RHS medalist James Wong shares the secret to preventing gnats for good

The houseplant expert controls pests in a natural-yet-effective way – to ensure your plants remain gnat free permanently

A gnat on a white flower
(Image credit: Nick Upton / Alamy)

Celebrated BBC presenter James Wong has addressed the pest that all green-thumbed growers are at risk of encountering: gnats. 

However, as the four-time RHS medalist explains, gnats are not what they seem. Sharing his indoor garden ideas, James (who owns over 500 house plants) explains that these flying insects are not attacking your plants, as is often assumed. 

Instead, gnats are only interested in the fungus around your plant – so it is important that your prevention tactic starts here.

‘Loads of people have asked me about this, and gnats don’t actually attack plants. Instead, gnats feed on fungus and soil, and they’re completely harmless to plants,’ James told Gardeningetc. 

‘You may not like the idea of insects in your home, which is another question, but in terms of plant health, they don’t affect them whatsoever.’

James Wong at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

James Wong

(Image credit: Michael Melia / Alamy)

James Wong’s tips for preventing gnats for good 

While gnats are harmless to the health of your houseplants, they're not pleasant and are signs of fungus around your houseplants. Therefore, it is important to avoid overwatering.

‘One of the key ways to avoid gnats is not to overwater,’ James says. ‘Watering plants too often is bad for their health because it creates fungal infections which can rot the root. That fungus is what the gnats live from.’ 

However, James Wong’s indoor plant ideas don't end there. The ethnobotanist also suggests creating a bigger ecosystem in your home – where you can then invest in an organic fungi prevention known as Springtails which you can purchase on Etsy.

A gnat on a white flower

(Image credit: Tomasz Klejdys / Alamy)

James recommends purchasing a big terrarium before introducing Springtails, which he describes as ‘tiny flies that live off fungus.’ 

‘Springtails are the best ways to keep your terrariums nice and clean because they feed on the mold and therefore reduce gnats.’ These micro-creatures are the best indoor plants protection – and entirely James Wong approved. We need no more persuasion to invest. 

‘It [always helps to] create an ecosystem with the benefits of other organisms,’ James adds. ‘People are often worried about gnats, but they don’t need to be.’ 

A gnat on a white flower

(Image credit: Nick Upton / Alamy)

On James’s advice, we’re going to rethink our watering habits and create our own ecosystem at the next available opportunity.  

Megan Slack

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Gardeningetc, Livingetc, and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.