Do Houseplants Really Attract Bugs? (11 ways to avoid bugs for life)

houseplant leaf with indoor plant bugs

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Indoor houseplants tend to be a popular option as they are easier to maintain than outdoor plants. They are also a great alternative for those who live in a place that doesn’t have a garden, so they can still get the ‘gardening’ experience.

Tropical indoor plants can completely transform a living space, and they are great for adding decoration to your home. They offer the visual appeal of nature that could be exactly what you are looking for to brighten up your home.

The million-dollar question: Do houseplants attract bugs? No, they do not attract bugs. It’s the plant’s living conditions that attract bugs. Plants thrive most when in a humid environment. Just like these 7 common indoor pests, spider mites aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, scales, fungus gnats, and thrips.

If you’re wondering why your houseplants get bugs, even though there are many different factors, the main ones are because of the high humidity level and lack of air circulation.

While they may be easier to look after than outdoor plants and can be less of a hassle to maintain, they do offer some concerns. One of the main concerns for people looking to get house plants is whether or not they attract bugs and insects. This is something that you will need to prepare for, along with any other issues that may arise when bringing plants into your home. 

Related: How to Increase Humidity in a Room for Indoor Plants

Do houseplants attract bugs?

The most common answer will be yes BUT the most realistic answer will be NO. Houseplants do not attract bugs.

Its how you handle your plant and their soil that attracts bugs.

Houseplant bugs are usually attracted by indoor growing conditions that have a higher humidity or lack of air circulation. If you are going to bring any plants indoors that are usually found in the outdoors, you can expect the rest of nature’s pests to follow shortly after.

The most common houseplant pests that you will find lurking around your plants are aphids, spider mites, fungus gnats, mealybugs, scale, thrips, and whiteflies.

The environment that it requires to grow and maintain house plants is an environment that these plant pests thrive in. 

However, not all is lost. There are actually some things that you can do to help prevent these unwanted guests from making an appearance in your home and potentially harming your beautiful plants. Keep on reading to find out more about what you can do to fight these annoying pests.

Related: Do Humidity Trays Really Work?

Why Do My Houseplants Get Bugs?

Though it can be extremely irritating to find a house full of bugs upon decorating your living area with lots of indoor plants, there are actually many reasons that could be causing them to pack their bags and move into your home. 

  • High Level of Humidity
    • Lots of bugs look to migrate towards an area that has high humidity. As their bodies are so small, they need to keep themselves moist, or they will dry out and die. This is why they love humid places, as the moisture levels are much higher in these areas.
  • Climate
    • Any area that is close to a large body of water, like coastal areas, or those with higher levels of precipitation, will have higher humidity levels than dryer areas like Arizona. This outdoor climate will automatically mean that there is a higher humidity level in your home.
  • Damp soil
    • Fungus gnats love laying their eggs in damp soil. And it’s a good hiding place too because we may not always remember to check the soil. Thus, allowing the fungus gnats to produce at a more rapid rate.

Plant tip: ALWAYS let your soil dry in between watering sessions to reduce your chances of bugs. If you find that your soil tends to be more damp than dry, you will need to either replace your soil, add some perlite, or ensure there is proper drainage.

  • Overwatering
    • No matter what type of climate you live in, if you water your plants too often or too much, it can cause higher levels of humidity around your indoor plants. This is one of the biggest reasons for a high level of humidity, as over-watered soil will raise the humidity levels around the plant as the water evaporates from the surface of the soil.
  • Sitting water
    • For some indoor tropical plants, there will be a plate of sorts that you put underneath it to catch the water that is drained from the plant. If you overwater your plant, this water will collect onto the plate and remain there, which is great for those pesky bugs.
  • Lack of Air Circulation
    • A lack of air circulation is another appealing factor to bugs and insects. They don’t tend to like windy environments, as those that fly will have to stay grounded to avoid being blown away.
      • Air movement around your plants is really important if you want to help keep the humidity level from getting too high. It also prevents bugs in other ways, as increased ventilation makes soil dry faster, which in turn, decreases fungal growth, making your indoor plants a less hospitable place for bugs to reside.
    • There could be many reasons why there is a lack of air in your home, but placing plants together will only add fuel to the fire as it creates a lack of circulation. Try to avoid having your individual plants touching each other.  You can also try to better ventilate your plants by investing in an oscillating fan or opening a nearby window. 
  • Stale air –
    • Do you know that feeling when there’s just not enough air coming in and out? Plants don’t like being in an environment where the air is just still. It needs to be moving. Whether you use your ceiling fan, leave a window or door open, or use the AC (even if it is in the wintertime), you will need to ensure that none of your plants are near a ventilating source.
      • An abrupt change in temperature will cause your plants to stress. Which will in turn cause you to stress over your plants not being at their best.  

Plant tip: Always have some form of subtle fresh air coming towards your plants. 

What are Indoor plants that don’t attract bugs?

There are plants that are known to attract fewer amounts of bugs, and there are even some types of plants that completely repel insects. These may be a better option for you if you don’t have the ability to provide an environment that will eradicate the bugs. Some examples of these types of plants are

  • Snake plants
  • Bromeliads
  • Air plants
  • Venus flytraps
  • Dracaena
  • Aglaonema

What are the worst plants for attracting bugs?

While most plants will attract bugs to their living environments, there are actually some plants that are known for being the worst choices. This is because they need to be watered a lot, and prefer to thrive in humid conditions, just like bugs. If you don’t want an entourage of pests in your home, it is best to avoid these plants altogether. 

  • Some high-humidity plants are ferns, peace lilies, and calatheas.

Related: 21 Brilliant Plants to Gift {just because you can}

How to have indoor plants without bugs

  • Lack of thorough plant inspection is one of the leading factors that bugs reside within your plants. It’s mainly because their eggs are too small for the naked eye to see.
  • My secret trick to getting a closer inspection of the plant is to use a magnifying glass. It has been a game-changer when inspecting my plants and soil for larvae.
    • But make sure to double-check every nook and cranny the plant has, especially the underside of leaves. These indoor pests are really good at finding places to hide. And don’t forget to check within the first layer of soil as well as the soil around the rim of the pot.
  • Do be sure to check your plants before bringing them into your home. Especially plants that you buy at garden centers. They often have lots of plants in close proximity to each other, and could already be swarming with little bugs.
    • So just double-check using your magnifying glass. It may seem a bit dramatic, which it is, but I would rather be safe than sorry. Maybe you can even do a third check at your front door. You can just never be too cautious.
  • When bringing in your tropical plant from the outdoors to indoors, be sure to perform a very thorough plant inspection as well. You never know what insect may hop onto your plant for a joy ride into your living room. I would suggest showering your entire plant from head to toe and then doing an inspection. 
  • Another top tip to prevent bugs on indoor plants is to remove any dead leaves as soon as possible.
  • Invest in a good quality Neem oil. It will do you wonders! I considered it an essential household item if you’re a houseplant owner. To use Neem oil, you would have to dilute it with one gallon of water to one ounce of neem oil. Put it in a spray bottle and you’re good to go.
  • Insecticidal soap will work just as well as Neem oil if you wanted an alternative. It’s pretty much just soapy water. This is much easier to make and chances are, you most likely already have it on hand. All this requires is water and dish soap. But you’ll need the type of dish soap that is additive-free, such as pure castile soap. If you happen to have dawn liquid soap, that will work too. Just follow these simple steps. 
    • I do recommend testing this soapy water on a small part of your plant first, just in case, it doesn’t respond well.
  • Giving your plant a shower once every few months will help with the prevention of bugs in houseplants. Not only will you reduce your chances of bug infestation, but you’ll have shiny leaves as well. 
  • Don’t ever use old potting mix when repotting your plants. You never know what plant bugs or diseases may be lurking in the old potting soil. So to play it safe, just use fresh potting soil.
  • Having isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs is another set of essential items you should have on hand. They will come in handy when you see these houseplant insects on the spot and need to get rid of them quickly.
  • When grouping plants together, allow some space in between them. It is wise to not allow their leaves to touch each other. This will reduce the air ventilation around your plant’s leaves, which could stunt your leaf’s growth.
    • Even though this is a good method for creating humidity in the air for those high loving humidity plants, it works even better for attracting houseplant bugs.

Plant tip: Perhaps you can invest in a dehumidifier if you like grouping plants together since they do have their benefits.

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