Say Goodbye to Soil Gnats: 5 Simple (Organic) Tips for Healthy Plant Growth

Say Goodbye to Soil Gnats: 5 Simple (Organic) Tips for Healthy Plant Growth

Are you tired of feeling like you're in a never-ending battle with soil gnats? Those pesky little buggers always seem to show up out of nowhere and start feasting on your precious plants. It's hard to know what will kill soil fungus gnats without killing your actual plant.

Fear not, green thumb warriors! We've got some tips and tricks to help you prevent soil gnats and keep your green babies thriving at the same time.

The Problem with Typical Gnat Prevention

Before we dive into the fun stuff, let's talk about the long-term effects that some prevention methods may have on your plant's health. While chemical insecticides, systemic granules, or pesticides might seem like a quick fix, they can also harm the beneficial soil microorganisms that help keep your soil healthy, among other undesirable things. Bottom-watering can seem like a solid prevention method, although the long term consequences of exclusively bottom-watering your plants are detrimental to plant health as well. So, let's choose prevention methods that are both effective and safe for our plants, our pets, our children, and the environment.

Bottom-watering can seem like a solid prevention method, although the long term consequences of exclusively bottom-watering your plants are detrimental to plant health.

preventing soil gnats the right way

4 Easy Tips for Preventing and Destroying Indoor Soil Gnats

Here are 3 organic, environmentally friendly, pet friendly, child friendly ways to prevent and destroy soil and fungus gnats:

1. Keep a dry environment.

First and foremost, to prevent soil gnats, wait until the top 30-40% of your soil is completely dry before watering again. Not only is constantly moist soil a problem which causes root rot, it's like an invitation for gnats to come set up house. An easy way to check for this is by using a dry, wood chopstick and pushing it into the soil. Dry top soil will discourage gnats from laying their eggs in soil. 

Wait until the top 30-40% of your soil is completely dry before the next time you water your plant.

organic treatment for soil fungus gnats

2. Allow water drainage.

Second, make sure your plant has proper drainage (aka "drainage holes"). Proper watering will fully saturate the soil and allow plenty of excess water to drain out the bottom of the plant. After watering, promptly soak up or pour out any standing water drained into the pot reservoir. Learn more about why top watering is an essential plant care step.

3. Repel and destroy larvae with organic Big Leaf Energy®.

Step three includes giving your plants a generous soak of Big Leaf Energy® on the soil after watering. This amazing, organic product not only repels gnats but also kills flying gnats and their larvae, stopping their babies from feeding. And as if that weren't enough, the compounds in Big Leaf Energy® will help improve your plant's growth. Talk about a double whammy! In the beginning phases of treating for gnats, you can spray the top soil every 3 days after the initial soak to make sure no gnats come back. 

soil gnat treatment
Some of the ingredients in Big Leaf Energy® have been found to "increase nutrient uptake and plant biomass" (Gao, 2017)

4. Soil strategies

As a fourth step, in extreme cases, you can remove the top inch (or two) of soil to physically remove the gnat larvae. Consider using inorganic materials such as horticultural sand, perlite, or vermiculite. These materials improve drainage, prevent soil compaction, and create an unfavorable environment for gnat infestations. Alternatively, decorative stones or pebbles can be used for aesthetic purposes while also deterring gnats from accessing the soil surface. However, keep in mind that some plants may not tolerate the added weight or possible heat stress, so be sure to do your research before adding this step. While it's not a silver bullet solution, this trick will create a physical barrier that hinders gnats from laying their eggs in the soil.

Adding pebbles to top soil may help prevent soil gnats, but some plants will not tolerate the added weight or potential heat stress they may cause.

More Ideas to Get Rid of Soil Gnats

More creative options for gnat reduction include introducing traps and predators to help control gnats. Yellow sticky traps are effective at catching adult gnats in mid-air. Place them horizontally across the top of the soil for optimal results. In addition, beneficial nematodes can be used to hunt and eliminate gnat larvae, as well as other soil-borne pests.

With these simple yet effective tips, you can prevent soil gnats from wreaking havoc on your beloved plants. Don't let those pesky bugs get in the way of your plant parent dreams. With a little bit of Big Leaf Energy® and some patience, your plants will be thriving in no time.

Happy planting, friends!

organic fungus gnat treatment indoors
Big Leaf Energy® is available at Bless Your Soil® and Amazon.com

References

  1. Koul, O., Singh, R., & Singh, J. (2004). Insect antifeedant activities of cinnamaldehyde and related compounds against lepidopteran larvae. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 52(12), 3869-3873.
  2. Kim, S. J., Jung, C. S., Kang, K. J., & Lee, S. G. (2017). The repellent and insecticidal activity of clove and eucalyptus oil compounds against the sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 20(2), 491-495.
  3. Bucklin, R. A., Hamlen, R. A., & Andrews, J. H. (1990). Influence of neem seed extract on the fungus gnat Bradysia impatiens (Diptera: Sciaridae) and its fungal symbionts. Journal of Economic Entomology, 83(2), 563-569.
  4. Hassan, M. M., Pavel, M. A., & Hossain, M. A. (2018). Effect of neem-based formulations on the population of fungus gnat, Bradysia sp. (Diptera: Sciaridae), and the growth of tomato seedlings. Bangladesh Journal of Agricultural Research, 43(4), 621-630.
  5. Landa, Z., Janošková, M., & Svobodová, Z. (2018). Evaluation of neem-based preparations against fungus gnats (Bradysia spp.). Crop Protection, 112, 60-66.

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