It can be frustrating.
Watching pests destroy your potted plants is not easy to watch.
You want to do something. Anything.
Someone suggested using mothballs. But you’re not so sure.
Are they good to get rid of pests? Or will they kill your potted plants?
Mothballs will kill potted plants because they contain naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene. These chemicals will seep into the soil and damage the roots and stems of the plant. To keep pests away, you can use safe, organic alternatives such as rosemary, lavender, thyme, mint, or cedarwood.
In this post, I’ll help you understand why you should not use mothballs in your potted plants, the harm that mothballs will cause to your plants, pets, and even you. I’ll show you the alternatives you can use to keep yourself and your plants safe while keeping pests away.
Will Mothballs Kill Potted Plants?
Using a mothball to eliminate moths from your plants will often lead to more destruction than the moths ever could’ve done.
While using a mothball in a garden isn’t advised, it’s even worse for a potted plant. There’s not much room for the roots to escape the chemicals, so you’re basically creating an encased toxic environment for the plant.
If you’re adamant about using mothballs on potted plants, we highly recommend steering clear of the two aforementioned chemicals.
As you water the potted plant, the mothballs will break down and release dangerous gases. These gases leak into the air and soak into the soil, making a double-edged sword of potent danger.
In short, there are zero circumstances in which mothballs are effective or worthwhile in a potted plant or garden.
What Are Alternatives to Using Moth Balls in Potted Plants?
Alternatives to using mothballs in potted plants include:
Cedar chips are much more effective than mothballs because they prevent moths from going near your plants without adding chemicals to the soil. You don’t have to worry about your pets eating harmful chemicals or plants absorbing them.
If you’re looking for cedarwood to use in your potted plants, clothes, and other spaces, you can try the Cedar Blocks by Cedar Space. These donut-shaped cedar blocks are dense and keep moths and other pests from landing near your plants. Furthermore, they smell amazing and natural, unlike the foul odors drifting from mothballs.
These alternative solutions won’t contain nasty, harmful chemicals, whether you use herb sachets, essential oils, or cedar blocks. Your plants, pets, and lungs will thank you for making the switch to a much healthier and more effective method of handling the local moth population.
What Pests Do Mothballs Keep Away?
Mothballs keep away plenty of pests, including moths, skunks, deer, mice, and many others. However, it’s important to ensure you’re using them legally. We’ll cover the legality of mothballs in the following section, but keep in mind that many places only permit using them indoors. This issue could worsen for your pets and family since the mothballs will circulate through the vents.
Ask Anna shows mothballs are quite efficient at repelling gnats, too. If you have many gnats eating your potted plants or garden, it might be tempting to use mothballs. While many people stick to the tried and true method, they ignore the proven side effects of using mothballs.
Mothballs also repel the following pests:
There are many other safe, effective ways to remove these pests, though. Some essential oils have been known to repel most insects, including invasive species. Your best bet is to try chemical-free solutions before covering your plants with dangerous, unknown additives.
Is It Illegal to Put Mothballs Outside?
Colonial Pest claims it’s illegal to put mothballs outside in many parts of the world, including the United Kingdom. The chemicals found in mothballs are prohibited from using to repel many animals and other pests. Always check with your local law enforcement to know if you’re allowed to use mothballs outside.
Many sources suggest dissolving mothballs and using the liquid as an easy-spreading solution for countless pests. While mothballs can be incredibly effective when treating specific species (most of which were mentioned in the previous subheading), they’re toxic and frowned upon in most places.
Even if they’re not deemed illegal for outdoor use, we suggest never using them outdoors (or anywhere, for that matter). The dozens of potentially detrimental side effects of using mothballs can worsen your plants, pets, and family’s health conditions. Instead, reach for natural solutions that won’t disrupt the local ecosystem or cause irritation.
Are Mothballs Harmful to Pets?
Mothballs are harmful to pets because the two primary chemical ingredients can cause various detrimental health effects. If your pet ingests a mothball, you should seek medical attention for them as soon as possible. The chemicals can lead to vomiting, seizures, and many other problems.
Gardening Granny’s Garden Pages explains that using a mothball is equivalent to releasing toxic gas into the air. Whenever you smell the notoriously pungent odor, you’re ingesting these chemicals, as are your pets. Dogs and cats can smell much better than humans, and they’re no strangers to curiosity.
As your pet follows the scent trail to the source, they’ll be greeted with one of these hazardous mothballs. Again, if you’re set on using them, always keep the mothballs out of reach of your pet. Ensure they’re in an enclosed area that your pet can’t access. Don’t forget about your smart pet that can open drawers, doors, and everything in between!
Are Mothballs Harmful to Humans?
Mothballs are very harmful to humans because they affect the respiratory system, cause dizziness and throat irritation. Unfortunately, it often takes many years to notice the symptoms. Once you feel the pain or irritation, the chemicals have likely caused many issues that’ll take a while to recover from.
Keep all mothballs away from children at all times. They should never be able to handle mothballs, either. If they complain about the odor, it means they’re inhaling the chemicals. Place the mothballs out of sight and out of mind. In fact, it’s best to toss them in the garbage and find an alternative (we’ll provide a list you can refer to later in the article).
Another reason mothballs are dangerous to humans is that they crumble apart. Once they crumble all over your clothes or potted plants, mothballs will track themselves all over the house. It’s almost impossible to get rid of the chemicals, which means they’re causing problems all over the place.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.