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How to Kill Bugs on House Plants

By April Sanders ; Updated September 21, 2017

If your house plants aren't thriving, it may not be for a lack of light or watering. Instead, it might be a problem with bugs. We don't tend to think of our house plants as attracting insects, but unfortunately it is a common problem. Tiny gnats, white flies and spider mites all are common infestations in house plants. Check your plant and the soil for tell-tale signs of insects. Look for sticky areas, tiny bits of white fluff, and scaly residue, then take action to rid your plants of these nasty little bugs.

Isolate the plant. Move it away from any other nearby plants to stop the insects from spreading.

Dry out the bugs. Dip a cotton swap in rubbing alcohol and rub it along the stems and undersides of the leaves where bugs tend to hide. This will kill the bugs almost instantly.

Suffocate the remaining bugs. Add one tablespoon of liquid dish soap to a pint of water. Place the liquid in a spray bottle and spray the plant with the soapy water. If the water is sudsy, this is even better, as the suds will suffocate the bugs.

Re-pot the plant. Often, bugs hide in the soil. Remove the plant and shake off excess soil, then set it gently aside. Dump the old soil. Wash out the pot with a mixture of warm water and bleach; about one cup of bleach per gallon of water. Let dry, then add fresh, new potting soil and re-plant.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swab
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Bleach
  • Fresh potting soil

Tip

  • Some gardeners swear that a mixture of water and hot spices, such as red pepper or garlic, will kill bugs on house plants. You can also use a chemical bug killer on your house plants, but make sure to keep pets and children away while you are using it.