Ants In Your Plant Pots: What You Can Do?

If you are struggling with ants in the flower pot, you have several methods. These do not involve the use of insecticides, so as not to harm the health of potted plants.

  • Ant colonies should ideally be driven out of flower pots
  • Plants can be damaged due to underground nests
  • Scent barriers and water are effective ways to combat the insects

Flower pot ants: 5 measures

The causes of an ant settlement in a planter or pot can be numerous. In most cases, the insects have unimpeded access to the pot, which is located in a preferably sunny corner in the garden or on the terrace, providing ideal nesting conditions. Since they are a nuisance that can damage plants, especially by building their nests, ants are uninvited guests. In the garden, however, they are a beneficial insect that keeps the population of pests under control. For this reason, ants should be driven out of the flower pot with one of the following measures below.

Tip: If the insects have settled near their flower pots but have not yet found a way into the containers, you should draw a barrier around them. Well suited for this purpose are chalk or garden lime, since Formicidae avoid the alkaline substances.


Gießen mit Wasserschlauch

One of the quickest and most effective measures against ants in flower pots is to water the plant extensively. If it is a plant that tolerates a lot of water or has not been watered intensively for a while, you can use this method without any problems. It is important that you water the plant in the pot over several days until the saucer is full. Since the passages of the anthill are flushed, the insects have no rest and will leave it if the water does not stop. Once the insects have been driven away, be sure to ant-proof your pots.

Scent barriers

Ants have a keen sense of smell, which they use to communicate with each other, detect food or become aware of danger. It is precisely this strength that you should take advantage of, because you can use a variety of plants and spices to create an effective barrier against the insects. To do this, rely on different forms of application that serve to directly combat and further drive away. If you have already noticed a settlement in your flower pot, the use of spices is recommended. These include:

  • Bay
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
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It is the essential oils that provide pleasant smell for people, which does not suit the insects in any form. They literally take flight from the spices when they are sprinkled as a fine mixture on the substrate in the tub. In this way, the insects can no longer move freely and will look for a new location for their nest. Alternatively, you can spread the spices around the pot as oils. To do this, simply drip a little of the oils onto a cloth and position it. Depending on the weather, this process may need to be repeated several times a day until they have moved out. Likewise, you can place herbs that have a repellent effect on the insects:

  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Chervil

If you do not want to put pots of herbs, the essential oil from them is also suitable.

Note: Also proven effective protection against ants is camphor, which you can use in the same way. The resin is not so cheap compared to the above spices and must be crushed beforehand, which makes the application interesting not for everyone.

Citric acid
Citric acid has a similar effect as the scent barriers. Citric acid not only smells unpleasant to animals, they sometimes ingest it and are driven away because of the taste. Ants are not fond of sour aromas, which makes it possible to use it as a means of control. But since you should not spread pure citric acid on the substrate, rely on a lemon instead. The lemon juice is quite enough, because in it there are five to seven percent of the acid. It does not matter if you use an organic lemon, because it is only the juice that matters, not the peel. Applied the method in the following way:

  • Fight ants
  • cut open the lemon
  • squeeze in peel
  • dip cloth into juice
  • put on substrate in the flower pot
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Repeat this procedure at regular intervals until the insects have sworn off your flowerpot. Depending on the size of the settlement, this may take some time, but over time you will get rid of them completely.

Cucumber peels
Instead of smells and tastes, cucumber peels are used as a deterrent because they have a large amount of bitter compounds. Bitterns are not only unpleasant from the taste, they are even poisonous for the arthropods. For this reason, insects do not go near the shells once they notice them and immediately communicate this to the colony. They are used in the following way:

Peel cucumbers
place slices with the inside on substrate
A big advantage to this method is the low cost, as you can even use cucumbers from your own breeding. After some time, remove the cucumber peels and replace them with new ones, so they do not rot on the substrate. Don’t worry. The bitter substances do not pose any danger to your plants.


Not to be forgotten in the fight against ants is coffee. Coffee belongs to the long list of measures that work against the insects in the flower pot and can be used by you without much effort. Again, the intense smell is the cause of its effective action against the ants. The arthropods can not stand it and leave the flower pot after a short time when the coffee powder was distributed. Suitable for this measure is coffee powder in the following varieties:

  • fresh
  • Pomace from automatic coffee machines
  • Pomace from filters

As you can see, you can actually use any coffee powder as long as it is ground fine enough. Just let it dry a bit before application so that it is not applied too wet. Spread the powder on the substrate or pour it directly into the ant trails that you reach from the outside. You can use a spoon or chopstick to push the powder deeper into the substrate, which will increase its effectiveness.

Frequently asked questions

Can baking soda be used as an insecticide?

Baking soda has been touted for decades as an effective home remedy against Formicidae. Behind this is the corrosive effect, due to which the insects die miserably on contact with the powder. The problem with this is that the insects avoid the powder as much as possible. Especially in the flower pot, you should not sprinkle too much of it, otherwise your plants could also suffer. Baking soda is simply too unreliable and therefore not recommended.

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How to prevent an ant infestation?

In addition to using scent and lime barriers, you should make sure that the animals do not find food near the flower boxes. Ants often orient themselves to the availability of food sources and for this reason there should be cleanliness around the location of the flower pots. Likewise, you should make sure that aphids do not settle, as they are virtually pursued by the capable insects and like to occupy your flower pots.

How to get rid of insects from a raised bed?

Formicidae are not only found in flower pots or planters. Raised beds are just as likely to be chosen by the insects for nesting, and they like to undermine a variety of plants in them. Since the aforementioned methods do not always work so easily in raised beds, you should rely on water. Flood the raised bed several times in a row to flush out the nest along with the insects. In most cases, this measure is sufficient.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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