low toxicity to mammals such as ourselves. Synthetic pyrethrins also work extremely well.
No matter what you use, read the label and follow the instructions.
Sunlight detergent or grated bars of Ivory soap are not the same as a product that has been developed for insect control. Give them a try if you want, but there is no guarantee they will be effective or they won’t damage the plant.
Examine your plants periodically throughout the winter. Look for webbing around the growing points, indicating the presence of spider mites. Green aphids will congregate under the leaves or on new growth.
Even if you eliminate all the active pests by treating in the fall, both spider mites and aphids lay resting eggs to survive the winter. When light levels start to come up again in February they can hatch out in the house and start the cycle over.
If you catch them quickly, they can be controlled before they cause too much damage. (I use the shower stall to spray down plants with insecticidal soap when it’s too cold to do it outside.)
Wouldn’t it be much easier to just buy new plants in spring? Yes, and I do that with most of my container plants. But there are always special varieties that aren’t so easy to come by.
There are also less tangible reasons. There’s a sense of continuity when I bring my cypress in again for the winter. Like my grandmother’s geranium, they’re a reminder in the depths of winter of the garden that was and will be again.
LEFT: Spider mites and other unwanted insects can be brought inside on outdoor