Indoor Ornamental Pests: How To Bring Plants Inside Without Bugs

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By Georgia Lund

After enjoying a sunny and warm location on the porch or patio all summer, it’s time to bring potted plants indoors for the winter before the temperatures dip below 50 degrees F. (10 C.) in the early fall. A few precautionary steps will need to be taken, however, to bring these plants safely inside without bugs also hitching a ride.

How to Bring Plants Inside Without Bugs

Follow these simple steps for removing insects from plants brought inside so your plants will be happy and healthy all winter.

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Plant Inspection

Give each plant a visual inspection. Look under leaves for egg sacks and bugs, as well as discoloration and holes in the leaves. If you see a bug or two, hand pick them from the plant and drown in a cup of warm soapy water. If you find more than one or two bugs, a thorough washing with insecticidal soap will be needed.

Don’t forget to inspect indoor houseplants at this time too. Indoor ornamental pests may be living on houseplants and move over to incoming plants in the fall so they can enjoy a fresh meal.

Washing off Bugs

Mix insecticidal soap according to package directions and wash off an inconspicuous leaf, then wait for three days. If the washed leaf shows no signs of soap burn (discoloration), then it’s safe to wash the entire plant with the insecticidal soap.

Mix the soapy water in a spray bottle, then start at the top of the plant and spray every inch, including the underside of each leaf. Also, spray the insecticidal soap on the soil surface and plant container. Wash away bugs on indoor plants the same way.

Large plants, such as a Ficus tree, can be washed down with a garden hose before bringing indoors for the winter. Even if no bugs are found on plants which have been outdoors all summer, it’s a good idea to give them a gentle shower with water from the garden hose to remove dust and debris from the leaves.

Winter Inspection

Just because the plants are indoors doesn’t mean they can’t be infested with pests at some point during the winter months. Give plants a routine monthly inspection for bugs during the winter. If you find a couple, just hand pick them off and discard.

If you find more than a couple of bugs, mix insecticidal soap in warm water and use a soft, clean cloth to wash each plant down by hand. This will remove indoor ornamental pests and keep the bugs on indoor plants from multiplying and damaging your houseplants.

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