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  • The Halachot of Shmitta and Yovel

Treating an infested houseplant during Shmitta

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Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Nisan 6, 5782
Question
Dear Rabbi, I have an infested (mealybugs) houseplant that is together with a few more plants in the same pot. What is permissible to do to save that plant, or at least the other ones that are not infested yet. Can I treat it with washing off and spraying the infested plant? If I may not treat it, can I rip out just that plant to save the other ones? Or do I need to throw away the whole pot? Thank you
Answer
ב"ה Shalom, The laws of Shemitta apply in the fields outside your home. If when you refer a "household plant", you mean that the plant is in a flower pot indoors, then basically the laws of Shemitta do not apply. What I by mean by indoors is that if the plant is under a ceiling in your home and not on an open porch for example, and the floor is tiled, then your plant is indoors. According to some opinions if the flower pot , which has a hole on the bottom, is actually on the floor in a ground floor apartment, there is room for stringency unless there is non porous plate under the flower pot. Therefore, in the plant is in your home in a pot which does not exceed 330 liters in size, you may do what is necessary to treat your infested plant since the laws of Shemitta do not apply. (See שמיטה , הרב רימון עמ' 89, קטיף שביעית עמ' 237. ) All the best
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