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New at terrariums - need help with gnats

Winfield, IL(Zone 5a)

Hi everybody - I'm a new subscriber and have gotten started on making small terrariums in apothecary jars, rather than one in an aquarium. I started by making a gift for my mother in January and that one is doing pretty well. Then family and friends who saw hers commissioned me to make theirs, or to give as gifts. It's been trial and error, figuring out which plants work the best, but I'm having a blast. I sold about 15 of them for Mother's Day gifts!

My current problem is with those people who buy them from me and don't read my directions - keep an eye out for decaying plant parts and pinch stuff off to keep things healthy inside! One co-worker brought me back her terrarium this morning with a complaint of gnats, and I looked inside to see a "Silver Falls" vine I put in there had died and was rotting. No wonder there were gnats. I showed her little places here and there that needed to be pinched or trimmed back.

My long winded intro brings me to this: is there ANY way to get rid of these gnats without having to empty the whole thing and start over with sterilized materials? I've attached some pictures of some of the terrariums I sold. Any feedback would be really, really appreciated.

Thumbnail by kiwiluvsme
Winfield, IL(Zone 5a)

Here's some other photos of my terrariums.

Thumbnail by kiwiluvsme
Winfield, IL(Zone 5a)

More pictures - can't seem to figure out how to attach more than one at a time, if it's even possible.

Thumbnail by kiwiluvsme
in Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

They are gorgeous terrariums. I love the minatures too.

The Heart of Texas, TX(Zone 8b)

Hiya kiwi & welcome to the forum!!!!
Your terrariums are adorable. Good job!

You can use BT or Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a naturally occurring bacterial disease of insects. These bacteria are the active ingredient in some insecticides. Here's a link for info...I use it alot in mine...
Bayer Advanced mosquito granules sprinkled in and slightly watered to kill the's has BT in it and you can get it at Lowe's or HD....there's also a product by the name of Gnatrol you can use.

Hope that helps.


This message was edited Jun 21, 2007 11:07 PM

Winfield, IL(Zone 5a)

Thank you very much Patti, and you too MsC - that is just the advice I was looking for!!! I am going to look into the BT additive - sounds like it's a "good measure" step after finishing a terrarium, too, is that right? I notice a few of the plants I have waiting around to be used (I have gone on somewhat of a buying binge of many varieties of coleus lately, and some ivys) that I keep in my work room have a little bit of gnats too, and I would really hate to not be able to use them in the terrariums. Someone I work with told me to try a Tbs. rubbing alcohol to a cup of water solution sprayed on the plants and that might do the trick? I'm going to look for some BT type stuff you mentioned above tomorrow I think. I'm really happy to be part of this forum, and looking forward to learning alot!

PS: In case you're wondering, Kiwi is my beloved dog!

Emporia, KS(Zone 5b)

I would imagine, since gnats are a flying insect, that you could try using plain, cheap Raid for flying insects, and then after spraying, cover so they'll be sure to die. I would imagine you'd have to do it a couple times to kill the eggs, too.

I wonder if neem repels fungus gnats....

Winfield, IL(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the suggestion - I would never think to use Raid on plants - it wouldn't harm them? What is neem?

Emporia, KS(Zone 5b)

No, I've heard of people using Raid on plants before. For larger plants (not in terrarium), you could cover them with a plastic bag and then spray inside, then keep it closed for a while.

Here's a thread that talks about neem quite a bit if I remember right:

And happened to see this thread while trying to find the other one...looks like it'd be right up your alley:

Happy reading! ; )

The Heart of Texas, TX(Zone 8b)

Raid is ok, but you need to use a garbage bag like CJolene says and be careful not to spray the plants directly.... I've never used Raid but I have used Bengal bug spray (permythrium) using the same bag method. It works .It has a lil straw on the can so you can gather the top of your bag and stick the spray in side w/o having to breathe the fumes.
Tie it up & leave it for a few minutes. It will take care of the adult flying bugs but not the larvae...I do my outdoor plants like that when I bring some in for winter.

I just sprinkle the Bayer Mosquito granules on the top of the soil of all the plants I buy and all my AV's it won't hurt the animals or the kids if they happen to get into fumes either. You could also use a mosquito dunk and disolve it in water then water the plants with it...same effect.

Keep us posted on what works for you.
And be sure to show us more of your lovely creative terrariums!!!


Winfield, IL(Zone 5a)

Oh wow - you have all been so, so helpful - thank you so much!! I'll keep you informed - I'll also be going over to the Container Garden forum later today and post some pictures of my fairy garden.

(Zone 1)

Hi Kiwi's Mom .... Welcome to the Garden, You will Love it here! What a great job on your Terrarium Gardens! Looks very professional to me, I would have never known this was your first try at planting them! I love terrariums ... so much fun to plant stuff inside glass containers. I love how you tell a story with each of your gardens under glass! I have only done that with one of mine where I have an Angel sitting on a stone amidst the plants. I did one for my Sister and one for my Niece with Silk Flowers and plants because they aren't into the live plants like I am. I've posted photo's of some of my Glass Terrariums on DG before, but here's another pic:

Thumbnail by plantladylin
Winfield, IL(Zone 5a)

Hi plantladylin!

How fun to find someone else who saw the potential in these beautiful jars! Thank you so much for your compliments, I do feel like I can tell a story with the embellishments I use. Your jars are beautiful! I love your angels. Please send me more pictures if you can. I have been using the Willow Tree Angels in alot of mine, and giving a terrarium with the Angel of Prayer in it to a sick friend of mine is the kind of thing that motivates me. I love those figurines.

I have been having so, so much fun making these terrariums, even sold several and have signed up for a flea market/craft fair to sell some in mid September. I just need to get a handle on gnats showing up out of "nowhere" and after all the great ideas I've been given, and having trouble finding some of the suggested remedies, I bought a can of Systemic Houseplant Insect Control powder, to sprinkle on the soil and I'll see if that will keep them away. I just need to see if it would be a good measure step after I make a terrarium. The other thing I want to try is microwaving my potting soil before I use it, which might kill off anything lurking. I'm taking a break for the week while I have houseguests.

If you care to, go to the container garden forum and look at my Fairy Garden pictures. I am also getting into miniature gardens, and just made a little "Carolina coast" one with a 4th of July lighthouse and used fiber optic grass plants and a mix of potting soil with some sand, and sand on the top. I finished with some of that white picket fencing and some small shells and star fish and a stone path. It's going to be a centerpiece on a table for our family party on the 4th. If I can get a picture of it this week, I will and will post it.

Keep writing! I love this forum!


(Zone 1)

Hi Mary: I have never had the fungus gnats in my terrariums, so I am not sure what product would be good to use to get rid of them in terrariums. I always thought the gnats were caused from soil being too wet, but have come to learn from others here on DG that they are in the soil. I have never sterlized my soil before planting anything, too much work ... hee hee .... but I know I've read on here that a lot of folks do sterlize the soil to kill any critters like that. I think some use the regular oven and some microwave.

I wish you all the best with your sales at the flea markets and craft fairs, I hope you sell all that you take to each show! I was lurking in the container gardening forum yesterday but am definitely going there now to see your other creations! I did one with seashells and driftwood one time ... used a little broken mirror as the water! And, had an Angel sitting on a little bench beside the water with a little artificial palm tree. I would love to do one like that with a live palm tree and a little bowl with water in it and maybe a teeny turtle or fish or something.

Well, you have a great day and keep posting photo's! I'm off to the container forum now!


Winfield, IL(Zone 5a)

Thanks Lin! I love that we share an enthusiasm for these jars, and it sounds like you've been doing some really creative gardening too -

I appreciate your good wishes, and as soon as I get over my apprehension about doing this show, I'll be OK! Never done anything like that, so I'm a little nervous about getting enough of them put together.

Glad you went over to the container forum to see my other pix. I'll answer you over there.

(GayLynn) Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

Mary and Lin your terrariums are so lovely. Gives me lots of ideas for my next ones!
Very nice!

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Kiwi... Your terrariums are fantastic! Where did you get your apothecary jars?


Winfield, IL(Zone 5a)

Thank you - I have found them at Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Marshall's. I'm a little concerned lately, though, because what I think I'm starting to see is a trend with these jars where they are selling just tall, cylindrical ones, rather than a variety of shapes and sizes. But that's what makes the hunt kind of fun. I've been really lucky in the clearance sections at these stores too.

Janice~ Gulf Coast, MS(Zone 9a)

I love LOVE LOVE apothecary jars.. but never seem to find them at a good price.. Even if they are marked down :-( Kiwi your jars are beautiful..

(Zone 1)

Dirt_Road: This thread is from 2007 so Kiwi might not still be around Dave's Garden.

Check your local thrift stores for glass apothecary jars! I have a few apothecary jars planted up ... love doing all kinds of terrariums, and some of my jars came from thrift stores!

This is an old photo but I still have the 4 large ones in the middle of this picture.

Thumbnail by plantladylin
Janice~ Gulf Coast, MS(Zone 9a)

lol yea I knew it was from 2007 but still wanted to comment on how pretty her jars were and now I see your jars.. I must have missed it in the middle of the thread.very nice too!!!. I have such a weakness when it comes to apothecary jars... LOVE them.. I will check there, I haven't check with them in a while so will give them another try and keep on looking..

Hmm I'm not sure if she is still a member here or not.. I searched for her and only a few theads show up.. wellllll plant lady we can discuss jars if you wish.. lol.. I can add this to my list of things to search for this weekend along with globes and solar panels.. YAY..

This message was edited Jul 9, 2009 11:34 PM

Harrison, AR(Zone 7a)

Just thought I might put my 2 cents worth....;0)
I have used beer to attract the gnats. Inside or out. Just put a little in a small dish or capful. They seem to LOVE it.
I don't like using pesticides, I PREFER to use a more natural soultion like this. I discovered it by accident. I had left some in a glass and I came back to find it filled with some gnats. I was living in Florida then.
BTW, while on this subject of terrariums.........
I am curious as to whether many of you are or would be interested in minature animals or things like that to put into your terrariums? I used to have a real nice one that I loved to put animals of the woods or jungles into them. Sometimes I would move them too, to make it look like they actually lived in that enviroment. Sounds silly i know.......but I liked it! ;0)
I know Ebay is really high on minatures, IF you can actually find them! I am thinking of making them, and of course at a more affordable price too.
good luck on your gnats.

South, TX

I just saw this thread. Your terrariums are gorgeous!!!!

(Becky) Gresham, OR(Zone 8a)

I grow venus fly traps to keep flys away because I grow citrus trees. I grow mine in a terrerium and take the lid off every day during growing season. You may even be able to grow it inside a terrium with another plant depending on its needs

Bolingbrook, IL(Zone 5a)

Just thought of another plant that can easily be used for a terrerium. They are sold as "Stepables" in the garden centers around here and there are several different kinds, including one that looks like a tiny little fern.

Bolingbrook, IL(Zone 5a)

Also micro mini african violets

Alburtis, PA

I had fungus gnats in my bog terrarium for a while, but I guess my sundews took care of them -- I haven't seen any in months. :)

Hanceville, AL(Zone 7a)

Be sure it is for house and garden use and check the label. Luciee

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Those of us who have tropical greenhouses have issues with fungus gnats. I grow orchids and my greenhouse is a perfect environment for these gnats. There are many types and they are very destructive. The newest type I've dealt with is a web weaving gnat. They all breed at the root level. The larvae eat the roots and plants at the bases. The easiest and safest solution is mosquito dunks which has Bt and, as previously mentioned, is very effective. It's the larva that you need to knock out and Bt takes care of the larva. The larva continue to hatch for weeks and you can't get every gnat so it will take a while. I pop a quarter of a dunk in a one gallon sprayer and let it soak over night. My greenhouse then gets sprayed twice a week until I see no gnats. For a small situation I'd just chip of a piece and put it in a spray bottle. Leave it soak overnight. There will be large granules in the water but the bacteria will be in the dilution so don't worry. You can also water your plants with the Bt water. The bacteria are not harmful to the plants, the environment or you regardless of how much you apply.

Campbell River, Canada

I recently read (since I discovered fungus gnats in my houseplants) that a "tea" made from cigarette butts soaked in water and then poured over the soil gets rid of these pests. I tried it and it seems to have worked. It DOES smell vile, and the directions didn't say how strong to make it, so I just diluted it a bit with clear water and watered the plants with that a couple of times in a row, just in case eggs hatched after the first application. I don't know whether the tea kills mature gnats only or eggs as well. But I haven't sen any little critters flying around lately, and the plants that had been dying seem to have recovered!

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