Growing plants in your own hydroponic garden is hard enough as it is…
After all, you have to pick the right nutrients.
You have to get your water right.
And you might even have to build your entire grow room from scratch.
After all that hard work, when your plants finally start growing you may think you’ve made it because it looks like it’s all downhill from here.
That’s when “disaster” can strike.
You Are Under Attack!
You are now in a war against an army of insurgents struggling for dominion over your grow room.
Pests & Diseases.
Hey, we’ve all been there.
No matter how well you try to follow the best sanitation practices in your grow room, pests and diseases are just a part of indoor hydroponic gardening.
We’re Here For You
Remember, we don’t just produce the best hydroponics nutrients here at Advanced Nutrients.
We pride ourselves on being a part of this community. We grew up in it, so it brings us mountains of joy and satisfaction to help other growers with tips, strategies, techniques and tactics for growing because we truly care about your success.
After all, you could be using the best nutrients in the world (Advanced Nutrients) and still see your harvest fail if you can’t get rid of these common plant pests and diseases.
So let’s get started…
5 Most Common Indoor Plant Pests
In order to win this war, you have to know your enemy.
That means being an expert at indoor plant pests identification.
- Spider Mites – these tiny little buggers (less than 1 mm long) are probably the most common (and most hated) of all indoor garden pests. They are actually little arachnids and because of their small size you may not notice them until they do serious damage to your plants. There are two reliable ways to spot an infestation: one, look for spider-like webbing. Two, take a tissue and wipe gently on the underside of leaves—if it comes back with streaks of Spider Mite blood—you know you have mites.
- Thrips – are also tiny (around 5 mm long). Though tough to identify, their damage is easy to see. Look for small metallic black specks on the top of leaves. This will often be accompanied by the leaves turning brown and dry (possibly with yellowish spots) because the thrips have sucked them dry.
- Aphids – also known as plant lice. They can be green, black or gray. No matter what color, they can weaken your plants because they suck the juice out of leaves and turn them yellow. You may find them anywhere on the plant, but they often gather around the stems.
- Whiteflies – are about 1 mm long and look like small, white moths. This makes them easy to spot, but they’re harder to kill because they fly away when disturbed to a new plant. They also suck your plants dry causing white spots and yellowing.
- Fungus Gnats – surprisingly, the adult fungus gnats are not harmful, but their larvae feed on roots and feeder roots, which can slow plant growth, invite bacterial infection—and if take to extreme—even plant death.
Now that you’ve learned a little about these hydroponic pests, let’s talk about how to get rid of them.
3 Ways To Fight These Dangerous Indoor Plant Bugs
There are quite a few methods to hydroponic pest control you can employ.
- Use Sticky Traps – when you hang these around the room, you can trap the pets and that makes it easy to identify them (and of course, it takes them out of the game). Blue stick cards are good for thrips. Yellow cards attract fungus gnats and whiteflies. Tip: make sure some cards are at the soil/medium level of your plants—where fungus gnats congregate.
- Various Sprays – you want to avoid chemical poisons like Avid or Eagle. And we can’t vouch for the effectiveness of homemade sprays from household items like garlic, etc. But some growers have reported good results from organic “pesticide” interventions like Azamax. Another non-toxic way to protect your plants—before an infestation—is to use Rhino Skin—a foliar application potassium silicate product that basically puts a coat of armor on your plants (protecting against pests & diseases). As a bonus, it maximizes resin glands too.
- Beneficial Predators – some growers report success using beneficial predatory creatures like nematodes. Put these live predators into your medium and they can hunt down and kill the pests.
It’s important to try out different strategies to see which ones work for you and your plants.
One thing to remember is that you can combine these strategies. For example, you can setup sticky traps while you apply Rhino Skin to help strengthen them against attack for a double-power preventative strategy.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Certain populations of these pests have grown resistant to various pest control methods in various parts of the country. To make sure your pest-fighting strategy is as effective as possible, you should talk to your local hydroponics store about what is working best on the pests in your area.
Top 5 Most Common Indoor Plant Diseases
To help you with indoor plant disease identification and diagnosis, here are some of the most common problems that occur …
- Powdery Mildew – Does it look like someone sprinkled white powder over your leaves and stems? It could be powdery mildew and if left untreated it will give you stunted plant growth, leaf drop and yellowing of plant tissue. If it gets too far, you’ll lose your plant.
- Downy Mildew – Don’t get these two confused. Downy mildew mostly appears on the underside of leaves and doesn’t look like a powder the way “powdery” mildew does. They both can cause yellowing of leaves which makes them easy to mis-identify though.
- Gray Mold – Also called ash mold & ghost spot – you’ll see it start out as spots on leaves that lead to fuzzy gray abrasions and will continue deteriorating until your plants are brown and mushy.
- Root Rot – When you have too much water and pathogens in your medium/soil, you can get root rot. Plants will wilt and turn yellow. Roots can get mushy too.
- Iron Deficiency – Plants lacking iron will lack chlorophyll, so you’ll see the leaves turn bright yellow while retaining green veins. Sometimes this is misdiagnosed as some other type of disease when your plants are simply lacking iron.
Now that you know a little bit about hydroponics plant diseases, let’s talk about how to heal your crops.
How To Win Against Indoor Garden Diseases…
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that’s exactly right.
The best way to fight back against pests & diseases is to try to prevent them in the first place.
Make sure you’re following these tips …
- Wear Clean Clothes – pests and diseases can “ride” into your grow room on you. So make sure you’re wearing clean clothes when you enter your grow room. That includes shoes that you might have walked through disease/pest laden outdoor soils with.
- Clean Up Spills, Runoff, Etc. – because so many molds and mildews and other disease problems can be caused by excess water/humidity, you’ll want to make sure you police your water use.
- Keep Plants Clean – make sure to pick up and clean and dead plant matter you find around. Also prune your plants when necessary to remove diseased leaves/branches. The less dead plant matter the less pests/diseases. Guaranteed.
Hopefully, by now, you’ve realized the pattern here?
In short, cleaner is better!
How Proper Hydroponics Base Nutrients Can Help Prevent Plant Pests & Diseases In Your Indoor Garden
It may seem like common sense, but the healthier your plants are the less disease and pests you’ll have to deal with.
That’s why we recommend using Advanced Nutrients plant-specific nutrients for your indoor garden.
For example, keeping your pH in the hydroponics the optimal range (called the ‘sweet spot’) of pH 5.5-6.3 by using pH Perfect Base Nutrients will help prevent your plants from becoming weak and will help them fight off foreign invaders.
If you are growing in coco coir, then you need coco-specific base nutrients. That’s because coco coir binds with iron & magnesium, which means your plants can become starved of these important nutrients if your base nutes don’t contain optimal amounts of it.
That’s why Advanced Nutrients has developed a full line of coco-specific base nutrients like pH Perfect Sensi Coco Grow A&B and pH Perfect Sensi Coco Bloom A&B that are specifically designed to contain extra (and exact) amounts of varied forms of iron for growing in coco coir.
These Hydroponics Supplements Can Help Your Plants Health Too
Also, you should consider giving your plants supplements to keep them healthy…
As discussed, Rhino Skin is a soluble potassium silicate formulation that strengthens plants physically. It fortifies plant cell walls and protects crops from heat, drought, disease, and other stresses.
(A nice bonus is that this silicon also increases production of trichomes and essential oils for more potent, higher-quality harvests with greater market value.)
How does Rhino Skin shield your crops? Silicon mortars up the spaces between cell walls—and even coats plant cell walls themselves—thickening them and hardening them against attacks and other external stresses.
It also defends plants, increasing crop viability, and reduces the incidence and severity of powdery mildew, gray mold, and other pathogens, large and small.
How To Get Your Plants Healthy Again After a Pest or Disease Attack
If you’re not using Advanced Nutrients base nutrients—with their dialed in calcium and magnesium levels—Sensi Cal-Mag Xtra is a necessity. Use it at the first sign of a Ca and Mg deficiency such as stunted growth and yellowing leaves.
And when your plants really get in trouble, reach for Revive. This concentrated combination of proprietary ingredients can turn around wilted, unhealthy plants fast. It contains rejuvenating substances that race into your plant’s roots and leaves, get rapidly distributed throughout its vascular system and flood the plant with healing nutrition.
Remember, Pests & Disease Are a Part of Growing. But You Can Be Prepared.
The bottom line is that dealing with pests and diseases is just something that every indoor grower will encounter.
You will eventually be attacked, even if you’ve done everything right.
That’s because fighting these foreign invaders is just a part of growing.
But knowledge is power and if you use these tips to prepare, you and your plants will be fine.
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