Organic Diatomaceous Earth for Gardening – And More!

by | Apr 17, 2018 | Guides, Tips & Tricks | 18 comments

An amazing product produced by nature itself. Have you used Diatomaceous earth for gardening? If you haven’t you’re missing out on a great weapon and warrior in your garden. This awesome powder can help you take control of many common issues in your garden and around your home!

DE (Diatomaceous earth) is available typically in two forms. When using it for your garden and in your home always use Food Grade, not Filter-grade used in pools. Food Grade DE is and organic mineral-based solution that will not harm you, your family or your pets.

What is Diatomaceous Earth- Fossil Power

Fossils are cool! I am not talking about the big ones here. No giant T-Rex bones, or ancient Wholly Mammoth unearthed in the making of DE powder. However, it is still ancient fossils mined from the bed of rivers, streams, and oceans.

The fossils of DE are made up of Diatoms. Some of the oldest aquatic organisms in the world. The decayed deposits of these creatures leave behind chalky fossilized deposits called diatomite. This ancient secret is a modern natural wonder!

Learn more about DE by visiting the national PesticideInformation fact Sheet or Wikipedia. If you want to unearth more about the make-up of this natural product.

What Does Diatomaceous Earth for Gardening Do Exactly?

Insects in the Garden:

This fine powder DE we just talked about may look all nice and soft to us but to an insect, it is a nightmare! Those tiny particles of fossil are loaded with razor-sharp edges that pierce the bodies of soft-bodied insects.

When insects crawl over the ground or on a plant treated with DE they get tiny cuts. Before long, they will succumb to injuries by losing body fluids.

In a second way, the Diatomaceous earth continues its assault with a dehydrating quality. It breaks down the outer layers of the insect, the exoskeleton, and causes dehydration.

Some insects are smart enough to pack up and go when DE is used. For many, it is a deterrent and they will move on to easier targets.

Composting Piles:

Creating compost to use in the garden is a great way to recycle old plantings and other organic matter. It can also be a breeding ground for larva and insects. After the heat of the compost has gone down it sits looking like an inviting spa for all sorts of insects.

Sprinkling DE in and on your compost can stop insect infestations later in your compost. It also acts as a natural deodorizer eliminating odors.


Soil Amendments:

Adding diatomaceous earth to your potting mixes by 15 – 20% per volume can increase your soil’s water holding capacity. In addition, it serves a great benefit to your indoor plantings for prevention.

Pre-treatment can destroy annoying fungus gnat larvae and other soil born insects.

Deter Invaders, the furry kind

Diatomaceous earth will not harm animals. It is safe for fish, birds, cats, dogs and your wild furry outdoor residents. You can use DE as a double duty in discouraging them from visiting your garden areas.

Adding essential oil in the DE powder and putting it around garden areas can have a long-lasting impression for keeping unwanted animals and insects out.

  • Peppermint for mice, squirrels and other rodents
  • Rosemary or Spicy Pepper for Cats and dogs


I add this as a benefit for diatomaceous earth for gardening because ticks have often been an issue for me when out in the garden. DE is a great way to eliminate ticks from your yard naturally without harmful chemicals.

Dusting your yard can help end tick problems. Repeat monthly during the warm months to keep you and your pets safe from tick-borne diseases.

How to apply Diatomaceous Earth in your Garden

Dry Application – Most Common and Easiest

  • Best applied after morning dew or a light misting of water to help it stick.
  • Use a dust applicator approved for DE (highly recommended) you can make one from an old coffee can and lid. Puncture tiny holes in the lid and create a shaker. The downside to homemade is difficulty dusting the underside of leaves and regulating the dust output.
  • Wear a dust mask during application. DE can irritate the lungs when breathed in.
  • Dust the upper and lower part of leaves and around the base of plants.

Wet Application Insect Treatment- Not as effective on ground areas

  • A garden sprayer or spray bottle that will allow you to create a steady mist.
  • Mix 4 tablespoons food grade DE to 1 gallon of water.
  • Mist plants getting the upper and underside of leaves.

Wet Application as a repellent

  • Using the same directions as above.
  • Add essential oil to the mix by 1 teaspoon per gallon for pure essential oils.
  • Spray around the outer area of the garden or directly on the outer wood of raised beds.

This video demonstrates the wet application.


Tips & Cautions: Do no Harm

A Mask:

When using DE keep in mind it is a very fine powder. Using a dust mask is a must. Although Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic to us it can be a lung irritant. Keep pets away from the area while you are applying and keep your mask on. Once it has settled, which is quick, you are safe to remove the mask and reintroduce your pets.


DE can be used cautiously with bees in mind. Bees are shown to have some defense against this powder but let us play a part to caution. When treating your garden areas and lawn treat in the evenings or very early morning when the bees are less active. Avoid getting diatomaceous earth on flowers and blossoms that the bees visit. This will help ensure their safety.


Rejoice. Earthworms are structurally different from the other insects you are trying to prevent and remove from the garden. The mucus make-up of their body allows them to slide over the DE without harm. Any that is absorbed is harmlessly expelled in their castings.

Your plants:

With Any Treatments Don’t overdo it. Light sprinkles, infrequently. Mass clumps of diatomaceous earth build up on the leaves of your plant can inhibit photosynthesis and cause harm. Use in light treatments that just dust, not bury your plants. This makes it 100% safe for your garden plants!


Rain washes DE off surfaces. You will need to reapply after a rain if your issues still exist or lightly as a continued precaution.

Diatomaceous Earth Can do so Much More!

A quick list of other benefits DE has around the home

√  As a Nutritional Supplement! Yeah, that is right you can consume DE without harm. In fact, it has many benefits. Including rich antioxidant powers, aids stronger bones teeth and joints and detoxifying cleanse for your intestines.

√  Bed Bugs! I hope you never have them but if you do. Diatomaceous earth is a great solution. Sprinkled on furniture, mattresses, and bedding can remove these pesky bugs.

√  Fleas on your cats and dogs! Using your hands or a fine shaker to avoid a lot of air dust. Rub it into your pet’s fur to kill fleas naturally. Do not get in their mouth nose or eyes. Also, works on ticks!

√  Cockroach Ant and Spider control: Use DE sprinkles around the outside of your house to prevent these invaders from ever making it in!

√  Deodorizer. Use like baking soda in the fridge, freezer, trash cans and bins to prevent and remove odors!

Natural Occurring Food Grade DE an Organic Solution


I have been using diatomaceous earth for gardening for many years. Serves as a great benefit for me both indoors and out. My worst enemy in the garden has been the aphid. In a previous article, I explored the benefits of DE against aphids. You can read more about it here.

Make sure to always get FOOD GRADE and look for the OMRI organic certification. This will help to ensure you are getting the best quality and ORGANIC diatomaceous earth you can get. It will be safe for you, your pets and your plants.

I choose this DE food grade brand. I know it is a product I can rely on for quality and reliability. You can read the review here. Best Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth – DiatomaceousEarth Review

red arrow down rightQuestions, thoughts, and concerns? I would love to know what you think or have experienced using DE. Drop a comment below.

Happy Growing!

What is the Best Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth to use?

Don’t be fooled by poor quality. Keep you, your health and your pets from risk. Read my review and recommendations for quality, organic food grade DE.

Author: Christina

Author: Christina

Hi! laughing It is great to meet you! I am happy you found your way here to Inside Herb Gardens. This is a hobby I am extremely passionate about. I love gardening, herbs and using them! Sharing with others is a great way to pass on and continue the joy of gardening for generations. I am here to help anytime. Reach out or better yet drop me comments.

Learn More about Me HERE.


  1. Brittaney Verkuyl

    Wow, it cuts the bugs? I never knew that anything could do that at that small enough level as for bugs.I want to get some for my plants. And my cat.

    • Christina

      Hi Brittaney,
      Yeah, it truly is some amazing work of nature. I almost feel bad for the little buggies… only for a second though lol. I keep in mind the devastation they like to cause my plants. I love that nature has a way of handling these issues without all the unnecessary chemicals that can cause more harm.
      When you dust your kitty make sure you do it outdoors if possible. Can be a bit messy indoors. You do not need a lot to get a nice dusting worked into their fur. I do not have cats but my dogs do not mind it at all. It also is not harmful to them if they lick it. I brush it out a day or two later.
      Cats and dogs can also take DE as a natural wormer. I discussed that in my follow up article that gives a product review. Best Food Grade DE Review Let me know how it works for you.

  2. Margaret Fryer

    Very interesting. Where do you buy this special earth? Where does it come from?

    • Christina

      Hi Margaret,

      Food grade DE is mined freshwater lakes. The diatomaceous I use and recommend you can read more about here. Best Food Grade DE Review . This is the product that I trust because it is the only one that I know of that is monitored by the FDA and OMRI approved (organic). There is other food grade DE products but none that I found that meets both of those standards.
      In that review, you can also learn about other ways in which DE is used as well if you are interested in learning more.
      Thank you,

  3. Cynthia

    I have heard some about DE but have not tried it. I like the fact that it is something better than poisons in the garden. I will be moving soon and will consider using it. I am bookmarking your post to refer to later. Thanks for this information.

    • Christina

      Hi Cynthia,
      You’re very welcome.
      I appreciate the bookmark. In the future, you may also want to refer to my product review regarding the DE that I use in my home and Garden. It will also provide with additional information on how this great natural product can be used. Best Food Grade DE Review
      When you get moved and start on your garden here to help, encourage and celebrate your success as well! Love talking gardens 🙂

  4. DianneBee

    DE is a great way to control insects and avoid those harsh pesticides. I don’t have a garden but I use it to keep the usual urban bugs out of my home. Love the stuff!

    • Christina

      Hi friend 🙂
      That is actually how I first heard about DE myself. My grandparents moved to Florida when I was early teens and my grandfather had us bring some down from the farm. I had no clue for what until I saw him create barriers all around the house, yard and some interiors. He was on a mission against roaches! He swore by it on the farm, around the house, in our gardens, and on his animals. He was a wise man 🙂 I still use it as a barrier around my house today. Better to prevent that deal with issues I say 🙂
      Take care,

  5. Stacy

    I really appreciate your post. I have a personal training client who is determined not to use any pesticides in her garden. This would be a great help to her coming into the planting season. She has grown all of her plants from seed. I will share this with her.

    • Christina

      Hi Stacy,
      Thank you for sharing! As a personal trainer, your friend may also be aware of the multiple health benefits associated with DE for human consumption. I would be very curious about their reaction. I find that often times those in the health industry know DE is great for the body and those who garden recognize its natural bug defense. It is a wonderful natural product that has some very versatile usage!
      I love that she starts her plants from seed. I do most of mine that way too.

  6. Orion

    I knew that my green thumb was missing something…and now I know it was DE!
    Thanks for sharing with us this great natural product, I’d rather use this then all these ‘chemicals’ that pollute our earth.
    This is a great solution!
    Watch out garden pests…here I come with DE!
    Cheers – Orion

    • Christina

      Hi Orion,
      Great to hear! I love introducing new and experienced gardeners like yourself to a product you may not have known about. DE is one of those things I have in my essential tool bag for gardening. I rely it on for many aspects of gardening inside and out. The Diatomaceous earth that I use I also reviewed. If you are interested in learning more you can see the review here. Best Food Grade DE Review It also talks about some other uses for DE as well. Some may be shocking.
      Keep growing! I look forward to hearing from you again!

  7. Glenys

    Hi Christina,
    Oh wow! I had not heard about this product before. I think it is because we don’t have any of those old fossilised dry river beds near where I live in my part of the world. Diatomaceous Earth- Fossil Power certainly sounds really good.
    Its nice that it can be used to enhance the soil and hard pests. I have a strawberry patch that this product might be really useful for.
    It’s great that earthworms won’t be harmed by this product. They breed non-stop in my compost heap!
    Thanks for making me aware of this product.

    • Christina

      Hi Glenys,
      You are welcome for the introduction.
      It was very important to me that this product did not harm the earthworms. They are so valuable to the earth and the garden. As well as the pollinators. I am careful when I use any product in the garden even organic. I always use where and when needed and not in excess. I avoid DE on flowers and blooms that I know bees visit.
      I use DE in my compost after the hottest heat has passed. It helps to eliminate fly and bug build up as it sits. It also helps a lot with potential odors. I dust it on top before I turn and again after I have turned it over. Little goes a long way and does not take a lot for it to be effective.
      Enjoy this natural product!

  8. Michelle

    Hello Christina,
    Great article. I have heard of this before. I actually know of someone who used it for mites. I did not know that it could cut into the bodies of the mites and hence lead to their death, very interesting indeed. You also gave me an idea. I wonder if I can use this on my rose plant? Can I?
    Thanks so much for such comprehensive article.
    Keep up the great job.

    • Christina

      Hi Michelle,
      I use DE on my Roses 🙂 Just avoid the blooms for the bees. Like I said in the article DE is not necessarily harmful to bees but it could be. So on the side of caution avoid where they go, the flowers. I use diatomaceous earth on the leaves, stems and around the ground of my roses. It is very beneficial for ridding pests and insects, including my enemy the aphid. It also helps to neutralize fungus. I save hips too so I know when I use DE there are no chemicals in my rose hips. An added bonus.
      I hope this helps. If you want to see the product that I use you can check out the review here. Best Food Grade DE Review Comes in many sizes depending on the space you need to cover. The review also includes additional information on some of the other amazing benefits of DE.
      Happy Growing!

  9. Tara

    Hi Christina, this sounds like an exciting product, thank you for sharing this information. I will check into using this. My daughter is very afraid of spiders I’d prefer to keep all bugs outside 🙂
    Have a great day!

    • Christina

      Hi Tara,
      I try not to be intimidated by too much but I am with your daughter too! I know how valuable they are so I am good with them if they are outside and not on me. I do not want spiders in the house though!
      I think you will find many other uses for DE as well. I also wrote an additional article that follows up on this one. it is a specific review of the product I use as well as additional uses. You can find it here –> Best Food Grade DE <-- if you would like to learn more. Good luck with your spiders! Christina


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