How To: Rid Your Houseplants of Whitefly

whitelfy and larva 300x199 How To: Rid Your Houseplants of Whitefly
Photo Courtesy of : Eran Finkle -
Whitefly can become a nuisance year-round for your favorite indoor plants, and over-wintering outdoor plants inside through the cold weather can sometimes compound the problem by bringing new insects into the house. Pesticides in granular form can take care of this problem for you, but for those of us with pets, children, or the desire to use something less toxic, there are solutions that will help you gain control of your problem. Ideally you will want to eliminate all the life stages of Whitefly that may be living on or around your favorite houseplant and do it quickly.  Adult Whitefly are not only deadly to plants due to their feeding methods, but they are also carriers of plant diseases from one plant to another.

The fasted and greenest method of control that I use is through a tandem approach using naturally derived oils (easily purchased at any big box, or garden supply store), and common household tape.

Horticultural Oils, both the “heavy” and summer “light” oils are helpful in infestations of Whitefly.  The oils are plant based, and when sprayed onto the leaves and stem of a plant render the plant inedible to the adult parasite, while smothering the juvenile still trapped on the plant.  Oils are not harmful to humans or animals,  and harmlessly evaporate in a few days leaving no residual smell or residue. These oils are deadly to all insects both beneficial and harmful, so care should be taken when using this as part of an IPM program.

Masking or Duct Tape when hung over the affected plants can quickly trap the flying adults. Greenhouses use this method in erradication programs to shorten the duration of the adults reproductive abilities, and to prevent the spread of the adult Whitefly to other plants.

DIY  Contol Program:

  • Purchase a horticultural oil (Neem Oil, or the like) from a garden center
  • Purchase an empty Spray bottle for dilution
  • Purchase Duct tape

Firstly, in the spray bottle dilute the horticultural oil to the approximation listed on the back of the container, and prepare a place (front porch, or open area covered in newsprint) to spray the plants down.  It is necessary to coat the entire plant, so having a large box to transport your plants back into the house for temporary storage is a must to keep the oils from clothes or furniture.

Secondly, gather up any potentially effected house plants, and Hang duct tape over where your effected plants have been, and where you will be storing the plants as the oil evaporates.

Thirdly, spray the oils to coat the entire plant, including the underside of the leaves, and place them in a box for a few days to dry off.  Keep the plants in a climate under 90 degrees, and over 40 degrees (always remembering what temperatures your houseplants prefer).  I recommend keeping them in a cooler area like a laundry nook, or basement, if the outdoor temperature is not suitable.  Keep the box containing your houseplants where it will not be in constant contact with you or children or pets.

The Recovery:

Expect the plants to smell for a few days, over which time the oils will be killing the pests and evaporating into the air.  After four days remove the plants from their temporary place and bring them back to where you enjoy having them displayed.  The oil will not have any harmful effect on your plants and should disappear from the leaves.

This treatment will completely destroy any Whitefly you have around your houseplants, and keep your indoor garden healthy.


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Comments

  1. Hello Amy! Fred at One Project Closer sent me over to you, and I’m thrilled, because this NYC-gal-moved-West will learn a lot here.

    I wish I had known this whitefly remedy back in Brooklyn when I failed to save Elvis, my houseplant. Elvis left the building and this world.

    I’m trying to identify the plants in my backyard. I’ve post pics at thelittleorchardhouse.com. Do you know what these are?

    Thank you!

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