Managing Insects on Indoor Plants

Indoor plants are a great way to bring nature into your home, but dealing with insects can be a real challenge. If you’ve tried nonchemical methods without success, it may be time to consider using a pesticide. At Tips Tree Planting, we understand the frustration that comes with insect infestations, so we’re here to provide you with the best techniques to manage insects on your indoor plants.

Choosing the Right Pesticide

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When selecting a pesticide for your indoor plants, it’s important to choose one that is suitable for indoor use. These products can be found at plant nurseries, garden centers, building supply stores, and even online. Look for pesticides that contain one of the following active ingredients:


Pyrethrins are effective against various insects such as mealybugs, whiteflies, scales, thrips, and aphids. However, it’s important to note that they have no residual activity and must be directly sprayed onto the insect to kill it. Repeat applications are usually necessary to fully eradicate the infestation.

Potassium Fatty Acids (Insecticidal Soap)

Sold specifically as an insecticide, potassium fatty acids, also known as insecticidal soap, can be used to combat scales, aphids, thrips, spider mites, and whiteflies. Like pyrethrins, they have no residual activity and require direct contact with the insects to be effective. Multiple applications may be needed for complete control.

Plant Oil Extracts

Plant oil extracts, such as canola, clove, sesame, cottonseed, and garlic oils, suffocate insects when sprayed directly on them. These extracts only kill insects when they cover them, so thorough coverage is essential. Repeat applications are often necessary for optimal results. They are effective against scales, thrips, aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites.

Neem Oil

Neem oil disrupts the growth of insects and has short to medium residual activity that lasts for days or weeks. It is effective against whiteflies, thrips, and aphids. Similar to other pesticides, multiple applications may be required to control the infestation.

Bacillus Thuringiensis, Subspecies Israelensis, Strain AM 65-52

If you’re dealing with fungus gnat larvae, Bacillus thuringiensis, subspecies israelensis, strain AM 65-52, commonly known as Knock Out Gnats, is an effective solution. This bacteria specifically targets fungus gnat larvae but does not affect the adult gnats. You can find this product primarily online.


Imidacloprid is a systemic pesticide, meaning it is taken up by the plant and moved throughout its system. It has a long residual activity that can last for months. However, it’s important to note that imidacloprid is toxic to bees, so avoid using it on bee-attractive plants that are placed outside during the summer. This pesticide is effective against mealybugs, soft scales, aphids, and whiteflies.

Taking Precautions

When using any pesticide, it’s crucial to take certain precautions to protect yourself, your plants, and the environment. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Ensure that the plant you’re treating is listed on the product label.
  • If dilution with water is required, mix only the amount you plan to use in one day. Use it on the same day to ensure effectiveness.
  • Whenever possible, apply pesticides outdoors.
  • During cold weather, spray plants indoors in a well-ventilated area to prevent secondary exposure to pesticides.
  • To prevent pesticide exposure, enclose the plant in a plastic bag and seal it shut. Cut a small hole in the side of the bag and insert the spray nozzle. Move the nozzle around to thoroughly spray the plant, especially under the leaves. Remove the nozzle and quickly cover the hole with duct tape. Keep the plant out of direct sunlight until it dries after treatment.
  • Never use any pesticide on a plant that is moisture-stressed. Water the soil a day or two before applying pesticides.

A Word of Caution

It’s important to note that the mention of specific pesticides or the use of pesticide labels in this article is for educational purposes only. Always follow the directions on the pesticide label attached to the container you are using. Remember, the label is the law.

For more expert advice on tree planting and care techniques, visit Tips Tree Planting. We’re here to help you create a thriving indoor plant oasis!

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