The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: pest free plant  (Read 5918 times)

Offline moccacake

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 20
    • View Profile
pest free plant
« on: 17/02/2007 16:52:39 »
is there a plant that can be placed indoors that doesn't attract mosquitoes or other disgusting insects?


 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
pest free plant
« Reply #1 on: 17/02/2007 18:09:40 »
Good question.

I wonder if there is !

Cos, don't plants need to attract insects to aid in pollination ?.....and yet..I am sure there must be a cross breed of some sort which has been created to be anti-insect !!........well..maybe not ant-insect but perhaps not an attractant to insects.

Lets hope a passing botanist calls in to answer.
 

Offline Karen W.

  • Moderator
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *****
  • Posts: 31653
  • Thanked: 5 times
  • "come fly with me"
    • View Profile
pest free plant
« Reply #2 on: 17/02/2007 18:25:48 »
I always Bought those lovely air ferns, as they seemed to stay green and Pest free!! LOL
 

another_someone

  • Guest
pest free plant
« Reply #3 on: 17/02/2007 21:53:07 »
Not all plants are pollinated by insects - some are pollinated by birds, others by bats, and others just on the wind.

I am not aware that mosquitoes are significant pollinators - they seem to be more interested in the carnal pleasures of the flesh (or at least of the blood) than the nectar of the flowers.
 

Offline WylieE

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 236
    • View Profile
pest free plant
« Reply #4 on: 18/02/2007 00:35:08 »
Right, many plants are pollinated by things other than insects (some plants even pollinate themselves or let the wind do it).

 I would find it hard to imagine that there are any completely "pest free" plants- because it would be like leaving (ha ha) out a bag of sugar on the floor and hoping no insects would come and eat it.  It is a war that has been going on for a long, long time.  Insects try to help themselves to the sugar the plants make - sometimes plants take advantage of this and use the insects to do them a favor (pollinating) but sometimes the plants just fight back with chemicals and other tricks to keep the insects from eating them. 

  I would say the second category might be what you are looking for . . off the top of my head, I would recommend chrysanthemums, they produce a compound that keeps insects away.  There are lots of others- I'll look some up and post them here- I can't think of any that are also good houseplants (can live a long time with low light and tolerate erratic watering).

  As a side note, male mosquitoes actually do pollinate some flowers (and I think females when they aren't eating us).  I think one of the radio shows covered this??- at least I remember hearing people humming to attract mosquitoes and I can't imagine too many other radio shows nuts enough to do that.  I'll also look up the flowers that are pollinated by mosquitoes so you can be sure to avoid those.

  There are plants advertised as mosquito repellant- but I really doubt they work that way- even citronella grass (aka lemon grass in another post) the plant that citronella oil comes from- doesn't repell mosquitoes well, without crushing the leaves to get out the oil.  (and I think this plant is very hard to grow)


Colleen

edit- chrysanthemums make pyrethrum (an insecticide)
« Last Edit: 18/02/2007 01:34:19 by WylieE »
 

Offline WylieE

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 236
    • View Profile
pest free plant
« Reply #5 on: 18/02/2007 05:05:57 »
So I'll ramble on a bit more:
I still think there is no "pest-free" plant, but I think you could reduce your chances of bringing in pests. 

Most houseplants are probably kept as houseplants because they don't attract bugs- if they did, people would not likely keep propagating them and bringing them into their house (OK, SOME people might like it, but most wouldn't) so I'd pick a plant that you like, fits your level of ability, maybe avoid some of the really "smelly" flowering plants (more on that below).  Quarantine your plant for 2-4 weeks before putting it with your other plants- one of the most common ways to get an infestation is through a new plant.  Get a sprayer with soapy water ready, and if all else fails, buy some pyrethrin.  The point about matching it with your level of ability is important- healthy plants do a much better job of keeping away all sorts of nasties.

 Personally, I'm REALLY good at killing plants so for "pet" plants I keep cacti and I have never had any problems with critters (and I'm very likely to bring them home). 

  I guess the absolute safest bet might be chrysanthemums, they aren't exactly indoor plants, but they are fairly hearty and might be able to handle it.  Other plants from that family, Asteraceae, also might be worth checking out- although it doesn't look like there are many houseplants in that group. 

Plants to avoid:  Any plant that gives off phenylacetaldehyde.  This is a compound produced by plants to attract all kinds of insects for pollination, bees, butterflies, house flies, moths . . .it looks like most nectar eating insects have learned that this compound means there is a free meal nearby.  Kind of like an "eat at Joes" sign.  So what gives off this compound?  Lots of plants- in fact the only thing I can find that is "low" in phenylacetaldehyde content is Bermuda grass- not a very exciting house plant- unless you want to practice golf in the house.  But we can also smell phenylacetaldehyde and it is a smell that is associated with flowers- so probably avoid the really "flowery" smelling plants.
Hope this helps- did you have a particular plant you were thinking of getting?
Colleen   
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

pest free plant
« Reply #5 on: 18/02/2007 05:05:57 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums