How to Get Rid of Thrips and Keep your Plants Clean and Healthy 

how to get rid of thrips

Whether you're tending to an expansive outdoor garden or caring for indoor plants, it's crucial to watch out for thrips. These pests come in various types and are notorious for leaving a trail of damage characterized by curled leaves, stunted growth, and increased susceptibility to plant viruses. No plant is truly safe from their reach, and effective thrip prevention and control can be the key to keeping them out of our gardens.

In this guide, we'll dive into the challenges posed by thrips, offer insights into their behaviors, the damage they cause, and the strategies for mitigating their impact. Our goal is to equip gardeners with the knowledge and tools necessary to protect their green sanctuaries, ensuring the continued flourish of plant life free from the detrimental effects of these pervasive pests.

What Are Thrips? Understanding These Pests

Have you ever noticed your plants looking a bit off, with some mysterious silvering on the leaves or perhaps some tiny, almost invisible insects darting around? These might be thrips!

Thrips feed by piercing the plant tissue and sucking out the plant sap, which can cause a whole host of issues for our leafy companions. This feeding frenzy doesn't just damage plants by leaving them looking a bit worse for wear, it can stunt their growth, reduce their vigor, and in severe cases, even lead to their untimely demise. They are known to attack a variety of indoor and outdoor plants, making no distinction between herbaceous and woody plants, affecting everything from ornamental flowers to staple vegetables. Thrips are a common concern for gardeners and for valid reason as they can quickly spread from one plant to another if not controlled.

Besides the physical damage they inflict on plants by piercing and sucking plant juices, they're also notorious for spreading plant viruses. These tiny insects can act as vectors, carrying viruses from one plant to another, exacerbating the challenges gardeners face in keeping their gardens healthy and vibrant. The presence of thrips on plants, especially in large numbers, can be difficult to control and can quickly affect different plants, spreading viruses and causing significant plant damage.

Their life cycle also adds to the challenge. Starting from eggs laid inside plant tissue, thrips can hatch and grow through several nymph stages before becoming fully fledged adults ready to continue the cycle. This process can happen quite quickly, meaning populations of many thrips can explode in what feels like an instant.

Lost Coast Plant Therapy is effective against thrips and can help control their population, but more importantly, when applied as a preventative, it can help prevent thrips from appearing in the first place. See more about our product and how it works here.

Identifying Thrips

Identifying thrips and the signs of their presence early on can make a huge difference in managing their impact on your garden. So, what should you be on the lookout for?

Look for leaves with a silvery, speckled appearance or and notice if your flowers and leaves are distorted or discolored. Another sign is the presence of tiny black specks on the leaves - this is thrips' waste, a clear indicator that they've been feasting on your plants.

Another way to identify thrips and their damage involves closely inspecting the underside of leaves, shake the plant gently to see if thrips fall onto a white piece of paper, and monitor plants for signs of distress or stunting growth, which could indicate their presence. You can also use sticky traps. These can catch adult thrips as they jump or fly from plant to plant, giving you a clear sign that it's time to take action.

Identifying thrips early is crucial because the sooner you start addressing the issue, the better your chances of minimizing their impact. Keep an eye out for the signs of thrips damage and be ready to inspect your plants closely at the first hint of trouble.

Types of Thrips

There are many different types of thrips, with species such as the Western flower thrips, onion thrips, as well as avocado and citrus thrips, demonstrating the wide range of plants these pests can affect. However, among the many species of thrips out there, a few stand out for being particularly notorious in both home gardens and commercial agriculture. Let's focus on two of the most common ones.

Flower Thrips: They are particularly fond of flowers, hence the name, but don't let their preference fool you – they're not picky eaters. Flower thrips are capable of inflicting considerable damage across a diverse spectrum of plant species, including roses, daisies, and chrysanthemums, as well as agricultural crops like grapes and soybeans.

Onion Thrips: As you might guess, onion thrips have a particular fondness for onions. But again, their palate extends beyond this singular preference, encompassing a broad array of plants. They are known to infest leeks, garlic, and shallots, closely related to onions, as well as a wider range of vegetables including cabbage, beans, and cucumbers. Even ornamental plants are not spared, with varieties such as gladioli and even roses also falling victim to their feeding.

While both types can be similar in size and color—ranging from pale yellow to dark brown—onion thrips are generally more slender and have a more pointed abdominal end compared to the more rounded abdomen seen in flower thrips. Behaviorally, onion thrips tend to be more prevalent on the foliage and closer to the base of plants, in contrast to flower thrips, which are more frequently found within blooms. These differences are critical for accurate identification and management of these pests in diverse agricultural and horticultural settings.

The Life Cycle of Thrips: From Eggs to Adults

Thrips have a somewhat fascinating (if you can call it that when you're not pulling your hair out over them) life cycle that begins when the female thrips lay their eggs in plant tissue. These aren't just any spots, though, they prefer the tender, juicy parts of the plant that offer their offspring the best start in life. 

After the eggs hatch, the emerging nymphs start feeding immediately. These young thrips go through a couple of developmental stages, growing and shedding their exoskeletons as they go. These nymph stages are crucial because this is when thrips are most vulnerable. They're out and about, feeding on your plants, which makes it the perfect time to intervene.

Eventually, these nymphs mature into adults, ready to reproduce and continue the cycle. This can happen surprisingly quickly – in as little as two weeks under the right conditions. That's why thrips populations can explode seemingly overnight, turning a minor annoyance into a full-blown infestation before you know what hit you.

Why does this matter for us gardens? Knowing the their life cycle stages helps us target our interventions more effectively. For example, interventions aimed at disrupting the egg-laying process can prevent new generations from taking hold. Likewise, understanding when thrips are most vulnerable can help us time our use of controls, like our Natural Plant Wash, to hit them when they're most susceptible.

Preventing Thrips on Plants: Strategies for a Healthy Garden

Now that we understand how thrips wreak havoc in our gardens, let’s talk about how to keep our plants safe from these tiny invaders. Prevention is key because, let's face it, it’s always better to stop pests in their tracks before they start their damage.

Keep Your Garden Clean: Thrips thrive in cluttered conditions. Fallen leaves, weeds, and dead plant material can all serve as breeding grounds. Regularly tidying up your garden by removing these potential homes can go a long way in preventing thrips infestations.

Monitor Your Plants: Keeping an eye on your plants is crucial. The sooner you spot the signs of thrips, the sooner you can take action. Regular inspection of your plants, especially the undersides of leaves can help you catch these pests before they become a significant problem.

Prune Regularly: Keeping your plants trimmed and tidy not only makes your garden look beautiful but also helps prevent disease and pest infestations.

Water and Fertilize Appropriately: Overly stressed plants are more susceptible to thrips damage. Ensure your plants are well-watered and properly fertilized. A healthy plant is more capable of withstanding pest attacks and bouncing back from any damage they might incur. It's like giving your plants their own set of armor against thrips.

How to Get Rid Of Thrips with Lost Coast Plant Therapy

Our Natural Plant Protector offers a safe and effective solution for preventing and controlling thrips without disturbing the rest of your gardens ecosystem. It works by suffocating and dehydrating thrips upon contact without leaving any harmful residues behind. This action stops thrips from causing more damage to your plants. And because it's made from natural and organic ingredients, you can use it with peace of mind, knowing you’re not introducing any nasty chemicals into your garden or home. See our Ingredients here and How It Works for more information.

Lost Coast Plant Therapy respects the balance of nature. We all know how important bees, ladybugs, and praying mantises are to our gardens, they're the good guys, working tirelessly to keep harmful pests at bay. Our Natural Plant Wash can control thrips, aphids, spider mites, russet mites, powdery mildew and more, all without harming these beneficial insects or pose risks to pets, people, and the planet. And yes, for those of you who are wondering, Lost Coast Plant Therapy is OMRI listed! This means it’s certified organic and meets strict standards for organic gardening, ensuring it’s environmentally friendly and safe. 

Application Techniques

To truly keep thrips at bay, there are a few best practices you'll want to follow:

Thorough Coverage Is Key: When dealing with thrips, you want to make sure to apply liberally. Make sure to pay special attention to the undersides of leaves. Thorough coverage ensures that Lost Coast Plant Therapy comes into contact with as many pests as possible, maximizing its effectiveness.

Frequency Matters: Regular application is crucial, especially during peak thrip season. Following the label instructions in your bottle for frequency will help maintain a protective barrier around your plants, discouraging thrips from making themselves at home. Remember, consistency is your friend in the battle against pests.

Boosting the Formula: While Lost Coast Plant Therapy works best in the concentration recommended on the bottle, there are times when you might encounter a particularly stubborn infestation. In these cases, boosting the formula can give you the extra firepower you need. This can mean increasing the concentration slightly to 2oz per gallon or adding 1 oz of isopropyl alcohol to the mix. However, it's important to test this boosted mix on a small area first, ensuring it doesn't harm your plants. Always follow the label directions and only boost as a last resort, after you've tried the recommended application rate. See Instructions here

By applying Lost Coast Plant Therapy correctly and consistently, you're not just fighting off thrips, you're also nurturing a healthy, vibrant garden that thrives in harmony with nature. 

FAQ's on Controlling Thrips

How can I identify the presence of thrips on my indoor and outdoor plants?

Thrips are tiny insects that cause visible damage to plants, such as silvering or speckling on leaves and stunted growth. To confirm their presence, look for these signs or use a magnifying glass to spot them on the underside of leaves.

Are certain plants more susceptible to thrips?

Yes, thrips tend to prefer flowering plants and are particularly common on host plants like roses, gladioli, and various vegetables. However, thrips may also affect a wide range of both herbaceous and woody plants.

How do I prevent thrips from spreading to other plants?

Preventing thrips from spreading involves regular monitoring, removing infested plants or parts of plants, and employing natural control methods like applying Lost Coast Plant Therapy to help control affected areas. Sanitation and removal of plant debris can also reduce their numbers.

Can thrips survive the winter?

Yes, thrips can survive the winter in plant debris or soil, or on perennial plants. Clearing garden debris can help reduce their numbers in the spring.

How often should I apply Lost Coast Plant Therapy to control thrips effectively?

Follow the label instructions on your Lost Coast Plant Therapy bottle. Regular applications at the first sign of thrips or as a preventative measure is best. For severe infestations, the formula can be boosted as described in the product instructions, but always test on a small area first.

Can thrips cause plant viruses and other plant diseases?

Yes, thrips are vectors for several plant viruses. Controlling thrips with Lost Coast Plant Therapy can help prevent the spread of these diseases.

How can I protect new plants from thrips?

Quarantine new plants before introducing them to your garden or home to check for thrips and other pests. Apply a preventative treatment of Lost Coast Plant Therapy to new plants to control anything that might be present and protect them from potential infestations.

Are there any plants that repel thrips or are resistant to them?

Some plants may be less attractive to thrips, but no plant is completely resistant. Implementing good cultural practices and applying Lost Coast Plant Therapy can help protect plants that are typically more susceptible to thrips damage.

How do I apply Lost Coast Plant Therapy to control thrips on houseplants?

For houseplants, ensure thorough coverage of all plant parts, particularly the undersides of leaves where thrips hide. Lost Coast Plant Therapy is safe to use around the home when applied according to the label directions. See our full guide for healthy houseplants here.

What should I do if I find thrips on my vegetable plants?

Apply Lost Coast Plant Therapy liberally, ensuring thorough coverage of the plant, including the underside of leaves. Our Natural Plant Protector is safe to use on vegetable plants, helping control thrips without contaminating your produce with harmful chemicals.

See more FAQ's here.


In our journey through the garden, we've uncovered the hidden world of thrips, those tiny adversaries of our beloved plants. We've seen how these common garden pests can affect everything from vibrant outdoor backyard gardens to serene indoor plant sanctuaries.

Yes, thrips can be difficult, but they're not invincible, and a thriving garden is absolutely within reach. Integrated pest management, which combines preventative care with targeted, safe interventions like applying our Natural Plant Protector, is an effective solution for controlling soft-bodied pests and maintaining plant health and garden vitality.

Remember, the goal isn't just to combat pests but to foster a garden ecosystem that is resilient, healthy, and balanced. Lost Coast Plant Therapy plays a crucial role in this by offering a safe, effective way to control pests without harming the bees, ladybugs, pets, or the environment that make our gardens vibrant.

Additional Resources

Thrips - University of Idaho

Onion Thrips - Wisconsin Horticulture

Onion Thrips - University of Wisconsin - Madison Vegetable Crop Entomology

Thirps: Help for the Home Gardener - Missouri Botanical Garden

Thrips - Texas Extension Entomology

Thrips: Biology and Rose Pests - NC State Extension

Thrips Indoors - Missouri Botanical Garden