Oh, my God!

You just saw some bed bugs in your house. You suspect they came from your potted plants. But can they live there?

Bed bugs can live in potted plants, as it meets their preferred temperature requirements. But it’s most common for them to use the pot plants as a carrier, getting them into the house. From there, they can go to preferred locations, like the mattress and sheets. 

In this post, I’ll help you understand details about bed bugs in potted plants. I’ll give you tips on how to get rid of the bed bugs and prevent them from reaching your house.

Can bed bugs live in potted plants?

Bed bugs will have a range of environments that they can live in. They prefer to live in areas that have a consistently warm temperature between 65 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit. They also need a steady supply of food. Bed bugs will live on blood, specifically the blood of mammals. 

There are a few common locations around the home where you can find bedbugs. This includes: 

  • Mattress or sheets, this is the most common locations
  • Sofas or pillows
  • Carpet
  • Wallpaper or the cracks in the wooden floor

However, there are some rarer places where they can survive. This includes the soil of potted plants. The relatively consistent temperature will suit them. For it to be a long-term home, they will need to have access to food. Human blood is their preferred source. Because of this, the most likely option is that they will hitch a ride on the pot plant before finding a more permanent home in your mattress or sheets.

Bed bugs can live in potted plants, but they don’t feed on them. Bed bugs feed on warm blooded animals. Therefore, if you find them in you potted plants, it’s only for a short stay. They are already in search of of their next meal. – Brian Walker, Founder, The Landscape Tutor 

If you put the plant in an area that you frequent, like the living room or bedroom, you will give them plenty of chances to bite you. In their ideal environment, they will quickly multiply. The average female bed bug can lay up to five eggs per day. 

Living in Outdoor Plants

Bed bugs can travel and live in indoor plants. Thankfully, most outdoor plants will be relatively safe. There are plenty of factors that will make it hard for them to make it a long-term home. First, they need a consistent supply of food. This is more unpredictable in the outdoors. They will also face more predation, with a wide range of animals that feed off bed bugs. 

There is also a risk of poor weather. Bed bugs don’t like the water. After heavy rain, the ground can become saturated with water. This will drown the bugs. 

Despite these factors, bed bugs are resilient. They will walk for long distances. It’s estimated that they can cover around 20 feet per night. Because of this, they can make their way into your house. Though considering the obstacles they will face, this is a long shot. 

Do houseplants attract bed bugs?

Houseplants don’t attract bed bugs because the plants don’t provide them food. They need blood of humans or animals so they may use houseplants as a carrier to reach your house.

Because of this, it’s unlikely that the bed bugs will view a houseplant as a long-term living option. More likely, they will use it to grab a lift. When they are in the house, they can go in search of a more preferable location. 

What houseplants keep bed bugs away?

While houseplants might not attract bed bugs, some species might help you deter them. These will often work by releasing scents which the bed bugs believe will be toxic to them. Some of the best options to consider will be: 

  • Geraniums. These are so effective that the chemicals they excrete will form the basis of bed bug repellant sprays. 
  • Lemongrass. This also has some secretions that can help to deter bed bugs. Though you might need to gather convert these into geraniol yourself, which is the active ingredient used to keep away bed bugs. 
  • Citrus. The juice from citrus can be toxic to an array of animals, including bed bugs. Because of this, it might be a good choice. 

There are a few ways you can increase the efficacy of these plants. First, you will need to grow them indoors. If possible, in the bedroom. This is the ideal environment for bed bugs to take hold. You can also use these ingredients in a homemade repellant. 

How to get rid of bed bugs?

The good news is that bed bugs are relatively easy to spot. They will be large enough to be visible to the human eye. They will be around the same size as an apple seed, with six legs and a rounded abdomen. 

If you notice bed bugs in your houseplants, it’s best to treat them like any other bug. This allows you to explore a few potential options. This can include: 

  • Using an organic insecticide soap. You should be able to spray this onto the soil, killing the bed bugs. 
  • Heating the soil. You can try removing the soil from the pot and putting it into the oven. The high temperatures will kill the bed bugs. However, this can be a slow process. It will often take around three hours at temperatures over 125 degrees Fahrenheit to kill them. 
  • Soaking the soil. Bed bugs won’t be able to survive if they become submerged in water. However, a wetter environment might benefit some other pests, like fungi. 

You don’t need to be too concerned about the bed bugs damaging the plants. But you will need to take action to stop them from spreading to the rest of your house. If you are dealing with a larger infestation, it might be a good idea to call in a professional exterminator. 

How to prevent bed bugs?

You’ll often be better at trying to prevent bed bugs, rather than trying to manage an infection. There are lots of simple actions you can do to keep them at bay, these include: 

  • Check and clean luggage when coming home from holidays. This should help reduce the chances of any hitchhikers coming home with you. 
  • Reduce clutter. This gives them fewer places they can hide. 
  • Vacuum frequently. You want to make sure that you are vacuuming around the home. This will kill any bed bugs that might have been transported into the house. 
  • Wash sheets frequently. As you are doing this, use the highest heat settings to ensure that you are killing the bed bugs. 
  • Check any second-hand furniture thoroughly. Before you bring any new items of furniture into the home, check them carefully. 
  • Use a plastic cover on the sofa. This removes a favored hiding place from the bed bugs. 

It’s important to remember how bed bugs arrive at your home. Usually, they will need to be carried in. Often, this happens on luggage or from your clothing. As long as you are vigilant about protecting yourself, you should be able to reduce the risks of developing an infestation.

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