Are you wondering how to get rid of indoor plant pests? You’ve come to the right place! Indoor plants are susceptible to bugs. And insects in your house can be challenging to eliminate. The comfortable temperatures indoors are attractive to many insects, and indoor life saves them from natural predators that would kill them outside.
Once you have pests, it’s easy for them to spread from plant to plant and threaten your entire garden. That’s why it’s essential to take steps to prevent infestations before they start and catch them as early as possible.
But don’t worry! Here’s our list of 10 ways to get rid of indoor plant pests.
How to Get Rid of Indoor Plant Pests Before You have them: Choose Healthy Plants
It’s common to pick up plant pests when you bring home a new plant. Before you buy a new plant, look it over carefully.
The leaves should be green, shiny, and lush, and the stems should be smooth and even without cracks or scars.
Also, check the undersides of leaves and the potting soil for any signs of pests (more on that below).
Choose the Right Plants for Your Home
A plant’s best defense against pests or diseases of any kind is to be healthy and vigorous. A plant growing in the right conditions is less susceptible to pests and better able to survive and recover from an infestation.
Make sure that your indoor garden is full of plants that can do well in your lighting conditions, at your temperature and humidity levels, with your watering habits.
It’s a good idea to look up plant species and care information before you buy it, or ask someone at the gardening center.
Ensuring you have the right environment helps prevent pests and helps your plants look their best.
Quarantine New Plants
It’s always best to isolate new plants for a while, in case they have pests. This is true whether you’re bringing home a plant from the garden center or as a gift from friends.
Isolating new plants means keeping them well away from all your other indoor plants for the first month in your home.
If you don’t have space to fully isolate new plants in a separate room, keep them far away from your existing plants. Don’t allow the leaves to touch or the pots to sit right beside each other.
That way, if the new plant does have a pest problem, it won’t spread to the rest of your indoor garden.
Use Sterile Soil
Always use sterile potting soil for indoor plants. Potting soil may harbor pests and diseases, and the chances of that increase the more often the soil gets re-used. Earth brought in from the garden may also have infections, pests, or other problems.
You can purchase new, sterile soil for every plant and repot them, or use an oven or microwave to heat-sterilize your soil before reusing it on a new plant.
To sterilize your potting soil:
Place up to 2.2 pounds of soil in a covered but vented microwave-safe container, and microwave it for 90 seconds.
Preheat an oven to 200°. Use a disposable aluminum pan (or any oven-safe pan that you won’t ever use for food), and fill it with moistened soil. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and insert an oven-safe thermometer so that you can read the soil temperature without removing the aluminum foil.
Heat the soil until it is 180°, and bake it at 180° for 30 minutes. Do not allow the temperature to exceed 200°.
With either method, allow the soil to cool to room temperature before using it on a plant.
Take Good Care of Your Plants
Generally speaking, under-watering is better for pest prevention than over-watering. Standing water in plant containers or prolonged periods of soggy soil is an excellent environment for many plant insects and mold, mildew, and other problems.
Provide the right amount of water, and place your plants in a way that allows healthy air circulation around the leaves. Also, be sure to use well-draining pots for your plants.
Feed Your Plants
Outdoor plants can access nutrients from the soil, where rain is continually adding nutrients. Additionally, beneficial insects and decaying plant matter help outdoor plants thrive.
When outdoor plants need more nutrients, they can often expand their root system to find more.
But indoor plants can quickly deplete any nutrients in their pots and have no way to access more.
It’s essential to use a plant food formula designed for indoor plants. Be sure to follow the instructions, so your plants have all the nutrients they need to grow healthy roots, stems, and leaves.
Clean Your Plants Regularly
It may seem like cleaning your plants is an unnecessary chore. However, regular cleaning helps prevent pests and other problems. Not to mention, it helps your plants look their best too. Dust on the leaves can block sunlight and prevent photosynthesis, even in a well-lit room.
Regular cleaning is also the best time to inspect for pests and diseases, so you can catch them early. If you can see or feel dust on your plant leaves, it’s time to clean them.
Here’s how to get rid of indoor plant pests by cleaning your plants:
- For small houseplants, fill a bowl or bucket with lukewarm water (never use hot or cold water, because both can damage a plant’s leaves). Hold the roots and soil inside the container (or use cling film to secure the plant inside the pot), turn it upside down, and gently swish the top of the plant around in the lukewarm water. Place it in a sink or bathtub to drip dry.
- For medium-sized houseplants, place them directly in a sink or shower and spray them gently with lukewarm water. Avoid using a high-pressure spray.
- You can use a cloth dampened with lukewarm water for large houseplants and wipe the leaves clean on both sides.
- For dirtier plants that aren’t rinsing clean with plain water, you can dilute ¼ tablespoon of dish soap in a quart of water and use it to mist the leaves. Then rinse or wipe the plant as described above.
- Using a diluted solution of neem oil as a leaf wash or cleaning spray can keep plant leaves healthy and naturally repel pests.
Washing the plants is also a great time to flush the soil, removing excess salts and nutrients that may build up in your soil. Flushing the soil should be done once a month and can easily be done while cleaning.
Here’s how to get rid of indoor plant pests by flushing the soil:
- Check the drainage holes on the bottom of your pot to make sure they are clear and water can drain freely.
- Place the plant in a sink, bathtub, or outdoors where water can flow away freely.
- Slowly pour water into the top of the pot, allowing it to flow out of the bottom. Pour it slowly enough that water doesn’t flow over the top but instead flows downward through the potting soil. Pour four times the pot’s water volume through the pot and potting soil to flush it thoroughly (so use a gallon of water to wash a one-quart sized pot).
- Allow the plant to drain for 2-3 hours before moving it back to its usual location. Then, check the drip tray frequently for the next day or so to empty excess water.
Prune Unhealthy Foliage
During the washing process, it’s a great time to trim and prune unhealthy leaves as well. The plant will look healthier if you remove dead, brown, or yellowing leaves.
Gently tug on dead leaves and remove them if they fall off easily. If a leaf is yellow or brown but resists being pulled away, use plant scissors to trim it.
You may also use scissors to trim away unhealthy parts of leaves without removing the full stem.
Control Pests Early
While washing, flushing, and pruning, look for signs of mold, mildew, insects, or other pests. Here are some of the critical signs to look for.
Changes in Leaf Color
If leaves are yellowing, browning, spotting, or speckling, it’s a sign of potential pests. White, brown, or black areas are also a problem sign.
Watch for changes in leaf shape or texture. If leaves are misshapen, wrinkled, curled, withered, or are sticky, bumpy, or fuzzy when they shouldn’t be, it’s a sign of problems.
Look for Signs of Insects
Even if you can’t see insects, you might see signs of webs or surface residue that indicates insects.
Isolate and Treat Troubled Plants
If you suspect a plant has problems, isolate it immediately.
Whether it has insects, a disease, or simple mold and mildew, the best thing to do is to move it far away from all your other plants while you diagnose and treat the problem to prevent it from spreading to your other plants.
How to Get Rid of Indoor Plant Pest - The Wrap-up
There are different products and treatments for all kinds of plant pests, and the best solution depends on what kind of pests you have. But the best way to get rid of pests on indoor plants is to keep your plants thriving and healthy all the time, to prevent problems before they start.