How to Get Rid of Gnats in Plants the Best Way

by | Cleaning, Living

Now that I am a plant mama, I have also become an expert in how to get rid of gnats in plants. Not by choice, I may add. But out of necessity. 

I love fresh flowers. My hubby does a good job of keeping lovely ones in our kitchen. But they have to be replaced every so many days. I thought it would be a nice addition to our home to add a few potted plants and save some money. 

Shortly after welcoming my first few plant babies into our home, I inadvertently invited the pesky little gnats into our home as well. It was a booger to get rid of them. 

Lucky for you, you can learn from my journey. I educated myself quickly. Trust me! I had to learn fast because gnats get out of hand quickly. 

You can read about how I got rid of them in my house here once you’ve finished learning how to get rid of gnats in plants.

Let’s get to it! 

How to Get Rid of Gnats in Plants

I will share 4 things you can do to get your plants gnat free. In addition, I want to make sure you understand what caused the gnat infestation of your plants, what to look for, and how to prevent a reinfestation. 

In this blog you will learn the following:

  1. How to get rid of gnats in plants
  2. How plants get invaded by gnats
  3. The Impact on your plants
  4. How to prevent gnats from invading your plant babies 

Repot Your Plant

One of the first things you can do to get rid of gnats in your plants is to repot them. Later in this article, I will tell you more in-depth about how overwatering can cause gnats. 

how to get rid of gnats in plants

For now, remove your plant from the planter or pot. Be careful! I suggest turning the pot on its side and gently removing the plant. You may need to tap on the pot and pull gently.

Once you have done this, remove as much of the old soil as possible. In addition, clean the pot out.

Next, add a new potting mix and then your plant. Water your plant in its new home, but not too much. Remember, overwatering can cause the gnats to come back. 

I would also suggest making sure that you use a potter with holes in them. Like the ones here. This will help to prevent overwatering. By using these, once you water your plant the excess water will drain.

Here is a hack for you too. You can put rocks at the bottom of the planter. This too will create a place for excess water to drain.

Use Traps

I talked about several traps in the article I wrote, How to Get Rid of Gnats Once and For All. My suggestion is to read this article once you’ve finished this article. It will give you several options not mentioned here including a hack. 

However, here are some very effective products you can use as well.

  • Gnat Stix Traps are made in the US. I like that! They are also non-toxic and are safe to use around children, pets, and food. 
  • Aunt Fannie’s Fly Punch is another great option. It is also manufactured in the USA. It’s safe near food and food prep areas when used as directed. It is made from a blend of specialized vinegar and ferment. It also lasts for 30 days.
  • The Katchy Indoor Insect Trap is by far my favorite. However, it’s a little pricer compared to the other products mentioned and you will need to purchase the sticky boards for them. But it does work ah-mazi-ng! I can’t sing its praises enough. You can also get the sticky boards here.  

Use a Spray Solution to Get Rid of the Eggs

According to Home Depot, gnats are one of few insects that you can successfully treat using home remedies. If you go this route and you find the infestation to be too great you still can use the home remedies alongside other options.

Dish soap mixture. 

how to get rid of gnats in plants
  • Mix a tablespoon of your favorite dish soap that has a lemon scent with two liters of warm water.
  • Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. I like using glass bottles like these.
  • Spray the plant well with the soap solution. Be sure to spray the soil, stem, and leaves really well too.

Lemond Castile Liquid Soap

  • Make this mixture by using 2 tablespoons of the lemon Castile liquid soap,  2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper in a gallon container.  
  • Mix the solution well by shaking the container. 
  • Next, pour the solution into a spray bottle.
  • Spray the plant liberally. Make sure you get the leaves on top and under the leaf. 

Hydrogen Peroxide Solution 

  • Drench the soil of the plant in 3% hydrogen peroxide. You can use food grade. This solution will kill the larvae in the soil. You will still need the above solution to kill the actual gnat population that is present. 

Neem oil Solution 

  • Use 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish soap (this will allow the oil and water to mix) and 2 tablespoons of cold-pressed raw neem oil into a gallon of water.
  • Shake the solution well.
  • Pour 2 no more than 4 cups of the mixture directly into the soil at the next watering.
  • You can also spray the leaves and stem to kill the adult gnats on contact. 

You may have to spray the solutions for several days for a few weeks to ensure that you totally eradicate the gnats. 

how to get rid of gnats in plants

Let the Soil Dry

Lastly, you can let the soil dry. How does this work you may ask? 

Well, gnats need wet soil to lay their eggs. So, if you make where they naturally like to live inhospitable, then it will kill off the eggs that are there and their once moist home will not be appealing to the adult gnat. This will discourage the adults to stop laying their eggs in the dry soil. 

Now, be careful. Don’t allow the soil to stay dry so long that your plants die. This might go without saying. However, if you are a new plant mommy like me then it is better stated. 

I’ve also learned that when our plants get too dry, they will start to tell you with their droopy leaves. Watering it will bring it back almost immediately.

What Causes Gnats to Get into Your Plants

As much as it is important to find out how to get rid of gnats in plants, it’s just as important if not more important to understand what causes them in the first place.

There could be many causes of a gnat infestation in plants. It’s important to find out what may be causing the infestation in your plants if you can. 

The three most common ways that may have caused or contributed to your infestation are: 

1. Organic Debris

Gnats feed on rotting organic debris in potting soil. They reproduce by laying their eggs in the potting soil. Once they hatch they feed on this organic matter. After a couple of weeks, they begin to pupate, and eventually, you will have adult gnats. This should help you understand why you need to treat the soil of your plant and in some cases repot altogether. While it’s important to kill the gnats that you see, it’s even more important to kill the eggs that they lay that you may not see. 

2. Wet Soil

Overwatering your plant(s) is another common cause of gnats. Being a new plant mommy and not knowing what I was doing, I believe this is what caused my gnat infestation. I simply watered my plants too much. When the soil of the plant is kept moist too often, it creates the perfect environment for gnats to live and reproduce. 

3. Light Sources

Both male and female gnats are strongly attracted to light. They may show up around windows, doors, TVs, and interior lighting. However, this behavior is often useful when you use tools like the Kathy trap. Once they go toward the light, the catching airflow of the Katchy traps them and they eventually are stuck to the sticky glue board.

Prevent gnats from getting youe plants

how to get rid of gnats in plants

Now that you know how to get rid of them and what causes them, let’s talk about how to prevent them from returning. Don’t be mistaken, they will return if you are not persistent.

Take the following actions to prevent gnats from getting into your plants.

  • Don’t overwater your plant babies. I can’t say this enough. If you are new to plant life, start out by really researching the plant you are caring for. Understand how much water it needs. This can be tricky. If you water too much you can get gnats. If you don’t water enough your plant can die. Strike the perfect balance. 
  • Use a pot with drainage. This is a great strategy in case you just can’t help yourself with overwatering your plant. These types of pots will allow excess water to drain out. Also, remember that you can create this effect by putting rocks at the bottom of the pot. 
  • Let’s use a bottom watering technique. This is an act of watering the plant from the bottom. You will need a pot with drainage to do this. You will simply put the plant in another try filled with water enough for the water to spill over in the pot causing the plant to be watered from the bottom up. Allow the plant to soak in this fashion for about 20 minutes then remove the plant and pour out any water in the drainage area of the pot. 
  • Establish an appropriate watering routine. Most plants will need to be watered once or twice a week. Once you understand how often and how much your particular plant needs to be water, consistently do it. I like to set reminders using my phone or Alexa.
  • Allow the top few inches of your soil to dry out before you water your plant. Remember, gnats like moist environments. You want to keep the top layers dry. Just because the top layers are dry doesn’t mean the roots are.

Signs that you might have a gnat infestation 

  • Little to no plant growth. Earlier I mentioned the fact that it’s not always what you see that matters, but what you can’t see. With that said, larvae (laid by adult gnats) eat your plant’s roots. This can eventually impact your plants’ ability to absorb nutrients. Ultimately causing your plant to die.  
  • If you see tiny flies surrounding your plant. Well no stuff! If you see tiny little flies hanging around your plant, then you could beat that you have gnats. And if you see them then there are also larvae in your soil waiting to eventually turn into adult gnats who are ready to lay their own larvae. 
  • If your plant roots start to rot. Often, overwatering a plant will eventually cause your roots to rot. Again, gnats love to live and reproduce in moist soil. If you see symptoms of root rot there is a big chance that you may have gnats. 

How to prevent a reinfestation 

When you are thinking about how to prevent a reinfestation, I think you have to think past just your plant. 

It has been my experience that having an infestation of gnats in plants leads to an infestation in your house. Well, I am assuming that your plants are in your house. Gnats hardly ever remain only in your plants. 

As I mentioned earlier, I go into great detail about how to keep gnats out of your home and many are the same ones that I would suggest for preventing a reinfestation in plants. 

Happy gnat-free living!

Do you have any questions or tips on how to get rid of gnats in plants? Have you used something that has been effective in treating gnats in plants? Lastly, has this been helpful? Let me know in the comments below! 

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and/or researched. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me, which helps me run this blog and keep all of my in-depth content free of charge for readers (like you).

6 Comments

  1. Kara

    These are Great tips!! I’ve been a plant mom since August of 2020 and could use some pointers in pest prevention and removal. I need something in my repertoire for sure. This definitely is a post I’m coming back to for future reference.

    Reply
  2. Kelly Krebs

    I was wondering why I have so many gnats this summer! It might be my plants. I’m a new plant mama and I need all the tips I can get. Thank you so much for posting this! I’m gonna look up all my plants and see how much watering they need

    Reply
    • Cindy Lumpkin

      That is a great idea!! There are a few apps out there that can help you keep up with it as well.

      Reply
  3. Daphne

    I had to read this because we have had this issue with a snake plant! Thanks!

    Reply

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