How to Eliminate Pests on Potted Plants


You may have a lovely collection of indoor potted plants. On the other hand, perhaps you have brought in your outdoor potted greenery for the winter. Either way, you have recently noticed evidence of pests in them. Whether you are spotting chewed or mottled leaves, spittle on leaves and stems, or tiny insects darting and buzzing around your potted plants, you know you have a pest problem. Take action to rescue your plants and reclaim your home from those annoying and potentially harmful pests.

Step 1

Immerse the soil. Take the pest-infected plants outdoors. Fill a large bucket or other container with warm -not hot- water. Submerge the entire pot into the warm water and let stand for a few minutes. Pests that are hidden in the soil will be driven to the surface or drown. Pour or scoop away the buggy water and remove the plant. Allow it to dry thoroughly before bringing it back indoors.

Step 2

Rinse the leaves. As soon as you bring the potted plants inside, make a dishpan or bucket full of warm, soapy water. Gently wipe the leaves and stems of the plant with a sponge dipped into the soap solution. The soap will remove and discourage many types of pests. Repeat at least once a week until all signs of infestation are gone.

Step 3

Keep them separated. If you have other indoor plants, critters can easily jump, crawl or fly to neighboring foliage. If you have certain potted plants that you believe are infested, move them to another room for a week or two while you tackle the pest problem. This will prevent the situation from becoming more of a challenge.

Step 4

"Starve" the plants. It may feel like neglect, but reduce the amount of water and plant food you give the plants by at least half. This will dissuade and perhaps even eliminate pests that are feeding on the plants' rich nutrients. Continue this practice for a couple of weeks.

Step 5

Pay close attention. You should notice a decrease in pests within a week. Once you no longer see any signs of infestation, bring your potted plants back into the desired location. Inspect the plants well every time you water to be sure the bugs are long gone.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge


  • How to avoid and eliminate indoor plant pests
  • House Plant Pest Control Measures
Keywords: garden pest control, eliminate insects, fruit fly pests

About this Author

Tielle Webb has been a writer and editor for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in local and national publications such as "The Dollar Stretcher," "Good News Tucson" and "Guideposts." Specializing in computer technology, Webb is certified in Microsoft Office applications.