Do German Cockroaches infest house plants?

jennynashville(9b)September 29, 2011

I have just moved from my relatively cockroach-free existence in Nashville to a German Cockroach infested sublet in New Orleans. My husband and I are moving into our permanent place down the street next month, and I am concerned about accidentally transporting the roaches from this place to the next. I have already cleaned and laid baits in this place to no avail, but my new landlords are more... clean. They're having an exterminator come before we move in, and I would like to keep things bug-free.

I have a LOT of houseplants, and wondered

1. Do cockroaches ever live in house plants? I saw one walking across the soil of one the other day, but I couldn't tell if he was on his way to somewhere else.

2. If they do, what is the best way to get rid of them without getting rid of the plant? Are there safe sprays that will do the job? Some kind of effective immersion or roach-leaching process?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Roaches eat decomposing matter so if your pots have organic matter in them, it's possible to have roaches in them. Submerging the entire pot in water will cause the roaches to evacuate but there may be eggs in the soil. If you see roaches evacuate upon submersion, you may want to repot the plants, rinsing the roots well before going back into new soil. If the pots are on the ground, the chances of having roaches in them is much higher. I don't use chemicals but I'm sure you'll get advice in that direction also if that's what you're after.

It's so warm in NOLA, maybe your plants can stay outside permanently.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 9:18AM
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I think watching to see if they come out during submersion is a good indicator to re-pot, I don't know why it always takes someone else to point out the obvious, but thank you for doing it.

I am keeping a good number of plants outside already, but I love having some inside, too. I'm excited, though, to see what I'll be able to grow in this weather that wouldn't have worked in Nashville.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 11:48AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

EEEK! I hate to say this, but I'll bet you already know that those darned roached can hide like crazy in your packing boxes. I'd be prepared with plenty of boric acid powder and roach hotels. Moving them with your plants shouldn't be your biggest worry.

Purple's suggestion of soaking them is a good one, and be sure you clean off any leaf debris that may have accumulated on top. Be on the lookout for those little egg cases.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 1:48PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

I hate to tell you this but...Because your new landlord is going to exterminate and you said "Moving down the street" means you will have cockroaches. Maybe not the week you move in but in a few months they will walk down the street to visit you and move in to your new home.

I learned that lesson when I lived in New Jersey. Some area have roaches and that is just a fact of life and a constant battle.

Purple gave you the best advise as a start for now.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 1:47PM
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Jenny, one other thing. How will the insecticide your new landlord uses affect your plants?
Do you know if he plans on using spray, powder or a bomb?

You said you had quite a few plants, but I'd follow Purple's advice.
There are chemical insecticides that kill roaches in soil, or wherever they congregate, but you don't want to breath too many chemicals. Same with pets,if you have any.

Rhizo made a great point, too. Check boxes before packing, then get them out of the house, ASAP. Place in your car if you have to. All it takes is one female roach.

Repotting will be a lot of work, but worth it in the end. Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 3:22PM
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Thanks to everyone for their advice; I had to go internet free for a few days, but I'm now about to move the bulk of my stuff into the new place and I really appreciate the tips.

The landlord exterminated the new place, and there were plenty of dead roaches laying around afterwards. He had a professional come and do it, and they used the powder. Unfortunately, I saw one roach still roaming around, but either the extermination just hadn't affected him yet, or more likely, it isn't going to. I'm using as many plastic crates as I have to move most of the stuff, and just trying to get the cardboard boxes out of the new place as soon as I can, but it's frustrating to think/know that despite all of these efforts, I'll likely still have to cohabitate with the only bugs I really can't stand. I'll clean off my plants the best I can with soaking and a couple of re-pots, but the best route might be to stay on the landlord to keep the exterminator coming back monthly for a little while.

Thanks again for all the help!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 4:45PM
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I've read that putting house plants in trays lined with petroleum jelly around the edge will keep roaches from accessing the pots where they will surely find water and organic material for consumption. I am going to try this method tonight and will post in a few months on the success or failure of this approach.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2014 at 12:29PM
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Though they generally prefer running to flying,I wonder if they'd give a few wing-flaps if/when confronted with a petroleum barrier.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2014 at 12:42PM
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Does anyone know if Neem oil has any efficacy against roaches?

If it does, maybe unpotting everything and soaking the plants in a neem oil solution would help reduce the risk of carrying bugs/eggs to a new home.

(I know the original post in this thead is old, but I still think it is educational)

    Bookmark   October 21, 2014 at 2:07PM
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