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During the fall, changes in daylight and temperature can be tough on plants, including houseplants. Here are some of the most common questions that our experts are asked when it comes to houseplant woes, along with simple solutions to help your houseplant thrive.

What Are the Red Dots on My Houseplant?

If you see red dots on your houseplant, they’re probably spider mites. These common pests can infest houseplants that have been moved outdoors for the summer, or can be brought in by other infested plants or non-sterile potting soil. Spider mites may also be tan or black, but all types create small webs on the plants. It’s important to get them under control as soon as you notice them because they multiply quickly and can kill houseplants. Immediately isolate any plants that appear to be infested.
Thankfully, there are home-safe insecticidal soaps that we recommend, which are available specifically for dealing with spider mites. Just be sure to follow the instructions when using any insecticidal treatment and keep the treatments and plants away from pets and children. Some people have luck treating spider mites with a solution of one liter of water, one teaspoon of mild dish soap, and one and a half teaspoons of neem oil. Whether you use an insecticide or a homemade spray, be sure to get the underside of the leaves where spider mites often hide. And remember — more is not better when it comes to treating plant problems. Always follow the dosage instructions on the label.

What Is the White Fuzz on My Houseplant?

Commonly mistaken for a fungus or mildew, scale and mealybugs both look like white fuzz on a houseplant. Both bugs suck the sap out of a plant’s leaves and stems. They’re not as quickly devastating as spider mites, but they will eventually kill a plant if you don’t control them.
Just like with spider mites, there are houseplant insecticides available to kill scale and mealybugs. You can also try the neem oil solution mentioned above, though it may take multiple applications. Additionally, scale and mealybugs can be killed by wiping them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. However, the rubbing alcohol must come in direct contact with the bugs to kill them, and you don’t want to get the alcohol on the plant’s leaves.

What Are Those Annoying Bugs Flying Around My Houseplant?

Resembling fruit flies, fungus gnats are more of a nuisance than an actual problem for your plants. Their larvae live in the top inch of soil and the adults can be seen flying around. Fortunately, fungus gnats are easy to eradicate. You can use an insecticidal soap on the plants, which is also a good preventative measure to take when bringing plants indoors. Sticky traps hung just above infested plants can also help keep flies from spreading to other plants.
While it’s easy for fungus gnats to get to your houseplants, as they can simply fly through an open window or come in on soil, there are a few things you can do to prevent them in the first place. First, avoid overwatering your plants, because fungus gnats like very moist soil. Our experts highly recommend watering plants from the bottom, to keep the upper soil relatively dry and inhospitable to fungus gnats. You can also use a decorative soil cover in pots, such as sand, pebbles, or moss, to keep fungus gnats from reaching the soil to lay their eggs.

Why Are My Plant’s Leaves Yellow?

The most common cause of yellow leaves is a simple one to fix — too much water. This is often a problem during the fall because plants begin to use less water when they’re no longer putting on summer growth and the temperatures are cooler. Cut back on watering.

Why Is My Plant Dropping Leaves?

There are several reasons that plants drop leaves. However, if it’s just a few, it might not be a big deal. Plants that are moved indoors in the fall are stressed and commonly drop a few leaves. Plants in drafty locations, such as near a window or near a door, may drop leaves and need to be moved to a warmer spot as the temperatures drop. Leaves can also drop if you’re overwatering your plant, though they often turn yellow first.

Why Won’t My Plant Bloom?

Many plants will take a break from blooming in the fall and winter. This is especially true for plants that have been moved indoors from a porch or patio and are receiving significantly less light.

What Are Those Spots on My African Violet’s Leaves?

Those are typically from water sitting on the leaves. African violets are sensitive to this problem, so it may be worth repotting them into an African Violet self-watering pot or watering the bottom from a soaking tray for 20 minutes every 10-15 days.

Why Are the Edges of My Houseplant Leaves Brown?

Brown edges often indicate that your plant isn’t getting enough water or light. Watering is easy to correct, but your home may not offer enough light during the winter months for plants that prefer full sun. Place sun-loving plants in front of south-facing windows if possible, and consider purchasing an artificial light source. Homestead Gardens has affordable light options to help you grow the indoor jungle of your dreams.

Is My Plant Hungry? Do I Need to Fertilize My Houseplant in the Winter?

Generally, houseplants do not need to be fertilized during the fall or winter. Fall’s dwindling daylight sends plants into dormancy. While they’ll still be green and alive, they won’t grow much during the winter, so they’ll need fewer nutrients. This also means they’ll use less water. You should adjust your schedule accordingly in the fall and check the soil before watering.

Try these tips to keep your houseplants thriving this fall. If you can’t determine what’s wrong with your plant, we’re happy to help. Bring your plant in and chat with an authority from our Diagnostic team to get your plant back on track.

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