2 Effective Ways to Stop Ants From Nesting in Plant Pots

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Maintaining pot plants is a challenge when it comes to the management of pests and diseases. Pests are prominent invaders in any plant. You feel depressed when any pest attacks your lovely plant. Among them, ants are common.

Ants are found everywhere, on the walls, floor, etc. It is irritating to get bitten by an ant. Ants help other pests to invade the plants, which we call vectoring. Many pests use ants as vectors. One example is seeing small white bugs taken by ants on the plants.

These white bugs are called mealy bugs that suck the plant’s sap. This phenomenon between ants and mealybugs is called Phoresy.

Ants come to plants due to the honeydew secretions by aphids or mealy bugs. They nest in various places, commonly around plant roots, disturbing plant growth. Ants can be effectively managed with natural and manmade remedies without harming plants.

Effective Ways to Stop Ants From Nesting in Plant Pots

There are several effective ways to prevent ants from nesting in plant plots. Some of them are mentioned below which are as follows:

1. Either Natural or Manmade Solutions

Either Natural or Manmade Solutions
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Chemical insecticides eradicate the ants quickly, but they may harm the plants. The action is fast, but the consequences are unpredictable. So, we must remove the ants while ensuring the safety of plants. This is the time to switch to natural remedies. Natural remedies for removing ants can be made easily at home. They might be slower in action but are eco-friendly and safe for plants at the optimal dose.

2. Manmade Solutions for ant Control

Manmade Solutions for ant Control
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Chemical insecticides and baits are some manmade solutions to control ants. Insecticides or bait formulations with hydramethylnon, boric acid, fipronil, sulfluramid, and abamectin can effectively kill ant colonies. Make sure to use these chemicals at the recommended dosage to protect other useful organisms and humans.

Keep poison baits mixed with good-smelling foods; worker ants carry these poison-mixed foods back to the nest and feed the queen. This kills the queen and the entire colony. Avoid dust formulations as they can harm our lungs and cause respiratory diseases.

Using this method only when other methods have no effect is advisable. Environmental health and plant safety are the main ideas behind the shift from chemical to natural remedies for pest control.

Also Read:- How to Get Rid of Ants in Garden without Killing Plants

Natural Ways to Prevent Ant Nesting in Pot Plants

Natural formulations for repelling or killing ants can be homemade with simple inputs. Such solutions are prepared with plant extracts, essential oils, and other natural sources. They might show slow action but exhibit long-term effects without harming the plants.

1. Keeping a Water Barrier

Keeping a Water Barrier
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Place your tiny potted plants in a tray half filled with water. This serves as a simple barrier for ant entry. Make sure always to maintain the half water level in the tray. This is one of the easy solutions for ant prevention.

2. Reduce Organic Matter Content

High organic matter in the potting soil attracts the ants. This is because organic matter has rich food reserves needed for ants. You can use pebbles and stones at the bottom and top of the soil mix to cool the soil and prevent soil moisture loss. So, reducing the organic matter in soil is a good measure.

3. Sealing Open Cracks

Sealing Open Cracks
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Ants reach their destination through small holes, open cracks, and crevices. These holes and cracks should be sealed in the surroundings where the potted plants are maintained. Sealing should be done with strong molds and woods for airtight conditions.

How to Stop Ants Nesting in Pot Plants in Natural Ways

First, we have to look for certain factors before taking measures, such as

  • Point of entry for the ants
  • Source of attraction (honeydew secretion)
  • Factors supporting ant incidence

After considering these factors, we can proceed forward with appropriate solutions for the problem.

1. Cinnamon Oil and Powder

Cinnamon Oil and Powder
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Cinnamon naturally repels ants with its strong smell. Place grounded cinnamon powder in the pathway of ants or around its nest so that the colony breaks and leaves the place. Sometimes it may suffocate and die. Wiping the surface with cotton dipped in cinnamon oil does work well.

2. Diatomaceous Powder

Diatomaceous powder is made from fossil remains of microalgae called diatoms. Sprinkle some powder in the soil with the ant nest or on the tunnels. On contact, the compound cuts through the insect exoskeleton, dehydrates, and kills them. Spreading around the base of the plant prevents further ant incidence.

3. Citrus Compounds

Citrus Compounds
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We know citrus groups of fruits possess many useful properties. Sprinkle some citrus extract or wipe the pot’s surface with oil. The strong odor repels the ants to a greater extent. Placing some cut citrus peels in the nesting area also deters them.

4. Vinegar Solution

Vinegar – the acetic acid, emits a strong foul smell that can repel the ants. Consider using white vinegar or apple cider vinegar mixed with equal proportions of water. Sprinkle this solution around the pot or at the nesting site.

You could see the colonies breaking out rapidly. If there are many infestations, increase the vinegar concentration to get a strong smell.

5. Essential Oils

Essential Oils
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Essential oils of some herbs do repel ants very well. Peppermint oil, tea tree oil, citronella oil, etc., can be mixed equally with water to get a formulation. Give a spray at the nesting site of the soil. The strong smell of oil flees away the ants.

The number of sprays per week can vary according to the intensity of the infestation. The oil concentration can be modified to increase the intensity of the odor.

6. Soil Soaking

One simple way to get rid of ants is to soak the whole pot in water. Take a container bigger than the pot filled with water. Now you can soak the pot in the container for at least half an hour and drain well. The water enters the soil pores and brings out the ant colonies. Repeat it until the colonies are washed out.

7. Borax Bait

Borax Bait
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Borax is non-toxic to humans and pets. Placing food mixed with borax powder will do the job. Ensure it is placed at the nesting site or near the colony. Borax kills the ant by poisoning the digestive system. The workers take food for the queen, which is fatal after eating. We have to be patient till the whole colony collapses.

8. Repotting

It is a general procedure followed for the safety of potted plants. Replace the old soil mix with the new potting mix without damaging the roots. This will remove any old colonies and nests from the soil. Be sure to dispose of the old soil mix tightly tied in a bag. This will ensure that the ants don’t come back.

9. Soap Oil Spray

Soap Oil Spray
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Neem oil mixed with a mild soap solution repels the ants. Giving a slight spray on the nest will suffocate the colonies. Neem oil solution has an active component, azadirachtin, that can kill many sucking pests. Follow the dosage according to the level of infestation.


Ants come as a trail when there is any source of attraction. These may be any food or honeydew secretion by sucking pests (aphids and mealybugs) in the plants. Remove those small tiny white or black bugs from the plants to reduce ant invasion.

Block or seal small holes, cracks, and crevices to prevent ants’ entry. If you prefer using insecticides for control, give them sparingly to avoid damaging plants. Clean the soil debris and plant trees regularly as it invites ants to nest.

Prefer repotting at most times since it increases plant health and decreases ant incidence. Keep the pots in a neat and sterilized area with no debris or dust. Place the baits at the appropriate place where there is ant incidence, ensuring other organisms’ safety.

Keep the bait in the line of the ant trail; the workers will take it to the queen, and the whole colony will eat the food. Finally, the nest is ruled out. Try sticking with simple natural remedies; if the situation becomes worse, then think of taking up the help of chemicals.

Also Read:- 18 Different Types of Wasps with Information & Pictures


Do ants cause damage to potted plants?

Ants do not cause severe damage to plants. But they bring in other harmful pests, such as mealy bugs that are dreadful. This phenomenon is called “phoresy.” Ants build nests around the plant roots by digging the soil, so the plant roots get disturbed.

Why do ants nest in plant pots?

This is because the leaves give protection from sunlight and harsh wind, which is suitable for the ant. Also, it is a suitable site for multiplying its young ones. Sugar-rich food available for consumption is another factor for nesting.

Does baking soda help in killing the ants?

Yes, baking soda can be used as bait in the nesting area, or sprinkle some baking soda solution over the nest to get the job done. Baking soda acts by poisoning the digestive system when ants eat the bait.

Do natural remedies kill the ant effectively?

Mostly all natural remedies will repel the ants. Essential oils, herbs, and spices deter the ants with a strong odor. White vinegar not only repels the ants but also kills them. Diatomaceous earth kills ants by piercing through their exoskeleton.

What are the compounds used as bait for ants?

Compounds such as hydramethylnon, fipronil, boric acid, and abamectin are commonly used as bait and food. These are carried by the workers to the colony to feed, after which the whole colony collapses. It is important to keep these baits in places with a high ant incidence for quick action. They can also be kept in an ant trail for good results.


Ants are everywhere, pestering in some ways. We could repel or kill them based on our convenience. Ants create tunnels that provide aeration and water percolation into the soil. Still, at the same time, it troubles the root system. Taking a control measure is not a great deal, but it should not harm the plants in any way.

Ants or any pest harming the potted plants should be eradicated as it may bring in other pests and diseases. So monitor the pots and plants continuously for pest and disease incidence to conserve plant health.

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