It’s true! Diatomaceous earth is a natural alternative to several different chemicals.
Gardeners use Diatomaceous earth as a soil amendment and as a pesticide.
So the question is:
- Can you use diatomaceous earth in your potted plants?
- Is there a proper way to do it?
How Do You Use Diatomaceous Earth in Potted Plants For Pest Control?
You can use diatomaceous in two ways, depending on its application. Use it as an amendment or addition to your potting soil. Or use it as an insecticide/pesticide.
Use Diatomaceous Earth As An Amendment in Soil Mixes For Plants
Mix about 20% percent diatomaceous earth and 80% percent potting soil.
Using Diatomaceous Earth as an Insecticide?
Use a duster to broadcast it over plants right after a light rainfall or early in the morning after dewfall.
Things to Keep in Mind When Using Diatomaceous Earth On Potted Plants
Using diatomaceous earth in your potted plants isn’t that difficult. It would be best if you kept a few things in mind when using it.
What Is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is a unique, soft, sedimentary rock composed of tiny aquatic fossilized remains. It’s crushed into a white powder that’s absorbent enough to help maintain the plant soil’s proper moisture level. It also kills insects trying to invade your house plants.
Make sure to read the packaging before buying any diatomaceous earth. It comes in different grades.
For instance, food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe to ingest in small quantities. Diatomaceous earth marked for use in pools is toxic.
Be sure you’re buying food-grade diatomaceous earth.
If you have small children and pets who love getting into everything, you don’t have to worry (as much) that they’ll ingest toxic chemicals from your plants.
Why You Would Use Diatomaceous Earth in Your Potted Plants
Like an outdoor garden, potted plants, indoors or outdoors, can attract insect pests. Diatomaceous earth is a desiccant, and even though it’s a powder, its fragments are sharp.
The diatomaceous earth kills soft-bodied insects like fungus gnats (black flies), mealybugs, spider mites and aphids, without poisonous pesticides.
The sharp edges of the powder grains pierce the exoskeleton of insects and absorb the lipids in the waxy surfaces. This action dries the insects out, killing them.
Its absorbency makes it an excellent amendment for indoor plants. It retains moisture, helping to keep potting soils damp while aiding in draining excess water. It also helps with aerating your plants’ roots.
How Much Diatomaceous Earth Should You Use In The Soil?
How much you want to use depends on how you’re using it. Your mixture should be 10 to 20 percent diatomaceous earth and 80 to 90 percent potting mix for potted plants.
Measure it as two parts diatomaceous earth to four parts of soil. You don’t have to make it exact, but that’s close enough. Mix it well and then plant as you usually would.
To use it as a pesticide, use a duster to spread it over the soil. It’s also good to broadcast the dust on the foliage because insects don’t destroy only roots and stems.
Broadcast on outdoor plants early in the morning after dewfall. Or broadcast after a light rainfall, so the dust sticks to the plant and the soil.
You can also mix two cups of diatomaceous earth with one gallon of water and spray it on your plants. After the mixture dries, the powder sticks to the leaves, stems, and soil surface.
Diatomaceous Earth Is Very Dusty
Because it’s such a fine powder, diatomaceous earth can spread dust everywhere. The substance is non-toxic, but it can be very irritating to your throat and nasal passages. The same is true for your pets and children.
Make sure to wear:
- A dust mask
- Long sleeves
- Long pants
… when working with diatomaceous earth, particularly if you’re using a duster to spray it. Keep your children and pets away as you spray, too.
It isn’t tricky to use diatomaceous earth on potted plants. Use the right amounts and make sure to stick with food-grade.
NOTE: Add DE to your compost pile for insect control
Using DE helps drain potting soil, aerate plants’ roots, and kill pests without using toxic chemicals.