How to Deal with Houseplant Pests

Houseplant pests have become the bane of my existence (dramatic, but also true).  There are days when I stare at now empty pots while I spray wilting and yellowing leaves with pesticides and insecticidal soaps, BEGGING for those little bugs to die instead of my plants.  I have pruned my sad Calathea and sadder Alocasia and have been trying to will them back to life. 

More detailed information about pests and other ailments is available on our troubleshooting page

The best advice I have for defeating plant eating bugs in your home is:

Buy a good pesticide

Now, I know that pesticide isn’t an option for those with curious pets, but it really does work so if you can use it then you should.  Household pesticide use inside the home is completely safe – don’t worry about the bees, they’re outside.  By consistently spraying down your plants with a household pesticide you can easily prevent any outbreaks before they begin.  And if you miss a few treatments and some bugs do find their way into your houseplants, then pesticide is the fastest way to kill them. If you really can’t use pesticide, then try to use a really effective alternative like neem oil diluted with soap and water. 

Be consistent

When you are treating infestations or trying to prevent pests the best thing you can do is treat the plant consistently.  One treatment just isn’t enough.  I would recommend repeating the treatment every other day on an infested plant and every other week for preventative treatment.  I like to treat my plants with some form of pesticide as often as I fertilize during the growing season.        

Isolate

Isolate any and all infected plants from the rest of your collection – and from each-other.  This way pests can’t hop from one plant to another and spread.  It is also a good idea to isolate any new plants you acquire for at least a week to ensure they are pest free before introducing them to your collection.  

Keep up care

Houseplants are always more likely to develop a pest problem when they aren’t receiving optimal care.  By maintaining humidity, light, and water requirements you can more easily ward off any pests. 

Don’t forget the soil

Many pests can lay eggs or hide in the soil of our plants.  It is a good idea to use a substance on the soil to prevent and to kill any bugs that want to live there.  Diatomaceous Earth and Mosquito Bits are both great options. 

Learn when to quit

Sometimes a plant is simply not worth the headache.  I’ve come to understand that there is no shame in putting a plant to rest if you think it won’t recover, or if it simply isn’t worth it to you.  Houseplants are supposed to bring us joy – so if it isn’t anymore then it might be time to say goodbye.  When to part with your plants is a very personal choice, but don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. 

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