How to get rid of spider mites on indoor plants

Have you noticed that your houseplants are a little under the weather? Learn how to get rid of spider mites on houseplants and you’ll be set if the cause is a pest invasion.

Along with fungus gnats, spider mites are a pest to your indoor greenery and can attack at any time, even if you choose the best indoor plants for beginners.

However, there are simple steps you can take to rid your houseplants of spider mites. Below we have asked the experts to share their know-how.

What are spider mites?

‘Spider mites are microscopic arachnids that suck up the contents of plant tissue’, explains Andrew Gaumond, horticulturist and editor-in-chief Petals Republic (opens in new tab). “They’re less than 1/20 inch long, so they’re almost invisible to the human eye.

“Common signs of spider mites include a spider-like web that forms on the undersides of leaves, in addition to yellow or brown spots on your plant’s foliage.”

Erin Marino, Editor-in-Chief at The Sill (opens in new tab) explains: ‘Spider mites are very similar to spiders in that they are arachnids and can spin webs, although their webs are more like dust and not net. They are very small with a light body mass and can use their webs to float on the wind or cling to clothing. If your windows are open in the summer, when spider mites are most active, they can float right into your home and right on top of your plant.

‘Spider mites are very small and are often only discovered when the plant is damaged. This makes spider mites one of the most destructive and pungent pests for houseplants.

“They have a very short lifespan, from egg to adult in about two weeks, but they have a mission.”

How do spider mites affect houseplants?

Houseplants against an orange background

(Image credit: Pexels)

Spider mites hang on the undersides of leaves; if you hold a leaf still, you will often see them crawling slowly.

Erin Marino van de Sill explains: ‘Spider mites attack leaf cells and tear them open randomly. Leaves appear stippled, mottled or curled with only a skeletal leaf web left behind. If your leaves are whole but look dusty, that could be a sign that spider mites are around.’

Tara Heibel, or Germinate Home (opens in new tab), adds: ‘Spider mites gather on the undersides of leaves and pierce the cells of the plant to feed. When this happens, you will slowly see the leaf decay by normally curling the leaf and then turning brown. If left untreated, they can decimate a houseplant.’

How to get rid of spider mites on indoor plants

hall filled with potted plants and hanging plants from Garden Trading

Credit: garden trade

1. Wipe the plant

Spider mites are sensitive to horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps.

“Give the plant a sweep first, wiping off as much of the bugs and tissue as you can, or you can even shower it with a hose in a sink or tub,” says Erin. “This will clear the way for the insecticide to work. Spider mite nests repel the pesticides and protect the eggs, and insufficient wiping can lead to reinfestation.”

2. Spray the plant with oil or insecticide

Spray the plant with neem oil or an insecticidal soap that lists spider mites as a target pest.

Our editor has recently used this Neem oil from Amazon (opens in new tab) after his own houseplants were attacked.

“Spray the plant with your solution, targeting the undersides of the leaves and every possible nook and cranny for these insects to hide,” says Erin Marino. “Spraying less than thorough can lead to reinfestation.”

Andrew Gaumond of Petal Republic also recommends spraying with oil. He says, ‘My go-to for dealing with spider mites is a vegetable horticultural oil. These oils work by suffocating gentle pests such as spider mites and should be applied directly to the problem area with a spray bottle.

“Insecticidal soap is another good option that is easy to make at home by diluting a squirt of dish soap with a quart of lukewarm water in a spray bottle and liberally covering the affected areas with the solution.”

3. Repeat the process

Re-evaluate and reapply every few days for about two weeks for a total of 3-4 separate sprays.

“If you do it right, your spider mites will be gone in no time,” says Erin Marino of The Sill. “Be sure to quarantine any plants infested with spider mites away from others to reduce transmission.”

And Tara Heibel of Sprout Home adds: ‘Several treatments are needed. In addition, make sure that you do not treat the plant when direct sunlight falls on the plant, because then the leaves can burn.’

What is the fastest way to remove spider mites on plants?

rattan plant pot under console table, Scandi look from Bloomingville

Credit: Bloomingville

Another option is to consider synthetic chemical insecticides such as organophosphates, neonicotinoids, and pyrethroids.

Andrew Gaumond says: ‘These are known to be more potent, but they can also be toxic to pets and people, so you should use them with some caution and care.’

You may also want to consider cutting back most of the affected foliage.

How do I keep spider mites out of my plants?

First, make sure your plants are hydrated and get plenty of natural light.

“Some of the most common causes of spider mites are drought-stricken or poorly watered plants and those kept in poorly lit locations with no natural light,” says Andrew Gaumond.

Erin Marino van de Sill suggests it pays to be diligent and keep an eye out for a potential infestation: ‘It can help to check plants regularly for the first signs of plant pests – the sooner you can start treatment, the better she explains. , adding, ‘I also like to sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth into the top layers of my plants’ potting mix to deter spider eggs and any dormant pests in the soil.’

What Kills Spider Mites Instantly?

“Spider mites are unlikely to be killed right away,” advises Erin. “You’ll probably have to clean your plant thoroughly a few times to eliminate an entire infestation.”

Tara Heibel of Sprout Home agrees, adding, “Insecticidal soap and/or neem oil usually work, but with repeated treatment.”

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