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How To Get Rid Of Soil Mites In Indoor Plants? (Identification, Causes & Solution)

A typical bug found in almost all houseplants is soil mites. If you notice white spots around the houseplant soil and pot edges, soil mites have infested your plant. Soil mites are more harmful to humans than to houseplants as they carry bacteria-causing diseases. So it is crucial to remove them fast.

Soil mites are found in houseplants because they feed on organic rotting materials. But we need to get rid of them.

So, in this article, we will see how to get rid of soil mites in indoor plants.

In general, you can eliminate soil mites in indoor plants by repotting the plant using a fresh soil mix. You can also spray natural ingredients like garlic, cinnamon, or dish soap over your plant to keep them at bay. Removing the top 2-3 inches of soil and showering your plant can also help.

In this article, we will explain how to get rid of soil mites in indoor plants so that you can remove them from your houseplants and stop their further occurrence.



What are soil mites?

Tiny white bugs in soil? How to get rid of soil mites

Before you start removing the soil mites, it is better to know a bit about what you are dealing with.

Soil mites are tiny bugs found chiefly in the soil. They belong to the arthropod family, having an exoskeleton and segmented body with legs.

There are wide varieties of mites found in this world, but if broken into groups, soil mites are of 4 types:

  • Mesostigmata: Predators that feed on small animals.
  • Astigmata: They stay in high nitrogen content soil.
  • Prostigmata: They have different patterns of feeding.
  • Private: They are more common than the others and feed on algae, fungi, dead plants, small live worms, and insects. They are also known as turtle mites as they have shell-like bodies. They live for 3-4 years, but they can live for 7 years if situations are ideal. These soil mites are the ones found in the houseplants placed in patios or decks. They love organic materials like old leaves, mold, and mosses.

How do you know there are soil mites in your plant?

You should observe your plant daily and very closely. Not only to check for soil mites but also pests.

When you look close, you will find excellent white spots moving on the soil’s surface and over the edges of the pot. It is a sign that soil mites have infested your plant soil.

Soil mites are not easy to identify unless you use a microscope. It is pretty challenging. They are tiny and can be present in colonies beneath 4 ounces of the soil. 

Why are soil mites found in the potting soil?

Soil mites have decomposition properties, and that is why they like staying in compost. They are always searching for organic decayed compost for their stay. 

Potting soil and compost are their ideal living places for food. They love to feed on rotten components like dead leaves, molds, and mosses available in the potting soil.

Why do you need to get rid of soil mites?

Generally, soil mites do not harm the plant much; instead, they are beneficial to the plants and soil. One reason behind getting rid of them is to increase the beauty of the plant, as they can make your plant look dull.

Another reason to remove them from the plant soil is when they are outnumbered. It would be a pest infestation.

If the infestation is so much that you see them crawling in massive armies over the soil surface, around the edges of the containers, or on the floor around your plant, you will need to get rid of them. 

Moreover, they carry all the bacteria, which can be easily transmitted to humans, causing diseases.



Benefits and dangers of soil mites

Before you declare soil mites as bad and remove them, it is crucial to understand why gardeners consider them to befriend the indoor plants. Of course, they are bad, but not much for the plants. 

Benefits

Let us discuss the benefits of soil mites first.

  • Soil mites feed on the bacteria, fungus, and destructive soil-dwelling creatures present in the soil. 
  • The presence of soil mites in the soil is an indication that your indoor plant soil is healthy.
  • Soil mites help the root system to breathe and absorb the water easily. So, they play a vital role in keeping the plant healthy.
  • When soil mites die, they start decomposing, which is another benefit to the soil.
  • Soil mites break down the residue in the soil they carry from other plants and animals. This keeps the soil healthy and makes it easy for the plants to absorb nutrients from the soil. The movement of the soil mites all over the soil helps in the even spreading of nutrients too.
  • They help in the availability of calcium in indoor plants and the soil as well. This keeps the plant’s cellular structure intact, especially when they are bearing fruits or flowers.

Dangers

Here is why you should get rid of the soil mites.

  • As soil mites are considered common houseplant bugs, they can be a nuisance, primarily when found in large numbers.
  • Soil mites carry bacteria that can cause diseases in humans.
  • They even carry parasite eggs like tapeworms which can be easily transmitted to humans.

For all these reasons, it is better to get rid of them. But otherwise, they can be beneficial for indoor plants.

How to remove soil mites in indoor plants?

If the infestation is not too much, you might not have to worry about it. The soil mites will eventually leave your soil. But if you are worried about the dangers and don’t want to wait for their departure, you can use the ways of getting rid of them.

Check and remove old dirt from the soil.

Soil mites love to stay in decayed compost and feed on rotting materials like leaves, molds, and mosses. Most potting soil contains peat moss which is another favorite of soil mites. Take the plant out and filter the soil.

While taking the plant out of the pot, be careful not to harm the roots. Sort through and check keenly to watch out for any other food that the soil might contain. 

Remove all the decaying materials like dead leaves and molds from the soil. Now replace the soil. Cover the roots adequately and water the plant well.

You can remove the top part of the soil and replace it with new topsoil. Most mites will be found in the top part of the soil. While doing this whole thing, do it outdoors to stop the mites from hiding in any other places in your home.

Repot your indoor plant

After you are done checking and inspecting the soil, it is time to repot. You can use the old soil, but using fresh soil would be better. Remove all the spent leaves, stems, and flowers from the plant before they start falling.

After you are done checking, get rid of the soil, which you cannot use at all. If the infestation is severe, you can use completely new soil for repotting.

Also, before planting, wash the roots very well to remove all the old soil from them.

Spray the plants and soil

After repotting the plant, you will need to stop the soil mites from coming back. You can use chemical insecticides containing pyrethrin to keep them away. 

But, some of us would like to use organic solutions more than chemical ones. There are some solutions available:

  1. Cinnamon: For making this solution, mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder with 4 cups of water. Leave it for some time to settle down. Apply this solution to the soil to prevent the soil mites from coming back.
  2. Garlic: For this solution, take 4 to 5 cloves and soak them in 1 gallon of water for 3 to 4 days. Now mix some pure water with it to dilute the solution. Pour it in a spray bottle and spray it to the soil and the base of the plant.
  3. Dish soap and Starch: Mix 3 to 4 drops of dish wash liquid soap and 4 tablespoons of starch with 5 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray it on the soil and base of the plant. If it got sprayed in any other portions of the plant, rinse it off.
  4. Hydrogen Peroxide mix: Add ½ cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to 2 cups of water. Mix well and pour this solution over the soil and drench the soil. This method will release the bubble. So, it is better to be performed over a sink or outdoors.

All these solutions will keep the soil mites at bay. If organic methods fail to help, you have to opt for chemical ones.

Maintain the plants well

After you get rid of the soil mites, it is time to maintain and care for the plants to ensure no mites can appear again. However, you might not entirely eliminate them, but you can maintain the plant to stop further mite infestation. For that:

  • Remove the dead leaves regularly from the plant before they start falling on the soil surface.
  • If you have soil stored for future use, store it away so that the soil mites don’t crawl into your house and then to your plant.
  • Do not let these old leaves, stems, or flowers decay on the soil surface.

Also read: How To Get Rid Of Bugs On Indoor Plants? (Identification+Remedy)



Final words

Soil mites are not too harmful to your indoor plants. Instead, they are very much responsible for keeping your plants healthy.

So before you think of removing them, consider the benefits and then take action. Moreover, when they are out of food supply in your soil, they will leave on their own. You won’t have to put any extra effort separately.

But of course, if you do not like the sight of soil mites or if the infestation is excessive, consider removing the dirt, repotting the plant, and spraying various effective and organic solutions.

If the infestation is too high and the organic sprays are not working, go for the commercial ones.

Take good care of your indoor plants and give them all their requirements adequately in time to keep them healthy.


Source: University of IllinoisGrowing Indoor Plants with SuccessAgriculture, and Natural Resources, University of CaliforniaMissouri Botanical Garden.