Bringing plants indoors without debugging them is a recipe for disaster.
Pests, like spider mites, a common insect found on outdoor plants, and eggs from other pests may be lurking on your plant and under the soil.
Unless you want a house full of uninvited guests, thoroughly check your plants for pests first.
Follow up by taking appropriate steps to debug the plants and then double or triple-check for pests again.
If you’re thinking about bringing plants indoors from the outside, continue reading and find out exactly how to debug plants before you bring them inside!
There are several effective methods for debugging plants to bring indoors. The first and most common step is to use soapy water to soak the entire plant. After washing off the plant, and its container, spray the foliage with neem oil or a plant-friendly insecticide.
Steps to Debugging Smaller Outdoor to Indoor Plants
1. Prepare Soapy Water and Plants
Start by preparing a sink full of water, or even a large bowl or bucket if you prefer. Make sure there is enough water in the sink or bucket to cover the entire plant.
Next, pour some dish soap into the water, but not too much. Add just enough soap that you only see a bit of suds on the surface of the water.
Once the water is prepared, bring the plants inside from outside. Immediately place the plants (container and all) straight into the soapy water you have prepared.
2. Give the Plants a Proper Cleaning
With your plant now sitting in the water, make sure that water and soap are covering the entire thing. In case the plant is taller than the surface of the water, rotate it around so that every part eventually gets soaked fully.
Leave the plant and container soaking in the soapy water for about 15 minutes. There is no need to leave it much longer, as it is more than enough time to kill all of the bugs.
If some plants are too tall and do not fully fit in the sink or bucket, even with you turning it around in your hands, you will need to spray it. To do so, use Neem oil or some other natural spray with the same purpose and spray the parts of the plant that are sticking out of the water.
Avoid the use of standard insecticides on the plants (and inside your home in general). Also, if you’re debugging more than one plant, make sure to clean the top of the water after each one.
It helps to remove dirt and all kinds of nasty things. That way, there’s no need to change the water after every plant.
3. Rinse the Plants and Dry Them
When the soaking process is completely done, gently remove them from the soapy water and rinse them with clean water. Try to get rid of as much of the soap as possible during this step of the debugging process.
Rinsing the plants for few minutes under running water is very helpful. Everything that comes off of the plants will go out through the drain with the running water. Use a shower if possible or a sinker with a sprayer nozzle if possible.
Set the plants to the side for a few minutes on a big heavy-duty trash bag or a tarp. That way they can thoroughly dry off. You can even take them out of their pots for this step, as they will dry quicker.
In addition, you can take the time to repot them into different shaped or sized pots while they are drying. At any rate, leave them outside in the sun to dry for about 15 minutes when you’re finished washing and rinsing.
Steps to Debugging Larger Outdoor to Indoor Plants
1. Thoroughly Spray the Plants
After initial preparations, take each plant one by one and spray them down with Neem oil or a plant-friendly insecticide (preferably something natural). A mixture of half Lemon juice and water, and half white vinegar, makes an excellent alternative to Neem oil spray.
First, spray the tops of the plants. Work your way down the leaves, from the highest to lowest, or bigger to smaller, depending on the plant species.
Continue spraying the plants under their leaves and in all the little cracks and crevices that tiny critters might be hiding in (or may have laid eggs in). Make sure to cover every inch, it won’t take long and you’ll be glad that you took the time to do it.
Once you’ve finished spraying them, squirt a bit of dish soap onto the top of the soil.
Now, leave the plants to set outside drying for about 15 to 20 minutes. That way enough time passes for the sprays to do their job optimally. If there were any pests or bugs, to begin with, most of them should be gone by the time you come back.
2. Wash the Plants Off
Take a garden hose (if you have one) and water the top of the soil that you added soap to before you left the plants to dry. Let the soil soak it up and then repeat the process at least two times or more for best results.
Next, prepare soapy water in a bucket and pour it out evenly over the top of the plant. Repeat this part of the step three or four times in a row depending on how large the plant is. This assures that all the Neem Oil or natural insecticide is washed off.
3. Perform Final Touches
When you have successfully sprayed, rinsed, and washed your plants off, the debugging treatment is almost completed. But, your plants could use a shower, depending on how soapy they got during the process.
So, stick them under the shower, or use a garden hose with a sprayer nozzle (or your thumb over the end of the hose), and rinse them for several minutes.
When it appears that all the soap, oil, dirt, bugs, and dead leaves, are gone, leave your plants in the sun to dry for 15 to 20 minutes and then bring them inside!
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.