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How to Kill Ants on House Plants

By Melynda Sorrels ; Updated September 21, 2017
Ants are social insects that tend to lack social ettiquete

Considered to be social insects, you seldom see just one ant all by itself. Too bad that these social critters don’t understand that they don’t have an open invite to any home they want. Ants in the house are bad enough, but when they invade house plants it creates a frustrating problem. Fortunately, several easy ways exist to get rid of ants, which can save you both time and money.

Mix boric acid powder and condensed milk (use the sweetened variety for the best results) into a thick paste-like consistency. Roll the mixture into small balls and place them on top of the soil where the ants can easily get to them. This sweet toxic mixture will be carried back to their nest and eradicate the problem at the source. Be careful using this method around children and pets, as it is toxic.

Remove standing water from plants and re-pot them immediately. Ants like to hang out with aphids, and aphids like standing water. Eliminate the excess water and the aphids go away, leaving the ants with no purpose to be there either.

Add 1 tablespoon of dish soap, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil to a gallon of warm water and mix it up well. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and you have your own bug spray for a fraction of the cost of insecticides and usable around children and animals.

Set the plant outside and place lemon rinds on top of the soil. The smell repels the ants and when they leave, it won’t be by way of your living room. Check on the plant and bring it in when the ants are gone.

Repot the plant in fresh soil. This will evacuate the ants that have made the old soil their home. Discard the old soil and leave the ants outside. Keep the new soil moist enough without drowning your plant, so that the ants won’t want to return.


Things You Will Need

  • Boric acid powder
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Dish soap
  • Vegetable oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Spray bottle
  • Lemon rinds
  • Fresh soil


  • Many commercial pest repellents have proven to be effective in eliminating ants, but aren't safe to use around pets and kids. Read and follow all manufacturers' instructions carefully.


  • Wear gloves when making the boric acid and condensed milk paste into balls.

About the Author


Melynda Sorrels spent 10 years in the military working in different capacities of the medical field, including dental assisting, health services administration, decontamination and urgent medical care. Awarded the National Guardsman’s Medal for Lifesaving efforts in 2002, Sorrels was also a nominee for a Red Cross Award and a certified EMT-B for four years.