How to Get Rid of Bugs on Indoor Plants

Overview

A lack of enough sunlight is a common problem with indoor plants, but another, less well-known problem is bug infestations. If your houseplant is not thriving and you can't figure out why, chances are you have an insect problem. Tiny mites or flies can quickly doom a plant. Get rid of these bugs as soon as you notice a problem to keep your indoor plants in top condition.

Step 1

Check for tell-tale signs of infestation. Curling leaves, brown spots, tiny white smudges and bumps on your plant's stems are all symptoms of bugs.

Step 2

Move affected indoor plants far away from healthy indoor plants. This will stop any spreading of the bugs.

Step 3

Identify the bugs. This may be difficult, but if you can identify which bugs are on your houseplant, you can tailor your treatment to get rid of that particular bug. For example, spider mites, which look like tiny bits of dust, lay white eggs underneath the leaves of indoor plants. If you have spider mites, concentrate on the undersides of the leaves when you treat your plant.

Step 4

Remove as many bugs and their eggs as possible by wiping them off with a cotton swab. Protect your hands with gardening gloves, then dip a cotton swab in some rubbing alcohol and run it over the plant's stems and leaves. This will remove bugs and eggs that might be sheltered from a spray. You also can use a soft, thin cotton rag to remove the pests.

Step 5

Spray the plant with a soapy solution. The suds will suffocate most bugs that infest indoor plants. It will not, however, kill the eggs, which is why it's important to wipe them off first. Create a nontoxic spray by combining a pint of water with 1 tbsp. of liquid soap. Place the mixture in a spray bottle, shake it well and spray the plant thoroughly.

Step 6

Scoop off the top layer of soil where many bugs, such as pill bugs, like to hide.

Step 7

Re-pot the plant if the infestation seems particularly bad in the soil. Remove the plant and shake off as much excess soil as possible. Dump out the soil and make sure the pot is free of any lingering bugs. Use fresh potting soil to re-pot the plant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Treat bug problems the minute you see any telltale signs. The most common and obvious sign is yellow or shriveled-up leaves, which will quickly fall off the plant. If you ignore bugs, the plant will eventually die, and the bugs could spread to other plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swab
  • Thin cotton cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid soap
  • Potting soil

References

  • Evergrowing

Who Can Help

  • Identifying and Getting Rid of Houseplant Pests
Keywords: indoor plants, houseplant pests, get rid of bugs

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. She has worked as an educator and now writes academic research content for EBSCO Publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.