We all spend many hours and usually a lot of money on our gardens and on the soils and nutrients required to keep the plants growing strong and looking beautiful. Do we ever stop to think about the bugs and creatures that may be lurking about in the soil that we try so hard to feed to keep our plants healthy?
Soil mites are not harmful to your soil and plants at all. Soil mites actually play an essential role in providing the nutrients required in the soil to keep plants healthy. They feed on organic-rich compost, not the plant’s healthy tissue. They help to recycle organic matter into nutrients for the plants.
These tiny common house bugs are found in soil either indoors in your potted plants or outdoors in your garden or vegetable patch. They are especially drawn to compost and decomposing matter, so they are likely to be found in your compost heap or in piles of leaves, or even decaying fruit on the ground.
Soil Mites Are Not Detrimental To Your Garden Soil And Plants
Soil mites can be a great addition to your garden as they feed on algae, fungi, dead plants, and dead insects. They are also drawn to and feed on organic matter like leaves, moss, and mold, but they do not feed on your plant’s roots or foliage.
Some mites are predatory and feed on other mites and other small harmful insects like gnats and thrips, which can be beneficial in reducing these pests in your garden!
Why Soil Mites Are Beneficial To Plants And Soil
Soil mites are very beneficial to your soil and plants as they act as tiny fertilizer producers for the soil. The soil mites feast on dead and decaying organic matter in the soil. Their excrement is basically compost and is thus a great advantage to break down compost and enrich your soil, making nutrients available to the plants.
The soil mites are particularly important in making calcium available to the plants in the soil, which is important for your plants’ cellular structure, especially when they are fruiting.
Then the movement of the mites throughout the soil also helps to distribute the nutrients throughout the soil, making the nutrients available to plants over a wider area in your garden bed.
How To Tell If You Have Soil Mites In My Soil And Plants
While these creatures are tiny, rarely longer than about 0.5 inches (2mm) long, you will be able to see the small white or brown mites crawling along the surface of the potted plant in your home.
In your garden, they may be harder to see, but they are generally found in any area where you have compost or rotting fruits and vegetables. While they might not look very nice crawling along the topsoil of your plant, the good news is that they are less likely to be attracted to your garden if it is kept clean and free from decay and rotting plant matter and more attracted to your compost heap.
When Should You Get Rid Of Soil Mites?
The only reason to get rid of these tiny creatures is to improve the overall look of your plants, as mites can detract from the appearance of your beautiful plant and garden that you have so lovingly cultivated!
There is a slim chance that soil mites carry parasites like tapeworms, but as soil mites don’t bite humans, there is no danger that you will be infected by these mites.
If you are worried about the threat of soil mites and parasites, read on to see how you can eliminate these little creatures from your potted plants and your garden.
How To Eliminate Soil Mites From Soil And Plants
If they are really a bother to you in your garden and potted plants, there are various ways that you can get rid of soil mites:
1. Leave Them Alone.
Once they have run out of food, they should find another home, hopefully far away from your garden! To make things easier for yourself, remove all decaying plant matter, rotting leaves, and rotting wood from your garden.
If you do have a compost heap and you find that the mites are chasing away your compost worms, try placing a few pieces of watermelon rind into the compost pile and leaving it there for a few days. It should attract the mites, and you will be able to discard a large number of them with your garbage!
2. Removing Old Soil.
Be extra careful when performing this step as you don’t want to damage the roots of your plants.
With your potted plants, take the plant and soil out of the pot and carefully remove as many mites as you can see. Again, be gentle with the roots and don’t damage them. Sift the soil and remove the rest of the mites.
Follow the same procedure in your garden, except, instead of removing the soil from the pot, remove a few inches of topsoil from the bed which the plant is in. Be careful that you don’t damage the plants. Mites only live in the topsoil, so don’t worry about digging any deeper.
3. Repotting, Replanting, And Adding New Soil.
After carefully inspecting the soil for any further mites, gently replace the plant and the soil back into its original position in the pot or the garden. You may have to top up the soil in the plant pot or the topsoil in the garden, but make sure there is a good amount of cover over the plant.
Now would be a good time to trim back and prune the plant and get rid of any broken or diseased branches and leaves to prevent creating a new pile of decaying matter on the ground to lure the mites back! Make sure to throw the discarded branches and leaves into the trash this time round to avoid any wayward mites from re-infesting the compost heap.
4. Spray The Soil And Plants With Organic Sprays
A good preventative measure in the fight against mites is to spray the soil with an organic solution to prevent them from returning to your plants once you replant or repot them. Here are a few ideas for deterring the mites without harming your plants:
- Soapy water. Mix 3 drops of liquid dishwashing soap with 4 tablespoons of starch and 5 cups of water. Spray directly onto the soil and the base of the plant. Be careful not to spray the plant with any of the solutions. If you do manage to spray any on the plant, rinse off immediately with clean water.
- Garlic spray. Submerge 3 to 4 cloves of garlic in 1 gallon (4.5 liters) of water for 3 to 4 days. Dilute with water, then spray directly onto the soil and base of the plants.
- Cinnamon spray. Dilute 1 teaspoon of cinnamon into 4 cups of water. Leave the solution until the cinnamon has settled. Pour the solution directly onto the soil. This should kill the mites and keep bugs away.
- Chemical sprays. As a last resort and you cannot get rid of the difficult mites, contact your local pest control specialists for help in getting rid of them.
5. Regular Garden Maintenance
Planning regular maintenance on your garden and potted plants should help to prevent and control another mite infestation. Keep all your garden compost in one pile in your garden to hopefully attract and keep the mites contained in one area of your garden. Spray the base of your garden plants and around the potted plants regularly to keep the mites away!
Rake up the leaves and debris in your garden regularly and keep your gutters clear from fallen leaves if you have a tree near your house. By checking your plants and performing basic regular maintenance, you should keep the problem under control.
Mites are here to stay, and it’s a personal preference whether you would like to keep them in your potted plants and garden or get rid of them.
They do have a purpose in your garden and can be beneficial in the soil by providing essential nutrients to your plants, but perhaps having creepy crawlies running around your favorite plants is not for you, and they have to be removed.
There are various methods of preventing mites from living in your garden and potted plants, so by keeping watch over your garden, you should enjoy a critter-free environment without too much trouble.
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