How to Get Rid of Bugs in Houseplants: 7 Tips & Tricks
There’s something ultra annoying about bugs infesting our indoor plants. Outside gardens are one thing; bugs and other pests are a part of the program. However, it’s war when it comes to bothering the plants in our living rooms.
Luckily, it’s not typically a difficult task to clear out common houseplant-loving bugs. This article goes through seven tips and tricks to get rid of them. It also explores several common pests you might encounter, so you know what you’re up against.
One thing to keep in mind when dealing with bugs or potential diseases on plants is to isolate the affected plant. This helps prevent the spread of whatever problem you’re trying to deal with.
The 7 Tips & Tricks to Get Rid of Bugs in Houseplants
1. Wash the Affected Plant
In many cases, washing the affected plant with dish soap or even a damp rag is enough to get rid of some pests like aphids. Other times, you may need to employ a more aggressive treatment and use insecticidal soap to kill the offending bugs.
Once you’ve isolated the plant, you can clean them every few days. Before long, you should notice the infestation beginning to dwindle. If it doesn’t, that’s when you’ll want to switch to the more aggressive insecticidal soap.
2. Rubbing Alcohol on a Cotton Swab
Another good option for some pests like scale or mealy bugs is a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol may be a bit much for some more sensitive plants. In those cases, a swab dipped in vegetable oil will offer similar results.
3. Neem Oil Treatment
If you’re looking for a natural insecticide for your plants, neem oil is a great option. You can apply the oil to an active infestation to get rid of it. And you can also apply it to discourage the return of the bugs. Alternatively, you could also use a hot pepper spray for another natural solution or horticultural oil if you’re less concerned about “natural.”
4. Sticky Traps
For those pesky flying insects, yellow sticky traps are a superb option. If you have a larger infestation, a vacuum can sometimes give you the edge you need to get ahead of the invasion. When sucking them up, avoid getting too close to the leaves and sucking them up too.
5. Replace Soil
Many common pests you’ll deal with will lay eggs in or feed off the soil. So, changing the soil is a good idea if you’re dealing with recurring or stubborn infestations. This isn’t an ideal first line of offense against the pests, so you should try some other methods on this list first.
Proper storage of your unused potting mix is also important. Because there’s no point in changing to fresh soil if an infestation has already begun from improper storage. For example, using a 5-gallon bucket with a tight lid should do the trick.
6. Allow Soil to Dry
Fungus gnats are tiny flies that are similar to fruit flies. Eggs are laid in the soil, where their lives begin until they can annoy you by flying around. An effective method of eradicating them is to allow the top couple of inches to dry completely between watering. You could also try misting the soil’s surface with insecticidal soap if drying the soil doesn’t work.
7. Clean the Pot
In most situations, cleaning the pot is an essential part of the process. Bugs and their eggs can easily hide on or around the pot, and just when you think you’ve gotten rid of them, they’re back.
Additionally, cleaning up the area where a potted plant was sitting before you isolated it is also a good option. The bugs could reinfest the plant once you’ve cleaned it up and put it back.
Common Bugs Found on Houseplants
There are a lot of different bugs or pests you could be dealing with depending on where you live. But there are certainly some that are more common.
Unfortunately, pests are often a part of being a garden—indoors or out. At least most infestations aren’t terribly difficult to deal with. A lot of times, the bugs are more annoying than anything. However, if you’re dealing with something that will damage your plants, now you have the knowledge to deal with most issues quickly and successfully.
Featured Image credit: Ron Rowan Photography, Shutterstock