Miracle-Gro Potting Soil and Fungus Gnat Infestations

Suddenly have an insect infestation after using Miracle-Gro potting soils? Yeah, me too.

I was so ecstatic to have put together my first raised bed for a vegetable garden this year. It’s nearly full with mushroom compost received from a neighbor. The final touch was to add some garden soil to the bed and plant some seeds. A special at Home Depot meant that organic Miracle-Gro soil was just $5 a bag – a pretty good deal. I got two and immediately added it to my bed.

The next day, I went out to check on my raised bed and noticed the soil teeming with tiny little flies with white wings. These insects were NOT in the compost before I added I the soil, yet appeared in droves within 24 hours of dumping the bag of soil into my raised bed. I checked the mound of mushroom compost that I still had in another garden bed that was delivered the same day. Nope, the insects weren’t in there. I asked my neighbor if he had any problems with the tiny flies in his piles of compost. That was a negative, too. So I determined that the stupid organic soil that I bought from Miracle-Gro to complete my vegetable garden actually caused a HUGE problem that now I have to deal with.

Maybe it was the compost, or just a coincidence, you might say? Nope. I bought Miracle-Gro soil (the conventional kind) last year. I had three healthy houseplants that I had bought from the store and kept in pots for a few weeks that were fine. I decided to finally repot them and bought one bag of soil. All three plants were planted in this soil, and then placed indoors and outdoors in different locations. ALL the plants started developing problems and were infested with insects. I lost $30 of plants, tons of time in taking care of them, and time spent to return the stuff to Home Depot where the cashier looked at me dubiously as to how my soil could have caused this.

Now, fast forward another year, and I’m researching insect infestations online (I have so much time to do this, thanks Miracle-Gro!!) and finding out that this is a very common problem with Miracle-Gro, as evidenced in this stream of negative reviews on their website. In fact, most of the reviews are negative and have Miracle-Gro responding on how to get rid of fungus gnats because of their product.

I have been going to my new plant bed and soaking it with insecticidal soap, which apparently won’t work too well. Miracle-Gro suggests that I add sand to the top of my box. What?? How about I just avoid your product from now on?

Sure, there’s a money back guarantee on their bag. But how do I put soil back into a bag ripped in half to get the soil out? How do I return this nasty stuff to the store without getting it everywhere all over my car?!?  Most importantly, what about MY time???? The time spent in researching this problem, in tending to plants at risk, to monitoring insect populations and in applying remedies to problems that Miracle-Gro acknowledges? Isn’t my time more valuable than the $5 that I spent on their bag of soil??

Their response to past complaints is that it’s a natural product and not sterilized. True, I agree, however, this doesn’t seem to a problem with other soil that I have bought (just found Ecoscraps soil at Target after this fiasco and it looks good!). Why in the world would I willingly spend any more money to buy Miracle-Gro’s product and then spend hours dealing with the problems that their soil brings into my house and my life?

I am done with Miracle-Gro. I suggest you don’t try to pinch pennies like I was, buying the cheapest thing on sale, and go to your local garden center and get your potting soil and garden soil. It might cost more, but you will save so much time, money and energy in the long run – and actually might enjoy gardening, again.

Where do you get your soil? Have you ever had an insect infestation with any other brand?

Comments

  1. 1

    Pattee Shen says

    Hi–I have since set up a google alert with Miracle Gro, but I had the exact same encounter about two months ago with my houseplants. I had just bought the regular 1cu.ft of Potting Soil from Home Depot (fyi, the moment I grabbed the bag I KNEW I would regret it, but I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to hit my local garden center) I planted about 40 small seedlings of plants and the very next day…infestation started. I tried to fight it with the glue traps and even bought Gnatrol, but to no avail, I had to go through the tedious task of dumping back out all the old soil, rinsing off the roots, resit in water baths, to then wait 2 weeks for the nasty buggers to be gone out my apt. Over all, it took me about 2 months to bounce back. HORRIBLE experience. If you have the chance, go to Consumer Affairs and post a complaint. Finding others out there was a BIG HELP and have really confirmed my own suspicions that Miracle Gro is NOT the best product out there for gardeners, and IMHO now, probably the absolute worst. And also, very sorry to hear about your experience too. I hope you veggie bed bounces back too and you yield beautiful fruit without the help of Miracle Gro.

    • 2

      Kim says

      Pattee,

      I appreciate you responding with your experience, too! It’s important to note it’s not the actual cost of the soil that’s the problem, it’s the time and energy and lost plants that are killed because of the soil. All gardeners know how much time and energy and love we put into our plants. To pay our good money for a corporation’s product which destroys all that, and then they just sit and say oh, well, it’s infuriating. We do have a choice and I know that your story will help shape other people’s choice, too! Thanks so much.

  2. 3

    says

    Oh my Gosh Im here thinking it was the cheap stuff I bought,then to here your problem to. But I have to be honest I didnt have that problem till the cheap stuff. But also I never thought it could be the soil . Im off to the nursery for some better stuu than what Ive been using. Thanks girls

  3. 4

    Wes says

    Yup, same problem here. bought the 55 gal moisture control Miracle Gro bag at COSTCO. Repotted about a dozen inside plants. Now I have fungus gnats all over the place – on the windows, on the counter, flying around the breakfast table. Going to take the bag back to COSTCO and get a refund. Now I have to either repot the plants with a more reliable soil or get the little powder additive to add to the Miracle Gro soil to get rid of the gnats. What a pain.

    • 5

      Kimberly Button says

      Thanks for your story, Wes. Every single time someone else tells me the same story, I know it’s not just a one-time problem. It’s a real issue that needs to be addressed by Miracle-Gro. We gardeners are paying the price, though.

  4. 6

    says

    Same issue here, thought it was bad luck with my choice of plants but realized it was the soil. Note I have amaryllis and rosemary that are infected with these little buggers. Insect soap failed for me as well. Next I tried vinegar and finally is seven if all else fails. I will not be buying miracle grow next year.

  5. 7

    Roz says

    I spent a lot of money on Miracle Gro soil. And now I am fighting bugs. I need a solution as to how to get rid of the bugs without losing my plants. I have two large bags.

  6. 8

    ERNIE BUSCH says

    I DECIDED TO GROW SOME HOUSE PLANTS AND USED MIRACLE GRO. I AGREE WITH WHAT I JUST READ ABOUT THE GNATS. I NOW HAVE GOOD OLD FLYPAPER HANGING IN MY APARTMENT AND THE AMOUNT OF CAUGHT GNATS IS DISTURBING. GOT THE STANDARD ANSWER FROM MIRACLE GRO COMPANY, PUT A LAYER OS SAND ON TOP OF THE SOIL. NONSENSE. NO MORE MIRACLE GRO, INSIDE OR OUTSIDE.

    • 9

      Kimberly Button says

      Thank you so much, Ernie, for sharing your story, too! With every story like this that is shared, it’s becoming apparent that there are tons of people having this problem, too.

  7. 10

    Billy says

    I was planning on giving gifts of plants I have grown! Used MIR GO SOIL NO GIFTS FOR NOBODY!!! Unless they are into flying bugs! Tried lots,, raw potatoe to capture larve,,vinegar to drown flyers,,now trying fly paper,,I may have to resort to sand,,I cant even type here in this forum what I would like to say to miracle grow!!

    • 11

      Kimberly Button says

      Billy,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story, too. I’m sorry that you’re having to go through that. Hopefully your gifts will turn out all right with your guiding care :)

  8. 12

    Patty McAlister says

    You can get rid of the gnats by using 3 % hydrogen peroxide WITH NO ADDITIVES. The formula is 1 part peroxide with 4 parts water. Water your plants as you would normally. I’ve tried it and it works, the larvae die on contact. It doesn’t kill the gnats but they will die off anyway. I watered with the mix till I saw no more flying around, dead in sills or on floors or in the pots. It is inexpensive and will not hurt your plants mixed correctly and it’s actually good for them. Beats having to re-pot and replace plants. Miracle Grow is horrible and didn’t use to be. I’ve had to do this a many times after re-potting with a number of potting soil brands even with soil at garden centers. Try it, you’ll like it. The solution will fizz up on the soil but that isn’t a problem. The larvae die on contact. Biggest thing is watering long enough with the solution to totally get rid of them. Don’t stop before the real miracle happens.

  9. 14

    says

    No more miracle grow for me. Transplanted 3 banana trees using it and the bats are awful. Went to garden center bought Bonide granuals and plant spray to help kill the bugs. Did not have good results. Hate to get rid of plants but family ready to throw them out. They are all over again. I will never use miracle grow again.

  10. 15

    Ellie says

    I just bought Miracle Gro potting mix today from Canadian Tire to start some of my veggies indoors. Opened the bag and a little black fly flew out. Looked in the bag and there were dozens of them :( Needless to say I’m pretty ticked!

  11. 17

    Jessica says

    Same thing happened here! I grow wheatgrass for my cats and was storing the soil under my sink. One day I opened up the cabinet and a swarm of gnats flew up at my face. It was disgusting! I’m SO glad I found this article, because I wasn’t sure where they came from and probably would have bought Miracle Grow again. I thought they were a reputable brand.

    • 18

      Kimberly Button says

      Jessica,

      I know, it’s infuriating, right?!? So upsetting to spend money on soil and have brought more problems into your home. I’ve also found the soil must be used up immediately, regardless of what brand, because bugs do start to breed over time in any bagged soil, even compost.

  12. 19

    Sharon says

    I love the idea of the peroxide in the plant water and I will be trying that at next watering since I have tried everything else except the layer of sand. I have sworn off Miracle Grow potting mixes of any line and now will try anything that makes sense to rid these knats. I have too many plants to just throw them out and I am hesitant to try another potting soil. I also thought about putting the soil in the oven at 200 degrees and sterilizing it, but don’t have the patience for that nor do I want the smell. Thanks for the great info.

  13. 21

    Nina says

    I am in the same boat. I decided to Google to see if there were others. I only made the connection to soil when I potted plants in my office. I have sprayed the plants with pesticide but to no avail. I’ll try the peroxide.

  14. 22

    says

    Same thing here. I bought miracle gro potting soil and replanted my 6 year old banana plant which was a gift from a dear friend, two money trees which my husband and I bought 5 years ago when we got married, and a big ficus lyrata. I had no gnats problem at all before and now they are all over the place.the plants and my house is infested. Miracle Gro potting soil wasted my time. At first I thought it’s only the ficus so I replanted it, but no I was wrong, gnats were and still are all over the place. I added sand on top of the plants and It’s not working. The gnats are still there. I tried to do everything, bought Fungicide 3 spray and have been spraying for almost 2 months and still nothing. miracle Growpotting soil, you destroyed my plants and made my life miserable. Please, never buy Miracle Gro ever again.

  15. 24

    says

    I’ve had this junk burn starter plants…I think it carries fusarium wilt as well and is mostly peat moss, which is unsustainably mined in Canada and releases a lot of methane into the atmosphere. Don’t cheap out by using this awful product.

  16. 25

    Patty McAlister says

    Done a bit of information gathering since my post in Dec. about gnats. I started a small nursery business and talked to the person that checks out new businesses. He’s from the agricultural dept. He suggested GNATROL and I found it on Amazon. It works much better than the peroxide in a shorter amount of time. Last thing I wanted was to have an infestation in the greenhouse. And sure enough, they showed up. If you use Gnatrol 3 weeks straight, once a week they are gone. Ag. Man said they just show up, can be in any potting soil because it’s not sterilized and any decomposing soil more than likely will have them especially if it sits around, but Miracle Grow is horrible. Interestingly, I bagged up moist leaves from last year to compost. I also grow worms and decided to feed them some of the leaves. Well…I opened the bag inside the house and out flew a swarm of gnats. The Ag Man said more than likely there were larvae in the leaves when I bagged them. I am using the gnatrol on the houseplants again. After the first week of using it in the greenhouse they were almost gone and was able to completely get rid of them by the third week. You can read about how it works on the internet. I found it is much better than the peroxide. Happy planting!

  17. 27

    Barbara says

    Let me tell you what happened to me. I had soil from last year in my garage. I bought a plant and repotted it and put it on my desk in my home office I work from. In a week I feel this odd crawling on my skin. After research I find out its mites from the potting solid and now it’s like an infestation in my house and they are in my hair and on my body. I’ve tried every bath, spray ointment for a whole week. It’s only slightly getting better. I’m researching where to get the soil tested and keeping my receipts from over $400 in products/creams I’ve had to buy and have even put organic pesticide on my legs and arms to see if it kills them. I have to change clothes 3 times a day and immediately launder them to try and get some control over this. I can’t even tell you how pissed I am and how disgusting this is. I live in a very nice house and I now have bugs on me and in my house. I can’t have people over or go anywhere because I’m scared to carry it to their house. After I solve this in my house I will be consulting a lawyer.

  18. 29

    sarah says

    Hi.
    I NEVER WRITE ANYTHING in a comment section but I must say… I am so, gosh I don’t even know how I feel right now.
    Here’s My story….
    I was 17. My grandfather & I sat on his front porch often for chats but hadn’t ever talked about plants before. I was close to leaving for college & I was struggling to imagine life without regularly seeing him. I decided that I could take something with me to remind me of him until I could get back home however, my grandfather “Papa” was a very financially poor man. I knew he could spare nothing and I would never had wanted him to.
    As he and I sat and talked about the coming freshman orientation for me
    (I did most of the talking, Papa had a 3rd grade education, & retired from being a logger, sharp as a tack though.) I mentioned to him that I knew he had never seen an ocean & I wanted to take him on my first spring break. The next words from his mouth blew me away…
    He said “I think we just need to find something for you to take with you”
    Than he got out of his rocking chair, asked me to come with him.
    We walked two feet. That’s when he showed me what a Devil’s Ivy plant is.
    He said he knew that I had no experience with plants but that this would never die.
    He gave me a small, one stemmed plant with two leaves inside a pot no more than 5 inches. If that.
    That fall I left.
    I came home at every opportunity. I couldn’t ever seem to talk Papa into riding to the beach but I did humor him with my stories about my “flower”. He’d joke, and laugh and say “what flower “. In other words I thought he was saying it was probably a goner. After four falls of saying goodbye to my family I finally graduated. Everyone came to see me walk the stage and take my diploma.
    After that it was time to pack up and move back home. My dad had a small U-haul ready for everything but, what no one knew is that I had already shipped most of it to my new apartment. When my Dad went with me to my room I surprised him and my Mom with my job offer and plans.
    When they all calmed my Dad turned and said Ok well let’s head home (the room appears empty of my things.)
    There was one thing left I wanted to take myself back home, my 4x repotted Devils Ivy (Pothos Plant). It sat tall, never ending, & the deepest shades of green I’d ever seen. I carried the 12 inch pot with all of its luscious green vines piled on top and wrapped over my shoulder all the way to the car.
    Before I could sneak up on him, Papa turned and his crooked smile played stage to our traditional wink. So excited I had to ask him, “so what do you think now!?!” To which he replied, “Told you, what flower haha! Now, THAT is a plant!

    That was what seems like a lifetime ago. I am now 29.
    Two years ago I read my handwritten eulogy to my Papa at his funeral. The most tragic, unexpected, heartbreak of my life.
    Recently I had slightly neglected my Devils Ivy from traveling for my work so last month when I got home with time off the first thing on my mind was breathing fresh life back into it.
    I went to Lowe’s and after a $60 trip I had all I needed to revamp my Papa’s gift to me.
    I used Miracle Grow Soil. Two days after I gave it all that attention I woke up to find the top of it covered in white mold and white mushrooms growing all over it.
    I had no idea what was happening. I cleaned off the mold etc. Than waited.
    As it kept getting worse my small dog suddenly became sick. She was having horrible breathing issues. Since I put it all together and figured out what her problem was coming from I have had my “flower” out in a room blocked off and alone. It’s dying because I used miracle grow.
    I had done no other harm. I am certain of this now from Reading your post.
    What should I do? Please help

    • 30

      says

      Oh, Sarah. Your story is so eloquently written and so emotional. We want you to get your plant, and your memories, back ASAP.

      I’m not a horticulturist or veterinarian, so these are my guesses. You obviously know you need to get your plant into new potting soil. I would go to a nursery and ask for the appropriate kind (nothing too fancy). Pothos is pretty hardy, as you know. I’m not sure what your plant looks like, and, again, this in only a guess. Could you cut back the plant pretty heavily, taking off the affected parts, and repot in brand new soil? Perhaps that will allow it to bounce back with a new vigor. I’ve used insecticidal soaps with great success, but never on anything with mold. You might want to find an organic garden disease control spray.

      Because this is a sentimental plant, I’d fight for it. Hopefully with a lot of TLC, it will be strong again soon. We’re thinking of you and praying for the best!

  19. 31

    says

    I had the problem with their organic care potting soil. What a mess! I think I’m taking your stance and avoiding Miracle Gro, too. Just awful!

Trackbacks

Got a great tip, story or idea related to this post? Let me know what you think!