How to Prevent Garden Pests and Diseases

Washing Container Plants

Potted plants get pests too. Any time yours are suffering from insect damage, you can try the Ivory soap trick.This is an old-time remedy you can use before bringing potted plants indoors after their summer outside. Follow these steps:

  • Fill a bucket halfway with lukewarm water.

  • Get a bar of Ivory soap (which is not a detergent and is milder than most other soaps), lather it up in the water with your hands (just for a minute), and then remove it. The water should not be bubbly, just a little cloudy.

    Dunk small potted plants, soil and all, in soapy water to eliminate pests.
    Dunk small potted plants, soil and all, in soapy water to eliminate pests.

  • For small potted plants, dunk the whole pot with its soil and plant under the soapy water for a minute. Then remove it and set it where it can drain. For larger plants, take both the soap mixture and the plant outdoors on a warm day or to the bathtub. Splash and wet every leaf and stem of the plant, and let soapy water go into the potting soil as well. (Do not let potting medium or leaves go down the drain!) Set the plant where it can drain.

  • If the plant is infested with a difficult pest, cut off damaged leaves, prune for shape, and repeat the process every few days to make sure you get rid of the last few critters.

When disease strikes your garden, you must act quickly to protect your plants. Go to the next page to learn about eliminating garden disease.

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