Houseplants are not a new topic around here. My love for them began long, long ago, in the everything-green pacific northwest. But it wasn’t until my twenties when I really appreciated the life they could bring into a space. I had my second apartment- a much less scarier place than the first. No longer was the Charles Manson wanna-be living down two doors down; and gone were the days of the old guy dressed as Spider Man who peered at me through the gap of his barely opened door. I was moving up in the world, folks.
At the time I was studying Illustration and wanted a place that was inspiring and studio like. Mom helped me get it all set up. Vintage advertising art was everywhere. Work tables, easels and supplies took over the living room. It was cute and quirky; but it lacked spark. On a whim, I picked up a couple houseplants. I’d never really cared about them before. I set a split-leaf philodendron on top of a low bookshelf, and plunked a Red Canna on the floor. The effect was breathtaking. Really! I was shocked. My little place had life in it! From that point on, I was a houseplant believer.
Those plants eventually went to my Mom, and I left the state. I definitely have more than two plants now. *ahem* While there’s some work in keeping them healthy, I find it quite therapeutic. They fill our home with life and warmth in the bleakness of winter. They filter our air, when every gap is sealed shut against the freezing winds. During warmer months, I bring them outside. They add a tropical lushness instantly!
Our cat also finds them interesting. Thankfully, she doesn’t go for the ones that are toxic for her. But the girl doesn’t do “portion control”. I’ve found my fair share of green cat-vomit in inconvenient places. But she does pretty well. If it weren’t for her being so selective, I wouldn’t be able to have as many plants as I do. (Notice the cat hair, and also spider web, below. Go ahead, judge me.)
The biggest battle I’ve faced with indoor plants has been fungus gnats. Those little buggers seem impossible to get rid of! And in no time I can go from one to an infestation. They are not the same as fruit flies. If you’re unsure of what you’re dealing with, see this excellent article. There’s quite a bit of info there. My preferred way of finding the larvae is to gently blow on the soil. Larvae will crawl around, making the soil look almost like it’s moving. They are SUPER tiny. Look close. Aaaaand, it’s kinda creepy.
The larvae are the ones that do the damage, feeding on a plant’s roots. I’ve tried drying out the top portion of soil. That certainly cut down the numbers, and I highly recommend that method. Yet, I still had fungus gnats flying around. To complicate things, some of my plants prefer damp soil. I’ve also tried topping soil surfaces with gravel or sand. But that wasn’t practical for all of my plants. Dealing with my mystery auto-immune disease (and not knowing what triggers my flares), I wanted to know how to safely and naturally get rid of fungus gnats.
Some time spent with my good friend, Google, revealed that cinnamon might be an option. That is, powdered cinnamon, sprinkled on top of the soil. I gave it a shot, treating the worst pots. Within just a few days I had noticeably fewer gnats buzzing around (and up my nose). The plants I had dusted had improved quite a bit! (I did my blowing trick. And this time, it smelled lovely.) However, my other plants were now quite infected. I sprinkled the rest and after a week and a half, I had the problem licked.
(Top photo is before cinnamon, bottom two are after a light application.)
Whenever they’ve returned, because they do, I’ve reached for my cinnamon bottle. There have been no ill effects to my plants. For me- this is a winner. Both my Mom and my mother-in-law have tried it with success. The world needs to know.
Cinnamon appears to work due to anti-fungal properties in the spice’s oil. It starves the larvae of food, and females will look for another place to lay their eggs. Several sources say only Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) is effective. You can see I just used what I had on hand.
Since your conditions are likely different than mine, you may not have the same result. And now I sound like I’m selling diet pills. I encourage you to try it out.
Have you tried using cinnamon to naturally get rid of fungus gnats? Do you have another method that works for you?
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