As a plant professional, I generally forget about using home remedies for plant pests as I deal with larger scale plant quantities. There are a lot of routes you can go that will keep pests at bay while still being friendly to the environment. Should you have an idea of what is eating at your plants and take quick action you will probably see good results. Problems occur when you let the pest multiply to a point where they are thriving and have produced so many offspring that the plant is beginning to be affected. For the most part this is going to happen simply because you didn’t see them or know what to look for. If you try out a few of these methods and do not see results you can step it up a notch by visiting your local nursery and grabbing a product they recommend. I will be focusing on at home remedies that are safe for the environment and will generally not harm the surfaces they meet.
The first coarse of action most people take is the use of soap and water applied with a spray bottle. Most of us use general dish soap daily and makes for a quick remedy. You don’t want the mixture to be too soapy, but you can be liberal if you would like. After all your plants will be cleaner to the eye and the pests will suffer by dehydration. Soap and water are decent remedy for spider mites, mealy and aphids. Keep in mind that when you have a mealy infestation, it is best to spray away all the white fluffy bug material you see, so you don’t mistake a dead bug for a live one in the future.
Pepper spray can be used for bugs in addition to keeping the standard creepy guy or gal at bay. You can mix two tablespoons of red pepper, 6 drops of dish soap, and 1 gallon of water. This solution will not only kill active pests, but it will act as a general repellent for a variety of pests. The pepper contains capsaicin and can be substituted with black pepper, dill, ginger, paprika, and chili pepper should you need.
A mixture of alcohol and water can be used to mist your plant in order to repel some insets. You can also add a few drops of dish soap to kill some active pests as well. You will want to mix one or two cups of isopropyl alcohol with a quart of water. I would suggest spraying until the plant is shiny and drunk.
Nicotine can be used to repel leaf chewing insets. Sometime the bugs can be hard to locate, but the evidence that they were there is unmistakable. You can soak 1 cup of dried crushed tobacco leaves in 1 gallon of warm water and ¼ tsp of dish soap. Strain after half an hour and spray the solution directly on to the plant. You will want to cover as much of the plant as possible.
Some people insist on using herbal water sprays to rebel insets. You can use a variety of stuff such as basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, mint, rue, and lavender. To craft this spray, you can soak some of the previously mentioned leaves overnight and then strain out. Another option is to plant some of these herbs in your garden or grab some oil forms and dilute heavily with water.
Neem oil spray is made from the seeds of the neem tree, which are native to India. Neem oil has been used for a long time and is a great natural insecticide, which doubles as a natural fungicide. Neem can be used to repel mites, aphids, scale and most other soft bodied insets.
If most other efforts fail, you can explore the use of pyrethrum spray. This pesticide is made from dried chrysanthemum and is used widely by pest professionals. This substance is considered a “green” chemical but take great care in using it around water sources. It will kill fish and other aquatic animals very easily. You will want to make sure this product is handled with care and disposed of correctly.spray paralyzes flying insects, which why it is used for controlling mosquito populations.
No matter what approach you take, you should see some degree of success. As you can see most solutions involve dish soap, and as a professional, I always mix any pesticide I use with dawn dish soap. Hope this was able to help, happy hunting!