Insect Control on House Plants

Overview

House plants can add color, beauty and interest to your home. Unfortunately, they can also harbor many kinds of insects and pests. Common house plant insects are aphids, meal bugs, ants and spider mites. These pests can cause major damage to plants by feeding on their juices. There are many ways to treat and control insects and pests on your house plants. Insecticides, home remedies and preventative measures are all popular methods used to control house plant insects.

Inspect Your Plants

Infestations often occur when new house plants are brought into the house because during production, plants might pick up insects that go unnoticed. Isolate a new plant for at least a month to make sure it is healthy and not contagious. House plants can also pick up insects when they are placed outdoors and then brought back inside unchecked. Always inspect your plants thoroughly when they have been outside. Do a random spot check, looking for tiny pests, eggs or mites on both sides of the leaves and stems, before bringing them in.

Pressure Spray the Insects Away

Pressure spraying is the preferred method of insect control for house plants. The water pressure will be strong enough to knock off pests, but gentle enough to not harm your plant. It effectively rids your houseplant of pests and insects like aphids, mites or meal bugs. To do this, apply a brisk water spray to the entire plant. Lay the plant on its side to make sure you get all angles. Repeat at least once a week, or as needed, to keep pests and small insects off your plants.

Non-chemical Control

To make your own insecticide soap spray, mix 1 tsp of dish detergent with 1 quart of warm water. Place the solution in a spray bottle, and spray the entire plant--paying special attention to the underside of leaves, where insects like to hide and lay their eggs. Once the plant has dried, rinse it with warm water to remove the soapy residue. Reapply the spray treatment about once a week until there are no signs of infestation.

Chemical Insecticides

Use a chemical insecticide for heavier insect infestation. You can buy aerosol or ready-to-use liquid sprays at nurseries or garden centers. Read the label and directions thoroughly to make sure the insecticide is safe to use on your plants. Spray the house plants in a well-ventilated area, like your porch or garage. When the plant has dried, rinse it with warm water and bring it back inside. Repeat until there are no signs of infestation.

Use Sterile Soil

Use sterilized potting soil when re-potting plants. Used garden soil could harbor tiny insect and pests that you can't see, but that can contaminate your plant. Soak the roots of the plant you want to re-pot to remove any old soil; then, re-pot the plant in sterile soil and a clean pot before the roots dry. Remeber, when re-potting plants, be sure to wash your hands and utensils between groups. If this precaution isn't taken, tiny insects and disease organisms can spread.

Prevention

Inspect your houseplants regularly for signs of insects or infestation. Check every time you water or feed your plants for pests. If a plant starts to show signs of a problem, immediately isolate it from other plants until you know its condition. Insects like to hide under fallen leaves, so minimize pest shelters by removing fallen leaves from your plant. If you regularly have trouble with insects, place a piece of foil around the bottom of the plant to make it difficult for insects to land.

Keywords: plant insect control, insects on plants, control plant insects, infected houseplant

About this Author

Based in Statesboro, Ga., Emily Jones has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles appear on Web sites including eHow and Garden Guides, where she specializes in the diverse topics of cleaning and insects. Jones studies psychology at Georgia Southern University.

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