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How to get rid of fungus gnats in houseplants- 10 Proven Tips

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I hate fungus, gnats! And if you’ve got them, you know just how annoying they can be. They are the worst! And they can be tough to get rid of! But, today, I am happy to report my home has been fungus gnat free for over six months! And to celebrate, I thought I would share how to get rid of fungus gnats in houseplants forever!

How to get rid fungus gnats in plants forever!

How to get rid of fungus gnats forever!

What are fungus gnats?

Fungus gnats are small flies that infest plants’ potting mix. Their larvae feed on the organic matter in soil and chew plant roots. Fungus gnats can be a problem in greenhouses, nurseries, and indoor potted plants.

Adult fungus gnats are a major nuisance!

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How did I get fungus gnats in the first place? 

The most common way for fungus gnats to get into your house is either as stowaways in newly purchased plants or a new bag of potting soil.

That’s why it’s a good practice to isolate new houseplants when you first bring them home and treat them as if they have fungus gnats, just in case.  

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Killing Fungus gnats can be challenging

Fungus gnats are super challenging to eliminate. And the more houseplants you have, the worse the fungus gnats can get!

The adults fly or jump from one plant to the next, laying eggs wherever they find moist soil. 

The good news is that the adult fungus gnats only live for a few days! So that means once all the larvae are dead, your fungus gnat problem should be but a memory in no time!

Ok! Let’s get this show on the road.

How to get rid of fungus gnats in houseplants for good! 

First things first. Cut down the number of adult gnats.

Just one fungus gnat can lay as many as 200 eggs in a short time. So first things first. Cutting down the number of adult fungus gnats is only half the battle, but it’s the best place to start.

Garden Safe Insect killer (Safe for indoors)

This insect killer from Garden Safe is the first product I reached for. It did kill many of the adult gnats flying around, which helped a ton, but I don’t think it helped with the eggs. It’s definitely worth the $6 price tag! However, the smell is pretty darn bad.

I have since moved on to using neem oil which I think works better and is a natural choice.

Use Neem Oil + Water to combat gnats

Mix a neem oil solution with water (Follow directions on the label). Mix well. Using a clean spray bottle, spray all plant surfaces (including the undersides of leaves) and soil until the entire plant and dirt are completely wet.

I did this about twice a week or so at first.

Insecticidal Soap

I purchased this insecticidal Soap and used it about once a week to lessen the number of adult gnats. It works well to kill the adult gnats, but I will warn you -the smell isn’t my favorite.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Using apple cider vinegar, water, and dish soap, you can make a fungus gnat trap.

Mix water, apple cider vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap and put them in a shallow dish near the infected plants.

This mixture will attract the fungus gnats and kill them. Make sure the mix is at least 1/4 inch deep. lure gnats away from their plants with a shallow container such as a jar lid filled with half water and half vinegar

Mosquito Bits for fungus gnats

These little “bits” are the bomb! Fungus gnats diminish quickly when I bring out the mosquito bits!

Don’t let the name fool you. These tiny granules control Fungus gnats as well as mosquitos! Just sprinkle the mosquito bits on top of the soil and water to activate.

They work great!

Hydrogen peroxide for fungus gnats!

When I first heard about using this hydrogen peroxide mixture to kill fungus gnats, I was put off by it. I was a little afraid that the solution would harm my plants.

But as these little pests persisted- I decided to try it. And to my surprise- this concoction seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. YAY!

Mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 4 parts distilled water. Water plants as usual. 

Watering plants with this solution brings extra oxygen to your plant roots, which my plants seemed to love!

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Use Yellow Sticky traps for fungus gnats!

These little yellow sticky traps work great to take down many of those flying pests. The gnats are attracted to yellow, and then they get stuck and die. You will be shocked at the number of gnats you will capture with these yellow sticky traps! It’s just crazy!

Using neem oil, insecticidal soap, and catching them with these sticky yellow flowers effectively controls the adult population; but will not take care of the problem at the source (the larvae).

Gross, I know!

Now that you’ve eliminated the adult gnats’ good chunk, it’s time to go after the eggs and the larvae.

How to remove the fungus gnats larvae in soil

I avoided this step because I didn’t want to deal with the mess. But I have to tell you- Removing the infested soil is key!

Here’s how:

Remove the top inch of potting soil (dispose of the old soil in an outside garbage container) and replace it with brand-new potting soil. Replacing the top layer of soil will remove fungus gnat eggs and larvae.

I often go ahead and transplant the entire plant, replacing all of its soil. But, sometimes, it’s just as easy, and then you know that you’ve removed all the infested soil.

Control soil moisture

1) Water plants from the bottom

Bottom watering your plants will make it easier to maintain dryer topsoil without risking the plant’s overall health.

To bottom water my plants- I put them into a tray filled with distilled water and allow them to drink as much water as they want, which takes about an hour or so.

This will lessen the moisture on the top layer of the soil, but it allows each plant to drink what they require. No overwatering! Bonus!

2) Add soil covers

Add a fresh layer of sand, gravel, or decorative moss to the top layer of new soil. Covering the top layer of the soil controls the moisture in the ground, which deters gnats from laying eggs. 

Covering the top layer of the soil gives the houseplants a nice added/decorative touch too!

*Never leave the potting mix in an open bag as fungus gnats as that’s a perfect breeding ground for fungus gnats. Instead, when I purchase new potting soil, I transfer it to a bid with a tight-fitting lid.

Alrighty then! I think that’s a wrap!

How to get rid of fungus gnats in houseplants forever!

I promise you-since I followed these steps-I have not seen one fungus gnat! And I hope you will have as much success as I have!

Until next time,

XO, Christine

How to get rid of fungus gnats forever!

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