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July 04, 2021 3 min read

Pests – Signs and Treatment

Pest problems are a plant parents' biggest bugbear, (hold the pun) and if not spotted soon enough, they can overwhelm your houseplant and soon spread to others. Thankfully, our Horty Hints are here to save the day, helping you spot the tell-tale signs and keep your herbaceous bestie looking fresh.

Your plant will tell you when it has an infestation, which can be easily treated with organic insecticides such as our SMC invigorator.

Help your houseplants if they show signs of:

  • Leaf discolouration – often yellow or brown spotting or mottling
  • Leaf droop or dropping
  • Fine silky webbing on the soil or plant itself
  • Flies on or near the soil
  • Stunted or distorted new growth
  • White powdery mould on the plant

Pesky Common Pests

Usually, each type of pest is identifiable by the signs it leaves behind, without having to spot the bugs themselves. See below our list of common houseplant pests, how to spot them, along with treatment remedies:

Spider mites

Microscopic arachnids making them very difficult to see, but are identifiable from the fine silky webbing it spins on the plant and soil, and speckled colouration they leave on the leaves. These common pests dislike humid, wet conditions so regular misting can help deter them, and are easily treated using organic insecticides. They are known to be quite persistent and may need a few treatments.
Houseplant Spider Mites
Houseplant Mealy Bugs

Mealy bugs

These bugs are easily spotted from their white cotton wool like appearance. Usually clustered and hiding in the folds and pleats of the plant, if not spotted soon enough they can quickly multiply and overwhelm your houseplant. Treat with houseplant insecticide. Deal with large infestations by cutting away.


Tiny creamy-brown hard-shell discs sitting flush to the plant surface, often on leaves or tucked up against a fold or stem. These insects are immobile once mature, but they latch onto the plant and lay eggs which then hatch and crawl. Due to the nature of their hard shell, they can survive the first treatment of insecticide, but will succumb to a second.
Houseplant Scale Bugs
Houseplant Thrips


These minute black bugs (can be accompanied with their white Larve) and at first might seem harmless, are difficult to spot, but they quickly spread in number moving to other plants in the vicinity. They leave little black speckled marks on the plant, and feed on new growth. Known to be one of the more invasive houseplant pests, thrips are to be treated quickly and thoroughly when found, with a strong insecticide.

Aphids (green fly)

One of the most destructive pests in the plant world. Often clustered together on the underside of leaves and on stems, these pests come in a variety of colours, from green, grey and black. They breed and spread quickly, sucking the sap out of the plant leaving infected areas limp and wilted, and if not noticed quickly, will kill your plant and spread to the next one. Small cases can easily be treated with an insecticide, but large infections may need several treatments. If things get out of hand, cut away the worst and treat the rest.
Houseplant Aphids
Houseplant Fungus Gnats


Relatively harmless, these little black flies can be spotted buzzing around the soil and crawling on the soil surface itself. Thriving in damp locations, overwatering or watering often before letting the soil surface dry out slightly can encourage infestations. The pests themselves are more of a nuisance than destructive, but can be easily treated with an insecticide.

Horty Hints

Spend time socialising
Check in with your plant regularly, to notice any changes.

Now, not next week
Treat pests immediately, don’t leave until that next day off.

Isolate poorly plants away from healthy ones, minimising spread.

If in doubt give research a shout
Research the symptoms.

Treating twice is extra nice
Some pests are resilient or lay eggs which can hatch after a first treatment.