Aphid Control on Orchids, Home Guides, SF Gate

Aphid Control on Orchids

Control aphids on plants near orchids as well as on orchids themselves.

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Orchids thrive in hot weather, and their many admirers prize them for their beautiful flowers. Aphids are among the most common plant pests, and orchids are one of the species that they infest. These small, destructive insects not only cause damage on their own, but they also transmit plant viruses. Fortunately, you can control and even stop aphid infestations of your orchid plants.

Aphid Damage

Aphids do not cause damage to orchids by eating their leaves or stems. Instead, these small, often wingless, soft-bodied, pear-shaped noxious insects use their long, agile mouths to suck sap from orchid leaves and stems. When they do this, they distort the shapes of delicate orchid leaves and flowers. They also secrete a sticky substance, known as honeydew. This substance is unsightly and also makes it easy for ants, as well as mold spores and other unwanted organisms, to adhere to and destroy affected plants. Aphids also transmit viruses such as mosaic viruses and bar mottle. When viruses attack orchid plants, the plants must be destroyed to prevent further spread.

Signs of Infestation

Aphids reproduce rapidly and develop quickly, so once an infestation begins, large colonies of green, yellow, black, red or brown insects appear on new growth such as buds, as well as on flowers, stems and leaves. They may shed skins, and you will see small mounds of skin on top of leaves and flowers. The presence of ants on or near your orchids is also a sign of aphids, as is distorted leaves.


If you see signs of aphid infestation on any orchid plant at a greenhouse, do not buy it or any other plant from that supplier. Controlling aphids on other plants, such as roses, that you grow near your orchids will help keep them from transferring to orchids. You should also remove or kill weeds, and use sugar-based ant baits to get rid of ants that may accompany or even transport aphids. You also can control aphids with organic pesticides or chemical sprays.

Organic Controls

Yellow adhesive-coated insect paper helps to capture winged adults, which are born when a colony becomes so full of typical wingless aphids that some insects have to fly to other plants to establish new colonies. You also can purchase colonies of predatory insects that consume aphids without affecting your orchids. Lacewings and midges are effective for aphid control, as are some parasitic organisms that affect aphids. They can all be purchased through your local greenhouse supplier. However, for smaller numbers of plants, using horticultural oil sprays, neem oil or insecticidal soaps is a more practical way of controlling aphids without potent chemicals.

Chemical Controls

Pyrethrins, alone or in combination with oils or soaps, are effective against aphids and do not do as much damage to natural predators or the environment as other insecticides. If none of the organic controls work or are available, and pyrethrins do not successfully eradicate aphid colonies, try malathion, permethrin or acephate-based insecticides. Chlorpyrifos and diazinon are effective for aphid control. However, the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program does not recommend these two chemicals, as runoff from these pesticides are a major source of water pollution.

References (4)

About the Author

John DeMerceau is an American expatriate entrepreneur, marketing analyst and Web developer. He now lives and works in southeast Asia, where he creates websites and branding/marketing reports for international clients. DeMerceau graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in history.


Watch Out for Aphids on Your Orchids

Though they have a reputation for hardiness, phalaenopsis orchids are not immune to damage from insect life. Aphids, in particular, are tenacious “sucking” orchid pests that attach themselves to the underside of the leaves, feeding on the plant sap that contains valuable nutrients. They can multiply quickly on buds and new foliage.

If left unattended, a phalaenopsis that hosts such orchid pests as aphids can develop yellowed, curled leaves. And beyond the cosmetic damage, aphids are carriers of viruses that can permanently affect your orchid’s health.

Protect Your Plant

To protect your plant from orchid pests, perform regular inspections, especially on the leaves’ undersides. Should you spot an aphid—recognizable by its pear-shaped body—begin a treatment with insecticidal soap and a water spray to knock them off the leaves. If the aphid infestation is relatively new, the soap and water should take care of the problem.

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Get Tough

If you prefer a more natural solution, you have options:

  • You can apply horticultural oil, which coats the insect and suffocates it
  • You can even introduce aphid-eating ladybugs to your phalaenopsis orchids

Whatever method you choose to control orchid pests like aphids, test your solution on a small portion of the plant first to make sure the phalaenopsis orchid is not overly sensitive to the compound.

Finally, be aware that you must apply the treatment consistently at seven-day intervals to ensure that you kill off any successive generations of aphids that may be burrowing inside your plant.

For more help caring for your plants, check out our Orchid Care Videos here.


How To Get Rid Of Sooty Mold

If your plant has started to look like it has been spending time sitting next to a fire and is now covered in a black soot, chances are, your plant is suffering from sooty mold. How to get rid of sooty mold can be a perplexing question as it may seem that it appears out of nowhere, but it is a fixable problem.

What is Sooty Mold?

Sooty mold is a type of plant mold. It is a type of mold that growing in the honeydew or secretion of many common plant pests, such as aphids or scale. The pests cover the leaves of your plant in honeydew and the sooty mold spore lands on the honeydew and begins to reproduce.

Symptoms of Sooty Plant Mold Growth

Sooty mold looks a lot like the name implies. Your plant’s twigs, branches or leaves will be covered in a grimy, black soot. Many people believe that someone may have dumped ashes or may have even caught the plant on fire when they first see this plant mold.

Most plants affected by this plant mold growth will also have some sort of pest problem. Some plants, like gardenias and roses, which are prone to pest problems, will be more susceptible to this plant mold growth.

How to Get Rid of Sooty Mold

Treating plant mold like sooty mold is best done by treating the source of the problem. This would be the pests that excrete the honeydew the mold needs to live.

First, determine which pest you have and then eliminate it from your plant. Once the pest problem has been solved, the sooty plant mold growth can be easily washed off the leaves, stems and branches.

Neem oil is an effective treatment for both the pest problem and fungus.

Will Sooty Mold Kill My Plant?

This plant mold growth is generally not lethal to plants, but the pests that it needs to grow can kill a plant. At the first sign of sooty mold, find the pest that is producing the honeydew and eliminate it.


How to Care for an Orchid

Knowing how to care for an orchid can sometimes seem difficult. Orchids may look very delicate, but in reality, they are not that difficult to grow or keep alive. According to the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families there are approximately 26,570 accepted orchid species.

Even though there are so many different types of orchids, like all plants, they require these three things to survive:

In addition to the basic needs, there are a few more things you might need to know to help your orchid thrive.

What are basic care instructions for an orchid?

On a basic level, most orchids need the following to survive:

  • A well-draining growing medium
  • At least six hours of indirect sunlight (bright shade) a day
  • Moist, but not waterlogged, soil
  • Once-a-month fertilizer feedings (quarter strength)
  • A humid environment
  • Pruning, as needed

Keep in mind, some of the more delicate species of orchids require more light, less water, lots of humidity, and so on. If you’re growing orchids for the first time, you may want to start with a common species that doesn’t require special conditions.

You can use any plant food or fertilizer to care for your orchid, but you should only use one fourth of the amount directed on the package.

You can provide extra humidity to the area around the orchid by either spritzing only the leaves with a mist of water a few times or by setting the plant on top of a dish filled with moist or wet gravel.

Do not nest the orchid down in the gravel as it might soak up the moisture into the growing medium and waterlog the root structure. Also, do not mist the flowers. This may cause them to mold.

What growing medium do you use for an orchid?

The growing medium is subject to your preferences. Typically, most growers will use either moss or ground-up tree bark. And special orchid potting mixes can be purchased.

Do not use regular potting soil for your orchid. It will suffocate the roots and kill the plant.

If you want to be creative, you can mix mediums or you could even grow an orchid in a wad of wet paper towel. (With the paper towel method, the plant would need watered and fed fertilizer constantly. It is not recommended.)

How much sunlight does an orchid need?

In nature, orchids like partially shaded areas. When growing an orchid indoors, it is recommended that it receive six hours of indirect sunlight a day to stay healthy.

  • East-facing windows provide morning sunlight and the orchid will not overheat or dry out directly in the sun.
  • South-facing windows provide sun exposure all day, but the heat is too intense for an orchid to stay healthy. With this kind of light, the plant will usually dry out and die.
  • West-facing widows provide evening sun and, similar to south-facing windows, are too hot for an orchid to sit directly in the sun.
  • North-facing windows do not provide enough light to keep the plant healthy. The plant will likely become droopy and will die.

If the plant starts to look like its drying out and getting too much sun, try filtering the sun with a sheer curtain or moving the orchid further away from the window.

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If the plant starts to look droopy and over-watered but the growing medium isn’t wet or soggy, try moving the plant to a room with better sun exposure or rotating the plant from indoors to outdoors.

How much water is too much water for an orchid?

Watering an orchid is as easy as watering any other plant. You can tell an orchid is getting too much water if the leaves start turning yellow. There is no recommended schedule for watering an orchid. If you take a regimented approach, you will likely end up with a dead plant. The water requirements for orchids can vary based on the environment the plant is living in, its size, and the time of year.

When watering the orchid, make sure to water the soil and not the plant directly. If water goes down between the leaves, it can cause crown rot. When crown rot occurs, the leaves fall off and eventually the whole plant will die.

Instead of creating a water schedule, try checking the orchid to evaluate whether it needs water. Stick your finger in the growing medium or soil, and if it feels dry, water the plant. If the soil feels wet, then wait and check again in a day or two. Always water the plant just before it goes completely dry.

How do you get an orchid to flower?

Orchids only produce flowers once a year and the flowers bloom continuously for about a month. Some varieties bloom in winter and some in spring, but the bloom period for most orchids is around August or September.

Towards the end of the bloom period you can trick the plant into blooming again by pruning the flower portion of the plant away at the node just below the first flower.

If you take note of the light and water conditions and duplicate the environment, you can actually keep trimming the node to keep the plant blooming all year.

What does it mean if an orchid goes dormant?

If your orchid drops all of its flowers, do not be alarmed. It will bloom again in one year. If it does not bloom again, it means the plant has gone dormant. Likely, the roots are stifled and the orchid needs new growing medium. Dead roots and stems need pruned before you pot the plant. This process usually needs to be done every two or three years. The orchid should send out a new stem and flower again during blooming season.

You can speed up the new growth by feeding the plant a quarter strength of fertilizer with every watering. Once the orchid is back to normal, you can cut back to regular feedings.


How to get rid of aphids on orchid buds

How to get rid of aphids on orchid buds

Hi guys, I recently bought an Oncidium Twinkle, and in the last two days, aphids have shown up on it. I’ve been picking them off twice a day, but they just keep coming back. The infestation isn’t bad — maybe a dozen bugs when I first noticed and 3-5 that I pick off twice daily now — it’s just stubborn.

I’m a bit confused about what to use to kill the aphids. Since they’re feeding on buds, I don’t want to use anything too harsh. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I’m also going out of town for Thanksgiving (I’m in Canada) this weekend for 5 days, and I’m not sure what to do — it’s probably too cold to leave the plant out over night, but im afraid that if I bring it in with my other plants, it’ll go crazy and my other plants will be infected over the course of the trip. How quickly do aphids take over? Is there any way to eradicate these guys that quickly?


How to Get Rid of Mealy Bugs Naturally

Mealy bugs are those soft bodied white cotton-like pests that suck the juicy sap out of plants. These white colored devils are quite hard to get rid of once they’ve found a good food source they settle down reproduce rapidly and destroy a healthy plant in no time at all. In this post, we take a look at the different solutions available to get rid of mealy bugs naturally.

Worse, they quickly spread from one plant to the next and are a gardener’s worst nightmare. You’ll usually find these creatures in the undersides of leaves as a thick cottony mass or between the leaves and the stem and getting rid of them is no easy task. If you find that your plants are infected by mealy bugs, here’s what you can do to get rid of mealy bugs naturally.

How to Get Rid of Mealy Bugs Naturally

Image credit: By Alexlutor [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Isolate the Infected Plant

One of the first things you need to do when you find mealy bugs in your plants is to move the infected plant far away from the rest of the plants. Or, to your dismay you will soon find that they have infected other plants as well making it all the more difficult to get rid of.

Avoid Over Watering and Over Fertilizing

One of the common reasons for a mealy bug infestation is over watering or over fertilizing the plants. Mealy Bugs particularly like plants growing in a nitrogen rich soil so fertilize only when necessary.

Attract Ladybugs

Ladybugs love a good lunch of mealy bugs and you’d do well to attract and encourage lady bugs to visit your garden. Click here to discover different ways in which you can attract lady bugs to your garden.

Neem Spray Them

You can add some neem oil to water and spray the leaves and stems infested with the pests. This will even discourage future infestations.

Kitchen Spray

Process a garlic clove, 1 small onion, and a teaspoon of mild chilly powder in a food processor and add it to a litre of water. Let it sit for about an hour. Then strain the mixture and spray it on the infected plants.

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Apply a Soap Spray

Add 1 tablespoons of baby shampoo to about 2 litres of water and spray them on the infested areas. You can also use a soap-oil mix to spray on infected areas. A mixture of 1 tablespoon of dish wash like VIM and a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a litre of water is also known to have good results although both options are not completely organic.

Apply a Tobacco Rinse

I found that soaking tobacco leaves overnight and spraying the solution did the trick.

Manually Remove Them

If you find a few mealy bugs in your plants, you can manually remove them. You can catch the bugs by attaching a sticky tape to your hands and touching the bugs.

Nip Off Infected Areas

If you find that a particular branch is heavily infested with mealy bugs, you can nip off the branch or stem to avoid further spread of the pest. Destroy the stem and its inhabitants and don’t throw the stem or leaves in the compost pit.

Replace the Top Soil

Mealybugs can also live in the soil so if a plant is plagued by recurring infestations of the bug, it is recommended that you remove the top layer of sand from the pot and replace it with fresh potting soil.

My Recommendation

When my plants are infected with mealy bugs, I simply hit them with a spray of water until they drown in it and fall off. Another option is to take an old toothbrush, dip it in water and brush the buggers off. I keep checking every day to make sure they don’t revive and rebuild their nests again. If they do, rinse and repeat.

Thoroughly Check the Pot

Check around the pot, on the inside and outside as well as in the bottom of the pot. These wily buggers can sometimes hide before making a re-appearance.

Its hard to get rid of mealy bugs in one go. They are hard to spot no matter how closely you look so you may end up with a recurring problem, but its not all bad. If you are determined and watchful you are sure to keep them in check or get rid of them eventually.

Do you make use of any specific method to get rid of mealy bugs naturally? We’d love to know how you tackle these little white devils.


Oregon Orchid Society

Since 1945 the Oregon Orchid Society has aimed to share the love of orchids in Portland, OR with a focus on conservation, cultivation and education. Meeting in the heart of Portland at the Siena Hall in the Holy Rosary Catholic Church grounds, 375 NE Clackamas St., we hope to spur your interest in orchids, whether you’re in Portland, the greater Portland area or anywhere else in the world.

Ants & Aphids

An ant farming aphids.

Orchid growers, particularly those that grow in a greenhouse or any space that is close to the outdoors, need to keep an eye out for ants. Ants in themselves pose little to no harm to orchids but if you see them in numbers you might be witnessing an ant farm – a literal farm, that is. Ants are incredible creatures and one thing they have learned how to do is farm aphids. Ants will propagate aphid larvae in order to keep a steady supply of aphids to eat. Aphids suck on plants (and LOVE orchids) eventually killing them. Fortunately aphids are easy to kill but if you’ve got a large team of ants fighting against your aphid-killing efforts you may have a problem on your hands. Without the help of ants, orchids that grow outdoors can easily succumb to aphid infestation and need to be checked regularly and sprayed if aphids are found.

If you have a problem with ants and aphids you need to take care of both pests. This is a problem that typically affects greenhouse growers, but it can be something indoor growers could see.


How to Get Rid of Bugs on a Hibiscus Plant

Things You’ll Need

The soapy water will not harm your plant at all, but it is effective in killing many species of insects.


Be careful when using insecticides, as they are toxic to humans and animals. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the package, and only use the amount specified. Otherwise, you could harm your plant.

There are many insects that tend to attack the Hibiscus plant. These include aphids, ants, mealy bugs and spider mites. The ants are merely looking for the aphids, because they eat a substance that aphids produce. Get rid of the aphids, and the ants will leave on their own. Spider mites may require a miticide in order to get them under control. Mealy bugs and many other insects, including aphids and ants, can be exterminated safely and effectively by just using a simple soap-and-water spray.

Step 1

Squirt three to five drops of the dishwashing liquid into the spray bottle.

Step 2

Fill the bottle with water from your faucet and screw on the lid.

Step 3

Shake it to create more soap suds.

Step 4

Spray the plant wherever you see insects.

Step 5

Wash the soapy water and dead insects off of the plant.

Step 6

Repeat every day for a week or so, to ensure that new hatching insects are exterminated.

Step 7

Spray with insecticidal soap if the problem persists for longer than two weeks with the use of the soapy water spray.

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Jennifer Martin

Jennifer Martin is a freelance writer, visual artist and yoga teacher. She has been writing professionally since 2009, and has published work on eHow and Answerbag, and in «The Campanil,» a Mills College publication. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in studio art from Mills College, and is pursuing a master’s degree in counseling psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies.


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