Thrips on Monstera plants can be a concerning problem because of the damage these pests can cause. Additionally, thrips reproduce quickly which means a few bugs can turn into a full-blown infestation within a matter of days. So, if you spot thrips on your Monstera, it is important to take action.
How to get rid of thrips on Monstera? To get rid of thrips on your Monstera, immediately isolate the plant to avoid spreading the pest problem to other houseplants.
Then spray the thrips off with water. It may take 2 or 3 tries to get them all. You can also use neem oil or insecticidal soap to eradicate the thrips.
What are Thrips?
Thrips are common houseplant pests that can do quite a bit of damage. They are very tiny which makes them hard to spot. Additionally, they usually hide on the undersides of leaves and the junctions between the stem and leaves.
It is also worth noting that there are thousands of species of thrips so you usually won’t see the same ones.
What makes them damaging to Monstera plants (and other plants in general) is that they are sap sucking insects.
This means they feed on your plant, steaking its sap (or internal juices).
The problem here is that thrips grow very quickly in population. So, the damage they inflict exponentially grows by the day.
When they take too much of your Monstera’s sap, they will overwhelm your plant and eventually suck the life out it.
The reason why thrips grow in number very fast is because they have short life cycles. So within in few days, they emerge from eggs, turn into larvae then adults who lay more eggs.
It is worth noting that female thrips are the dangerous ones.
They’re the ones that lay the eggs. And they will lay a lot of them each time. More importantly, the females don’t need the males to reproduce.
Signs of Thrips on Monstera Plants
Unless you have a very keep eye and regularly inspect your plant, there’s a good chance you’re not going to spot the thrips because of their miniscule size.
Instead, you’ll realize that your Monstera has a pest problem because of the symptoms it is presenting.
Thus, it is important to be aware of the different symptoms of thrips damage and infestation.
- Leaf discoloration. This can be yellow or brown leaves. It can also be patches on leaves.
- Drooping, wilting or curling leaves
- Black spots on the undersides of foliage. They usually hide here.
- Leaf edges has malformations.
Once you suspect thrips or other pest problems, use a magnifying glass and thoroughly inspect the laves on both sides. You also want to look at the little nooks and crannies where the bugs like to hide.
Thrips have wings but they’ll jump more than they can fly. So, you’ll see them hop around instead of fly up like whiteflies.
Where Do Thrips Come From?
The most common cause of thrips is when you get a new plant.
This can be from the nursery, garden center or in a plant exchange. Just as importantly, it does not need a full-sized plant to get to your home.
Young Monstera plants can have thrips. And so can Monstera cuttings. Therefore, it is always a good idea to inspect a new plant.
I always quarantine any new plant I get until I’m sure it does not have any pests or diseases before putting it alongside my other houseplants. This way, you avoid infecting your entire collection.
That said, thrips can also occur when your Monstera is not in tip-top shape.
In general, Monsteras are quite resilient to thrips and many pests. But if it is stressed, in shock, sick or weak, it becomes more vulnerable to them.
Therefore, making sure it gets all its requirements is very important.
How to Get Rid of Thrips on Monstera (Treatment & Prevention)
In case your Monstera experiences thrips, it is very important to take immediate action.
Because these insects grow in number quickly, each day you let it be, the problem gets bigger. And the larger the infestation, the more damage they cause.
Just as importantly, it takes much less time to get rid of a few thrips thana full-blown pest infestation which usually takes several week to resolve.
Isolate Your Monstera
The first thing to always do upon suspecting thrips on your Monstera is to isolate it.
Thrips can spread from plant to plant. They’ll jump and infect other plants that are near it. Therefore, it is very important to move the affected Monstera and keep it away from all your other plants.
Inspect the Other Plants
Once you have the Monstera that’s infected with thrips isolated, check your other plants around it.
Because you don’t know when the thrips started or if it actually began with your Monstera, you’ll need to inspect all the other plants that were near it.
Look for any signs of thrips or damage.
Here, I like to err on the side of caution and suspect any plant with abnormalities including leaf discoloration or deformities.
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Spray the Thrips Off with Water
This is always my fist line of defense for pests.
It is simple, quick and can get lots of the bugs in one go. I’ll also repeat a few times to see if I can completely get rid of the thrips just through spraying with water.
Here, you can use the sink, a showerhead or the garden hose.
A lot depends on how big your Monstera is.
You’ll also want to choose right spot to do it.
For smaller plants the sink or a basin works well. For medium sized to larger Monsteras, a suggest the bathtub or shower. You can also take it outside and use the garden hose.
You don’t want to just spray anywhere since you’ll get everything wet. Plus, you want the thrips to drain somewhere.
Avoid using a very strong stream of water since it can damage the precious leaves of your Monstera.
After spraying with water, make sure to let the leaves dry and the soil drain before you put the plant back in its original spot.
Apply Neem Oil
If the water spray gets rid of the thrips after 2 to 4 tries, I’m done
However, there are times that a few bugs will still be left.
I like spraying them off with water because even if I am not able to eradicate all the pests, I would have been able to get rid of majority of them.
Note that with thrips, you want to get rid of all of them. This includes the eggs, larvae and adults
If you leave any one of these, the cycle will eventually start over in a few days because the eggs will grow into larvae then adults and lay more eggs.
Similarly, larvae not only suck the sap from your Monstera but also turns into egg laying adults.
Of course, the adults likewise lay eggs and feed on your plant.
Thus, you need to get all of them.
And that’s what the neem oil is for.
Neem oil is usually the next stage of treatment. You can also go with insecticidal soap if you wish instead of neem oil.
The thing with neem oil is you want to be careful using it.
That’s because it can damage or kill your plant (after it eradicates the thrips). I had to learn this the hard way.
The first time I used neem oil, I did not dilute it enough. So, while the neem oil fixe the bug problem, my plant’s leaves eventually turned color, because light yellow and translucent in color.
Then the plant deteriorated and died.
Neem oil is potent.
Just as importantly you have 2 options. You can get the pre-mixed neem oil which usually comes in ready to use spray bottles or something similar.
Or you can get the concentrated neem oil. These come in jugs.
The difference is the pre-mixed neem oil can be used out of the box. It has been diluted. However, it comes out more expensive since you’re paying for packaging as well as the water that’s used to dilute it.
The concentrated jugs give you more volume and come out considerably cheaper.
But you have to dilute it yourself.
Thus, make sure to dilute it enough since neem oil that’s too concentrated is too potent for most plants, including Monstera’s to handle.
You can use this neem oil spray recipe for plants to get rid of thrips and other pests.
- 1 teaspoon of neem oil
- 1 liter of water
- ½ teaspoon of liquid soap (this is to bind water with the oil although the soap helps with bugs as well)
Put this in a spray bottle and shake well to mix.
Then use the spray on the affected areas.
I like to be conservative on using neem oil because of my past experience. Although I know some growers who are more aggressive. Therefore, you can go up to:
- 5 teaspoons of neem oil
- 1 liter of water
- 1 teaspoon of liquid soap
Whichever recipe you use, make sure to test it on a small part of the plant first. If there are no side effect in that spot after 24 hours, you can start treatment.
If there some damage to the leaf section, dilute the neem oil further.
Some plants are more sensitive than others.
After you spray the plant, allow the solution to dry. Keep the plant in a shaded place away from sunlight as the neem oil makes it prone to damage.
Insecticidal Soap to Kill Thrips
Another option to neem oil is to use insecticidal soap spray.
The process is very similar to neem oil. And many people will recommend dish soap which you can use.
Although I prefer to use pure castile liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s).
This recipe is to make a 2% soap solution. Although you’ll see other recipes on the web as well. While they use different amounts, the ingredients are usually the same.
So, the variations are mostly about the concentration of the soap to the water.
In any case, here’s the insecticidal soap recipe for thrips on Monstera.
- 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s castile liquid soap
- 1 liter of water.
Put it in a spray bottle and shake well.
You can also add ½ a tablespoon of vegetable oil if you want although this is optional. The oil will help the solution stick to the leaves so it stays there longer.
This helps because both neem oil and insecticidal soap are only effective if they come into contact with the bugs.
The downside to using oil is that it will go rancid after a while. So, you’ll want to make small batches at a time just enough to use.
Because the solution needs to come into contact with the thrips, don’t just spray the entire plant with it. That’s not helpful.
Instead, target the affected areas.
Spray once a week and keep repeating until there are no more bugs. For more serious monstera thrips cases spray the plant once every 4 days.
Again, test the spray solution first before you go all out.
Remove Affected Monstera Leaves
Once you’ve eradicated the thrips, it is time to remove the affected leaves.
These look unsightly. But more importantly they can affect the health of your Monstera.
Additionally, you don’t want your plant to keep expending energy in trying to revive these leaves. Instead, you want it to focus on growing new ones.
Since damaged leaves, including yellow or brown foliage won’t turn green again, just prune them off.
Make sure to sanitize the blade of or your shears or scissors before making any cuts.
Propagate Healthy Stem Cuttings
In some cases, your monstera may not be saved. No matter how you try, the pests seem to keep coming and the plant seems to keep deteriorating.
At some point, you’ll need to have a plan B in order to save the plant.
The best option here is to propagate healthy stem cuttings.
To do so, look for healthy stem cuttings on your Monstera. You can to find sections with at least one node along with one leaf.
If you’re not sure, take more than one cutting. This will give you a few cuttings that can grow into new plants.
Take off the cuttings and root them in water or soil.
For larger stems and leaves, I like to directly plant them in potting mix. But either way works.
It will take about 3 to 4 weeks for the nodes to root. From there, another few months before new leaves will sprout.
Clean the Leaves Regularly
Finally, one last tip to try and prevent thrips on Monstera.
In addition to keeping the plant healthy so it naturally resists thrips and other pests, it is a good idea to regularly clean its leaves.
Use a dame cloth and wipe down the leaves to remove dust.
Dust attracts pests so this is a good way to keep them at bay.