It’s not always bad to have a spider or two in your hydroponic garden. That is unless it’s a spider mite. While spiders may take some nibbles of vegetables here and there, the spider mite is there solely to feast on your plants. Here’s what you need to know about spotting spider mites, ridding them from your hydroponic garden, and preventing them from coming in the first place.
What Are Spider Mites?
Spider mites get their name from the web they spin. They are a mite, not a spider, but are a relative to spiders, ticks, and scorpions. Spider mites are small, roughly around a millimeter in size, and can vary in color. They live in colonies, typically hanging out on the underneath side by of the plant leaves. If you don’t monitor your hydroponic garden for pests regularly, you may first notice spider mites by their web.
A few spider mites are one thing, but a few can turn into a lot, really fast. Females can lay a few hundred eggs, that hatch in about 3 days. They then take about a week to reach maturity and lay eggs of their own.
How Spider Mites Affect Your Hydroponic Garden
Spider mites are in your hydroponic garden to set up a live-in buffet. They bite into plant leaves and suck out the sappy plant fluids. In addition to the obvious harm that causes your plant, it also leaves them more susceptible to disease. Mites will keep feeding on the leaves causing them to yellow and eventually die. Damage can start slow, increasing as the number of spider mites grows.
In addition to killing your plant’s vegetation, they also leave that nasty web on your fruits and vegetables.
How To Save Your Hydroponic Garden From Spider Mites
Remove infested plants or plant parts
The first thing to determine after noticing spider mites is how bad they have infested your hydroponic garden. If you only notice a few mites, you may be able to prune out infected parts of the plant or just remove the infected plant from the garden to solve the issue. If you have a larger infestation you’ll have to take other measures.
With small infestations, sometimes a soapy spray is all you need to rid your garden of spider mites. You can mix up a batch or purchase some insect killing soap already mixed up.
Neem oil is a plant-safe organic option for ridding your hydroponic garden of spider mites. Just mix with water and use as a foliar spray.
If you have a heavy infestation you may want to step it up a notch with Azamax. The active ingredient in Azamax is a single compound that is also derived from the neem tree. It’s been found to work even better when used along with neem oil. It’s also foliar spray that is mixed with water.
Adding Predatory Bugs to Your Garden
Not all mites are bad for your garden and actually, some may help you out. Though not my preferred method (my wife isn’t letting in a bug no matter how helpful), introducing predatory mites or other predatory bugs like ladybugs to your garden will eventually rid you of spider mites. If you’ve tried this route let us know how it went down in the comments.
How To Prevent Spider Mites In Your Hydroponic Garden
As with most issues, preventing is much easier than treating. Spider mites are often brought in on new plants introduced into your hydroponic garden. Before adding any plants from the outside, make sure to check them over for signs of spider mites or any other pest. You can reduce the need for new plants by germinating seeds or cloning.
Another layer of protection for an indoor hydroponic garden is a grow tent. Using a grow tent creates a barrier between your hydroponic garden and unwanted pests like spider mites from visiting.
Spider mites enjoy a warm environment so keeping your garden temperature lower, in the upper 60’s can help deter spider mite colonies. They also like dusty conditions, so you may consider rinsing your plants if you notice some dust buildup.
While spider mites can ruin your garden, taking some simple steps can save your plants. Due to how fast they reproduce, it’s really important to take action quickly. By checking over your hydroponic garden regularly, you can spot spider mites and other pest problems while they are easier to treat.