House Plant Pests and Diseases

House Plant Pests and Diseases image by Photo Courtesy of Stock.Xchng
House Plant Pests and Diseases image by Photo Courtesy of Stock.Xchng


Houseplants, despite their coddled indoor lifestyle, can suffer from insect invasion or disease. Each time you water, check for the signs of pests or disease by looking closely at the underside of leaves and leaf nodes. A compromised houseplant will look weak, leggy or pale and may show signs of damage. Some plant pests are very small; a magnifying glass may help you spot and identify the marauders.


Whiteflies look like gnats and will flutter around your plants if disturbed. You'll find them resting and feeding on the underside of leaves. Insecticides or sticky traps are used to control whiteflies.


Mealybugs suck, literally. These small, soft-bodied insects suck sap from your plants and cause leaves to fall. Look for a white, cottony substance at the leaf node. Apply alcohol with a cotton swab.

Spider Mites

Spider mites cause small wounds to the cell wall of plants. Eventually, the plant suffers a decline in vitality. In severe cases, webbing will be visible. Increase humidity to control spider mites. Badly infected plants may have to destroyed.


Aphid damage can distort the growth of your plants. They are rapid reproducers so quick control is necessary. Insecticide treatment provides the fastest and most effective results.


Thrips are small insects that cause big damage to leaf surfaces. Sticky traps and horticultural oil treatments can bring thrips to their very tiny knees.

Houseplant Diseases

Houseplant diseases are relatively rare but may be caused by a virus, bacteria or fungus. Use sterile potting mixes rather than garden soil for houseplants to deter the spread of disease.


  • Colorado State Extension: Houseplant Pests

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Moira Clune is a freelance writer who since 1991 has been writing sales and promotional materials for her own and other small businesses. In addition, she has published articles on, and

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