Fungus Gnats & Rooibos Tea

quimoiOctober 22, 2010

I've had no idea where to post this because I wish someone else would test it.

For non tea drinkers, rooibos is a South African plant whose leaves are used to make a red "tea." I started drinking it when they discontinued a drink called Postum, claiming that nobody drank it except me and a few Mormons. I'd worked with some Mormons and they never bothered my Postum so maybe it was just me ;).

I drink a lot of tea and my husband was complaining about the wetness of the leaves in the garbage bags (plastic was too simple, I guess). I started putting the used leaves, in a bowl and they attracted fungus gnats. However, I noticed that they did not bother the rooibos leaves.

There were a lot of young coleus in the window near our table and they were attracting gnats too. After I had eaten one too many, I "mulched" the plants with the dried tea "grounds" and it worked. I was paying for a bark mix anyway, so I mixed some into the soil and it didn't seem to harm them.

I think I did some young violets too but I am struggling to find a good mix and I'm not sure what this really does in a mix. All I know is that the gnats leave it alone.

I buy the loose Rooibos by the pound and make 2 cups of tea from a heaping tsp. in a diffuser so the leaves are well sterilized. They are lighter than real tea, both in color and they dry faster. This seems worth investigating if anyone drinks this stuff. It's supposed to be healthy.

(I am not really able to do my own testing but wanted to share in case anyone else could investigate.)

Diana

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robitaillenancy1(zone 5)

I don't know of anyone who drinks that type of tea so I think you would have to make the test.

Are the tea leaves dry when you put them on the soil of the AV?

Once you water the AV, do you also moisten the dried leaves? Fungus gnats love humidity and many try to get rid of these pests by allowing the plant to dry out.

Let us know what happens when these tea leaves are wet, with the soil. See if the gnats come up through the leaves.

Nancy

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 7:13AM
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quimoi

The tea is fairly popular among some people. I am disabled and peddling hard just to "stay behind" so to speak, and I can't take on something else.

To respond to your questions: Yes, the leaves (which actually look like a fine ground bark or wood) are dry when I've added it to the plants or soil. However it is usually wet when I put it in the bowl and that's when I noted that the gnats avoided it in favor of the other teas and tisanes (herbals such as peppermint).

I just tossed part of a cereal bowl full into some soil (soil-less actually) mix for some coleus cuttings and a sansevieria yesterday so I'll see if I get gnats. I didn't add a systemic.

I never did the "mulch" with the AVs, just potted some small ones with the rooibos mixed in but didn't really keep track. It didn't kill the plants or I'd have noticed that :). I've had a lot of problems finding a consistent mix in the past years.

Diana

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 2:13PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Diana -

I hope the rooibos tea will help you feel better and be ahead, not behind.

Fungus gnats larvae lives in a top 1/2 -1 inch of soil feading on organic material and nibbling on roots. If you make this layer inedible - they will not lay any eggs there. I read that a thick layer of vermiculite as a top dressing also helps. Normally plants do not have too many roots so close to the surface except if you put leaves down for babies. This is the case when fungus gnats can do harm.

Irina

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 3:21PM
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quimoi

Irina,
Thanks for the good wishes. I believe I may have done an unofficial poll and discovered that african violet growers are not tea drinkers :).

This is not such an oddball thing. Starbucks sells Vanilla Rooibos Loose Leaf Tea.

I had heard about putting perlite on top and had tried that but it was a nuisance and unsightly. I never heard vermiculite but maybe they don't like that either. I tried this because the gnats were avoiding it and I didn't know what to do with it anyway.

Nevermind the plants, we get tired of them at the table :D.

Diana

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 11:30AM
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