Bromeliads at nursery in Homestead, FL
intergraded pest management, is the practice of long-term prevention and
suppression of pests. Several tools are commonly used, including
scouting, resistant varieties of plants, and cultural practices.
Pesticides are only used when pest pressures have reached an unacceptable
level for the situation, and even then products are selected that are
It is well known that when a plant is grown in optimal conditions, it is
less likely to have insect and disease problems, but why?
can cause stress factors; a lack of essential resources, or an inability
to utilize those resources. A plants’ natural resources are primarily
light, water, temperature, and nutrients. An example of an inability to
utilize resources would be when there are adequate nutrients present, but
the soil pH is too high or low, preventing uptake. The more stress
factors you have the greater the chances of pest problems. Also know where
your plants come from. It is going to be an uphill battle if you plants
are not healthy to begin with.
Once a plant
becomes stressed the levels of "built in" pesticides declines in the plant
and pests can move in.
Heliconia in bloom
Spathyphylum in nursery in Lake Worth,
Maintenance to Prevent- My rule of thumb here is “More is not
better”. It is so tempting when watering, or even fertilizing a plant, to
“add some extra”. If your thinking is this will help the plant to better
health, think again! Too much fertilizer might push the plants to grow
too fast in an Interiorscape (having to replace sooner), or even create
phytotoxicity issues. Growing too fast may also cause a decrease in the
concentration of plants’ allelochemicals. Also keep in mind that plants
in an interior area do not get their soils flushed like plants outdoors or
in nursery settings. This lack of flushing will allow a build up of
nutrients and salts in the soils, so they must be monitored closely. Soil
and leaf tissue analysis will let you know if there is a nutritional
problem and whether it needs to be treated. But what does this have to do
with bugs? These factors can stress a plant, thereby making it more
susceptible to insect damage. Proper nutrition is essential for
prevention of pest problems and sometimes this may mean not feeding the
plant at all!
Treatment of problem- So you
have tried to do it all right: adequate light, proper watering, and good
nutritional practices. Despite your best efforts, somehow “Poof” like
some kind of magic “they” appear in the middle of the night. You stand
there scratching your head asking yourself “ How did they get here, and
at such high populations?” Well it is not magic. It is possible that
the insects came in on the plant hiding in a leaf fold or even in the
soil. A neighboring plant that can sustain this pest without signs of
damage may be the culprit. Insects and mites can move on wind currents,
peoples clothing, and tools, so these could be other possible sources.
This is why scouting your plants and keeping records of pests found is so
important. Want to learn more about scouting? click
here. By keeping records they can be of long-term benefit as many
pests tend to appear at about the same time each year.
In the short
run the records will let you know if the pests survive a control method be
it chemical/ biological/ or mechanical. If the control method didn’t work
you will be better equipped to analyze the situation to find out if the
problem was poor timing, poor application, or pesticide resistance in the
Scouting for pest problems