Do you have tiny spots on your lettuce leaves? Are your plants turning brown at the edges, wilting, or losing leaves? You might have a pest problem.
One of the major advantages of hydroponics over traditional gardening is that food can be grown INDOORS where there are fewer pests (and no wildlife sneaking in for a nibble)! That said, every now and then during the hottest days of the summer, our Tower Garden experiences a minor infestation. Fortunately, it is easily treated. We feel strongly about using only organic products for managing pests. You don't want to be ingesting chemicals when there are plenty of natural alternatives.
Use this guide to identify and treat insects while growing hydroponically.
(Image courtesy of Maine.gov)
These minuscule arachnids live on the underside of the leaves where they spin a lattice of web-like material. They suck the nutrient-rich fluid from your plants, which results in a stippled or mottled appearance. This stresses the plant, slows it's growth, and may even kill it.
We've found AzaMax to be an effective spider mite treatment for our Tower Garden. It contains the same active compound found in Neem Oil at a higher concentration. Just mix it in a handheld sprayer like this and they'll be gone in no time!
These tiny, oblong insects munch on tender plant tissue. One of the telltale signs of a thrip infestation is browning and wilting along the outer edges of leaves (see photo above). Look closely at your plants and you will see their slender, long, black bodies crawling around on the leaves.
We were amazed at how effective spinosad was at eliminating a thrip problem in our hydroponic lettuce. We mixed up Naturalyte according to the instructions on the bottle and sprayed down all of the plants in our Tower Garden, even those that didn't seem affected (just in case they were hiding). Within a day, we found a dusting of dead thrips that had fallen off the plants. They haven't been back since!
Spider mites and thrips are the only pests that we have encountered firsthand in our hydroponic garden. Depending on where you live, you may meet some other hungry insects. Visit our Pest Control collection for a complete listing of natural insecticides that target all kinds of pests.