant healthy.
Ultrasonic repellers for spider mites
We have recently been experimenting with fairly inexpensive plugin ultrasonic pest repellers created to deter spiders not to mention rodents and other pests. Initial results are actually positive. We have not had an outbreak of spider mites since using the ultrasonic repellers as well as following guidelines for keeping the grow area clean and healthy. Make sure you read the instructions on the device before using.
Companion planting to deter spider mites
In the outdoor gardening world there is a decent amount of evidence that you can use companion plants grown nearby to help reduce the problems of certain pests. Chives for example was one type of plant that was suggested as a companion plant to deter spider mites. We gave it a try and grew Chives in between out Romaine lettuce in our indoor hydroponic system but unfortunately it proved to be ineffective on its own when done indoors. As speculation it may be that the life web of different beneficial insects and other factors is much more complex in an outdoor garden which perhaps may make companion planting more effective when done in a traditional outdoor garden.
Healthy plants – the best pest repellant
Taking steps to ensure that your plants are as healthy as they can be will be one of the best pest repellants you can use. Give your plants plenty of space, adequate lighting, proper nutrient solution, the right nutrient solution PH, and the correct strength of the solution (PPM or EC). The use of an ultrasonic repeller may be worthwhile. Companion planting in an indoor hydroponic system did not work for our test but perhaps there are different plants that may work indoors for this use that we have not yet explored. Hopefully if you are unfortunate enough to have a problem with spider mites in your indoor grow you now have some solutions that you can apply.
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