This insecticidal soap *might* bail you out of a plant emergency, but it really depends how bad your crisis is, and how dedicated you are to solving it. For me, I discovered a horrifying case of almost invisible mites on 2 plants: Calathea Lancifolia...
This insecticidal soap *might* bail you out of a plant emergency, but it really depends how bad your crisis is, and how dedicated you are to solving it.
For me, I discovered a horrifying case of almost invisible mites on 2 plants: Calathea Lancifolia (Rattlesnake) and a Moon orchid. There were no telltale webs or anything, just tiny vaguely translucent reddish-brown dots that looked like microscopic pomegranate seeds. When I looked with a magnifying glass, I still couldnt see any legs. I had to use a special high-powered lens, and only then could I see moving legs. There were thousands of them. Thousands. I have no idea how long they were there or how fast they multiplied, but I wanted them GONE.
Here are the ideas I considered:
1.) Throw all the plants away immediately and burn the house down.
2.) Neem oil spray. But this is not usable on Calatheas because it will fade out the vibrant paint-like markings.
3.) Hose off the plants with strong water spray. My plants are big, and my shower is small, so I had no choice but to go outside and use the hose with ice cold water. This made my plants unhappy and soggy. FYI--people who say a strong water spray solves most pest problems are lying or delusional.
4.) My own concoction of dish soap, water, and rosemary oil. I tried this, and all it did was make my plants smell nice. FYI- don''t be one of those fools who thinks essential oils are like actual medicine.
5.) Insecticidal soap. I tried this in the past with thrips, and it did nothing. However thrips are creatures from hell, and mites are less bad in the scheme of things. I settled on a plan of alternating between hosing with water and this insecticidal soap every 2 days, for 10 days. It was miserable.
However, I am cautiously optimistic as I havent seen more mites during that time. Not that I trust this to be true. They''re so small and wily that they can hide in the tiniest crevice, and if the insecticidal soap doesnt contact their body, it won''t kill them. The soap only works when wet---it does nothing when dry. You have to flip over every single leaf and spray the underside. Every. Single. Leaf. So your mileage may vary. If you are super-diligent, you *might* be able to get every last microscopic mite. But you also might miss some. Which will undoubtedly be egg-laying females. Which will turn into million of mites in a matter of days
I still don''t know if I''ve been successful in killing all the mites. I guess we''ll see. FYI--- this stuff doesn''t smell good, and if you have a weak stomach, it might make you a little queasy. It smells something like raw meat. You can spray it on your houseplants outdoors, let it dry, then bring the plants inside, but honestly, the smell lingers even when dry.
---------Update 2 weeks later after final treatment-------------
Well, there''s good news and bad news. The GOOD news is that it does knock back your mite population. (Although I am not confident that I could trust myself to notice any mites that are still on my plant, since it seems likely there still are mites despite my best efforts. I only noticed I had a mite problem when there were thousands of them.... including thousands of dead bodies accumulating beneath the plant. )
The BAD news is that it does fry delicate leaves and make them crispy on the edges,or fall off entirely. It depends on how wimpy the plant is. On my Calathea, the big, waxy leaves got crispy at the border but didnt fall off. Two leaves got bleached out white. Bone white. That''s what I heard happens with Neem Oil, but I didnt necessarily expect it with this insecticidal soap. My bell pepper plant was another story. About 75% of the leaves fell right off. Just dropped to the floor as if someone plucked them. The remaining leaves developed pinholes and crispy borders.
And one of the two bell peppers got soft and wrinkly despite not being anywhere near to ripe or ready. So proceed at your own risk. I think the bottom line is: how badly do you want to keep your plant? If it''s a special plant, then try this spray, but truthfully, if it''s just a regular plant or something that you could easily regrow, like a bell pepper, it''s not really worth the effort of trying to save the plant.