How to Get Rid of Insects in Potted Plants: Complete Guide


Having pests in your potted plants is an annoying problem.  Bugs get attracted to your potted plants and lay their eggs in the soil, on the leaves, or around the roots.  When the eggs hatch, you will probably end up with a bunch of annoying bugs that either damage your plants or keep on swarming in your house.  In this article, we discuss how to get rid of insects in potted plants.

Learning how to get rid of insects in potted plants will help you keep your plants in excellent shape. Keep on reading to learn more about how to keep your potted plants pest-free.


Why Do Bugs Attack My Potted Plants?


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Insects and bugs infest your plants for various reasons.


  • These bugs love to feed on plants. The roots and the leaves represent a nutritional food source that allows bugs to grow and reproduce happily.
  • The soil of the potted plants is a safe place to lay the eggs. The larvae feed on the organic matter in the soil and grow to become fully grown bugs. Moreover, some bugs love moisture, and overwatering plants will make them more inviting to insects.
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  • During winter, houseplants become weaker, so they will be more prone to pest infestation. When the plants become dormant, pests take this opportunity to attack your potted plants.
  • Plants increase the level of humidity, which creates an inviting environment for the bugs to grow and reproduce.


Prevention is the best way to get rid of insects. There are several ways that can help you get rid of these annoying pests for good, and also prevent other pests from attacking your plants.


Which Insects Attack Houseplants?


There are several insects that might infest your plants. These include fungus gnats, whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites. These insects will either feed on the leaves and make holes in them or eat the plants’ roots. Some of these bugs can crawl on the soil or around the roots, and some might fly around the leaves.

These insects come from different sources.

  • Some bugs and eggs can be present in potting soil. Once you put the plants in the soil and start watering your plant, bugs will begin to grow and reproduce.
  • New plants can either come with some bugs or their eggs. When plants grow, they represent a food source for the bugs, so they will start growing.
  • Open windows and doors will let bugs in. When they find your plants, they will settle around the leaves or in the soil to lay their eggs and feed on the organic matter.
  • Fresh produce can contain eggs or larvae of bugs. If you don’t wash fresh produce, larvae can transform into adult bugs that later infest your plants.


Signs That Insects are Attacking my Potted Plants?


If you suspect that your potted plants are infested by bugs, there are a few signs to help you make sure.

  • Seeing white sticky stuff on leaves or stems. These are usually caused by mealybugs.
  • Small black bugs that fly around the soil are fungus gnats.
  • You might see clusters of green or red bugs on the plant. These are aphids.
  • Tiny white bugs might be swarming around your plants. These are whiteflies.
  • Small spider webs can grow between the leaves and the stems. These show that you have spider mites.


In general, having bugs will make your plants weaker and more prone to withering. This is why you need to act fast if you see any of these signs.


How to Get Rid of Insects in Potted Plants


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The method you use depends on the type of bugs you have. Insects are usually difficult to get rid of unless you’re using a potent technique. At the same time, you should make sure that you’re not harming the plants.




Mealybugs might not reveal themselves for a long time. All of a sudden, you will see cotton-like sticky growth covering the leaves and stems of your potted plants, announcing that you have a serious infestation.

Compared to other insects, mealybugs aren’t that dangerous. However, ignoring mealybugs will eventually kill your plants. Here is how to fight them.

  • Separate the infected plant from the rest to prevent the bugs from attacking other plants.
  • Use an organic and safe pesticide to kill the mealybugs.
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  • You can prepare a cleaning solution using one liter of water and a tablespoon of dish soap. Soap kills bugs instantly and will help you put this infestation under control.
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  • If you can see the bugs clearly, you can clean the leaves using alcohol.


Fungus Gnats


Fungus gnats are tiny black bugs that usually attack the soil of your potted plants. They’re different from fruit flies because they have black and longer bodies and wings.

These insects love the moisture and feed on the organic matter in the soil. They don’t kill plants but are very annoying because they’re hard to get rid of.

Adult bugs will only live for a few days, so if you can get rid of the larvae, your problem will be solved. Here is what you can do to put them under control.

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Aphids are tiny bugs that infest plants fast because they multiply quickly. Most aphids are green, but some of them can be brown, red, or any other color.

It’s not easy to notice aphids, so the infestation is likely to affect your plants negatively. They feed on the leaves and make them become deformed.

When they eat, they produce a sticky residue that you can easily notice. Aphids can also come with ants that like to feed on the honeydew they produce. Here is how to get rid of them.

  • Use a water sprayer to clean the leaves of your plants from eggs.
  • Prepare a mild solution of water and dish soap to kill aphids. Warm water works better and will instantly kill aphids. You should make sure that you’re using mild liquid soap that won’t kill your plants.
  • You can use hot pepper wax spray to get rid of aphids.
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Whiteflies will fly around when the leaves of the plant are touched or disturbed. They damage potted plants because they suck the plant’s juices, causing the leaves to turn yellow and drop.

If you want to get rid of flies in potted plants, you need to remove the eggs first because the bugs will fly away. After that, you can kill the flying adult insects. Here is what you can do:

  • Use insecticidal soap to wash the leaves and kill the eggs and larvae.
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Spider Mites


Spider mites create spider webs on houseplants and can be extremely destructive. You can easily notice the webs by examining your plants, and if you look a little closer, you will see the bugs.

These insects are dangerous because they can kill potted plants quickly. Here is how to fight them.

  • Mist the houseplants regularly. Spider mites prefer dry conditions, unlike other bugs like gnats.
  • Use water to wash the leaves of the plants and remove the webs. You can apply insecticidal soap to clean the leaves and stems properly.
  • Add neem oil as a leaf polish to prevent the spider mites from coming back.


Wrap Up – How to Get Rid of Insects in Potted Plants


Insects can infest your potted plants for several reasons. Acting fast and getting rid of the insects will keep your plants healthy and guarantee that they will live for a long time. After that, you need to take preventive measures to prevent them from coming back.

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