Got gnats?.. last year I had plenty ..This year I have None! Thanks to some simple tips that saved my plants and my sanity. Fungus gnats are a specie of gnat that are commonly found indoors. I saw these gnats everywhere. They occupied my home, taking up residents in my houseplants and my basement. At my local garden centers I spotted them flying around the latest arrival of plants.
I found them annoying but my lack of knowledge concerning their existence didn't give rise to any specific concerns or red flags! In my inexperienced mind.. these insects were just a part of life, bugs came with the territory..
You got plants..You Got dirt..You Got gnats and other critters that like your plants as much as you do. This concept almost caused me to lose my Chinese evergreen a plant I purchased for it's noted ease of care and beauty. I purchased it from my local home and garden store it was dense and beautiful. It's unique contrast of dark and light green patterns on broad pointy leaves, make it a stunning specimen and I was thrilled to own it.
After about a week or two, it suddenly became limp and turned yellow. I was mortified!, What have I done! did I over water it? I stared at it in total anguish and disbelief.... Maybe I have it placed in to much light?.. Maybe the room is to drafty? If it's sick why? it was fabulous a week or so ago! What happened!
Oh my God please don't tell me that I just killed this beautiful plant!
Chinese Evergreen -Aglaonema
I decided to get to the bottom of this literally...I grabbed some news paper, purchased new soil and got out my planting equipment. As I prepared my table for dissecting my evergreen..I surveyed and studied my other collection of houseplants which are Golden and Marble queen pothos, English Ivy, a Jade, Ponytails, and a few Cactus. Gnats were flying around and sitting on most of my houseplants and they appeared fine but I wasn't taking any chances they too were getting a check up.
I grabbed my evergreen and begin moving some of the top soil around to check for crawling nemesis..as I did so a couple of gnats emerged out of the soil followed but a dozen others! I began to dig a little deeper and every inch reviled more gnats! I had a gnat infestation and I feared the same fate for all the other plants. My first step was to search the net for some info on this matter and the solution I found was surprisingly simple.
Neem oil was my choice for an insecticide simply because it's organic and non-toxic to me and my environment.
Jade- crassula ovata
I removed all the soil from my evergreen completely, sprayed it's roots with Neem oil and placed it in new soil. This step was repeated with all my other houseplants. For I read that by the time you have discovered a gnat flying around your plants there maybe a nursery of baby gnats already present in your soil.
Days passed and all of my plants rebounded with-out incident except my Jade and Chinese evergreen. They continued to falter, leaves shriveled up and fell from my jade and the evergreen continued to yellow and go limp and a third of it rotted and died.
Desperate I returned to the internet for some answers and learned that certain plants are very sensitive to some pesticides, even those that are derived from botanical sources, so please take care to learn your plants sensitivities and read the care instructions before applying any insecticide/pesticide.
I soaked the roots of both the jade and evergreen in a shallow pan of water hoping to remove traces of the Neem. In the mean time I search the internet again and found an answer and solution that was So simple, and So darn easy I felt stupid when I finished reading it.
I was instructed to allow the soil in my houseplants to dry out completely between watering and to add a little sand to help improve drainage.
Fungus gnats love and thrive on moist soil, moist organic matter and dampness, which are perfect mediums for them to lay eggs. Dry and well drained soil prevents this problem.. gnat eggs won't survive and will die in dry soil. This solution worked so well for me I no longer needed any insecticide to deter them! I only watered them when they were almost bone dry! a risky undertaking but one that work for me.
It has been a year since this incident and this winter my Chinese evergreen is green once again although not bushy and full like it was when I first purchased it and my Jade is putting out new leaves. Yippy!
So here are a few simple tips to help you keep gnats out or cut down their populations if they are already present in your home.
When possible purchase the lightest soils you can find because Some houseplant soils that are frequently sold at our garden centers are too heavy and hang on to water and if gnats are already dancing around plants in the store..duh! pass them by!
Watch for leaking facets and other sources wear water tends to leak. keep an eye on places like your attic and basement for creatures such as dead birds and vermin.
Mops, kitty litter pans and garbage cans attract these tiny critters as well so keep them clean and dry!
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