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How to Remove Ants from Potted Plants

Last Updated: April 28, 2020 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

There are 20 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Although ants are a nuisance, they do not actually cause any harm to potted plants. Ants are attracted to the sweet honeydew-esque excretions left by other pests that reside in the soil, such as aphids and mealybugs; fire ants like to make nests in potted plants and hide in the plants’ foliage. There are several ways to eradicate ants from your potted plants. You may eradicate the pests with insecticides or baits, drown them in a solution of water and insecticidal soap, or deter them with common household items. If you can’t get rid of pests, repot your plant in fresh soil and a sanitized pot.

How to Remove Ants from Potted Plants. Although ants are a nuisance, they do not actually cause any harm to potted plants. Ants are attracted to the sweet honeydew-esque excretions left by other pests that reside in the soil, such as…

Ants In Container Plants: Help, I Have Ants In My Houseplants

Help, I have ants in my houseplants! Ants in a houseplant are never a welcome sight. Getting rid of them can be even more frustrating, especially if they keep coming back, but there are things you can do. Read on to find out how to get rid of ants in container plants and keep them gone.

Ants in a Houseplant

Believe it or not, ants don’t usually attack plants outright. They are most likely not after your plant, but rather aphids, scales or mealybugs – tiny insects that can harm your plant. Ants love feeding on honeydew, the sweet and nutritious excrement these insects produce, so they’ll actually work to protect the pests from their natural enemies.

Ants in a houseplant are a sign that your plant has other problems, and that they’re going to get worse.

Getting Rid of Ants in Potted Plants

The most effective way of getting rid of ants in potted plants is a combination of baiting and using insecticidal soap.

Buy some ant bait and place it along any trails you see leading away from the plant. Odds are the ants have a larger nest outside. They’ll carry this bait back to the nest, thinking it’s food, and will kill the whole colony. This will reduce your likelihood of ant problems in the future.

Next, take the plant outside and submerge it to just above the surface of the soil in a solution of 1 to 2 tablespoons insecticidal soap to 1 quart water. Let it sit for 20 minutes. This should kill any ants living in the soil. Brush off any ants still on the plant itself. Remove the plant from the solution and let it drain thoroughly.

Getting Rid of Ants in Container Plants Naturally

If you don’t like the idea of putting chemicals on your plant, there are some more natural solutions you can try.

  • Ants don’t like citrus. Squeeze a citrus rind in the direction of your plant so that the juice spritzes out. This should help to repel the ants.
  • To make a more heavy-duty citrus repellent, boil the rinds of half a dozen oranges in water for fifteen minutes. Blend the rinds and water in a food processor and pour the mixture around your plants.
  • Make your own soap solution with 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap in 1 pint of warm water. Spray it on and around your plant. Soaps containing peppermint oil are particularly effective.
  • Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, chili powder, coffee grounds, or dried mint tea leaves can be scattered around the base of the plant to deter ants too.

How to Keep Ants Out of Houseplants

It’s important to clean up any spills in your kitchen and make sure food is stored securely. If ants come into your house for another reason, they’re more likely to discover your plants or set up camp inside.

Continue to monitor the situation. If you see any more ant trails in your house, put out more bait.

Ants in a houseplant are never a welcome sight. Getting rod of them can be even more frustrating. But there are things you can do. Read this article to find out how to get rid of ants in container plants and keep them gone. Click here for more information.