The houseplants are susceptible to many of the same pests that attack plants outside. Aphids, mealybugs, scale insects and mites are a few of these annoying bugs feeding off both outdoor and indoor plants. Before you reach for the commercial insecticide filled with harsh and toxic chemicals, try a homemade bug spray made with inexpensive items.
Red Pepper Spray
Red pepper powder spices up your meals and also keeps unwanted pests off your houseplants. Make a spray by mixing 2 tablespoons of red pepper powder, 6 drops of gentle dish soap and 1 gallon of water. Pour it into a clean spray bottle and spray in on houseplants once a week. When applying the red pepper spray, make sure the liquid thoroughly coats the tops and undersides of the leaves.
Heavily scented herbs — such as basil, lavender, mint, rosemary and sage — can help get rid of aphids, mites and other bugs attacking your houseplants. Make the herbal bug spray ahead of time by gathering the fragrant herbs, crushing them slightly and placing them inside a mesh sack. Leave herb-filled sack to brew in the sun in a covered bucket with 1/2 gallon water for four to six day days. Then, remove the herb-filled sack from the liquid. The herbal spray can be stored in a dark, cool location until you are ready to use it. Pour the herbal liquid into a clean spray bottle, add about 1/8 teaspoon of gentle dish soap, shake the bottle to mix and thoroughly coat the houseplants with the herbal bug spray.
Baby Shampoo Spray
Baby shampoo generally contains little to no unneeded fragrances or additives, and mixing 2 tablespoons of the gentle shampoo with 1 gallon of water will help control bugs on indoor plants. The mixture must cover the pests completely to provide proper control of the pests. Avoid using the baby shampoo spray on plants with a waxy coating or hairy leaves, and rinse the houseplant with water a few hours after you have applied to baby shampoo spray.
Cooking Oil Spray
The cooking oil sitting in your kitchen pantry will control spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, thrips, mealybugs and scale insects attacking your indoor plants. Mix 1 cup of cooking oil with 1 tablespoon of gentle dish soap produces a concentrated solution that you can store in a cool, dark area until you need it. If possible, use a new bottle of cooking oil just opened to create the concentrated solution. When ready to use, mix 4 teaspoons of the concentrated spray with 1 pint of water and liberally mist the plant. Multiple treatments with seven days between each application may be required to thoroughly control the bugs.
Although homemade bug sprays are generally less toxic and safer to use than commercial pesticides, they can still harm the plant if not used properly. Before treating the houseplant with the homemade sprays, test the mixture on a small area of the foliage. If after two to three days there is no damage to the treated area, use the bug spray as needed. During the treatment, refrain from placing the houseplant in direct sunlight or in areas where the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Direct sunlight and high temperatures mixed with insecticides of all types can lead to burned foliage, stems and flowers.
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