How to Keep Bugs From Eating My House Plants

Overview

As you select houseplants to enhance your indoor living area, take steps to make them safe from insects. Bugs like the aphid and whitefly, suck the sap from the plants' foliage and cause discolorations, which eventually leads to stunted growth. Insects like scale, not only feed on your plant, but attract other bugs because of the honeydew they secrete. According to University of Missouri Extension, prevention and detection are the first line of defense in keeping bugs from eating your houseplants.

Step 1

Inspect the plant(s) for bugs before bringing them into your home. Pay close attention to the foliage, especially the undersides of the leaves, to prevent inadvertently transporting insects. Once indoors, keep the new plant(s) isolated from other house plants for at least 30 days to ensure that they contain no insects.

Step 2

Combine a pint of water with 1 tsp. of white vinegar to water your plants. This solution kills any eggs and adult bugs that reside in the soil.

Step 3

Spray your house plants with the strongest blast of water that they can withstand. Do not forget to cover the bottoms of the foliage. Repeat this process periodically to knock off any bugs.

Step 4

Apply an organic insecticidal soap to all areas of the plants including the soil to get rid of insects like aphids. Continue to administer this treatment on a weekly basis to kill larvae and adult bugs.

Step 5

Touch any insects with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol to kill them on contact. Repeat this application every five days to provide an effective method for removing insects like the mealy bug.

Step 6

Cut away any dying leaves or branches as they appear. Unhealthy foliage can carry unseen insects and act as a lure for new bugs.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never use garden soil for your house plants because it can carry eggs and adult insects. Instead, use a sterilized potting soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Cotton ball
  • Alcohol
  • Garden shears

References

  • University of Minnesota Extension: Houseplant Insect Control
  • University of Kentucky Extension: Houseplant Insect Control
  • Cass County Extension: Houseplant Insects

Who Can Help

  • Colorado State University Extension: Managing Houseplant Pests
  • Clemson University Extension: Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests
  • Washington State University Extension: Houseplant Insects
Keywords: houseplant care, prevent houseplant bugs, indoor plant insects

About this Author

Jenny Glass has been writing professionally since 2001 and is a glass artist with a Web design and technical writing background. In addition to writing for Demand Studios, she has been a contributor to "Glass Line Magazine" and runs her own art glass business.