Does my plant have an illness?

Plants can get ill, just like us. It is important for you to spend some time identifying what is wrong when you notice your plant friend not quite looking her best. Most illnesses, when untreated, will lead to your plants demise which we want to prevent, of course. The best thing to do is to check for any issues regularly. Be sure to check under the leaves, that's where things frequently start. If you notice any white or black spots its often trouble! 

Want to know what common illnesses to look for? We've compiled a list for you below:



Mealy bugs are a nasty pest that can show up on just about any houseplant. The mealybug got its name from the white, wooly secretion that the females produce. If you see white, woolly balls or dots on your houseplant, this is often a sign that your green amigo has been infected with mealy bugs. The texture appears on your plant as white fluff and the bugs themselves are white with stripes down their back and tiny white legs. Unfortunately, this pest is very difficult to combat as it can withstand temperature of -40°C, but that’s not to say they are impossible to control.



The whitefly is one of the few insect diseases that can be clearly seen with the naked eye. After pupation as a larva, they change into small white flies of about 1mm - 3mm in size. These whiteflies can mainly be seen on the top of the plant, or on new growth or young leaves. If there are a large amount of whiteflies on your plant you will see a white cloud rising from the plant when you shake it! Partly for this reason, the whitefly is a well-recognized houseplant disease.



Thrips are tiny creatures that are almost invisible to the naked eye. Without a magnifying glass, they look like tiny black stripes or dots on the blade. Thrips are a much-feared pest among growers as they are very difficult to combat in greenhouses, much different than if you have them in your home. Even though the damage to the plant is often not too bad, they aren’t pleasant to have around because these insects have wings, which means they can spread fairly quickly to other plants. It’s important that a thrip infection is controlled as quickly as possible, to stop their spread.



Spider mites do not officially belong to the insect family, but are rather a distant cousin of the spider. If you look at a spider mite under a microscope, you will see small spiders crawling around on your plant. The tricky part about spider mites is that you can hardly see them with the naked eye and when you can see them, they look like a very small white, yellow or brown dot. It can often be overlooked as residue from the plant. It is often the damage to the plant that indicates that there is a spider mite on the plant. Fortunately, this disease can be treated well and there are several things you can do about it.



Aphids are a soft-bodied insect.They don’t typically feed on tropical houseplants, but are more drawn to sappy food crops, such as garden plants like beans, cabbage, cucumber, potato, pumpkin, squash, and tomato. Aphids are born without wings, so when you see one that is winged up and ready to fly, it’s likely because the colony of aphids got too big and they are looking for another plant to feed on.   



Hard insect scale is also a common pest in plants, and a pesky one at that! They are related to the aphid, but unfortunately, much harder to control. This insect has a wax shield around its body (not too surprising given the name). This shield is not attached to the body, instead you can lift the shield and underneath you will find the louse itself. Because this outer-layer shield protects the lice inside from pesticides, scale is one of the more difficult insect infestations to treat amongst houseplants. 



Similar to hard insect scale and the aphid, soft insect scale is also a common type of houseplant illness. Soft insect scale is a sap-sucking insect that feeds on your houseplants, if infected. The difference between hard and soft insect scale lies in its shell or shield. The shield of a soft insect scale is firmly attached to the louse, and cannot be removed from the body, as opposed to hard insect scale that can be detached. 


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