Like it or not, pest control will be part of your container garden. Fortunately, pest control is easier when gardening in containers. By understanding how plants become infested, and your options for dealing with infestations, you’ll be able to keep the situation under control.
Avoiding Pest Infestations
Do a little research. Choose plants resistant to pests. When buying plants from a garden center, inspect them carefully to ensure that they’re healthy and free of pests.
To keep your plants healthy, always use sterile potting soil and sterile containers. Thoroughly wash and sterilize any pots you’re reusing to avoid passing on disease from previous plants that they housed.
Water your plants properly. Over-watering can cause fungus growth which weakens your plants and makes them more susceptible to infestation.
Check leaves and stems for signs of insects. Look under the leaves, in particular, as insects are often found there. Brown leaf tips can be a sign of insects feeding on your plant. Periodically check the soil as well to find any insects burrowing in it. Watch for flying pests circulating around your plants. Move infested plants away from healthy plants, whenever possible, to avoid spreading the infestation.
Research the pests you find online to identify them. An easy way to identify an insect is to learn about what types of infestations your plant is susceptible to. Then, check photographs to match the insects. While you’re at it, you may be able to find specific advice for dealing with that particular type of pest.
If you’re unsuccessful in identifying the insect, take one to your local garden center to ask for their advice. Capture a sample insect and transport it in either a small glass jar or a clear plastic bag.
Chemical-free Approach to Pest Control
When growing plants on your balcony, they are more likely to get infested than when growing them indoors. Catch an infestation early by regularly inspecting your plants. Pick off any insects you see on the plants. At the same time, remove any diseased or dead leaves from the plants.
Sometimes, you can remove the pests with a small brush or tweezers. You can also try washing the leaves with a solution of well-diluted, mild detergent. Wet just the leaves with the detergent, and repeat as many times as necessary to obtain the desired results.
In the event that this doesn’t solve your problem, try using natural products and traps designed for pest control. Such products are less toxic then chemical pesticides.
If you decide to use a pesticide, purchase the correct type for the insect you’re trying to eliminate. Before applying it, read the instructions. Improper pesticide use can harm your plants or your health. Never apply pesticides on windy days. You don’t want the pesticide blowing into your apartment or harming the environment.
Whatever pest control approach you take, remember that not all insects are harmful to your plants. Determine what type of pest you’re dealing with before taking action to treat your plants.
Lisa Bernstein: As a long-time apartment dweller and seasoned condominium trustee, I have dealt with numerous landlord-tenant, property management, and day-to-day apartment complex issues. My extensive, direct experience has led to invaluable insights into apartment life from both the tenant and management perspectives.