Noticing the white fuzzy patches on your houseplant baby is literally the definition of a living nightmare. Finding little bugs buzzing around your houseplants is also not so great! No worries though, today I will teach you: why houseplants get insects and how to get rid of them naturally.
I’ve been receiving an influx of Instagram DMs and text messages from followers and friends with the sad news of finding bugs in their houseplants. I wrote this post with the intent to help everyone deal with infestations quickly and painlessly! All my advice is based on things I have tried and had success with because I know finding bugs on your houseplants is not only gross but very scary!
How Do Pests Get on Houseplants?
Many insects such as dirt mites need damp soil to thrive, and one simple way to get rid of them is to be mindful of how often you water your plants. Like, I always say this, but it’s worth repeating – the number one cause of houseplant deaths is overwatering. Remember, most houseplants don’t need to be watered until the soil is dry to the touch.
Another way houseplants can get pests is being continuously close to an open window without a screen.
Houseplants might obtain pests is by accidentally bringing them home with you. Some plants will unnoticeably have them when you purchase them from a nursery or greenhouse. I always check the soil and the overall appearance of the houseplant before bringing it home or into my house, if I order it online because houseplant infestations can spread very quickly.
How do I get rid of houseplant pests?
3 Natural Ways to Remove Pests from Houseplants
Several houseplant pests can cause harm or even kill your plants. I prefer to use natural remedies instead of using potentially harmful chemicals to do the job. Here are some natural ways that I’ve tried and had success with.
One way to rid your plants from dirt mites is to replace the infected soil with fresh soil. While this method has better chances of succeeding, it also requires a lot more work to accomplish.
2) Essential Oil Mixtures
There exist countless recipes online for homemade bug repellents and insecticides, but my favorite recipe is equal parts water and witch hazel, and around twenty to thirty drops of eucalyptus oil.
I put the solution in a spray bottle and gently mist the leaves and soil of each infected plant. I like to spray my plants every other day until the bugs have been gone for around a week. If the number of bugs doesn’t seem to be going down, start spraying your plants once a day.
Although it isn’t always required, you can use their homemade repellent on all of their plants in their home rather than just the infected ones to reduce the chance of the pests spreading to healthy plants.
Other strong scents like garlic and cinnamon are also great at repelling bugs without the risk of harming the plants themselves.
3) Sticky Pest Traps
These bright yellow butterfly-shaped sticky traps help protect your plants from small flying insects that feed on their roots and leaves, like whiteflies, aphids, thrips, fungus gnats, and other small insects. Simply prop in the soil near the stems and the bugs will fly right to it. The sticky traps are waterproof, disposable, non-toxic, and have no pesticides on them.
What About Salt & Vinegar?
Salt and vinegar mixtures are commonly used for homemade cleaning solutions, but I wouldn’t advise it as a natural insecticide.
I would avoid using vinegar and salt in your homemade repellents because both could cause harm to your plants.
Salt can harm the roots of your plants and prevent them from properly absorbing water and nutrients. Just like if you over-fertilize or if you have problematic tap water. Too much sodium can trick your plants into thinking they’ve had enough water when they have not. I have an entire blog post about watering with quality water; Who is Responsible for Killing Your Houseplants? You or Your Water?
Vinegar can throw off the pH of the soil and make it more acidic. Not all houseplants can thrive in acidic soils, so be careful when using vinegar-based repellents.
I hope this post was informative and I wish you all the luck in the world to save your houseplant from these nasty bugs! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on Instagram. Happy Houseplanting!