Soil & Gnats

ItsMike64

Established Member
Hey everyone! Hope you’re all doing well. I have a couple botany questions I wanted to ask the pros here. After butchering the majority of my pothos and nursing some clippings back to health and getting a couple new plants, I can say that I am doing OK with the plant care side of chameleon keeping. However for some of you who have seen my other post about weird stuff on my soil, and having a few gnats flying around, I have deduced that the soil I have is absolute garbage. I purchased a bag of raised bed soil and repotted my plants with it but it just gets gross and always has this white powdery substance look on it. I wanted to know if anyone has suggestions on brands of soil at stores like lowes or Home Depot that I should get. I have been told that I “can just get a bag from a local store” but I want to make sure I’m getting the right thing. The problem is that damn perlite that’s in almost all soils, even organic! On top of this, as I said earlier I have a bit of a gnat problem. In my research I came across this post here on the forums (look at post #5) talking about sand and river rocks and whatnot, once I find the right soil, should I try this out to deal with gnats and encourage drainage? Any and all advise is more than welcome!

Thanks in advance :)
 

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I use organic garden soil. Not sure what the white is that you mention, but it may be mineral build up from the soil and water. As for gnats, I have been battling this problem for a while…I have a room full of plants and 4 bioactive enclosures. I use Katchy’s, drosera capensis (aka sundews) but the best thing I’ve found is baby mantises. I hang an ooth in each enclosure and let it hatch out. The baby mantids take care of the soil gnats and the chameleons take care of the mantids. Mantis ooths are in season now but won’t be for long.
 
I use organic garden soil. Not sure what the white is that you mention, but it may be mineral build up from the soil and water. As for gnats, I have been battling this problem for a while…I have a room full of plants and 4 bioactive enclosures. I use Katchy’s, drosera capensis (aka sundews) but the best thing I’ve found is baby mantises. I hang an ooth in each enclosure and let it hatch out. The baby mantids take care of the soil gnats and the chameleons take care of the mantids. Mantis ooths are in season now but won’t be for long.
Thanks for the reply! Do you remember where you got the garden soil and what brand it is?

So a week or so ago I noticed this gross white buildup on the river rocks in my potted plants (see attached pictures) since then I have removed the rocks and the top bit of soil and started using filtered water for everything and it’s a little better, but you can see there is still a white “dusting” on the soil. I have other plants in my house that I water with tap and don’t have this problem, only seems like those in this soil.

As for gnats, that’s a good idea but not sure it’s something I’d want to commit to right now. Do you think the sand and rocks on the top layer as outlined here would help?:

“take your plants out of the cage shake em up a bit then rinse with water and take an inch or two of soil off them. Before you add sand make sure you rinse your cage thoroughly so no more gnats. Then put an inch or two of sand in each one of your plants and place rocks on top of the sand.”

Not sure if this would help with drainage and gnats as well?

You might have to open the one pic and zoom in on the soil to see what I’m talking about, I didn’t have a pic on hand and can’t go take a pic because my little one is sleeping
 

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This is what I’ve been using most recently. https://www.lowes.com/pd/Miracle-Gr...Soil-1-3-cu-ft-Organic-Garden-Soil/1000663915 I had tried Fox Farms Ocean soil (had to order off Amazon) and was disappointed to find it had bits of pumice or something like that in it. I believe most potting soils, organic or not, have some sort of perlite or similar additive.
I’ve had those white crusties on my plants before (long before having chameleons) but honestly I don’t know exactly what they are. I assume it’s mineral build up. I had it most often when I used clay pots. It may be from the river rocks if it’s only in the plants in which you have those.
For the gnats, you could try that.
 
So from some of my research I have found that a hydrogen peroxide solution can be sprayed on the soil of plants to kill eggs and gnats. Is this something that I can/should do? Either before I repot them in good soil or keep them in the current stuff? I would think that in theory it would be fine because after time hydrogen peroxide just becomes water, but not sure if it's safe for the cham
 
So from some of my research I have found that a hydrogen peroxide solution can be sprayed on the soil of plants to kill eggs and gnats. Is this something that I can/should do? Either before I repot them in good soil or keep them in the current stuff? I would think that in theory it would be fine because after time hydrogen peroxide just becomes water, but not sure if it's safe for the cham
Unless your enclosure is bioactive—or you have a gravid female—I can't imagine why a strictly arboreal chameleon would be interested in soil, BICBW.

Peroxide should be fine; it degrades rapidly. I haven't tried it for this personally, but I'll talk it over with the 'plantmistress' and we may try it.

Soil gnats can be a perennial problem—usually drawn by soil that's too wet (inadequate drainage), so you may have to treat periodically.

IDT brand of soil matters much because due to how soils are stored (usually on pallets and not under cover) they're all likely to have gnat eggs.

I agree the white stuff is likely salts. Filtered water doesn't usually remove calcium. Even with distilled water, the salts can rise to the surface, though I haven't seen any on my river pebbles.

Right now we're controlling the gnats well with droseras and sticky traps.
 
A bowl or cup with sugar water and vinegar will draw and drown the gnats…
Cinnamon on the top of the soil will kill the fungus feeding the gnats…
 
Another idea is to get a bag or 2 of ABG mix (Atlanta Botanical Garden) and mix it with the soil in your plants' pots. I do that because it's quick-draining and really helps with the gnats. Buy a Katchy as well, which was mentioned - they work very efficiently. I have mine set up on a little side table in the chameleon room and it's amazing how many it's caught.
 
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