Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

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 Non-Natives Questions

Plants for low light in Houston
April 21, 2009 - I moved from a home in New Jersey to an apartment in Houston, TX -inside court - low light. I can't keep houseplants alive., What do you recommend that I try here? Both inside the apartment and on ...
view the full question and answer

Plant mistakes from Cedar Park, TX
April 09, 2014 - At our "Wilts End" in Cedar Park, TX. and are looking for a tall shrub/tree that will hide a 6-ft tall concrete wall and muffle the noise from a busy street. The wall forms a very wide-angled V shap...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Indian Hawthorn and Abelia resistance to deer from Ackerman MS
January 16, 2010 - I recently landscaped my yard. I have a large variety of bushes and trees. They have been planted for about a month. Yesterday, while out in the yard, I noticed that about half of my Indian hawthorn...
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native Kalanchoe from Belton SC
December 23, 2012 - The leaves on a Kalanchoe that we bought from Logee's has leaves starting to curl. It has been this way since I bought it. It is in a south window, it's cold out so I put the plant inside. Besides c...
view the full question and answer

Seeds and seed pods of bluejacket (Tradescantia ohiensis or Hyacinthus orientalis
March 26, 2015 - I have lots of bluejacket flowers in my yard. I keep looking for the seed pods but can't find any seeds. Where are the seed pods located on the bluejacket flower? Thanks. Lew Dallas
view the full question and answer

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