Sometimes, it seems that your indoor plants attract bugs no matter what you do. You can close all the doors and windows, but it doesn’t matter. And once bugs infest one plant, it doesn’t take them long to go after all of your indoor plants.
As you fight off these pests, you may be wondering if this is normal or if there is something you are doing wrong. It is normal for indoor plants to attract bugs, as they search for areas with high humidity and are attracted to stressed potted plants, which happens with overwatering or underwatering.
If you want to know what to do to keep your plants happy and healthy and stop them from becoming bug food, you may want to keep reading. We will also discuss common plants that attract and keep away bugs so you know what to expect.
Do Indoor Plants Attract Bugs?
Unfortunately, indoor plants tend to attract bugs. This is due to various reasons, including humidity, lack of air circulation, and easy food.
If you want to think about it simply, it isn’t the plant that attracts bugs but the living condition surrounding the plants. However, they take advantage of the nearby plants for food and a place to set up as a home.
The most common types of bugs you will encounter in your indoor plants are:
- Whiteflies: are not flies but are closely related to aphids and mealybugs with soft bodies and wings.
- Thrips: are tiny insects barely bigger than a needle’s head. They are flying insects, also known as thunder flies.
- Scales: cover over 8,000 different species. They are usually oval and flat, with a hard shell covering them.
- Mealybugs: have a soft body and are usually covered with powdery wax. They tend to move rather slowly.
- Fungus gnats: are small flies that look similar to mosquitos.
- Spider mites: Though not insects, spider mites are still pests. As their name suggests, they tend to be closely related to spiders. They are a common pest that feeds on vegetables, fruits, berries, vines, and ornamental plants.
- Aphids: Also known as a plant louse, greenfly, or ant cows, aphids are usually soft-bodied and pear-shaped. Most people think of them as green, but they can be many different colors, including brown and white.
It is important to note that outdoor plants have the potential to attract the same amount of insects. However, since they are in the hot sun, they tend to dry out more than indoor plants, reducing their humidity.
Why Do Indoor Plants Attract Bugs?
Usually, it is the humidity that causes insects to come after plants. This is because they need humidity to survive, or their bodies will dry out.
When a pest is facing dry temperatures that could harm them, they will begin to search for places with higher humidity. Unfortunately, that often means your home and around your plants.
Even if you live in a humid area, your home is generally more humid than outside, so it is your home that bugs will be attracted to. Also, bugs, especially fungus gnats, love to lay eggs in moist soil to protect them, so keeping your plant’s soil moist risks bringing in and attracting insects.
Do Stressed Plants Attract Bugs?
Yes, stressed plants do attract more bugs than healthy plants. This is true of all stressed plants, but especially in plants that are stressed due to water amounts. Usually, these plants will have more nitrogen and sugars in their system. This is attractive to insects, as they can get a lot of food in a short amount of time.
Stressed plants may also be unable to devote as much energy to deterring pests, so they are easier to prey upon.
These plants may also release more water from their system, increasing the humidity around them, which attracts insects to them in the first place.
How Do I Keep My Houseplants Bug-Free?
While changing your watering habits can help a little, it doesn’t always solve the problem. Letting your plants dry out a bit between waterings is an excellent idea, but that won’t get rid of some pests like fungus gnats.
As long as you have a lot of plants in your home, it is almost impossible not to see any bugs. However, you can take small steps to kill any pests that appear or deter bugs that might usually appear.
Neem oil is one of the most popular. Not only does it keep bugs away, but it kills bugs that may already be on your plant. It isn’t effective with all insects but does work on quite a few. Usually, flying insects, spiders, and ants avoid neem oil.
Diatomaceous earth is another great preventative for insects. Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized sea creatures broken down into tiny pieces. It works by attaching to the insects and slowly leaching away their protective layers, causing them to dry out.
It isn’t harmful to people or animals and can be used in various ways to improve you and your pet’s health.
Even moving your plants can be a good deterrent. All you have to do is transfer your plants further inside your house or off the ground, and that deters many pests like ants.
Essential oils are another way to keep insects at bay. Lavender, orange, mint, clove, garlic, onion, and cottonseed oil have all been shown to be fairly effective at keeping insects at bay.
What Plants Attract The Most Bugs?
As mentioned above, most of the time, pests occur because of the humidity rather than the plant itself. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain plants that tend to attract bugs more often than others.
Some plants are well-known for attracting various bugs. Some examples are:
- Crimson Thyme
- Bee Balm
- Common Yarrow
- Golden Marguerite
- Roman Chamomile
That doesn’t mean you should avoid these plants to prevent pests. Instead, being aware and knowing that pests are more likely is all you need to do. If your plants are outdoors, or you don’t mind non-pest bugs in your area, you can bring in ladybugs to eat some of the more annoying pests.
Or, you can take some steps to keep insects away, such as diatomaceous earth, essential oils, neem oil, and elevating your plants.
Which Plants Don’t Attract Bugs?
Some plants keep away insects or at least deter them. This can be due to various reasons, such as the plants have chemicals designed to keep them away, the smell doesn’t attract pests, or they eat pests.
Some common, well-loved plants that are known to keep pests away are:
Try mixing these in with some of your plants that attract pests to create a good balance and reduce the overall number of bugs you see.
What Kind of Plants Keep Bugs Away?
The most common plants that keep pests away are herbs and fragrant plants. For example, Citronella Grass is well-known for keeping pests away. The oil from this grass is what is used in many mosquito repellants.
Herbs, like Basil, Thyme, Lemongrass, Rosemary, and Mint, also do a great job of keeping bugs and other pests away. They are not the only plants, but if you are in doubt, going with herbs like these is a good idea.
Indoor pests are normal but not very appreciated. It is normal for indoor plants to attract bugs, as they actively search for areas with higher humidity and are also attracted to stressed plants, which is common in potted plants that can easily be over or underwatered.
Thankfully, with a few simple products, you can be well on your way to keeping out the pests. There are a few measures you can take to prevent or treat pests: neem oil, diatomaceous earth, or essential oils like lavender or mint. There are even a few different plants that deter pests that you may want to consider like thyme, basil, or lemongrass.
Taking a few extra steps with your routine gardening care can help ensure those bugs don’t bother you or your plants anymore.