To combat pests and diseases of indoor plants, you can find any means on sale today. But every florist still thinks about household and generation-proven means of fighting for plant health. Sometimes it is possible to cope with the problem by simply improving hygiene or correcting plant care. And if you notice the lesions in time, then the most elementary means will be enough to stop the spread of pests or diseases. Lagging behind in efficiency and speed, folk remedies are a safer alternative to insecticides and fungicides.
The best folk substitutes for insecticides and fungicides
Pros and cons of folk remedies against plant diseases and pests
Systemic or more highly specialized insecticides and fungicides boast good efficacy. This is the main way to combat diseases and pests in indoor plants and is virtually irreplaceable means. But when using any drugs, you have to take into account their impact on the environment and safety for children, pets and your own health. Even biological agents have their own precautions (and contraindications).
This is what most often discourages flower growers from “industrial” preparations. But not only: chemical treatments and plant protection – the last “step” in the arsenal. Many problems can be solved earlier no less effectively and without their use.
The search for a “home” alternative and folk recipes that can replace ready-made insecticides and fungicides should be carried out, armed with a certain skepticism, logic and patience:
- firstly, any folk remedies work slower and not with such efficiency;
- secondly, the use of some “garden tricks” is inappropriate in the house and can cause a lot of inconvenience and discomfort (even infusion of long-aged garlic or onion juice is not pleasant to use, to say nothing of an even more fragrant alternative);
- thirdly, healthy doubt will allow you to abandon funds that are no safer than insecticides with a chemical composition.
This does not mean that folk methods do not work. It is not by chance that they are used even today for indoor and garden plants. Choosing wisely and not forgetting about the elementary logic and experience of previous generations of florists, you can find effective remedies from a number of folk recipes and improvised compositions.
The most reliable, safe and acceptable option for testing is to use aromatic and medicinal plants and the simplest means, which are already actively used in everyday life. Soaps, decoctions and infusions are often amazingly effective in helping to cope even with harmful pests on flowering and decorative leafy plants.
Rules for the use of folk remedies for indoor plants
Experimental tools require weighing the risks. The fact that traditional methods may not work at all and precious time will be lost fighting the problem is the least of them. Household products can be too aggressive, leading to burns on the leaves or their complete loss. Therefore, before covering the entire plant with alternative compounds, it is better to try them on one leaf. It is worth checking the individual reaction to the composition.
For plants, you can use only high-quality “raw materials” – not stitched funds and herbs purchased at the pharmacy or independently harvested.
There are other rules for using folk remedies:
- the processing of indoor plants is always carried out in the evening, especially if decoctions or herbal infusions are used;
- decoctions from poisonous plants are best used outdoors;
- infusions, decoctions and working solutions must be prepared before use or stored protected from light, in tightly sealed vessels and away from food supplies;
- when processing, you should use the standard protection of the skin, mucous membranes and breathing, especially when preparing an infusion and decoction of poisonous herbs.
Read also our article 10 plants that are better not to water than to overflow.
Essential oils for indoor plants
In the composition of most biological products, the main active ingredient is essential oils, which sometimes demonstrate tremendous effectiveness against pests and diseases. They can also be used at home by purchasing certified products.
Applying pure oil, of course, is unacceptable, and installing an aroma lamp near the plant will not help. Essential oils are diluted in water to create a spray solution by adding 2-3 drops of ether per 100 ml of water and shaking thoroughly.
You can use only the most “mild” and safe oils with good disinfecting and antiseptic properties – lemon, orange, lavender, tea tree, mint, cedar, pine. Do not try the harsh oils of clove or cinnamon on your own. When using ethers, it is worth checking the individual reaction to the tolerance of both smell and contact.
Soap solution is one of the simplest and most effective remedies
Simple soap can completely replace insecticides and fungicides if the treatment is started on time. It is used primarily to combat insect pests, and washing or wiping with a sponge is not the only way. Spraying with soapy water is no less effective.
Soap solution is used as the initial stage of the fight against damage by any pests and as one of the most effective means for:
- washing off aphids or whiteflies from plants;
- spraying plants with a sooty fungus infection;
- spraying honeydew-affected crops;
- washing leaves when infected with a scabbard;
- in the fight against spider mites.
Despite its convenience, liquid soap is not the best option. Just like half a century ago, the most effective assistant is a simple laundry soap. A soap solution is prepared using 20-30 g of crushed soap per 1 liter of warm water (until it is completely dissolved).
A small amount of soap is also added to solutions, infusions and decoctions as an “adhesive” and as an enhancing healing effect. In this case, only 1-4 g of laundry soap is needed for 5 liter of water.
Read also our article Cleaning houseplants from dust and dirt.
Alcohol for wipes
Alcohol easily burns sensitive plant leaves, especially crops with a dense edge. But it is a great alternative to conventional insecticides if you need to control insects on woody shoots or remove scale insects or mealybug nests if necessary. With a cotton swab or a piece of soft tissue moistened with alcohol, insects are carefully removed from the affected plant.
Healing herbs and other plant aids
For indoor plants affected by pests, herbal remedies are also used, albeit not always pleasant or harmless. They are also effective for plant diseases, but they are used less frequently. Infusions and decoctions that have proven their effectiveness:
- infusion of aconite (aboveground part, harvested during flowering) – from aphids, whiteflies, sawflies;
- infusion or decoction of marigolds (aerial parts, including inflorescences) – from nematodes, other soil pests, aphids and all types of rot;
- infusion of black elderberry berries – from aphids and slugs on balcony plants;
- infusion of nasturtium (aboveground parts) – from nematodes and rots;
- infusion or decoction of aerial parts of calendula – from fungal diseases, nematodes;
- infusion or decoction of dope ordinary (aerial parts) – from spider mites and aphids;
- infusion of tansy – with rust and powdery mildew;
- infusion of pyrethrum – from all types of insect pests;
- infusion or decoction of potatoes (aerial parts) – from spider mites, scale insects and aphids (especially effective against larvae);
- infusion or decoction of horse sorrel (roots) – from spider mites and aphids;
- infusion of burdock (leaves and stem, harvested during flowering) – from aphids and thrips;
- onion infusion (husks and bulbs) – from thrips and caterpillars on plants brought out to the balcony or garden;
- infusion of milkweed (whole plant) – from aphids and caterpillars on plants in the garden;
- dandelion infusion (roots and leaves collected during flowering) – from aphids, spider mites, thrips and scale insects;
- infusion or decoction of hot pepper (pods) – from spider mites, scale insects, aphids and slugs on balcony plants;
- infusion of tomato (all parts) – from sawflies, scale insects and other leaf-eating pests;
- chamomile decoction (aerial parts of a flowering plant) – from spider mites, aphids, thrips, sawflies;
- infusion or decoction of tobacco (leaves and stems) – from whiteflies, spider mites, aphids, thrips;
- decoction of yarrow (all parts) – from pseudo-scale insects and scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites;
- horsetail decoction – from fungal diseases;
- infusion of garlic bulbs – from gray rot, powdery mildew, scale insects, thrips, whiteflies and aphids;
- infusion or decoction of celandine (all parts) – from whiteflies, aphids, thrips and false scutes;
- citrus infusion (grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangerine or orange peel) – for aphids and scale insects.
It is simple to prepare infusions: 100 g of chopped and dried herbs are infused in 1 liter of water for about 48 hours. To obtain a decoction (and this is almost always a faster option), finely chopped herbs are infused in a thermos or boiled in a water bath for 10-20 minutes. Hot peppers are infused for 1 week or boiled for up to 1 hour, and garlic is infused for 5 days.
For some herbs, you need to change the amount of raw materials by 1 liter:
- horse sorrel – up to 30-40 g;
- onions and dandelions – 15-20 g;
- burdock – 400 g;
- fresh pepper – 500 g, dry – 200 g;
- garlic – 250-300 g.
Infusions and decoctions are used strained and slightly diluted (adding 0,5-1 liters of water, for pepper – in the amount of 15 g of infusion per 1 liter of water).
With herbs, multiple spraying or washing are needed, at intervals of 5-7 days until the result is achieved. Usually at least 3 treatments are required.
If traditional methods did not work, do not hesitate to start treatment with classic chemical insecticides and fungicides. They will help save plants that have not achieved positive results by other means.