My red pepper plant isn't doing too great, so I decided to check the soil and it had dark red worms. I took it out of the pot, and removed all the soil from the roots with a water hose (or so I thought).

When I took it to the dishwasher for a final rinse, I noticed it had a white bug. That's when I realized that even though I thought all the insects were gone, there's still a possibility that it has some insects deep within the roots.

My question: how can I wash the roots to make sure it has no insects or vermin hidden in the roots?

Here's the plant after I washed it. I haven't replanted it because I don't know if there's anything else hidden in the roots.

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


You've washed it as much as you possibly can. If there are living insects, you should be able to see them. There is a small possibility that there are still eggs on the plant, but I wouldn't worry about it. You can spray the plant with an systemic insecticide, which will treat the roots. Spray the plant not the roots. The best thing you can do at this point is pot it in some clean sterile potting mix. A mix made for pots, not garden soil. In two to three weeks you can spray the plant with the systemic insecticide again. Follow the instructions on the bottle. Do not spray the roots. These sprays are meant for the plants. The plant absorbs the poison and spreads it down even in to the roots. But, first let's get this poor plant into a clean pot with nice clean potting mix or grow mix.
---Make sure you read and follow all the instructions on the pesticide label. If it says it is not to be used on food crops, then it is not safe to do so. If it says don't use it so many days before harvest, either don't spray of remove those peppers from your plant.--- I don't think I personally would spray. For two reasons, what you spray you eat, and you already gave it a better cleaning than any pesticide could or would do.

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    Do NOT use systemic pesticides with food plants unless you wish to injest the pesticides yourself; these insecticides remain in the plant tissues and fruits of the plant after being taken up by the roots and WILL be in the peppers you harvest from this plant. Your best bet is to wait until any pests show up on the plant, identify said pests, and apply a pesticide that is effective specifically for that pest.
    – Jurp
    Dec 1, 2019 at 0:56
  • @Jurp I think you make a very good point, so I edited my answer. I had not thought about what kind of plant it was when writing my answer. Even though, I personally would not use it on my food crops, some chemical labels allow for application on those plants, so I did not remove the option from my answer.
    – GardenGems
    Dec 1, 2019 at 5:23
  • There could be aphids or scale insects undetected under leaves or even in the root ball after washing...and those kind of small insects are much more likely to be plant pests than large ones like worms. (That said, diagnosing specific symptoms rather than just noticing some insects and assuming they're the problem is probably a quicker way to cure the plant.) Feb 7, 2020 at 21:48
  • What is your point? I mentioned the option of using a insecticide to kill such pest.
    – GardenGems
    Feb 7, 2020 at 23:05

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