Monthly Archives: December 2023

5 Most Common Houseplant Pests

It’s not unusual or a sign of failure if houseplants become infested with some common potted plant pests. This problem is more pervasive when introducing newly purchased plants to the home, moving tender houseplants from the outdoors back inside with the changing seasons, and finally, when houseplants are under stress. These buggers can wreak havoc, leaving plants unhappy, unhealthy, and downright unattractive. However, even the most tenacious pests can be controlled with conscientious care. By acting quickly when these unwanted guests are first noticed, you can completely remove an infestation and keep your houseplants healthy, happy, and thriving.

Top 5 Common Houseplant Pests and Controlling Them

There are quite a number of houseplant pests that can make both you and your plants miserable. We’ve covered the five most common ones in this article.

Fungus Gnats

These tiny, flying pests, resembling fruit flies, don’t harm houseplants in their mature, adult form, but fungus gnat larvae live in houseplant soil and feed on organic material. This not only robs the plant of nutrition, but the larvae may also nibble on the plant’s roots. While they don’t cause much overall damage to an otherwise healthy plant, fungus gnats can be very irritating when they form cloud-like flocks hovering around a plant’s foliage.

Overwatering encourages fungus gnats, and they can be notoriously difficult to eradicate. Begin control by repotting the plant in fresh potting soil. Before repotting, rinse the roots to wash away any larvae. If reusing the same container, be sure to sterilize it before repotting. Use a high-quality, well-draining potting mix. Once repotted, reduce the amount of water and frequency, allowing the top inch of the soil to dry between waterings. Bottom watering will also make the environment less attractive to fungus gnats. In addition, mixing diatomaceous earth into the potting soil, adding a layer of chicken grit to the soil surface, or applying Bt var. israelensis (Bti-H14) will all help to control fungus gnat larvae organically.


The tell-tale sign of these tiny, sap-sucking insects is a white, waxy, cottony substance frequently found on the underside of plant leaves and in plant stem crotches. As they suck the plant’s sap, the leaves wither and wilt. Yellowing leaves can also indicate an infestation, mainly if leaves are seen throughout the plant rather than just older bottom foliage.

When a houseplant is heavily infested with mealybugs, the fastest way to control the pests is to prune away infected foliage and prudently discard it. If the infestation is light, the bugs can be deterred first with a strong stream of water followed by an application of Neem oil. Rubbing alcohol is also an effective control measure. Apply the alcohol directly to the pests with a cotton swab or ball soaked in alcohol. Regardless of the control method used, immature mealybugs can be easily missed. Keep an eye out and retreat the plant as necessary.

Spider Mites

These pests are very destructive to all houseplants and can be challenging to get rid of. The mites themselves are so tiny that they may not be noticeable even with a heavy infestation, but their webs on the undersides of foliage or stretching between stems are easier to see. Leaves that show yellow stippling may also indicate an infestation.

Spider mites thrive in dry conditions, so keeping houseplants’ humidity high is an excellent way to deter them. Running a humidifier, frequent misting, grouping pots, and sitting pots on a water-filled pebble tray are all helpful solutions. When the bugs are present, neem oil spray should be used weekly to remove them and keep them from returning. Alternatively, light cleaning with insecticidal soap is also an effective way to control spider mites.


While better known for their outdoor infestations, aphids can also be a problem for indoor houseplants. They are tiny insects, no more than one-eighth of an inch in size, and range from green or black to reddish or white. They are plump insects and get that way as they suck sap from the plant, usually on the foliage or stems. The plant will gradually wilt as it is unable to stay firmly upright while the aphids drain its sap.

Aphids are easily dislodged with a blast of water, so a cleansing shower is an excellent way to remove them without any unnecessary chemicals. If the infestation is extreme, washing the plant gently with an insecticidal soap may be necessary. Neem oil spray can also be effective for controlling aphids on houseplants.


These insects have a hard, oval-shaped shell that gives them a tough, scale-like exterior as they line up on a plant’s stems in tight clusters, similar to barnacles on a boat’s hull. These pests suck sap from the plant and then produce a sticky, honeydew residue that can coat the plant and lead to mildew or may attract additional pests.

Your first line of defense is gently scraping scale bugs off with your fingernail, taking care not to scratch or damage the already stressed plant. Dabbing the insects with a cotton swab or ball soaked in rubbing alcohol or spraying with neem oil can also be effective.

Minimizing Houseplant Pests

No matter which pests present a problem, it’s always best to avoid infestations altogether rather than try to control them after the insects have already appeared. To minimize the risk of bugs taking over your houseplants…

  • Purchase new plants only from a reputable retailer like Dammann’s Garden Center & Greenhouse. We offer pest-free houseplants, effective plant care products, and the support you may need to identify and combat pest problems.
  • Scrutinize new plants before purchasing and avoid plants with signs of pests.
  • Quarantine any new plant for at least a week to ensure it has no unwanted guests, including outdoor summer plants that will overwinter as houseplants.
  • Use high-quality, well-drained potting soil for all houseplants rather than garden soil that isn’t sterilized and can harbor pests.
  • Provide houseplants with optimum care so they are not stressed, as this can make them more susceptible to pest infestations.
  • Sterilize all houseplant equipment regularly, including pots that will be reused, pruners and shears, and watering cans, to be sure no pests are carried between plants.
  • Stay alert at all times for signs of possible insect infestations. The faster you act, the easier it will be to control these houseplant pests.

Finding pests on your houseplants can be frustrating or downright frightening, but don’t worry; with careful monitoring, appropriate control measures, and Dammann’s Garden Center & Greenhouse in your corner, your plants will soon be pest-free.

Holiday Staycation

No matter the reason, staying at home during the holidays doesn’t have to be a disappointment. Instead, a holiday staycation can be a true celebration of home and family, creating new traditions and making memories to enjoy all year round.

Benefits of Staying Home for the Holidays

It is normal to be disappointed if you’re accustomed to holiday travel but decide to stay at home instead. A positive attitude, however, can make all the difference for an enjoyable and festive holiday season. There are many benefits to staying home, including saving money, no travel stress, no need to pack, no crowds at airports, more time to relax, and ease of changing your plans for whatever strikes your festive fancy. When you stay home, you can sleep in or stay up late without worrying about missing a tour or activity, and you can be more flexible with all your seasonal fun. This is especially important, as you will soon discover there is so much to do, your holiday staycation – “holistay” – will be just as entertaining and enriching as any far-flung destination.

Ideas for Your Holiday Staycation

There are many fun and festive options to enjoy at home for a happy holistay, using your landscape, lawn, and garden to add to the excitement. Whether you choose just one activity as a focal point of your holiday or plan different options every day, you can make great memories and enjoy time with all your loved ones.

  • Decorate a Tree for Birds and Wildlife
    Invite your local wildlife to the holiday festivities with a deliciously decorated tree. Use softened suet or peanut butter to coat pinecones and roll them in seed for feeder ornaments or use fishing line or sturdy thread to create cranberry and popcorn strings as edible garlands. Use floral wire or ribbons to hold twigs into star or tree shapes for extra beauty on the tree, and fasten small ribbons or burlap bows to the tips of branches to catch birds’ eyes and attract them to the bounty.
  • Create Elaborate Snow Sculptures
    Go beyond snowmen when you use your whole yard as a canvas for an epic snow sculpture. You might create a giant figure or an intricate scene and using a variety of handheld garden tools can help you sculpt details with ease. A wheelbarrow or buckets will be necessary to haul extra snow from other parts of the yard to enhance your sculpture, and sturdy wire or garden stakes can help provide internal support for taller features.
  • Enjoy a Gourmet S’mores Night
    Clean off your firepit and get ready for holiday decadence with a gourmet s’mores night. Choose different graham crackers or other cookies for a base and opt for different chocolate bars – dark chocolate raspberry, white chocolate peppermint, sea salt, caramel, etc. – to experiment with rich and delicious flavors.
  • Host a Neighborhood Bonfire
    Create a larger festive gathering with a neighborhood bonfire in a portable fire pit in your driveway or front yard (safely, of course!). Consider a potluck-style gathering with everyone bringing their favorite holiday treats or provide hot drinks for everyone to enjoy. Outdoor games such as cornhole can easily be added to the fun for a bit of friendly competition.
  • Create Garden Gifts
    Give your crafty side a workout and make garden-inspired gifts for family members, friends, and neighbors. Dip pinecones in scented wax for festive fire starters or use clear glass or plastic ornaments to showcase a pine sprig, miniature pinecones, or dried flowers. Pine prunings can make beautiful homemade wreaths and swags, or river rocks can be painted into festive row markers or decorative accents.
  • Blend Homemade Potpourri
    Bring natural air fresheners into your holiday home with garden potpourri. A variety of plants can be dried for amazing scents, including lavender, lemon balm, rose buds, mint, pine, lemon verbena, rosemary, yarrow, geraniums, zinnias, and sage. Add dried apple or orange slices for a sweet accent, and a few drops of essential oil to enhance aromas. Give your homemade dried or simmering potpourris as gifts when wrapped in burlap and tied with ribbon or fill a clay pot or tin pail for a rustic diffuser.
  • Decorate a North Pole Fairy Garden
    Create Santa’s Workshop in a fairy garden with accessories from the garden center. A broken clay pot can easily be the base, and you can paint it white, red, green, or a combination of festive shades. Use sand and potting soil as the base to keep the garden from tipping and add miniature holiday dĂ©cor to create a wonderland to enjoy.
  • Build a Natural Gingerbread House
    Instead of cookies that go stale and candy that falls off, use pieces of cardboard and natural decorations to create a faux gingerbread house with rustic accents such as pinecones, pine needles, acorns, twigs, dried flowers, and other garden-inspired beauty. Get the kids involved with creative decorations and create an entire village or nativity scene of natural beauty to decorate a large dining room table or mantle.
  • Make Soaps and Candles
    Add garden accents to luxurious gifts when you make homemade soaps or candles with garden-fresh herbs, dried flowers, pine needle and berry sprigs, or other great decorations. You can pour your own soaps and candles using holiday-themed cookie cutters or candy molds, or you can simply soften premade soaps and candles to press your garden accents into the surface for instant customization. Wrap the gift with jute twine or rustic ribbon and your gift is ready!
  • Plan a Holiday Scavenger Hunt
    Create a themed list of items to find and offer prizes for the winners in an at-home holiday scavenger hunt. You could include items from the landscape and garden, holiday decorations from around the neighborhood, or more widespread objects around your town. If you want to keep the hunt in your garden, colorful plastic pots or tin buckets are great for collecting all the items on the list – a sprig of berries, a funny-shaped rock, a piece of pine, etc.
  • Get Started With Indoor Gardening
    Even if the weather outside is frightful, you can have a delightful time with indoor holiday gardening. Pot amaryllis bulbs, paperwhites, or Christmas cacti to use as seasonal decorations or gifts or consider starting a savory herb garden to flavor soups, stews, gravies, roasts, and other meals all winter long. You can even add a tropical touch to your indoor landscaping with a potted lemon tree, palm, or other greenhouse favorites.
  • Take a Class
    Investigate winter classes hosted by your local arboretum, botanical garden, or our garden center. Classes may be online or in person. Many popular winter options may be available, such as garden-inspired crafts, wreath making, winterizing your landscape, how to start an indoor herb garden, terrarium-making classes, painting clay pots, or overviews on succulents, bulbs, seed starting, and other fun and informative topics. Some may be geared to children, some for adults, and some may be fun for the entire family.
  • Get Inspired
    Another day out can be just visiting a local garden center, botanical garden, or even walking around the neighborhood or a local park to get inspired for your own garden and landscape. Look for plants that offer winter interest or different arrangements, accents, and accessories that can be great to feature in your own yard. If you can’t identify the plants, take pictures so you can seek identification help from our garden center experts.
  • Plan for Spring
    Let your imagination sprout when you plan your spring garden during a holiday staycation. Gather books and magazines, visit a range of websites, and draw out the landscape plan of your dreams. Work in different colors adding plants to showcase during different seasons. Include wildlife-friendly features and practical details such as how to creatively store your garden tools, hoses, and other necessities to make your garden great. You can even start buying seeds, new tools, and accessories to be ready to go as soon as spring begins.
  • Create Epic Holiday Decorations
    Since you will be home during the holidays, make the most of your outdoor holiday decorating with an epic lighting scheme or themed display. Get creative by using plant stakes and tomato cages to create faux trees and supports for more elaborate light displays and add a welcoming accent with a holiday-themed porch pot or living wreath to greet any holiday guests.

There is a great deal you can do to make the most of a holistay, no matter why you may be staying home for the holidays or what your garden and landscape offer. By embracing what your home offers and getting creative with your holiday activities, you can make many amazing holiday staycation memories.