Nasty Gnats: How To Keep Them Away from your Houseplants For Good

What are gnats?

Gnats are small flying insects that are attracted to your rotten fruit, rubbish and sometimes your beloved houseplants. For the most part gnats will not affect the health of your plant. In fact your plants probably don’t even know they are there. These gnats are only interested in wet or moist soil that they can live and lay their eggs in. Although not harmful to our plants, they can be very annoying and multiply quickly if action is not taken.

How to avoid gnats in your home:

Bottom watering

To avoid attracting any nasty gnats in the first place, it’s best to bottom water your plants. Get a large flat tray, container, bathtub or sink with an inch of filtered or rain water. Place your plants into the water in only their nursery pots. Leave your plants for 15-20 minutes to soak up any water they might need. To avoid letting the soil get overly wet never leave your plants in water for longer than an hour. 

Buy houseplants that love dry soil

Gnats are not attracted to dry soil. Gnats will only want to live and lay their eggs in soil that is wet or overly moist. It’s good to keep your plants on the drier side or only bring plants into your home that like dry soil. Houseplants like Sammy the snake plant (Sansevieria), Alex the Aloe Vera, Ian the Cast Iron (Aspidistra) and Percy the ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea Recurvata) like their soil to completely dry out before watering again will unlikely attract gnats. Only having plants in your home that like dry soil is an ideal way of keeping gnats away from your plant babies.

Taking action when you discover gnats:

1. Replacing the first inch of soil

One of the best things you can do when you first discover gnats living in the soil is to scoop out the first inch of potting soil from all your plants. There’s no need to re-pot the entire plant (unless you feel like it). The gnats will usually live and lay their eggs in the first inch of the soil because this is where the soil is usually very moist so removing just the first inch will do the trick. You can replace the first inch with fresh potting soil and sprinkle some cinnamon on top. The cinnamon acts as a natural fungicide to help keep the gnats from reappearing

2. Use apple cider vinegar

Grab a bowl and fill it with warm water. Pour in apple cider vinegar (2-3 teaspoons should be enough) then squeeze a few drops of washing up liquid into the bowl. Place the bowl next to your houseplants and allow the sweet smell of the apple cider vinegar to attract any gnats living in the soil. The washing up liquid is used to trap the gnats when they try to fly away. This bowl can be replaced weekly or whenever most of the gnats are caught. It’s worth mentioning that it will make your room smell like apple cider vinegar. If that smell is not your favourite, perhaps the best time to do this is when you plan to be away for a short duration of time.

3. Use fly traps

These sticky fly traps are very inexpensive and effective. They can be found on Amazon, Ebay and at local garden centres. Simply place them into the soil and the job is done. They’ll do a fantastic job at catching gnats that are flying in and out of the soil throughout the day.  If your space is full of houseplants it’s inevitable that you’ll see a few gnats flying about. The more houseplants you own, the more likely gnats will appear. Hopefully a few of our tips and tricks can keep your houseplants and home gnat-free. The best way to fight them off is to take action as soon as they appear.

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