Dip cotton swabs in rubbing alcohol to kill mealybugs.

How to Control Mealybugs on a Potted Ti Plant

by M.H. Dyer

Also called Hawaiian ti or good luck plant, ti plant (Cordyline terminalis) produces striking leaves in shades of green or reddish-purple, often variegated with red, purple, white or yellow. Ti plant grows outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11, where it reaches heights of 10 feet or more. You're more likely to see it as a houseplant, where it attains more modest heights. Although ti plant is relatively pest-resistant, it is sometimes bothered by mealybugs -- tiny, sap-sucking pests that have fluffy white protective coverings.

Wipe the pests off the leaves with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol if you only have a few mealybugs. The alcohol dissolves the protective coating and kills the pest beneath.

Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap in 1 quart of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray the plant thoroughly, including mealybug hiding places, such as the undersides of leaves, the joints of leaves and stems and the surface of the soil. Rinse the soap off the leaves after two hours. Reapply every week for two or three weeks until you see no more mealybugs.

Mix 2 tablespoons of neem oil in 1 gallon of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and wet all the ti plant's leaves thoroughly. Spray some of the mixture on the surface of the potting soil. Reapply the neem oil every seven to 14 days.

Items you will need

  • Cotton swabs
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Commercial insecticidal soap or dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Neem oil


  • Spray soap or neem oil on a small area and wait 24 hours before treating the entire plant. Some plants are sensitive and may be damaged.
  • Inspect houseplants for mealybugs each time you water. A few pests are easier to eradicate than a full-blown infestation.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

Photo Credits

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