Ants In Potted Plants: How To Get Rid Of Them

Last Updated on October 8, 2022 by Real Men Sow

Let’s not forget that ants aren’t a nuisance. They are far more useful than we humans are and could ever be. To use the sad metaphor of “overkilling it”, chemically killing them is a way to do this. It is dangerous and unnecessary for the environment and your health, as well as your household and pets. So if you want to get rid of ants in potted plants, follow natural methods

Why Do Get Ants In Potted Plants?

Ants have a sweet tooth and plants produce sugary substances

These tiny creatures love sugary foods. They can smell sweetness (their senses of smell are different from ours) from a distance. Because sugar provides them with a lot of energy, they can “smell” sweetness from a distance. However, plants happen to produce sugary substances when the flowers are in bloom. Ants also love sweet excretions from small insects like aphids. If your plants have sweet substances producing “guests”, ants will follow.

Ants are natural garbage men

They take organic matter from the ground to their nests. They have developed a system to find it, send it to “collectors”, and then take it home. There is more: some ants can actually grow their own food. Even organic matter is used to grow mushrooms that they then eat.

Ants are great explorers

Even if they don’t have much to take home, there may be an ant or two that wander around your garden. This is because they are looking for food and want to explore new areas.

You may have left “ant food” in or near the pot

Even if there are crumbs on the ground or a pot near a food source, ants may be attracted to them. They might also find your pot an interesting place to look for food.

Ants drink water

They can smell it even from afar. You can’t blame them for coming to your pot if it is very dry and ghostly outside.

Natural Ways To Getting Rid Of Ants In Potted Plants 


If you see ants getting into your houseplants’ soil it could be a sign that something is wrong. These ants could be tiny pests and may be eating the roots of your plants. You can use ants to tell if your plant is struggling. Ants shouldn’t burrow into your pots unless there are reasons.

Fungal infection

If this is the case then you should repot your plants. There is a chance that your plants have a fungal infection. You can remove any pests from the soil by changing the amount you can. If the soil is infected, you can sterilize it naturally with organic activated charcoal. This is a long-term solution that keeps molds and fungi at bay for a very long time.

Lemon Juice In The Saucer Or On The Pot

Your pot is not the right place for ants to live. Follow the trail to see where they are coming from and then block their path using strong acids. Ants can detect chemicals and are extremely sensitive to them. Lemon juice is a very effective, inexpensive, and simple way to keep ants away. They will not be found anywhere near you. However, you can also use vinegar.

How to use lemon juice on ants in potted plants?

Sprinkle some lemon juice along the route they take to get inside, and they’ll just go away. It’s best to do it before they get up so that you don’t block any ants. If they are trapped inside, they will continue to search for a way out.

You can also put a few drops into the saucer. This is acceptable as long as it is an acidophilic (like Japanese iris, azaleas, and caladiums) plant. Spray only the outside of your pot if your plant prefers alkaline soils (hyacinth or crocus, for example).

Use Cinnamon Sticks or Powdered Cinnamon 

Ants will try to keep away from it as much as possible. You will enjoy aromatherapy for your family and yourself.  However, cinnamon powder can be used in place of sticks. However, the scent is not as strong. You can just sprinkle a cinnamon stick over the soil in your pot and let them sit.

Water In The Saucer

This is a simple solution. Ants don’t like swimming, so if you add water to the saucer you can create a “moat” similar to what they did with medieval castles. Although this solution is simple and straightforward, it can be dangerous. First, not all plants love water in the saucer. This can lead to root rot. You may be able to find two options for other plants, particularly if they prefer dry soil.

Place a larger saucer underneath the plant’s saucer. This will create a ring you can water. You will be able to keep the plant dry while still keeping the ants away. You can also place the pot on stones or bricks. This will dry the roots and allow you to fill the saucer up with water.

Succulents don’t like humidity from saucers even though they aren’t directly in contact with water. These solutions work well with other dry-loving plants like orchids, thyme and sago palms.

Mint Essential Oil

It’s no surprise that ants don’t like mint smells. Mint essential oil can be used to keep them away. Just put a few drops on a saucer or in the pot and you’ll refresh your space while sending mice and ants packing!

Plant Marigold 

Some plants are too toxic for some insects. Geraniums are well-known for keeping insects away. This may be why they can be found in the window boxes of Alpine cottages. Beautiful marigolds are a great choice if you want an ant-resistant plant.

Marigolds can be unbearable for many insects, including ants. They can be planted around your home (and are popular in the borders of buildings), or you can keep one pot among your other plants. 

What’s the best way to get ants out from potted plants?

Natural methods are more efficient, safer, and cheaper than the traditional ones. They are also fun and offer many benefits. You can use water or add a nice scent to your home while keeping ants away. Essential oils can be used in diluted water with a spray bottle to make it easy and convenient. You can also grow flowers to send ants packing.

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.