En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - June 25, 2008

From: Shepherdstown, WV
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Container Gardens, Pests, Watering
Title: Mites in soil of house plants
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi there! I recently noticed tiny silver mites in the soil of my plants that I only notice after watering. These plants are indoors in on a window ledge (a dwarf palm, aloe plant and Hawaiian Schefflera). There doesn't appear to be any damage to the plants from them, but regardless of if they are harmful I would prefer if they weren't there. Do you know if they can cause any harm and what I can do to get rid of these mites? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Since most house plants are tropical or semi-tropical, and non-natives of North America, they are a little out of the range of our expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Our concentration is on plants native to the area in which they are being grown, because they need less fertilizer, water and maintenance. However, we understand that plants are plants, and if you are having a problem with indoor plants, we can certainly try to help you find a solution. The best website we found on house plant care in general was the Colorado State University Extension site on Managing Household Plants. You are correct in feeling that even a non-damaging insect is not a good thing to have on a plant that is growing inside. They could be larvae of a pest that is going to damage plants, and not just the one they are on, but spreading to others in your home. Please read the website we have linked you to completely; it has pictures and descriptions, plus suggestions for control. One final note: we have noticed that over-watering of indoor plants is very often the source of insect problems. The thing about an indoor plant is it's right there, in your line of vision all the time. So, every time you pass, you think maybe it could use a little drinky. Not only does it not need such frequent watering, but if the pot is poorly drained, it could be producing root rot, and the ultimate demise of the plant.

 

More Container Gardens Questions

Small tree for container near pool in Houston
June 24, 2010 - Can you recommend a small tree that I can grow in a pot for shade? Looking for minimal mess because it will be near the pool. How big should the pot be?
view the full question and answer

Care of Florida Blue or Lisiantus in Houston
October 24, 2005 - I'm in Houston, Texas and I'm growing, for the first time, Florida blues, Eustoma, purple. Since I am from California I'm not familiar with this plant. It's beautiful. How do I care for them i...
view the full question and answer

Care of a sedum indoors
December 16, 2007 - I have a coworker who has trusted her Sedum Burrito plant into my care because it is not doing well in her office. It appears to need repotting, as it is very crowded in the pot it came in and is dif...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of potted blue-green cypress
July 26, 2008 - I received a small 14" potted blue-green cypress for Christmas 2007. Kept it in a bright window, not direct sun. It was doing great until two weeks ago when it started turning brown from the center. ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Texas cherry tomato
April 24, 2005 - We just bought 2 Texas cherry tomato plants at the plant sale. We have to container garden in a walled courtyard due to deer. (Would deer be attracted to the plants in a garden with herbs and high de...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center