Insects like mealybugs, whiteflies, mites and aphids commonly prey on houseplants. Natural repellents include insecticidal soaps and oils, alcohol spray, and Neem oil.
Insecticidal soap sprays, which consist of potassium salts of fatty acids, can help control many houseplant pests, such as spider mites.
Spray insects or apply alcohol to mealybugs after first testing its effect on a small part of the plant.
Horticultural oils in dilute spray form consist of petroleum distillates like mineral oil. Use them against whiteflies and spider mites.
Neem, a tree that grows in tropical climates, produces seeds whose extracts have toxic effects on insect pests. Neem oil is growing in popularity because of its natural origin and effectiveness. Garden supply stores carry Neem spray.
Use only products labeled for houseplant use. Taking houseplants outside for spraying will minimize any harmful residues from building up indoors.
- Colorado State University Extension: Managing Houseplant Pests
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About this Author
Lexa W. Lee, a writer based in New Orleans, has freelanced for 20 years. Her clients have included WebMD, EverydayHealth.com, "Self", "Central Nervous System News", "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," and TennisDiary.com.She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from National College of Naturopathic Medicine, and was a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.