Diatomaceous earth (DE) is currently gaining attention because it solves insect pest problems. Toxicologists and Entomologists have constantly decried the use of insecticides or pesticides because of the harmful effect of their residue on the environment and beneficial insects.
They always advise on the use of more natural options that can get the job done and DE is one solution.
As a gardener, one dreadful thing that you can experience is an infestation in your garden. In this article, we will teach you how to use diatomaceous earth in potted plants to rid them of insect pests.
What is Diatomaceous Earth (DE)?
Diatomaceous earth is special sand that comprises algae fossils. It occurs naturally, and miners extract it from the ground. For decades men have mined these fossils for various uses.
First of all, gun powder producers used it to make dynamite. Manufacturers use it to make polishes and kinds of toothpaste. Farmers currently use it to preserve stored grain.
Diatomaceous earth has two types: The filter grade that is used in the industry and the food-grade, which animals can consume without harm.
Silica is one of the main chemical compounds in diatomaceous earth. You find silica in anything rock or sand. Plants and animals also have some amount of silica. But diatomaceous earth is 90 percent silica, and this makes it stand out.
How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work?
Diatomaceous earth might look like a fine powder, but it comprises cylindrical-shaped modules with spikes. These spikes break into the skeleton of the insects and cause injury.
Not just that, water leaves the insects through the cut. The powder itself is also absorbent, so it sucks fat and water from the body of the insects it kills the insects via desiccation.
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth in Potted Plants
If you find that insects have infested your potted plant, you can apply the diatomaceous earth to the plant and get rid of the insect pests within few days.
You should apply your DE during morning hours, shortly after the morning dew has dried up. It is important to note that you should only apply the DE when the soil is dry. If you apply it and rain falls, it will wash away all of them.
While diatomaceous earth (food grade) is safe, it is not safe inhaling them. They could cause respiratory discomfort. So, when you are using the DE, use goggles to protect your eyes and masks to cover your nose.
Besides this, apply the DE when the weather is not windy, so the DE does not go onto other plants that are free of insect pests. The DE kills indiscriminately, whether or not the insect is beneficial.
To use diatomaceous earth, pour it into a dust spreader and then spray it on your potting soil. Spray on the foliage and then spray on the inner and outer sides of leaves.
Ensure that you sprayed the leaves, the soil, and the foliage thoroughly with the DE so that the insects do not avoid them and proceed to parts that are not covered with the spray.
It is also a good idea to mix DE with water. It will prevent the DE from going to unwanted places in your garden. Mix a water gallon with two cups of DE and spray. When the water dries, the powder will still be on the plants.
What Else Can Diatomaceous Earth Do for You?
Apart from fighting insect infestation, the diatomaceous earth can also serve other purposes.
1. Improves the Soil of the Potted Plant
When you mix the potting soil with diatomaceous earth, it will improve the texture. Since the DE is absorbent, it will keep moisture in the soil and drain the excess. If the soil becomes too dry, the DE releases water into the potting soil.
This means that the frequency of watering your potted plant reduces. DE is also useful in helping the root of your plant absorb the fertilizer and nutrient you applied.
2. DE Can Deodorize Your Plant
It is not uncommon for potted plants to have an unpleasant smell because of the growth of bacteria, fungi, or moss in them. Adding DE to the soil reduces the unpleasant odor.
Frequently Asked Questions About DE
Is diatomaceous earth safe for dogs?
Yes, diatomaceous earth is very safe for dogs and your other pets. So, there will be no need to worry yourself when your pets nibble on the grass.
Is diatomaceous earth toxic to humans?
There are 2 types of diatomaceous earth. The food-grade type has low crystalline silica and is considered very safe for humans. On the contrary, filter-grade diatomaceous earth has high crystalline silica and is toxic to humans.
What kind of bugs does diatomaceous earth kill?
Diatomaceous earth can be used to fight crickets, bed bugs, cockroaches, ticks, spiders, fleas, and lots of other pests in the garden.
Will diatomaceous earth kill cockroaches?
Yes, diatomaceous earth kills cockroaches by destroying their exoskeletons. Once a single roach gets it, it will take it back to its nest and feed it to the rest of the cockroaches, who will also die.
How long does diatomaceous earth take to kill bugs?
Typically, diatomaceous earth kills crawling insects within 48 Hours. Just apply D.E. where you have a crawling insect problem and it will get to work immediately.
How do you use diatomaceous earth in a potted plant?
As mentioned earlier, diatomaceous earth (D.E.) is a great and effective way to combat your plant's bug problem.
Just sprinkle the substance on top of the soil in your potted plant. To get the best results, apply it when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch – and before the plant is in serious need of watering. This is because the plant soaking up water will make the product somewhat ineffective.
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Diatomaceous earth is a brilliant way to rid your plant of insect pests. In this article, we have talked about how to use diatomaceous earth in potted plants. But you can also make use of DE to handle other insects in your home.
They are also effective against cockroaches, ants, bedbugs, earwigs, silverfish, and even all those beetles that look like cockroaches. You just have to spray the DE where these insects pass through or hide like small holes, cracks, and crevices.
Unlike insecticide, food-grade DE is safe and won’t harm pets or small children should they come in contact with it.