As the owner of the home garden, there are certain things that you can do to reduce the chances that some sort of hydroponic plant pest will make its home in your garden. Most of the practices that you can take advantage of involve a lot of avoidance and a little bit of knowledge. You should never go into your garden area if you or your clothing is dirty. There are all kinds of contaminants like pests and bacteria that can live on your clothing. It is better to take the few minutes needed to change clothes than to risk contaminating your garden space. The tools that you use in your garden will also need to be scrupulously clean. Don’t bring anything, including you, into the garden area if it isn’t free of contaminants and completely clean.
Identify The Causes.
You will want to clean everything that you are planning to use on your system before you use it. That means cleaning everything before you assemble the system, even the items that are brand new. Even plastic tubes or hose clamps might have contaminants on their surfaces, not to mention how many different people had touched them before you bought them. And make sure that any windows or doors in the room are well-sealed so that they close tightly.
One of the most essential components of the hydroponic garden is also one of the most common things that will introduce hydroponic plant pests into your garden, and that is the growing medium that you use. Most of the growing mediums that you will buy are sterile and perfectly safe, but there are some things you will want to look out for. If you are buying an organic growing medium like rice husk or coconut husk, they may be harboring pests that will wreck your garden. If you aren’t sure that the growing medium you are buying is sterile, then you will need to sterilize it before using it. You can easily sterilize your growing medium in a solution that is four parts of hydrogen peroxide to six parts of water. Let the organic medium soak in the hydrogen peroxide solution for at least four eyes, and then rinse it thoroughly and allow it to dry. If you are purchasing a transplant for your garden, try to make sure that they are coming from a reputable nursery or grower. Plants from outside sources can easily carry pests, diseases, fungi, and bacteria. Scrutinize your plants before placing them into your garden.
You will begin pest control by implementing measures that will prevent the development of hydroponic plant pests in the first place. You can prevent developing a problem with pests by taking a few precautions. Some pests, like fungus gnats and spider mites, are attracted especially to excess moisture and low humidity. By keeping the humidity surrounding your system from getting below fifty percent, you will be able to prevent an infestation of mites and help to keep your plants healthy. And don’t let the humidity get above seventy percent because then you will be attracting the pests like fungus gnats that like a moist environment.
Even if you are diligent in your home garden maintenance, you can still develop a pest problem. You will want to inspect your plants regularly and look for signs of pest infestation. There are certain signs that you will need to look for that will help to alert you to the presence of a pest problem.
Signs Of Pests Development.
Some garden pests will leave a pattern of spots when they are present, either in black, brown, yellow, or white spots. If you see spots on your leaves, then look for deposits that the pests might have left on your leaves from feces or eggs. If you are able to rub the spots off, then it means that you have a hydroponic plant pest problem.
Some garden pests will literally suck the nutrients out of the leaf, causing it to turn yellow or yellowish-brown in color. You’ll find this discoloration around tiny holes in the leaf where the pests have been feeding.
An actual hole in the leaf is a sign of a hydroponic plant pest infestation. You might sometimes see small burns on a leaf where the leaf has gotten too close to a light or heat source. The holes that are left by pesky insects are very small in size and often have raised bumps around them.
If you have a hydroponic plant pest problem, then look for these signs that will point to the presence of certain types of pests:
- Webbing in and around the plants – Spider mites
- Silvery streaks on leaves – Thrips
- Black streaks on leaves – Thrips
- Sticky residue on leaves – Aphids
- White clumps and masses on leaves – Mealybugs
- Deformed leaves or stems – Fungus gnats or Aphids
- Yellow or white spots – Aphids, Thrips, Whiteflies, or Spider Mites
- Black spots on leaves – Thrips
Solutions To Get Rid Of Every Type Of Pest.
Once you have noticed the signs of a hydroponic plant pest infestation, then you will need to fix the problem immediately, if you want to have any hope of saving the unaffected plants. You will be able to remove some of the pests by making changes to the plant’s environment or by removing the infected plants, while some of the pests that infect your garden can only be eliminated by using chemicals. There are also some more gentle methods that you can use to try to remove the pests from your garden:
Using sticky traps might help you get rid of the pests. These work by trapping the pest in the sticky material and holding it there until it dies. This method can also help you to identify the pest since you will actually be able to see the bug. So even if the sticky traps do not entirely eliminate the pest, at least you will be able to see them and know how to get rid of them. You can also use sticky traps as a preventive measure to hopefully catch the bugs before they get in your garden.
There are solutions that are available on the market today that are touted as perfect for killing pests but will also kill your garden. If you purchase a commercially available chemical pest killer, just make sure that it is marked as being safe for plants. Some pest killers are made from natural sources like flowers and herbs. You might also consider planting some herbs or flowers that are natural pest repellants like the marigold that pests can’t stand the smell of.
You might be able to eliminate many if not all, of the pests simply by removing your plants from the garden and hosing them off in the shower or sink. This might not eliminate all of the pests, but it should wash away many.
Thrips can create an enormous population in a small amount of time, so if their presence is ignored, they can decimate a garden in very little time. These pests are especially attracted to light-colored flowers and plants. Seeing black spots on the leaves is an almost absolute guarantee that you have an infestation of thrips. You might also see where the plants that they have been feeding on will appear dry and have discolored spots.
To get rid of thrips, you can first release some of the insects that will eat thrips like ladybugs or lacewings. If you don’t want ladybugs flying around your house, then you might want to think about using a chemical solution. Mealybugs – These pests love plants that are fruiting, so if you see plants that have yellow, weak leaves, then you probably have an infestation. You will also see cottony-looking white masses underneath the stems and leaves, which are where the eggs are located, and these masses can also be found on other parts of the plant.
These pests can be effectively treated with an insecticide. If you prefer using a more natural method, then you can mix one ounce of Neem oil into one gallon of water and spray the plants weekly until the mealybugs are gone. If you notice an infestation of mealybugs early enough, you might be able to just destroy the egg sacks to prevent them from hatching.
Aphids – These pests will secrete a sticky residue that will stimulate the growth of mold on the plants and will also attract other insects such as ants. Aphids will suck all of the nutrients out of the leaves of the plants and leave them limp and lifeless.
Predator bugs like ladybugs or lacewings will rid your garden of aphids. If you find any type of injury to the plants, those parts will need to be removed even if it is an entire plant. Try to never overfeed your plants as this can attract aphids. There are also soap-based insecticides that will help to rid your plants of aphids.
Whiteflies – These will hide on the underside of the leaves and will fly up in clouds when the leaf is disturbed. They will also leave a sticky substance on your plants and discolored or light-colored spots where the bugs have been eating. You will be able to see the whiteflies on your plants.
Spray your plants with cool water to begin removing the infestation. Predator bugs will also get rid of the whiteflies. The plants can also be sprayed with a solution of Neem oil or organic soap.
Spider Mites – These pests will leave fine lacy webs all over your plants. They particularly like areas with low humidity and high temperatures. They leave behind the sticky webs as regular spiders will, but these webs are finer and smaller. You might also see white or yellow spots on the leaves of the plants because the spider mites will suck all of the nutrients out of the leaves. They will increase their colonies quickly before you see the first web, so regularly check the underneath side of the leaves, since that is where they gather.
To treat spider mites first start by removing all of the infected stems and leaves. Then you can use a plant-safe pesticide to get rid of them. You will also be able to kill the eggs and the mites by spraying the plants with a solution of Neem oil.
Fungus Gnats – These pests are annoying but not actually a huge problem for your plants, other than the fact that they will multiply. The real problem with the fungus gnats is the larvae since they like to gather near the roots of the plants and feed on them. The earliest sign of an infestation is that the gnats will fly up from the plants in a mass whenever the plant is disturbed. You will find the larvae living in the growing medium.
Don’t overwater your plants, as this will attract the fungus gnat. If you find yourself with gnats, try letting the growing medium dry out a bit, as this will kill the larvae since they like moistness. You can also put sticky traps near the growing medium to help catch the larvae, or you can use a Neem oil solution.