How To Put Diatomaceous Earth on Houseplants

Using diatomaceous earth on your houseplants is an excellent organic approach to keep pests at bay. The substance is made up of tiny fossilized algae-like creatures called diatoms; when these critters are crushed, they release a powder that can kill insects by drying them out. But how can you put it on your houseplants?

To properly put diatomaceous earth on your houseplants, use an applicator bottle. Apply the powder to the plant and get it on all sides of the leaves. You don’t want to put too much on it as it can cause leaf burn. Reapply every few weeks or as needed.

This article will take you through everything you need to know about correctly using diatomaceous earth on houseplants and getting the most out of its effects. Let’s get started!

1. Wet Application – More Conservative Approach

If you want to be more conservative with your application, mix DE with water to create a slurry. This will reduce the risk of mild leaf burn because the diatomaceous earth is drying independently.

Mix Well

Mix seven to eight tablespoons of diatomaceous earth to make the slurry with 2 to 3 cups (472 to 708 grams) of water. Use a whisk or a fork to stir the mixture until it’s well combined and there are no lumps left. Once it’s ready, transfer it into an applicator bottle.

Apply Directly

Gently squeeze the bottle as you move it around the plant, making sure to get all sides of the leaves covered. You don’t need to saturate them; just give them a light coating. Repeat this process as needed. Let the plant dry completely before watering it again.

Why Is This Method Conservative?

In this instance, the DE is wet and diluted, so it’s not as effective in killing pests. This solution will probably suffice if you’re dealing with a minor infestation. However,  if you’re looking to combat a more serious problem, you might want to try the dry application method below.

2. Dry Application – More Effective Approach

If you want to be more combative in your approach, you can use diatomaceous earth on its own without mixing it with water first. This will create a stronger barrier against pests, but there is a small but significantly increased risk of mild leaf burn because the substance it’s very drying.

The best way to apply diatomaceous earth to houseplants is by using a small handheld brush or duster. You’ll want to avoid using anything with plastic parts, as the powder can cause these items to degrade over time.

Start by lightly tapping the brush or duster against the container of diatomaceous earth to load it up with a small amount of powder.  

Then, hold the brush or duster close to the plant and gently tap it again so that a light layer of powder falls onto the leaves. Repeat this process until you’ve covered all of the affected areas.

To apply the DE, put on gloves to protect your hands and gently tap the powder onto the plant. Make sure to get all sides of the leaves covered. You don’t want to put too much on it as it can cause leaf burn.

Make sure to get all sides of the leaves covered. You can also apply it to the potting mix around the base of the plant. Ask your local nursery or gardening center for advice if you have any questions about using diatomaceous earth on your specific plant.

Why Is This Method Better?

It’s because the DE isn’t diluted so that it can kill pests more effectively. This method is best if you’re dealing with a serious infestation.

Both methods will work well in getting rid of pests on your houseplants. Whichever approach you take, make sure to use gloves and avoid putting too much powder on the leaves. Reapply every few days or as needed until the issue is resolved.

How Much To Use?

The amount of diatomaceous earth you’ll need will depend on the size and type of plants you’re treating. Generally, you should use 1-2 cups of diatomaceous earth per gallon (3.8 liters) of water. You can increase the amount to 3 cups per gallon for larger plants.

The answer also depends on the specific pest species you’re trying to control. For slugs, for example, you’ll need to apply a generous amount of diatomaceous earth to the soil around your plants.

You can also apply it directly to areas where you’ve seen Flea activity. To get rid of cockroaches, you’ll need to spread a thick layer of diatomaceous earth around their nesting area.

Whatever pest species you’re trying to control, follow the instructions on the package and take care not to inhale the powder, as it can harm your lungs. With a little effort, you can use diatomaceous earth to keep your garden free of pests all season long.

How Often Should I Apply Diatomaceous Earth?

How often you should apply can vary depending on the plant type and the infestation’s severity. For most plants, a light dusting every other day should be sufficient. If you have a problem with particularly pesky pests, you may need to increase the frequency to three to four times a week.

Too Much Diatomaceous Earth Is Also Bad

DE makes for an all-natural way to keep pests out of your garden, and it’s also effective at preventing fungal infections. However, diatomaceous earth can also harm your houseplants if you use too much of it.

The sharp edges of the fossilized algae can damage plant leaves, and the powder can clog pores and prevent the plant from getting the oxygen it needs. Although this risk is small, it’s still there.

If you use DE in your garden, follow the directions carefully and only use it in small amounts. You should also avoid using it on windy days, as the powder can quickly blow away and get collected by nearby plants.

With a little care, you can safely enjoy the benefits of this all-natural pest control method. When used in excess, it can cause mild leaf burn and stunt plant growth. If you’re using diatomaceous earth on your houseplants, follow the instructions carefully and only use it as intended.

When Should I Apply Diatomaceous Earth?

The ideal time to apply this powder is in the evening. This gives the diatomaceous earth ample time to work its magic overnight while the pests are most active. In the morning, brush off any remaining powder from the leaves before exposing your plants to direct sunlight.

This will help prevent leaf burn, which can occur if the powder is left on for too long in direct sunlight.

You can also apply a layer of DE around the perimeter of your home to help keep pests out. Just be sure to reapply after rain or prolonged periods of moisture, as Diatomaceous Earth will lose its effectiveness when it gets wet.

How Long Do You Leave Diatomaceous Earth on Plants?

It’s important to note that diatomaceous earth should only be applied to plants when they are dry. If the plants are wet, the diatomaceous earth will not stick to them properly and will be less effective.

Regarding how long to leave diatomaceous earth on plants, a good rule of thumb is to allow it to remain on the foliage for at least 24 hours.

This will give the diatomaceous earth time to work its magic and protect your plants from pests. After 24 hours, gently brush off any extra remaining powder with a soft cloth. Removing the powder too early will decrease its effectiveness.

Choosing the Right Product

As mentioned, diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a natural substance composed of the fossilized remains of tiny organisms called diatoms. Using DE is an effective, safe, and environmentally friendly way to control houseplant pests like aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and mealybugs.

However, not all DE products are created equal – some are toxic to pets and children, while others can harm your plants. So, how do you choose the right DE for your houseplants? Here are a few tips:

  • Look for food-grade DE that has been purified and sterilized.
  • Avoid DE products that contain additives or fillers, as these can be toxic to plants.
  • Make sure the DE you choose is fine enough to be easily breathed in by pests but not so fine that it will blow away easily.

With a little research, you can find the perfect DE product to keep your houseplants healthy and pest-free!

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work?

DE is incredibly fine and feels soft and silky when dry. However, due to its nature, it forms a hard caucus shell when it comes into contact with water.

Diatomaceous earth can cut through the exoskeletons of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die. It is usually safe to use around pets and children and will not harm your plants.

This product works well on various surfaces, making it a versatile pest-control tool.

Moreover, it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to find in stores. So if you’re looking for an effective way to keep your growing area pest-free, diatomaceous earth is worth considering.

Will DE Harm Good Insects Too?

It’s important to note that diatomaceous earth will also kill beneficial insects like ladybugs and honeybees. So, apply it carefully to avoid harming helpful bugs if you decide to use it.

If you’re concerned about harming beneficial bugs in your garden, you can try using yellow sticky traps to attract and capture pests instead.

Safety Protocols To Follow

When dealing with a powdery substance, there’s always the potential for making quite a mess. Diatomaceous earth is no different. However, it is an effective and natural way to deal with many pests.

Whether using it in the garden or your home, you should follow a few safety protocols.

  1. First, it’s important to wear a dust mask when handling diatomaceous earth. The tiny particles can be difficult to avoid inhaling, and they can irritate your lungs.
  2. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves and long sleeves to protect your skin.
  3. Finally, avoid breathing in the dust when applying diatomaceous earth.

Health Risks

Diatomaceous earth is touted as an excellent natural way to kill pests, and the stuff can indeed be effective at getting rid of insects. However, there are some potential risks associated with diatomaceous earth that you should be aware of before spraying it around your home.

Diatomaceous earth is a type of silica that can damage your lungs when breathed in. It’s also important to keep diatomaceous earth away from children and pets, as it can irritate them if it gets in their eyes or skin.

Alternatives to DE

Boric Acid

Boric acid is derived from boron, which is a naturally-occurring element. It’s commonly used as an insecticide and can be effective against many pests, including ants, roaches, and silverfish.

Diatomaceous earth can be quite harmful to humans if inhaled, and it can also be irritating to the eyes and skin. For this reason, many people prefer to use boric acid as an alternative.

While boric acid is also toxic if inhaled or ingested, it is not considered as harmful as diatomaceous earth.Moreover, boric acid is less likely to cause skin irritation.

When deciding whether to use boric acid or diatomaceous earth for your houseplants, consider the type of pests you’re trying to control and the safety concerns associated with each product.

Neem Oil

Neem oil comes from the seeds of the neem tree, and it has been used in India for centuries as a natural insecticide. Neem oil is used as Ayurvedic medicine to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

Neem oil disrupts the life cycle of insects, and it can be effective against a wide range of pests, including mites, thrips, and whiteflies.

Houseplants are especially susceptible to pests, so using neem oil can be a great way to protect them without resorting to harsh chemicals. When applied regularly, neem oil can help keep your houseplants healthy and pest-free.

Salt Spray

Salt spray is a popular choice for many gardeners, as it is relatively gentle and safe for plants. However, some things to remember before using salt spray on your houseplants.

  • First, ensuring that your salt spray is diluted properly is important. Too much salt can damage plant leaves, so it’s important to use this spray sparingly.
  • Moreover, be sure only to spray the plants infested with pests. Salt spray will kill both good and bad bugs, so you don’t want to use it on healthy plants.

Overall, using a salt spray can be an effective way to control pests on houseplants. Just be sure to use it carefully and only on infested plants.

Eucalyptus Oil 

Eucalyptus oil is often touted as a natural alternative to pesticides, and it can be an effective way to control pests on houseplants. It’s also highly effective at repelling common household pests like roaches, ants, and spiders. 

Unlike diatomaceous earth, eucalyptus oil is a liquid that can be easily applied to the leaves of plants. Just make sure it is slightly diluted.

While it is true that eucalyptus oil can kill many common household pests, it is important to remember that it is also an oil. This means that it can be harmful to some plants if used incorrectly.

For example, too much eucalyptus oil can be toxic to plants. It can also be toxic to pets and children if ingested. However, when used correctly, eucalyptus oil can be a safe and effective way to control pests in your home.

Castile Soap

Castile soap is a popular alternative to traditional houseplant insecticides, such as diatomaceous earth. Although it is not as effective as diatomaceous earth at killing insects, it has several advantages worth considering.

  • First, Castile soap is safe to use around children and pets.
  • Second, it is relatively inexpensive.
  • Finally, it is easy to find in most stores.

Overall, Castile soap is a good alternative to diatomaceous earth for houseplants.

Mix one tablespoon of castile soap with one liter of water to use it. Spray the mixture on your plants, reaching the undersides of the leaves where pests like to hide. Reapply every few days until the pests are gone.

What Else Can I Do To Protect My Plants?

In addition to applying diatomaceous earth, you can take several other steps to protect your plants from pests.

  1. First, ensure they are getting enough water. Pests attract stressed plants, so keeping them healthy and hydrated will help deter them.
  2. You can also try using small traps or barriers around your plants.
  3. Finally, check for pests regularly and remove them by hand if you find any.

Final Thoughts 

Diatomaceous earth makes for an excellent way to naturally eliminate pests in your houseplants. Apply it evenly to affected areas, reapplying after each watering until you see results. Be sure not to use too much, and always buy food-grade DE for safety. You can also try other methods like salt spray or eucalyptus oil to keep your plants pest-free.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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