Fabric softener sheets: Insect repellent?

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by Junglekeeper, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Came across this interesting article on using fabric softener dryer sheets to repel fungus gnats: Science to the Grower: Give your potting mix the gentle and clean smell of freshly laundered linens while it repels insect pests.
    It goes on suggest the sheets may be effective against other pests.
    It would be fantastic if it helps in controlling spider mites. Does anyone have experience in such use with indoor plant containers?
     
  2. Tom Hulse

    Tom Hulse Active Member 10 Years

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    Because the gnats can just fly away, they can be deterred by just their simple preference of smell. Spider mites can't, so my guess is that the sheets would be ineffective against them.

    However spider mites are very easy to control in most all plants just by simply making sure to regularly wash both the top & underside of the leaves and also stems on a regular basis. No poison needed. Required frequency varies but for most houseplants it's often around once every 1-3 months. Since spider mites are everywhere, you don't accidentally catch them. Instead, an infestation is just an indicator of improper watering. We can't only water the soil and forget the leaves for most tropical houseplants. :)
     
  3. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I give my plants a wash in the shower every now and then. It keeps them nice and clean but it gets more challenging as the plants increase in size, making them difficult to get into the bathtub. I'm always on the lookout for new ideas to deal with pests so I wondered about the sheets. I'm having good luck with spider mites this year, perhaps because of the washings and the predatory mites that seem to have established a home in some of the plants.
    .
     
  4. Tom Hulse

    Tom Hulse Active Member 10 Years

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    Yeah, it's tough for the big ones. I have to use a hand truck for some of them. With a few, I'm able to reduce it down to one shower every 6 months of so, and some, like my Alocasia longiloba, can surprisingly go almost indefinitely without a dragging them outside for a shower. If you start keeping a real close eye out for spider mites on each plant, and keep records, you'll be able to see how far each one can go without a shower. Good culture and not letting the plant ever get too dried out helps extend that time. Whole-house humidifier attachments to your furnace can also extend that time by adding just a little extra moisture in the winter.

    It helps to think of spider mites and washing the plant leaves as part of the same thing. They are inextricably linked. It's simple cause and effect, and outside poison, pesticides, treatments, etc. have no place in that equation (they're ineffective anyway).
     

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