Whether you're raising flowers, vegetables, lemon trees, houseplants, or any other kinds of plants, spider mites are a persistent pest that you're likely to battle time and time again. When you notice discoloration on a plant's leaves in the form of yellow, white, or tan splotches, you just might be dealing with a spider mite infestation. If there are roundish red blotches on the leaves, you're seeing the actual spider mites themselves (yuck!). Discover some of the best options for combatting these tiny but problematic garden pests.
Spray Away Spider Mites With a Water Hose
An easy way to start the process of getting rid of the spider mites is simply to blast them off with a spray of water. This is as easy as setting the sprayer nozzle on your hose to a strong setting, then spraying the entire plant with water. The force of the water blast will knock a lot of the spider mites off your plant. You won't get every spider mite this way, but you will be able to eliminate a lot of them. If you do this, it's advisable to follow up with at least one other treatment to get rid of the rest.
Dunk Infested Potted Plants in Soapy Water
Blasting houseplants or small outdoor plants with a hose might damage them, so dunking is a better option for them. Simply fill a plastic storage box with water, then stir in some dish soap. Cover the open portion of the container with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to hold in the soil, then dunk the plant so that the top of the plant is facing the bottom of the container. Use bungee cords, rope, or an improvised solution to hold the plant in place for around six hours. This should drown the pests.
Spray Infested Plants With Soap and Water
You can combine the two methods listed above by making your own soapy water spray. Simply mix approximately three tablespoons of dish soap per gallon of water in a garden sprayer (or reduce proportionally for a spray bottle), then mix well. Spray the foliage on all of your infested plants with this mixture once a week. You may want to continue even after most or all of the spider mites are dead to prevent another infestation.
Spray Infested Plants With Neem Oil Solution
You can take your soap and water spray to the next level by adding pure or raw neem oil to the mixture. Be sure the neem oil you purchase contains azadirachtin. Follow the mixing instructions for soap and water spray (above), but also mix in four to five teaspoons of neem oil. Spray every bit of foliage on the plants that have been infested by spider mites. Repeat every other day for two weeks while the plant is infested. After that, continue to spray weekly as a preventive measure.
Use Essential Oil Sprays on Plants With Spider Mites
Neem oil isn't the only essential oil you can use to get rid of spider mites. Essential oils need to be mixed with water to apply to plants, but they don't necessarily have to have soap mixed in. Consider adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil - peppermint oil and rosemary oil are great options when battling spider mites - to a spray bottle filled with water. Use the mixture to spray spider mite-infested leaves on your houseplants or outdoor plants. Shake well before using.
Use Diatomaceous Earth on Infested Plants and Soil
If you want to kill the spider mites on your plants and in the surrounding soil, diatomaceous earth (DE) is a good option to try. This is an organic substance that you can purchase at garden supply stores. It's easy to apply. Just sprinkle it on the soil around the base of the plants as well as the foliage. The DE will kill any spider mites it comes into contact with, whether they are on the plant or in the soil.
Apply Insecticidal Soap to Plants With Spider Mites
While it's ideal to start with natural remedies before using synthetic insecticides, you may find that you need to take your efforts to get rid of spider mites to the next level. In that case, consider purchasing an insecticidal soap from a local garden center. Follow the package instructions, which generally specify to dilute the insecticidal soap with water and spray it onto the foliage of infested plants.
Spray Infested Plants With Hydrogen Peroxide
If you don't want to go as far as using a synthetic insecticide but you need more help than some combination of soap, water, and horticultural oils, consider making a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water to spray on your plants. Simply make a mixture that is half water and half hydrogen peroxide (the kind you can buy in any drugstore) in a spray bottle or garden sprayer and apply it to your plant's leaves.
Learn How to Get Rid of Spider Mites
Spider mites pose a challenge to everyone who enjoys plants. Whether you grow vegetables, seek to maintain a lovely landscape, and/or raise houseplants, chances are that you've spent more than your fair share of time battling these tiny arachnids. There isn't a simple answer to the question of how to get rid of spider mites, as they seem to be a ubiquitous problem everywhere that plants are growing (which is - well - just about everywhere). The pest control methods above - on their own or in combination - can generally help combat a spider mite infestation within a few weeks. However, if a plant gets majorly infested, you may not be able to save it. If it seems that the spider mites are winning the battle, pull up the severely infested plant and discard it rather than letting the infestation spread to the rest of your plants. If you do this, be sure to throw away or otherwise destroy the infested plant. Do not put it in your compost pile.