Home Remedies for Controlling Indoor Plant Pests

Insects can be hungry little critters. Somehow, they find the food they like to eat---and that can include your houseplants. Many small chewing and sucking creatures can afflict your indoor plants. Help is at hand with a number of simple, natural remedies you can make inexpensively and use with ease.

Insecticidal Soap Spray

Insecticidal soap spray is a tried and true organic remedy for many houseplant insect pests, including aphids, spider mites and juvenile scale insects. You can purchase it ready-made at garden supply stores and nurseries. To protect your carpet or wood floor, either move your plant outdoors temporarily to spray it or place it on an old sheet or piece of plastic before spraying. Drench the plant thoroughly, making sure to spray the undersides of leaves. Repeat your application every other day until all signs of the problem insect are gone. Keep an eye on your plant to make sure more insects haven't arrived, and repeat applying the soap spray accoding to label instructions as needed.

Canola Oil

Although insecticidal soap will kill young scale insects in their soft-bodied, crawler stage, the adults' tough hides are impervious to soap, so you'll need to use oil, or a combination of oil and soap if you are unsure about the maturity of the scale insects. Scale insects look like small "bumps" on the leaves of your plants: young ones are nearly translucent, while older scale are often brown with a hard shell. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, canola oil is a safe solution for certain insects. Spray canola oil, or canola oil mixed with insecticidal soap, every other day until you see no more scale insects. As with other types of insect pests and other types of controls, it's best to begin treating these insects as soon as you first notice them.

Sticky Traps

If you notice tiny white flies around your plant, chances are they are whiteflies. Whiteflies can literally suck the life out of your plants, so you'll want to control them as soon as possible. Other flying insects can also attack houseplants---they include winged aphids and fungus gnats. You can control all of these pests with sticky traps, which are available for purchase at garden stores and nurseries. Simply hang one or more sticky traps near your plant. The yellow color attracts the insects, they fly into the sticky material, and as the old saying goes, "they check in, but they don't check out."


Neem is a tropical tree; the oil from its fruits and seeds that can have insecticidal properties when prepared and used in the correct way. According to the Colorado State University website, neem seeds contains compounds that inhibit the growth of insects; it is effective against whiteflies and other insects. Look for sprays containing neem at better nurseries and online.

Keywords: house plants, insecticidal soap, insects pests

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.