20170503A Nick Harris, Flickr.jpg
Spray your plants with water to control spider mites. Photo: Nick Harris, Flickr

On a nice spring day, put houseplants sensitive to spider mites (Tetranychus urticae)—tiny little dustlike arthropodsoutdoors and hose them down. This includes such plants as bananas, brugmansias, impatiens, ivies, palms and scheffleras. It needn’t be a particularly warm day as long as it’s above freezing. No, none of those plants actually likes cold temperatures, but they won’t be outside long enough to suffer from the cold.

If the water comes from an outdoor hose, it’ll be cold too, but don’t worry about the water temperature either. The spraying will only last a minute at most, after all.

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Spider mites look like tiny moving dust particles and are often accompanied by webs. Photo: Rasbak, Wikimedia Commons

Spray leaves above and below, and hose down the stems too, knocking the little beasts off. Then bring the plants back indoors to warmer conditions. Job done!

How It Works

Fresh water raining down on spider mites knocks them off their host plant, reducing their population to innocuous levels. Hosing down plants simply replicates Mother Nature’s way of dealing with spider mites: she rains on them.

Yes, the population will start to build up again, but it won’t be long before you can put the same plants outdoors for the summer and let Mother Nature do her job by sending cleansing rain showers their way, keeping them spider mite free.

Into every life a little rain must fall… and thank goodness for that!20170503A Nick Harris, Flickr

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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