How to get rid of gnats in houseplants — and keep the pests away

Gardening pros reveal nine great tips

A variety of houseplants of different sizes and in different planters on a wooden desk
(Image credit: Getty Images/FollowTheFlow)

There isn't much to loathe about greenery, but knowing how to get rid of gnats in houseplants might be the only sticking point we can find with our precious flora. 

As fellow plant parents, maintenance and care are at the top of our priority list, and we know frustrating it is to have these teeny critters flying about. We spoke to the experts on how best to get rid of these persistent pests and keep them away.

With nine points of guidance from our gardening pros, we'll help rid your indoor plants of gnats for good.

How to get rid of gnats in houseplants — 9 expert-backed ways

Gardening in an apartment is certainly different than growing anything outdoors. But if you thought some of nature's creepy crawlers would remain outside, far from the Chinese money plants and monstera on your shelves and tables, you're mistaken.

"Gnats are a pesky problem most plant parents will deal with at some point," says Fern Berg, plant and gardening expert and the founder of Treevitalize. "Luckily there are several ways to deal with gnats on your houseplants, and the key is making the plant’s environment less gnat-friendly."

Although they're not harmful and don't bite — most of them, anyway — gnats are a nuisance when you're trying to maintain an indoor garden. Three of the creepy crawlers you'll find in your abode include sewer gnats, fungus gnats, and fruit flies.

If you want a leafy green gloriously gnat-free, look no further.

Fern Berg
Fern Berg

Fern is the founder of Tree Vitalize, empowering home gardeners. She has planted and currently cares for over 100 different native and exotic fruit, nut, and ornamental trees. Given that she's on her way to becoming an IARC-certified horticulturist, you know dealing with gnats is something she has nipped in the bud.

1. Don't overwater your plants

A green watering can next to houseplants on the windowsill

(Image credit: Getty Images/Yulia Naumenko)

The best houseplants for an indoor garden are not only eye-catching to you, but they're a popular hangout for pests because you've likely left the soil too moist — something they love. 

"Work preventatively by allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between watering," advises Skylor Young, the co-owner and COO of The Plant Doctors

If you're fearful of overdoing it, a mister can give your plants the proper hydration without an excess of moisture sitting in the soil. 

The Plant Doctors
Skylor Young

Skylor Young is the co-owner and COO of The Plant Doctors, a women-owned business founded in 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Services include plant care for homes and businesses, as well as routine plant maintenance. (Obviously, gnats have come up at some point.)

2. Keep an eye on the soil

Houseplants in a windowsill with the soil on display and a red watering can next to it

(Image credit: Getty Images/Catherine Falls Commercial)

One of the biggest mistakes in learning how to care for houseplants, according to Stacy Ling, gardening expert and creator of Bricks 'n Blooms, is paying attention to the calendar instead of using your judgement. 

Even if a houseplant needs water on a weekly basis, that doesn't mean it's the be-all, end-all. If the the soil is still pretty moist, even after a week, consider holding off for a day or two. The important thing is to pay attention to how the soil, and plant in general, looks and feels.

"Make sure you let the top few centimeters of soil dry out before re-watering your plant," Fern says. "Your plant will thank you, the gnats won’t."

Stacy ling
Stacy Ling

Stacy Ling is a gardener with over 25 years of experience. She created the blog Bricks ’n Blooms from her 1850 farmhouse located in gardening zone 6a northern New Jersey. She is the author of the forthcoming The Bricks 'n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden

3. Target the larvae

A variety of houseplants in different planters in front of a window in a home

(Image credit: Getty Images/Capchure)

In order to get rid of gnats, you have to concern yourself with how they got there in the first place. Your moist soil is a breeding ground for adult gnats to lay their eggs.

"Getting the moisture levels in your plants soil right will be the first step in eliminating this annoying critter," Fern says. "A solution of one-part 3% hydrogen peroxide to four-parts water works well to kill any larvae in the soil. Wait for the top few centimeters of soil to dry out, as you would before watering, and then apply the solution."

4. Use a natural insecticide spray

A hand spraying houseplants with something liquid

(Image credit: Getty Images/Anna Blazhuk)

If you want to kiss the gnats goodbye, try a gnat spray such as 203 Sierra Natural Science, available on Amazon for a gnat-busting boost.

This is a natural solution created from 100% pure rosemary and clove botanical extracts. Considering peppermint, thyme, and rosemary are some of the most effective natural elements for the job, you'll feel good about going this route. 

5. Make your own solution

A white person's hand is showing holding a misting bottle that is mid-spraying a translucent liquid on a plant in terracotta pot by a windowsill

(Image credit: Getty Images/visualspace)

Who can resist a garden DIY? There are plenty of benefits of houseplants, so we'd recommend taking any extra steps available to help rid them of pests.

"Create your own trap using a solution of 1 tablespoon of sugar, two drops of dish soap, and 1 cup of white vinegar," Fern recommends. "Add this mixture to a small container with several small holes poked into the lid, the gnats will be able to get into the container, but not back out."

6. Use sticky traps

Sticky yellow plant trap in a house plant

(Image credit: Getty Images/Dima Berlin)

Garsum Fruit Fly Sticky Traps on Amazon are not only effective, water and UV-resistant, and suitable for indoor and outdoor usage, but they're non-toxic and pesticide-free.

Other brands, including Springco Yellow Sticky Traps (a small business brand on Amazon) offer cute designs to match with the plants, so why not invest in a protective method that complements your green aesthetic? 

7. Use an electric fly swatter

Electric fly swatter on an orange ombré background

(Image credit: Amazon)

While we can't promise the eco-friendly accolades of the Garsum Fruit Fly Sticky Traps, the GAIATOP Electric Fly Swatter on Amazon will certainly get the job done. What's more, it's suitable for indoor and outdoor gardens alike. 

8. Use rotting produce

A wooden fruit bowl with a pineapple, bananas, apples, and oranges on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Getty Images/Catherine Falls Commercial)

Perhaps the only thing that gnats love as much as moist soil is fruit that's gone bad. Before you throw out your apples and part ways with those squishy avocados, you can lure the pests from your houseplants with something they love before trapping them, sharpish. Sneaky!

9. Watch your surroundings

A country-style kitchen with plants and herbs near the skin and window

(Image credit: Getty Images/Andreas von Einsiedel)

A common houseplant mistake is not being attentive to your surroundings, such as the plant's moist soil. Speaking of which, the overall environment in your house or apartment has high humidity, you might want to consider one of the best dehumidifiers on shelves for your space. 

Gnats are also attracted to fruit that's turning bad, so be mindful of what's on the kitchen table, as well as food that gets caught in the drain of the sink. Though it goes without saying, make sure to take out the trash regularly. 

Curious to know what type of creepy crawler is messing with your plants? We spoke to experts and learned how to identify houseplant pests so that you know what you're dealing with — and how best to get rid of them. 

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.