On Earth day, let us share some information on natural ways of preventing as well as getting rid of pests and insects. The adage ‘Prevention is better than cure’ will save a lot of money and time. So, let us first discuss the different ways of preventing pest attacks and disease infestation.
Correct method of watering:
• Never over-water. We do not drink two days water in one go, so why expect plants to do so too? Orchid mediums need to be moist or wet at the most.
• No water-logging should be allowed. It would only lead to rotting of roots.
• Keep parts like leaves, flowers dry as they do not take up water directly. Wet aerial parts become breeding ground of fungal spores. High humidity accompanied with high temperature is not only good for your orchids but also promotes bacterial, viral as well as fungal growth.
• The orchids, especially the epiphytic ones, should have short periods of complete dryness.
Correct method of arranging your orchids:
• Epiphytic orchids require plenty of air circulation. Terrestrials that grow in open meadows have the same requirement. Conditions can be relaxed a bit for those terrestrials that grow on forest floor.
• However, do not place your orchids close together. Allow some distance in-between for air-circulation.
• Closely bunched together plants are open invitation to pests and diseases, which then easily spreads to healthy plants.
Correct methods of providing optimum light and temperature:
• A background check on the orchids is essential. Orchids can be grown successfully by reciprocating their natural conditions of light and temperature.
Correct practice to follow in case of infestation:
• When any pest or symptoms of disease are observed on any orchid plant, first course of action should be to isolate that orchid from other healthy orchids. This is to prevent further spread of the pest or disease.
• If you are unable to identify the pest or the disease, then get your orchid checked by a plant doctor/orchidologist.
Natural pest control methods
• Sprinkle two or three lines of common salt around the base of the orchid pots. You can also use bleaching powder in place of salt. Another way is to spray bleach or salty water on the pots, lower portion of the poles bearing hanging pots/baskets. This will inhibit crawling insects from getting to your plants.
• Turmeric powder is another natural deterrent to insects, especial all types of ants. Ants immediately leave if turmeric powder is sprinkled on the ant colony.
• Treating growth medium with Kerosene oil mixed in water prevent insects settling on the orchids for at least six months. But it smells!
• Wiping leaves with soapy water helps remove any settled fungal spores and is a deterrent to insects. Mild dish washing detergent can be used for this purpose. Remember to dry leaves.
• Spraying vinegar on the growth medium is another way to prevent bacterial of fungal spores from germinating within the medium.