How To Use Diatomaceous Earth In Potted Houseplants

It’s true! Diatomaceous earth is a natural organic solution to harsh chemicals in controlling garden pests. Gardeners use Diatomaceous earth for plants as a garden soil amendment and pesticide.

Bag of Diatomaceous earth gardeners use as a soil amendment and as a pesticide in potted plants.Pin
Diatomaceous Earth is effective against mites, ants, millipedes, fleas, earwigs, cockroaches, crickets, centipedes, pill bugs, most beetles, fungus gnat larvae, slugs, snails, and some grubs.

So the question is:

  • Can you use diatomaceous earth in your potted plants?
  • Is there a proper way to use Diatomaceous Earth powder?

What Is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a unique, soft, sedimentary rock (crystalline silica) composed of tiny aquatic fossilized diatoms. It is crushed into a white powder that is absorbent enough to help maintain the plant soil’s proper moisture level.

It also kills insects with soft bodies (without chemical pesticides) trying to invade your house plants in a non-toxic way.

Make sure to read the product packaging before buying any diatomaceous earth. It comes in different grades. Some grades are labeled for human consumption.

For instance, food grade DE is safe to ingest in small quantities. Diatomaceous earth marked for use in swimming pool filters is toxic.

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Be sure you are 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.

Amorphous Silica (Amorphous silicon dioxide): This is a type of diatomaceous earth considered safe by the FDA and has been widely used as an approved food additive for many years.

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 this natural powdery substance as an insecticide/pesticide.

NOTE: The fine particles of Diatomaceous Earth dust kills bugs with soft bodies. This includes beneficial insects.

Use Diatomaceous Earth As An Amendment in Soil Mixes For Plants

Mix about 20% percent food-grade DE earth and 80% percent potting soil.

Using Diatomaceous Earth as an Insecticide?

Use a duster to broadcast DE over plants right after a light rain 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 is not difficult. But, it is a good idea to keep a few things in mind when using it.

Why 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 fine particle powder, its fragments are sharp.

The diatomaceous powder kills soft bodied insects like bed bugs, fungus gnats (black flies), mealybugs, fleas, slugs, spider mites, and aphids, without poisonous pesticides.

As pests come into direct contact with the sharp edges of DE powder, the grains pierce the exoskeleton of insects’ cell walls and absorb the lipids in the waxy surfaces. This action dries the insects out, killing them.

Its absorbency makes it an excellent soil conditioner 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 to use depends on how you’re using DE powder. 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 top of 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.

Spraying Diatomaceous Earth: Mix two cups of Food-Grade DE with one gallon of water and spray on your plants. After the mixture dries, the powder sticks to the leaves, stems, and soil surface.

Diatomaceous Earth Is Very Dusty

Because DE is such a fine powder, diatomaceous earth can spread dust everywhere. The substance is non-toxic, but it can irritate your throat and nasal passages. The same is true for your pets and children.

When working with food grade diatomaceous earth, particularly if you are using a duster or spraying it. Keep your children and pets away as you dust or spray.

Make sure to wear:

  • A dust mask
  • Goggles for eye protection
  • Long sleeves
  • Long pants

Final Thoughts

It isn’t tricky to use diatomaceous earth on potted plants. Use the right amounts and make sure to stick with food-grade DE.

Using DE helps drain potting soil, aerate plant roots, and kill pests without using toxic chemicals.

NOTE: Add Food-Grade DE to your compost pile for insect control.

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