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Products That Keep Ants Out of Potted Plants

By Barbara Fahs ; Updated September 21, 2017
Ants on your plants are not a good thing.
ants treasure 1. image by mdb from Fotolia.com

Ants are a nuisance insect that you don’t want inside your home. Although ants do not harm potted plants, they are farmers that collect other insects, such as aphids and scale, and bring them to many types of plants. Once there, the insects eat the plant, which can cause it health problems. The ants eat the insects’ secretion, a sticky substance called honeydew. You can choose pesticides or organic remedies to control an ant invasion.

Ant Stakes

Commercial pesticides are readily available that you can use inside your home to control ants that appear on your plants. Easy-to-use ant stakes contain a poison that worker ants carry back to the queen in their colony, which causes her death and destroys the colony. Some brands of ant stakes remain effective for up to three months when you use them indoors.

Barrier Treatments

Sticky substances are effective in keeping ants off your plants. Some barrier products contain toxic pesticides, while others are considered organic. You use a pest barrier by spreading a layer of it around the trunk or base of your plant, or around the lip of the pot. You can even cover an area on the outside of your house with it if your ant infestation is severe. When ants try to walk over the sticky barrier, their feet become trapped and they cannot escape.

Diatomaceous earth

Also called fossil shell flour, this naturally occurring substance is safe to use inside homes and around humans and pets, but it’s deadly to ants and other insects. To use diatomaceous earth, just sprinkle it on the soil surface of the plant you want to treat. When the ants try to walk across the plant’s soil, it’s “like steeping on broken glass,” according to Garden Harvest Supply. They will either die or leave the area. You might want to sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the soil of all your houseplants, because surviving ants will seek a new, safer home to raise the destructive insects they bring.


You can prevent ants from entering your home by making sure all of your window screens are in good repair. If you have any holes or breaks in your floor or siding, seal them with silicon caulk. Always clean up all food, including scraps in your kitchen sink strainers. Seal your garbage tightly, or better yet, compost it. Store foods that ants like to eat in tightly sealed glass jars or plastic zipper bags—appealing foods include sugar and foods containing sugar, pet food, cereals and grains. Also, keep tree branches and all other plants pruned back from your house. Another simple cure is to move your affected houseplant outdoors and flood it by submerging it in a bucket of water—ants will quickly vacate the flooded soil.


Corn meal can serve as a deterrent to ants if you sprinkle it around the border of your house. Ants will eat it, get thirsty, and then swell up and literally explode. Boric acid is effective against ants. Mix 1 tbsp. of 99 percent pure boric acid with 1/3 cup of mint/apple jelly. Dribble a few drops along ant trails and in areas where you have seen ants. The jelly attracts the ants and the boric acid kills them.


About the Author


Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.