Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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

Evergreen plants with showy flowers for pots in Central Texas
January 14, 2009 - I'm looking for evergreen plants with showy flowers suitable for Central Texas. Plants need to do well in pots.. they will be planted in flower boxes in my very sunny porch. thanks!!!
view the full question and answer

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing fern houseplants from Lancaster PA
April 10, 2013 - I have fern houseplants about 9 to 12 months old and they are turning yellow. I don't overwater and they get good light. They are growing well but I don't understand the yellowing and falling off! ...
view the full question and answer

Pill bugs in potted plants in Atlanta GA
June 14, 2013 - Hello, I repotted four aloe vera plants two days ago with a cacti soil and watered them thoroughly in terra cotta pots according to directions on the bag. Well the next morning the pots had pill bug...
view the full question and answer

Native small tree or shrub for container in San Angelo, Texas
July 01, 2010 - We live in San Angelo TX and are looking for some type of a bush/tree that will grow in a pot in a shaded area..we would like something that would grow to be about 5-6 feel tall and be rather narrow.....
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.