Orchid pests were the topic at the most recent meeting of my club, the Ocean State Orchid Society. We geeked out over images of revolting aphids, mealy bugs and everyone’s favorite, scale. One of the club’s most respected and knowledgable members, a retired Brown University chemistry professor with a large greenhouse and a penchant for Cattleyas, repeatedly stressed the dangers of using some of the more toxic chemicals on our plants, especially, in our homes. And he should know, right?
A couple of the other members said they had been using the basic, blue “Dawn” liquid dishwashing soap with terrific results. Using a 3 to 1 solution of water to soap, they spray their plants’ leaves and use a toothbrush if necessary, to gently clean the leaves. This works well if you treat the plants a second time a week later to remove the eggs.
Of course, all houseplant growers confront insect pests from time to time, so this remedy is not confined to orchids. I rushed right out and bought a bottle of Dawn. Apparently only the original blue formula works. I will let you know if it works for me.
The plain blue Dawn has been a constant companion of mine for years. I wouldn’t be without it. I figure that if it’s safe enough, and strong enough, to remove oil from the poor animals who suffer through oil spills, it’s an honored product in my kitchen.
My big issue with Dawn is that it is tested on animals, which is ironic, no?