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How to Get Rid of Wood Bugs in My Flower Pots

Greenery planter image by Charlene Bayerle from

Bugs in flower pots provide an annoyance to the home gardener. Nuisance pests such as wood bugs (also called pill bugs or roly polies) thrive in the moist environment in a contain garden. Often water pools in the drainage tray and, paired with a collection of foliage debris, this creates the perfect home for these basically harmless pests. In most cases, these bugs won't ruin flowers, but they might munch on container garden vegetables. Removing these pests doesn't involve the use of pesticides and requires simple methods to reduce the presence of wood bugs from flower pots.

Remove the drainage tray from the bottom of the flower pot and take it to another part of the yard to rinse it completely with the garden hose. Remove caked-on dirt and plant debris with a scrub brush.

Lift the flower pot and check the bottom of the planter for caked-on dirt. Carefully scrub and rinse the planter base to discourage wood bugs from gathering at this food source of decaying foliage.

Attack the collection of bugs inside the flower pot by removing the top 2 to 3 inches of soil. Put this soil inside a yard-waste bag for removal from the property. Try to scoop up as many wood bugs as possible as well as any dead foliage lying on the dirt surface. Add new potting soil to the plant to top off the pot.

Tackle the planter location by sweeping up any plant debris from the patio, porch or deck. Dispose of this material in the yard-waste bag, especially if you've collected wood bugs during sweeping. Removal of the primary habitat will discourage further infestations in your flower pot.

Replace the clean drainage tray on the flower pot and place a few bricks to raise the pot off the decking surface. Water pools under drainage trays placed directly on patio and deck surfaces to create the perfect moist environment for wood bugs.

Clean up other areas of the landscape and patio featuring clumps of dead vegetation and moisture buildup. The lack of a good home will send the pill bugs elsewhere to find food and habitat.

Deal with a heavy infestation by cutting a cantaloupe in half. Place the open side of the fruit down on the patio to attract the nearest wood bugs. Sweep up the bugs for disposal after allowing the fruit to work its magic for 24 hours. Leave the fruit in place and follow this procedure for a few days to collect as many bugs as possible.


A heavy infestation requires a dramatic approach to ridding the flower pot of these nuisance bugs. Remove the plants, rinse the roots completely in an area well distant from the original location and dump the potting soil into the trash. Rinse the flower pot completely and start fresh with new potting soil. Keep the flower pot dry around the base and free of plant debris to discourage wood bugs.

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