How do I get rid of this plague of compost flies?

MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)October 15, 2012


I have a fair selection of plants around the house, and while I'm far from being an expert, they do generally seem in pretty good shape.

However, I seem to have a plague of small black flies that live in and around the plants. I was told that these are compost flies, and like warm damp conditions, such as the soil of house plants. Unfortunately, they are a serious pest in the house as they get everywhere, and I would like to get rid of them. The plants don't seem bothered by them, but the occupants of the house sure are!

I tried various things, including spraying with baby Bio bug killer designed for such pests, as well as pouring very soapy water into the compost. Apparently this latter method is supposed to kill the flies without killing the plant.

In both cases, there was a temporary reduction in the number of flies, but only for a day or two. Sooner or later, they were back in force.

Anyone any suggestions as to what I can do? I don't want to get rid of the plants, but I can't live with all these flies. I don't see how I can keep the plants any cooler, as they are all indoor plants, and in a centrally heated house, they are bound to be in a warm environment (they'd probably die if it were cold anyway). I also don't see how I can keep them any less damp, as I only water the plants once a week (except for a fairly large Coleus, which droops if it isn't watered twice a week). I certainly don't over-water them.

Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can give.

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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Sounds like fungus gnats, lovers of wet compost thats low in oxygen.
Usually a bad sign!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 2:39PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

If potting soil is called compost over there, what do y'all call a rotting pile of organic matter? Curiosity is killing me. From the title I thought you had fruit flies or house flies from mixing compost in your potting soil. Agree it sounds like fungus gnats.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 3:06PM
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The Ficus Wrangler

If they are fungus gnats - if you sent in a pic, maybe someone could tell for sure - there's a couple of things you can do. One is to scrape off the top 2" of soil and replace it with sand. The gnats lay eggs and feed on decaying organic matter in those top 2", and when it's removed, most of the eggs and larvae go too; also the sand won't support them. There might be insecticide labeled for fungus gnats where you live, which you could use to backup the sand treatment. Also, they typically are found in plants that have very wet soil, so you might really want to double check that.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 3:09PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Purple, potting soil is compost, same thing.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 3:17PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

MrYossu - if you have fungus gnats it is an indication that the compost is too wet. If there are enough to be a problem in the house you have a serious infestation. Try reducing the watering. Also scratching up the surface of the compost might help. Similar to ficus' suggestion. Don't water your plants to a schedule. Water when they need it. Once a week may be too often. Also don't leave them standing in water.

Yes, purpleinopp we call potting soil 'potting compost'. There's seed and cuttings compost, potting compost, John Innes compost, ericaceous compost - all sorts of compost. And also the pile of rotting stuff at the end of the garden. All compost to us ;-)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 5:19PM
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You could use Mosquito dunks and water your plant with them. Then add a few yellow fly sticky traps to your pots and hanging in the air. Do this to get you by for now.

Then, if I were you, I would just avoid the situation all together by making sure I get every plant out of the mixes you are using and change them into well aerated mixes that don't allow them to take up dwelling while encouraging good healthy root systems.

Give them no reason to stick around and take up dwelling and you will be relieved.

I have over 200 plants and not one has 'Fungus Gnat' ever since I did this, except for in the potted 'philo' I bought over the summer I have yet to change over.

Good luck...:-)

Check out the link below..:-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Container soils- Water retention

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:20PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Thanks, Flora. How does that not get confusing?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:51PM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)

Wow, thanks to everyone for the helpful replies! What a great forum!

I used the word "compost" because I rang up a local garden centre and asked someone there about this, and she said they were compost flies. To me, compost is (as purpleinopp commented) a rotting pile of leaves and the like at the bottom of the garden. The bag of stuff I used to pot the plants was called potting mixture, which is how I would have described it. However, it's probably not really relevant what we call it, as long as we are all clear that we are talking about the stuff commonly sold in large bags in garden centres for potting house plants :)

I just had a go with the camera, and amazingly enough (given my poor camera skills), I managed to get a couple of clear pics of two some, which I will upload with this reply.

As for what to do, I forgot to mention that last time this happened, I put some sand on top of the soil, but it didn't really work too well, mainly because subsequent watering washed it into the soil/compost/potting mixture/stuff/whatever! However, theficuswrangler seems to imply that I should have about 2" of sand there, which is way more than I had before. Maybe I had just too thin a layer of sand. Does that make sense?

The problem with scraping out the top 2" of soil is that it would be pretty hard for some of the plants. Some, like the two avocados I have growing would be easy, but some, like my prize Coleus would be much harder. It's pretty big, and has spread a lot. I suspect that the only way to get close enough to the soil to do this would be to remove it from the pot, and that might damage some of the stems. I'm not sure how I'd handle it. I bought it a few months ago for almost nothing, when it was a few inches high, and it's not about two feet high and the same in width, with masses of leaves and loads of beautiful purple flowers. I'd hate anything to happen to it! I guess it's probably the best thing to do though, so I'll have to try :(

OK, on to watering. I only water to a schedule as I'm too forgetful to remember to do it otherwise! I just made it part of my regular Friday tidying up the house routine. In general, the soil seems fairly dry when I water, which is why I thought this was OK. What's the best approach to watering if I don't stick to a schedule? I know when my Coleus needs watering, as the leaves start drooping. About two hours after a good watering, they perk up again.

Any tips for watering?

Finally, there were a couple of mentions of water retention. This could be an issue, as I have noticed that one or two of the plants will hold the water in the soil for maybe 30 mins before the excess seeps out of the bottom of the pot. Hey, who mentioned excess? OK, so maybe I AM overwatering! I give them a good dousing, and make sure to empty out any water that ends up in the tray below, so they don't sit in water for more than a couple of minutes. Is that too much watering? If so, how do I know when I've given them enough?

I just had a quick look, and the bag of stuff I have actually says that it has high water retention "to reduce the time spent watering" - stop laughing at the back please! I guess that's what you get for buying mass-market stuff from garden centres eh? I guess I have a lot of repotting to do.

Is there anything I can do to reduce the water retention in this stuff, or should I throw it away and start again? I don't really have the time or money to go into this in a serious way, I just like having plants around. Is it enough just to mix something like pine bark fines (like that article meyermike_1micha linked), or say small gravel with it, to allow some space for the water to fall through, or do I need to do more?

Sorry to ask so many questions, but as I said, I'm no expert here. I just enjoy having the plants around. I've kept plants for years, and never really hit this problem before.

Thanks again for all the great replies. Any more help would be very welcome!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 9:40AM
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Did you have chance to read "Container soils- Water retention" - Mike posted a clickable link for you just few posts above.
It is a 'long' read, but it will probably answer all the questions you have asked. It is worth reading, so much is explained there very clearly.
If you could take time & read it, and perhaps even following posts/questions that got answered, I am sure it will help a lot. There is few posts here on GW that are worth saving (I ususally save to 'my clippings', but also have copy/pasted to a separate folder in my documents) - very often you may just go back to refresh the memory.

Everybody here is very helpful, and you will always get answers to your questions. The above-mentioned helped to many-it explains not only 'how' but also 'why'.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 10:24AM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)

Hello Rina,

I had a quick read through it, but I suspect I'll need to print it out to be able to digest it properly. I did see the comments about mixing pine bark fines into the soil, which is why I asked if that would be enough with the stuff I've got.

My main problem is having the time to read all that stuff :( I'm initially looking for a quick solution, and I was hoping someone could help me solve the problem now, giving me leeway to read the extra material when I can get the time, and try and work out what to do for the longer term.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 10:47AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

MrYossu - if the bag just says 'potting mix' it is possible you have bought something intended for potting on seedlings before they are transplanted into the garden. If you are not into making your own mixes look for something labelled as houseplant compost/mix. There are some really avid pot plant people on here who like to make their own mixes. But you don't have to. We don't all have time, space or inclination for that kind of activity.

Watering is the thing which seems to cause the most grief to people beginning to grow indoor plants. As time goes on you will know when they are thirsty because they will tell you. You'll start to notice a difference in the angle of the leaves or a dullness of the leaf surface. I don't even look particularly carefully now, the plants bring themselves to my attention somehow.

I don't think you necessarily need to repot everything. Sledge hammers and nuts come to mind. But you do need to let your plants dry out a bit. The gnats are a symptom of the condition of being too wet. If you fix the condition the symptoms will disappear. Just treating the symptoms will not cure the problem.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 11:15AM
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MrYossu... Do you have a picture of your soil? Can you please post one or two if you do?

When a plant is watered, fungus gnats run for their lives. They're black, and possibly silver, or at least look silver.

Plants really shouldn't be watered by schedule. I agree, Coleus needs more liquid than other plants, but soil should dry to some extent.

When soil dries, the container will be lighter. Lifting a pot is one way to test..another is by inserting a stick/skewer deep in soil. If the stick comes out muddy, lower/bottom soil is still wet.

Check soil before adding water. If wet, hold off.
A larger container usually takes longer to dry than a small pot. A lot depends on sun, house temps, etc.

Besides checking soil, is it possible to crack open a window, and/or run a fan?

Dry/humid, 'stale' air invites gnats, especially when soil remains wet for prolonged periods.

Without adding chemicals, or even removing 'x' amount of soil, why not try allowing soil to dry and airing the room..With an open window/fan..Fan should not be aimed directly on plants..Ceiling and rotating fans work best.

I'm probably repeating what everyone else said, so sorry. Toni

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 12:24PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

In addition to the critters, the conditions that favor them are unhealthy for the plants. So letting the soil dry much more before watering should make the conditions uninhabitable for the critters AND improve the health of your plants.

The next time you notice your Coleus is thirsty, pick up the pot before watering it. Note its' heft, which should feel very light. After soaking well, pick it up again and the difference in weight should be significant. As far as a routine goes, a good one would be to check the moisture level of all plants almost daily. Water only those that are dry, lightweight. If you start doing this, you'll soon see that your different plants use water at vastly different speeds in a water-retentive soil.

When it's practical for you and you've had time to read enough info to feel confident about what to do and how to do it, repotting would be a good idea.

In the meantime, the moisture-retentive soil you have should be able to wick moisture from below. You may be able to help discourage the bugs by bottom watering. Do not allow water to saturate the soil surface, and dump the drip tray right away so wicking doesn't cause the surface to saturate. I say to do this with the soil you have (but not after repotting) because a more appropriate mix will not be able to wick enough water via bottom watering. In your current soil, after the bugs are gone, you can go back to watering from the top with the new "only when plants are dry" method.

I would avoid the sand thing because, as you noticed, it washes into the soil, clogging the tiny air pockets which roots need to be healthy. Adding more would just wash more into the depths of the container. Perlite might be a way to use the method without clogging the soil. The particles might be big enough for gnats to access the soil, I don't know. Anyone tried that?

Was your Coleus sold as a house plant? If part of that breaks off, it's easy to grow a new plant from the broken piece.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 12:44PM
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Maybe using actual wick could help?
Try inserting it thru drain hole of the container - shoe lace will do in a pinch - I would push it in at least 1-2" inside of the soil.
But make sure that the wick is dangling from the opening, if it sits in the saucer full of water, it won't help. I have used pieces of wood across the saucer & elevated the pot high enough that wick was hanging down free.
And I would use layer of small pebbles instead of sand; aquarium gravel, or a pea gravel (if you have or get it easily). You may even like the looks of top-dressed soil...(could buy some decorative pebbles too-but that would cost more).
What other plants do you have? Some may possibly tolerate lower temps.
BTW, excess water seeping into saucer is a good think (better in the saucer than sitting in your pot!); but make sure that you dispose of it - do not let is stay in the saucer for too long.
Just few ideas - hopefully something will help until you get chance to repot into free-draining mix.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:15PM
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I've never seen price-winning Coleus...any pics to share?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:23PM
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Sorry..prize not price..

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:24PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I don't think he said it had won a prize, just that he prized it personally. I'm with ya' on wanting to see it.

I've only seen a few Coleus I wouldn't give a prize to. It's not good to be addicted to a plant that has approx. 2000 choices!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:55PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Those are absolutely fungus gnat adults. They flit around, sometimes in the proximity of the plants though they seem to be attracted to windows, etc. They are black in color.

The larvae of fungus gnats are small, white-ish wormy things. They can most commonly be observed when you water, as they often come to the surface at that time. It is these larvae that may feed on the tender roots of plants. The adults mate and lay eggs.

The problem will not go away permanently until some things change. There is an excellent biological control you can use as temperory stopgap. But you need to appreciate that the conditions that encourage fungus gnats are very bad for the health of your plants.

Mike has already mentioned 'mosquito dunks '. The active ingredient is a bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis Israelensis. This organism infests and kills ONLY the larvae of mosquitoes, some gnats, and some flies. Bt-I can be found in those mosquito dunks but is also available in granulated or liquid form (Gnatrol) . It is an organic material.

If the infestation is a bad one and you have a nice collection of plants, I would advise that you obtain and use (for several weeks) this well known and much used biological product. Cut back on the watering frequency. In the spring, when it is a better time for the plants to be completely repotted, do so.

I (and others) will be happy to suggest some good potting mixes or ingredients to add to what is available to you so that you can easily create a mix that cannot support those darned fungus (I mean COMPOST GNATS) .

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 6:00PM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)

Thanks again to everyone for the replies. I'll comment on a few individually, but that's not to exclude anyone else. I really appreciate all the help everyone is giving.

flora_uk - thanks for the tip about the potting mix. You're right in that I don't have the time to become an expert, and if there is a commercially available mix that is more appropriate, I'll go look for that. I never really thought about the difference when I bought the stuff, so it could be that there is something more suitable waiting for me to buy :) Maybe what I'll do is try scraping off the top 2" of soil and refill it with a better mix, and then when I come to repot each plant in its time, I'll replace the whole lot with the newer stuff. That way I should be able to solve the problem now, and work towards a long-term solution.

As for watering, looks like I misunderstood the plants' needs. I assumed they needed regular watering, and that the soil should always be moist. Sounds like that's not the case from a few comments here. Maybe I'll try keeping an eye on them and only watering when they look like they need it. I do that with the Coleus anyway, as it's pretty easy to see when it needs watering. I'll have to pay more attention to the others, and see how they change.

As for airing the room, that's a bit of a tough one! Firstly, living in the north of England, it's not the warmest of places, so opening windows isn't such a popular idea. I'm happy to have windows open the whole year round, but most of my family isn't :( I might try having them open a bit more though, you've given me a good argument for it!

As for Trusty Rusty (the nickname we gave the Coleus, based on the variety marked on the label that came with it), I'll upload a picture for you to see. As I said, it's about two feet tall, with some beautiful flowers. There is a community hall just near us, and they had some sort of function there in June/July time, for which they bought on a whole load of plants to decorate the place. Afterwards, they sold them off very cheap. I bought this plant for a Pound (Sterling, UK, which is about $1.60 I think). In the four months or so that I've had it, it's more than doubled in size! I did have one smaller stem that was knocked off, so I pushed in into the soil and it seems to be doing OK.

I'm no expert with plants, but this one seems to have done well, and I really like it. I didn't know there were so many varieties of Coleus, I might have to go look for some more!

Thanks again to everyone.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 5:34AM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)

Oops, the picture didn't arrive, here it is...

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 5:36AM
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Hi Mr Yossu
IMO if you are going to open a window in the winter, make sure its not causing a draft directly onto any of your plants because it will cause leaf drop.

Personally, I have never opened a window or ran a fan for my plants.
I prefer a humidifier to add humidity.
Everyone has their own way of doing things I guess. You have to find what works best for your situation because no two homes are the same. Try the suggestions made here and if something doesnt work, try something else.
I do agree that keeping your plants to wet will encourage the fungus gnats. I had them last year. When I added more porous soil to the pots they left. I haven't had them since.
Welcome to the forum.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 7:32AM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)


Well, the first thing I'm going to do is cut down the watering a lot, as that seems to be the main problem. Next, I'm going to get some more suitable soil, and either repot (where practical) or scrape off the top 2" of old soil and redo with the new. Between those two, I should be most of the way towards solving this problem.

Thanks again to everyone for all the great replies. This forum is a gem!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 9:08AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Wow your Trusty Rusty definitely deserves a prize! What a beauty! I have a similar one that's more maroon in the center.

I was going to warn you that Coleus is not the easiest plant to keep inside for winter, but with that huge window, I don't think you'll have any problems. Although they're known for preferring to not have full sun outside, they need a lot of light during the shortened winter days with weaker rays. Keep up the excellent work!!

They're usually abundant in the spring, with the annuals, then not easy to find the rest of the year. So spring is the best time for Coleus hunting. There are also various seeds and seed mixes available. If you try Coleus from seed, just know that they need light and warmth to germinate. Don't cover the seeds or bother trying too early.

Can't get enough Coleus!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 9:35AM
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MrYossu...That is one gorgeous Coleus. It's very compact, and uniquely colorful.
Yep, deserves a prize.

Polly..Please allow me to explain. I didn't mean for MrYossu or anyone to keep a window opened when temps were cold..My goodness, there'd be a good number of frost-bitten plants..It'd be my fault.
I worry about icy drafts so much I've placed clear plastic on every window..tops and sills.

I meant for MrYossu to crack open a window when days are warm.
We run two humidifers, which helps, but plants require air circulation, too.
Ever go to a green house/nursery? They run huge fans for air to circulate.
Pests can attack plants in humid or dry air..especially when air is stale.
Just needed to explain.
You're right..everyone has their own ways growing plants..there is no right or wrong way..we do what works for our plants.. :)

Purple, is your Coleus in a pot or garden? So many colors. Are they different types, like 'Rainbow'?
I like all, but my favorite is your green w/red splashes and stems..

Maybe I misunderstood, but in MrYossu's second post, paragraph 5, he mentioned a prize Coleus, but might have been meant as an expression. My mistake...Toni

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:09AM
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Oh I see, sorry, I probably missed where you said that. Thats the problem with written word, sometimes we read or write so fast, it isnt always clear.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:35AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Polly, that's called assumptive eyesight. We've all done it!

Totally agree with the air circulation needing to be supplemented sometimes. But I don't think it would have any bearing on soil-oriented pests, like these gnats.

Toni, that's a sad pot of cuttings I put together too late. They just want to make flowers and not grow leaves. The bees are happy about it tho. It's about 10 pieces of 4-5 different plants. Wanting a pic with a bunch of diff Coleus made me think of that particular pic tho, with so many diff leaves so close together. I may have to get rid of more grass if all of this year's cuttings survive (like they always do and I expect they will.) I'm saving every branch out there, bottles and jars packed up everywhere.

I'm starting to wonder if that one you mentioned with the red splashes is actually a Perilla or something else. Had it since last spring and made many plants from it but none have ever flowered. There probably are some Coleus that don't flower, but this is the only one I've had, if it is really a Coleus.

But hey, Coleus isn't even Coleus anyway, and now it's not even Solenostemon. It's just another pretty Plectranthus to add to that confusing mix. Gee, thanks, plant renamers.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 12:15PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good suggestions from Mike and Rhizo.

Change out the soil at the appropriate time of year.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 1:27PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Healthy looking plant, Mr Yossu.

BTW Mosquito Dunks are pretty much unknown here. We are lucky not to have much in the way of mosquito problems nor the nasty diseases they can carry. Avid hydroponics and pond people might use them but I've never seen them in retail outlets.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 2:09PM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)

Hi everyone,

hopefulauthor - not sure where you're from, or if English is your first language, so please don't take offence at my comment here - the difference between a "prized Coleus" and a "prize Coleus" is that the first one is valued by its owner, but not necessarily anyone else. The second is one that has won a prize. Mine is the first :)

flora_uk - do you know what else I might use to kill off any bugs in the soil? I'm not sure what's left, as I sprayed all the plants liberally with Baby Bio bug killer last week, and made sure to spray the soil as well. Could be that this killed off anything on or in the soil. Hopefully, if I can scrape out some of the top soil and replace it, it will prevent any more from arriving.

Thanks to everyone for the nice comments about Trusty Rusty! I can't really take credit, I just put it on the windowsill and watered it once or twice a week. I am very pleased with it, and may take some snippings and plant them separately.

We actually got another Coleus with this one, which went onto the desk in one of the children's rooms directly above the room where Trusty Rusty lives. It doesn't get as much light as Trusty Rusty, as it's not right on the windowsill (that place is taken by a Swiss Cheese plant), but supposedly gets watered once a week (if my daughter remembers!). It is about the same size as it was when we got it. Might move it downstairs and see if it does any better.

Ta ra

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hey, MrY, if you feel like it, put a pic of the other Coleus too. Easier to speculate why it's not growing as fast with visual aids.

Rusty wouldn't look like that if you weren't taking good care of him for 3-4 months. Looks like you turn him around too because he's not at all lop-sided, leaning, or leaves all facing one direction. If someone was giving a Coleus prize I'd have few I'd even enter after seeing Rusty.

For a lot of users, you can know a bit about their location from the zone info. Whatever you store in that section in your profile will show up next to your name when you post. Many US users will put their plant hardiness zone as well as 2-letter state abbreviation. If not in US, some people approximate most closely the zone they're in, and maybe add the country or an abbreviation for it. So you can see that I'm in Alabama, Flora's on the same side of the pond as you, greenman's in N California, just scrolling back to the past few names for examples. HTH you get more out of the zone thing.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 3:34PM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)

Hello again,

Might try and get a snap of the other Coleus later and post it. I already decided I'm going to try moving it downstairs next to Trusty Rusty, to see if that helps. It could just be a lack of light, and the fact that my daughter doesn't water it enough (opposite of me eh!).

I do turn Trusty Rusty round every now and then, although there is still one stem (out of four main ones) that is noticeably smaller than the others. Still, very proud of it anyway :)

Thanks for the tip about the zone. I just filled it in, but refreshing this page didn't change what's shown. Might only show up with new posts, so I'll see what it looks like when I post this.

Thanks again for all the help. Went to buy some proper houseplant stuff this morning, and both places I tried had run out. Ho hum.

Ta ra

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 9:11AM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)

Hmm, odd. I set the zone in my profile, but it still didn't show up when I posted. I'll try adding it in the "follow-up" form where I'm typing now.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 9:12AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Yesterday it wasn't on your profile but it is today. Hope it sticks! This is a gremlin that's been in the system a LONG time, years, but I thought it was fixed recently, apparently not.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 12:15PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I want a coleus and I want one NOW !
Had one years ago,lovely plants. Mine never flowered tho, what a bonus!
And I have to say the wick idea works, tried it with my palm. Not sure about perched water but it was wet after an hour or so, just sat in the saucer, on gravel. Helped with humidity too, not that coleus need high humidity.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 1:12PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

MrYossu - I don't think any potion is required to kill the gnats. All that is needed is to remove the conditions they like ie wet, and they will go away. I don't use any sprays or the like on house plants. Aphids can be removed by a swoosh under the tap. Scale can be wiped off with baby wipes. And compost gnats can be parched into submission.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 4:10PM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)

greenlarry - go get one NOW! They are lovely plants, and easy to keep. Well, they must be if I managed to keep one! I'd also never seen one flower before, but that's partly because my mother always used to nip them out to make them bunch more. Never had a chance to grow flowers.

flora_uk - thanks for the info. I failed to find any decent houseplant soil today, but am going to have another look over the weekend, and will do some scraping/repotting as appropriate. Will also cut down on the watering, so hopefully between those I'll be fly-free in no time.

Ta ra

P.S. I seem to have to fill in the zone info every time I post. Is that right? Shouldn't it remember it from my profile? Or is that the bug that purpleinopp meant?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 5:53PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Ah mr Yossu, I see you are also in the UK!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 5:59PM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)

Hi greenlarry,

Yup, I'm in the sunny (?) north west, in Manchester. Where are you?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 7:46PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

The bug is that it doesn't "stick" when you save it in profile info. Putting it in the slot when making a post usually fixes the problem. Not clear on whether or not that fixed it for you?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 9:23AM
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Purple...your cuttings don't look sad to me...the various colors are striking..

No new foliage? Well then, 'you need a little help from your friends.' :) foliage while in-ground or after cuttings were taken?

Not a Coleus anymore? When did that happen? lol..My Lord, why must they always confuse people???

MrY...I was born in Chicago, IL, USA, therefore my first language is English.

I now see what you mean about Prize Coleus. It's your favorite, sentimental value to you..
However, it is a beauty...

Prize plant has two meanings..As you described and a plant that won an award.

Larry...during spring, Coleus are sold in garden centers. Here, local grocery stores sell in and outdoor plants.

Another option is sowing Coleus seeds..They're fast-sprouters, plus more varieties to choose from. Toni

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 11:48AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Mr Y im in Darlington, up in the north east.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 12:47PM
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MrYossu(NW UK 8/9)

Just a quick update...

First off, thanks again to everyone who posted here, your advice was very welcome.

I had surprising difficulty finding some proper soil/compost/stuff/whatever for the house plants. All the local garden centres had sold out, and I still haven't got any.

However, I cut back on the watering quite drastically, and now only water when the plants look like they need it.

The plants look as fine as they ever did, my chilli plants are all flowering, and the flies have basically gone. We still get the odd one or two, but nothing that would make me think twice. We don't see them around the plants any more, which makes me think that the few we see are either tough ones that haven't had the decency to die since we dried out there homes, or ones that have come from elsewhere.

I still intend to repot as and when I can get some soil, but it's a lot less urgent now.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Thanks for the update ! Good to hear.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 10:30AM
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