Inside: Are you wondering how to get rid of fungus gnats? Although annoying, it’s best to get rid of them before they reproduce. Find out what you need to do to not only prevent fungus gnats from invading your houseplants but what to do to eradicate them.
Today, I’m going to share with you the best way how to get rid of fungus gnats in houseplants.
You just jumped on the houseplant bandwagon. You went crazy purchasing a bunch of new plant babies at once. Everything looked great. They’re flourishing in their new home and bringing a smile to your face.
Then the inevitable happens.
You find yourself in a war with fungus gnats.
Don’t worry, you’re going to win this fight!
Those pesky little annoying bugs are enough to make a new plant parent crazy. It’s exciting learning about the care requirements of your new plants, but who wants to spend time learning how to get rid of fungus gnats in your houseplants?
This is the first step how you get rid of fungus gnats
The first thing you need to do is to prevent fungus gnats from ever finding your home, let alone your plants.
Fungus gnats are attracted to moist growing medium (aka, soil). The more you water your plants, the more they’re going to be prone to attracting fungus gnats. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t water your plants, but only water them when they truly need to be watered.
Certain houseplants enjoy moist soil. It’s those plants you’ll need to keep a very close eye on. Those will typically be the ones doing the attracting.
What causes fungus gnats in indoor plants?
We already know fungus gnats are attracted to moisture. 9 out of 10 times the fungus gnats you find lurking around your plants came from the soil it was planted in, or, it hitched a ride into your home while you brought the plant home from the nursery.
Fungus gnats are slippery little boogers. It’s like they have super-sonic radar that detects humidity.
Most times the fungus gnats will be drawn into a location that’s pretty high in humidity. You’ll find a lot of plant parents who own a humidifier have much more of a fungus gnat problem than people who don’t own one.
Fungus gnats are also attracted to bright lights, mold, and mildew.
Seeing how houseplants need light to survive, there’s nothing you can do about the light situation.
The mold and mildew would be from excessive moisture in your home, not the white fluffy-looking stuff that’s hanging around your terra-cotta pots. That’s not mold. It’s actually salt and mineral buildup from your tap water.
The good, the bad, and the ugly of fungus gnats
Fungus gnats pretty much suck. The good news is, that the adult fungus gnats are pretty much harmless. It’s the larvae that cause the problems.
Larvae feed on algae, but they can also feed on your plant’s root structure, which can lead to root rot or stunted growth.
The best way how to get rid of fungus gnats in houseplants
There are a few ways you can get rid of fungus gnats, but wouldn’t it be better to prevent it from happening?
The number one best solution to ensure fungus gnats never find your plants is to always make sure the first 2 inches of soil are completely dry before watering. By doing this, the soil won’t seem so attractive to the fungus gnats. The best way to do this is to bottom water your plants; meaning, don’t water them from the top down – put the water in a saucer or whatever you use, and let the plant absorb the water from the roots.
Don’t freak out when it looks like the plants’ soil is dry. If your plant feels heavy when you lift it up; it’s watered enough.
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To prevent fungus gnats from being unwanted houseguests, adding Mosquito Bits to your soil is a great deterrent. This is my go-to product.
There are also a lot of different household items you can use to get rid of fungus gnats. From vinegar to laundry dryer sheets. I have some really great and effective DIY recipes to get rid of fungus gnats.
If you’re thinking about getting Mosquito Bits, they’re a tad toxic, so you’ll want to make sure you read the package directions before using them.
If you place Mosquito Bits on the top surface of your soil, once they get wet, they will start to mold. They’re still going to work; they’re just gonna look gross.
I typically aerate my soil and place some of the Mosquito Bits within the first inch of soil. I also add them every time I repot a plant.
You can also find sticky fruit fly traps on Amazon. I’ve purchased these traps and they work amazingly well. You’ll be surprised how many gnat corpses you’ll find attached to them. I know that’s gross, but, it’s better they get stuck on those than destroying your plants’ root system.
Repotting your plants is always another option for getting rid of fungus gnats
Although I wouldn’t recommend you repot all of your plants if you have fungus gnats, it is a solution.
If you’re going to go this route, repot your plants outside and rinse off the root structure before placing them in fresh soil. Make sure you use fresh soil and a fresh pot. If you repot your plant in the same pot you removed it from, you’re pretty much defeating the purpose.
You’ll want to make sure you don’t water the plant immediately after you changed out the soil. You just disrupted their home and now the fungus gnats are loitering around looking for a moist spot to relocate to.
Using essential oils to get rid of fungus gnats in houseplants
Essential oils are another great remedy to get rid of fungus gnats. In order to use essential oils, you’ll need to use a diffuser, or by diluting them in distilled or tap water. You’ll also need to make sure the essential oils you’re using are pure and contain nothing synthetic.
You will not want to put the essential oils directly on your plant or in the soil. You’ll want to mix them with water and spray it directly onto your plants.
Some essential oils that work great are:
- Tea Tree
Household cleaning products that will get rid of fungus gnats in houseplants
If you’re not one to want to go and buy pure essential oils or even store-bought pesticides, you can use household cleaning products to get rid of fungus gnats. Some of the items you can use are:
- Dryer sheets – Cut into strips of 1″ by 3″, depending on the size of your pot. You can either place the portion of the dryer sheet in the dish under the pot or scotch tape the edges of the dryer sheet to the pot.
- Hydrogen peroxide – Mix 3 parts hydrogen peroxide to 1 part water. Add to a spray bottle. Spray the undersides of the leaves and the stems. You can also spray this directly onto the soil. My preferred method is to pour the peroxide directly into the soil (not diluted with water). If you have a sticky trap when they fly out, they’ll get stuck to that.
Depending on how large your infected pot is, it may benefit you to fill a deep bowl or tub full of hydrogen peroxide. Remove the entire plant (with the soil intact), and place it in the bowl or tub. I’ll almost guarantee you, that all gnats will be lost at sea. Of course, you’ll have to repot your plant, but hey, it’s worth it.
- Liquid dish soap – Mix 2 to 3 drops of liquid dish soap into water. Add to a spray bottle. Slosh the mixture around instead of shaking it. Shaking will cause a bubble bath in the bottle. You can spray the soil with this mixture as well as the bottoms of the leaves and stems.
- Vinegar (apple cider and red wine) – Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar into a small bowl. Add 2 to 3 drops of dish soap. Cover with plastic wrap, and poke holes in the wrap. The gnats will be attracted to the scent, get trapped, and die.
Being a new plant parent is an exciting time in your life. It’s truly so rewarding to watch your little leafy friends go from being a small plant in a two-inch pot to a healthy adult plant. You give them the light, water, and nutrients they need. So as a plant parent, it’s your duty to keep them safe from the insects that want to take them from us.
How do you get rid of fungus gnats?
Have you had any issues with getting rid of fungus gnats in the past, or is this the first time you’ve had to tackle them? Share in a comment.