Gnats in houseplants are inevitable. However, there are ways to prevent these critters from invading your indoor plants. When creating zen and minimal indoor space, plants are an integral element for us. During a slow morning routine, I started to notice small insects/gnats buzzing around my plants, even a headspace meditation couldn’t get me to breathe out of that situation. So how can you get rid of these annoying gnats?
Let’s dive right in.
Firstly, overwatering is the number one cause of gnats and fungi. Soil that has been wet for too long (no dry periods between watering) is the perfect breeding grounds for gnats, fungi, and even root rot. Gnats can lay up to 300 eggs in your soil. While they are not necessarily harmful to you, they are incredibly annoying. So, the first preventative step is to make sure you’re not overwatering.
A good measure is to feel the soil and if it’s moist, wait a few days till your next watering. Just like with baking, you can also insert a toothpick into the soil. If soil sticks to the toothpick, it’s not time for watering yet.
Picking the correct pots are also important. Try to look for pots with a draining hole at the bottom, this will ensure that the water in your soil is actually draining and that your plant is not just soaking in a pool. Decorative pots are beautiful too, but if they don’t have a draining hole, make sure to mix some perlite with your soil or pot your plant in a nursery pot first. If you are bringing a new plant home, you can also quarantine it for a week or so in a transparent plastic box, in case it has larvae or gnats, it will not infest your other plants.
What if there are already gnats and fungus in your houseplants?
1. Neem Oil
This is one of our go-tos for gnats and fungus. It works as a preventative measure, but also as a remedy. Neem oil comes from the seeds of Azadirachta Indica (Neem Tree), which is native to the Indian subcontinent. You can find Neem oil at most plant stores. We recommend purchasing a cold extracted and high purity Neem oil, this is usually most effective. Our favourite method is mixing a few drops of Neem oil and dish soap with water, then using it as a spray for our plant’s foliage. This way, when pests are feeding off your plant, they will ingest the Neem oil as well, which will kill them. That said, Neem oil is pet friendly and doesn’t harm bees or butterflies.
2. Ceylon Cinnamon
Or True Cinnamon, is a great natural way to get rid of gnats and fungus, and it makes your house smell like an afternoon latte. This may be harder to locate, but look for them in plant stores or even organic stores. You can sprinkle this on top of your soil and it will prevent fungus and gnats from laying their eggs. You can also mix 2 tbs of cinnamon in 2 cups of water, let it sit for an hour or so, then drain it and use it as a natural anti-fungal spray.
3. 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is very accessible. You can find this at your local pharmacy. Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria and fungi in the soil. Because it has an additional oxygen element, hydrogen peroxide increases the oxygen levels in your soil, which means your plants will absorb more nutrients. 3% hydrogen peroxide is considerably watered down, but make sure to dilute it more before using it on your plants.
Pouring directly onto soil:
Our favourite formula is using 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide and 1 or 2 parts water. You can pour this directly on your soil and it will kill off the larvae and stops fungi from feeding off the roots of your plants.
As a spray:
This method will act as a preventative measure from pests. You can spray it directly on the foliage and it will act as a ‘bug spray’. Because it goes directly on the leaves, this solution will need to be more diluted. We suggest 1 tsp of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 1 cup of water.
4. Sticky Gnat Traps
As mentioned, we do suggest quarantining new houseplants. This way if the plant is infested, it will be easier to control. While it’s in quarantine you can also attach some sticky gnat traps to your pot so if there are gnats buzzing around it will be trapped on the pads. If there are visible gnats around the plant in the store, don’t purchase it.
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