‘Effective deterrent’ for flies and gnats lurking around houseplants

Houseplants: RHS advises on watering techniques

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Flies are active throughout the year though fungus gnats, which are common houseplant pests, are most prevalent in late summer and autumn. These small creatures love damp soil and need fungi to thrive, but they can be stopped in their tracks by top-dressing your pots. Gardening experts have shared the best ingredients to use on top of the soil to banish fungus gnats and flies from your home.

Overwatering is one of the leading causes of fungus gnats and is a particular problem in autumn and winter when houseplant growth slows down.

Sticky traps, bowls of vinegar and fragrant sprays are all quick fixes to get rid of indoor flies, yet none of them tackles the root cause of the problem.

Top dressing, however, is more useful as it disrupts the life cycle of pesky gnats.

Homes and Gardens gardening expert, Rachel Crow said: “You may want to cover the top of your soil with fine sand or small stones to prevent gnats from laying their eggs.

“This can be an effective deterrent when paired with other prevention methods.”

Top dressing is as simple as covering the soil surface with dried mulch to create a barrier between the soil surface and pests.

Gravel, grit, or ornamental glass pebbles are ideal for top-dressing, or you can use a mixture of each.

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Any non-organic, solid material will work as top dressing according to a gardening expert at The Next Gardener, though some ingredients are more suited to certain plants.

For example, river rock is considered the most useful for weed-prone plants both in and out of the house.

Glass pebbles or stones are ideal for succulents.

A thin layer just 1cm deep is all you need to stop flies from reproducing in moist soil.

Before adding top dressing to potted plants, you should remove all gnats from the existing compost.

In very damp soil with poor drainage it may be best to re-pot the plant entirely.

When doing this, avoid using homemade compost that contains organic matter as this could attract more gnats or larger flies.

Always wait for the soil to completely dry out before topping the plant.

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How to prevent fungus gnats

In addition to adding topsoil ingredients to houseplants, gardening expert Rachel Crow recommended taking a few extra preventative steps.

She said: “Using cinnamon in your soil is also a creative way of preventing fungus gnat infestations.

“Cinnamon is a natural fungicide, which helps control fungus growth and control gnat infestations.”

Spraying your plants with a diluted white vinegar spray can also help to disperse lingering flies.

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