How to Get Rid of Ants in Potted Plants Naturally

In this article, we will show you how to get rid of ants in potted plants naturally, but you should know that ants are not always bad for plants. Like all insects, ants play their role within a garden or a group of plants. Fundamentally, they help control pests by eating their eggs and young. Ants also enhance pollination by going from flower to flower in search of food.

Not only that, ants are part of a healthy ecosystem by aerating the soil, and digging tunnels that transport water, oxygen, and nutrients to the roots of plants. And they also accelerate the decomposition of organic matter, fertilizing the plants.

Therefore, the existence of a few ants is not a problem. But when the population grows disproportionately, it is a cause for concern, because it can kill the plant and favor the growth of the aphid. After all, it feeds on the honeydew that it excretes.

When this happens, here are some tips for getting rid of ants in potted plants naturally.

Why Are Ants in My Potted Plants?

Normally, ants do not attack plants directly. Ants follow other insects such as aphids and mealybugs that secrete a sweet substance called honeydew. So, it is likely that your plants also have other insects and that is why the ants are on your potted plant.

Ants are also attracted to decomposing organic matter such as dead plant leaves, which is why you should always remove all dead leaves from your potted plant. This will prevent ants from being attracted to the dead leaves of your potted plant.

Ants, like all living things, drink water and can easily detect water sources. If your plants are too wet and the ants have no other source of water, they will go for the water in your potted plant.

You don’t have to worry because getting rid of ants in potted plants naturally is very easy and here, we will explain all the ways.

Use Neem Oil to Get Rid of Ants in Potted Plants Naturally

Using neem oil is an excellent way to get rid of ants in potted plants naturally. Neem oil is a natural product extracted from the fruits and seeds of the Neem tree. This tree is originally from India, where it is widely cultivated for commercial purposes. A scientific study demonstrated the efficacy of neem oil on crops in Africa.

Neem oil acts by ingestion and not by contact with the insect. It is not of immediate action; it needs a few days to act against pests. You should use neem oil on all your potted plants, it is safe and environmentally friendly. I recommend not to apply neem oil at times when your plant receives too much sun.

use neem oil to get rid of ants in potted plants
Ants can be easily eliminated and repelled with neem oil.

Use Cinnamon to Get Rid of Ants in Potted Plants Naturally

Ants have 5 times more odor receptors than other insects, which is why they can sense odors from far away. Ants generally appear to smell sweet things such as sugar or honeydew secreted by aphids, but there are certain odors that ants do not like, such as cinnamon.

Spread some cinnamon powder on the soil of your potted plant to get rid of ants in potted plants naturally. You can use cinnamon oil to repel ants. Mix 5 drops of cinnamon oil in a spray bottle with water and spray the potted plant. Learn more about cinnamon for plants.

Replace the Soil to Eliminate Ants in Potted Plants

If you already have too many ants in your potted plant or even probably have a colony of ants in the soil, it is best to replace the potting soil. Changing the potting soil is a good way to get rid of ants in potted plants naturally.

Carefully remove the plant from the pot, I recommend doing this outside the home because you may have a colony of ants in your pot. Remove as much soil as possible from the roots and clean the pot as well as possible. You can wash the pot with a little bleach to make sure you clean the pot as well as possible.

Then refill the pot with soil suitable for your plant, the most important thing is that it has good drainage. Additionally, you can spread some cinnamon powder or diatomaceous earth on the soil of your potted plant to prevent ants from returning.

replace the soil to eliminate ants in potted plants
Changing the potting soil is a good option to eliminate ants. Be careful when repotting because there may be a colony of ants in the pot.

Spreads Diatomaceous Earth in Potted Plant

Diatomaceous earth is composed of fossilized unicellular algae, it is a 100% natural product composed mostly of silicon, plus traces of calcium, sodium, iron, and other essential minerals. Diatomaceous earth adheres to the skin of ants and other insects, and because it contains silica, it dehydrates the insects until they die naturally.

I recommend only applying the diatomaceous earth on the soil of the potted plant and not on flowers and leaves because it could also kill other pollinating insects. This is an excellent way to get rid of ants in potted plants naturally. Diatomaceous earth is not harmful to people, animals, or the environment. A scientific study demonstrated the efficacy of diatomaceous earth on arthropods.

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Homemade Ant Repellent to Apply to Plants

As mentioned above, ants have an excellent sense of smell and therefore find sweet things or water quickly, but there are also certain smells that they do not like and are repelled. You can make a mixture of essential oils and water to get rid of ants in potted plants naturally.

In a cup of warm water, mix the following:

  • 10 drops of tea tree oil
  • 10 drops of lavender oil

Mix the warm water and oils well. Then place in a spray bottle and apply to the potted plant. This mixture of water and essential oils will scare ants away from your potted plant. A study by the University of Kansas verified the efficacy of essential oils on arthropod pests with very good results.

White vinegar is also an excellent repellent but is not good on all plants. Apply white vinegar directly to the ants’ nest, or place small amounts of white vinegar in containers near the pot with ants.

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homemade ant repellent
The mixture of essential oils is another excellent way to get rid of ants in potted plants.

Lemon Juice to Repel Ants

Lemon has a very fresh citrus scent that is used to make a wide variety of air fresheners that many people place in various rooms of their homes.

However, ants and many other insects tend to shy away from this smell because they find it very unpleasant.

This makes lemon a magnificent fruit to get rid of ants in potted plants naturally without the need to use chemical active ingredients that can be toxic.

Juice 2 large lemons and mix with a little water in a spray bottle. Spread around the potted plant and wherever you see ants. Additionally, you can soak a cotton ball with this lemon juice and place it in the pot to repel ants.

Final Conclusions for Repelling Ants

It is always best to get rid of ants in potted plants naturally. Using chemicals is bad for the environment and also for the home, so it is always best to repel and eliminate insects naturally and ecologically.

Remember that ants typically go for the honeydew secreted by aphids, so if you eliminate or repel aphids, it will be more difficult for ants to appear in potted plants.

We hope that this article on how to get rid of ants in potted plants naturally will be of great help. Learn more about how to get rid of ants on strawberry plants.

repelling ants naturally
Using any of these methods, you can get rid of ants from your potted plant.
About Henry Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Julia, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website.