Cheap and easy ways to get rid of bugs on plants

Since I've been working at home, I've decorated my home office array of house plants. But unfortunately, they've suddenly become infested with with a range of small flies and bugs of some kind. I've tried washing the leaves down or placing the plants outside, but nothing seems to work! It's got to the point where they're constantly bothering me whilst I work, and it's so distracting. Does anyone have any cheap and easy ideas for how to get rid of them?

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  • missilemissile Forumite
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    I had a similar issue. I tried all sorts of killer sprays. The flies would be killed, but a week later they were back. Flies seemed to germinate in the compost. I had to bin the plants. 
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  • edited 12 January at 5:01PM
    Sky_Sky_ Forumite
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    edited 12 January at 5:01PM
    I used to have this problem and solved it by letting the compost dry out thoroughly between waterings, (most plants prefer this anyway) and using sticky flytraps, or traps made from jars of vinegar water with a drop of dish-soap mixed in, near the plants to catch the flies. 

    Some plants don't cope with their compost drying out, so you may need to compost/bin those ones and replace them once the flies are all gone.

    The flies do usually live and reproduce in the compost, so drying it out is your main defence.

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  • twopennytwopenny Forumite
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    I'd agree with Sky. You've given them the perfect breeding ground with the warmth and wet.
    If you let them dry between watering but put them on a saucer of small pebbles with some moisture there so their leaves have a better climate you may start to win the fight.

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  • theoreticatheoretica Forumite
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    If you have compost flies - little black thingies that fly, rather than something like aphids that stay crawling on the leaves then the suggestions about keeping compost dry on top are good.  A quarter inch or so of sand on top of the compost helps as it dries very fast and can look good too.
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  • goldfinchesgoldfinches Forumite
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    It's quite drastic but you can wash off all the compost from the plant's roots and then repot them in a new mix from the garden or a bag from the garden centre.
    The way I've done it is to fill a plastic bowl with water and immerse the pot and leave it to soak and once it is really sodden just gently loosen the compost with your fingers while holding the leaves of your plant.
    Spider plants and tradescantia don't seem to mind this much at all and soon perk up again after a day or so of feeling a bit sorry for themselves.

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  • ApodemusApodemus Forumite
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    In addition to letting the compost dry out between waterings, if you water the plant by completely immersing the pot in water for an hour or so, any emerging fly larvae should be drowned. 
  • MSE_BillyMSE_Billy MSE Staff
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    Sky_ said:
    I used to have this problem and solved it by letting the compost dry out thoroughly between waterings, (most plants prefer this anyway) and using sticky flytraps, or traps made from jars of vinegar water with a drop of dish-soap mixed in, near the plants to catch the flies. 

    Some plants don't cope with their compost drying out, so you may need to compost/bin those ones and replace them once the flies are all gone.

    The flies do usually live and reproduce in the compost, so drying it out is your main defence.

    Thanks, will try this out!
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