How Do I Bring My Tropical House Plants Indoors Pest-Free?

“Any tips on bringing tropical plants indoors during the winter season? They always end up getting buggy.” Question from Chris of Orange, Connecticut

ANSWER: Thanks for the excellent question. It’s always nice to bring tropical house plants outdoors in summer. They thrive in the natural light, humidity, and warm weather, but they also attract pests. These pests are less of a problem outdoors because natural predators and a wider array of food sources (plants) keep their populations low. Once you bring them inside, their populations boom and food sources are limited. Without management, they can decimate house plants in no time.

Four precautions must be taken to stop pesky insect hitchhikers before you bring your tropicals back indoors for winter. (These precautions do not apply to extra troublesome mealybugs and scale insects, which generally require tougher measures, like a systemic insecticide, to tackle.)

  1. Wash all leaves well. Start by spraying them all over with a strong stream of water from a spray nozzle, and wipe the leaves and stems down. Finally, thoroughly spray them with insecticidal soap. (You can also remove any dead leaves or unhealthy looking growth at this time.)
  2. Remove and replenish the top 2 inches of potting soil to catch any pests hanging out in the upper soil layer.
  3. Wash the plant’s saucer and pot exterior well.
  4. Give your plants the correct moisture, light, and fertilizer to help them resist any potential pests, and keep a lookout for any lingering pests, especially in the first month after bringing them back inside. Use more insecticidal soap, as needed.

I hope this helps!!!

Happy Gardening,

Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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