Whether you grow orchids indoors or out, there are 2 secrets to keeping pests at bay. The first is making sure your orchids are properly fed, watered, and cared for. That?s because stressed plants are less able to fend off an insect attack than healthy plants. The second secret is to catch any insect problem early. After all, it?s easier to control an insect or two than a whole infestation. Here are a few easy ways to make your orchid less bug-friendly.
Since most orchid pests are sap-eaters, they like to hang out where their food is easiest to reach. That?s usually in the areas of new growth and around flower stems. Orchids that grow too rapidly are more prone to pest attack than slow growers. Keep an eye on new growth, and inspect the flowers regularly.
Organic debris, such as leaf clutter, can harbor all sorts of nasty bugs. That?s where many pests like to hide and lay their egg. Just pick up any fallen leaves or spent blooms that may land in your containers. Also, pull out any adventurous weeds you see, as they may harbor pests, too.
Orchids that have been over-watered, kept too dry, or are diseased look like sitting ducks to insects. Pests will take advantage of any weakness to become established. Once they infest, it?s much harder to control them and nurse your plant back to health. That?s why it is important to provide your orchid with the proper lighting, water, and nutrition for its genera.
It?s always a good idea to look for early signs of bug presence. On outdoor orchids, keep an eye out for ants. They won?t cause trouble themselves, but they sometimes carry hitchhiking scales and aphids, and ants like to eat the honeydew these pests produce. If you see a few cottony patches on new growth, you may have mealybugs. Wipe them off with a cloth that?s soaked in rubbing alcohol before they get too numerous. Spider mites are hard to see, but can cause damage to orchids. Hold a piece of white paper under an afflicted leaf and shake it. Small bugs the size of ground pepper will fall out and start crawling about. Isolate the plant and apply an insecticidal soap.