How to Get Rid of Ants in Houseplants: The A-Z Guide

You’re watering your beloved Aglaonemas when suddenly, you find little black creatures crawling all over them. You take a closer look, and there they are… Ants! The usual problem is that you’re not sure how to get rid of ants in houseplants. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place!

You may employ several approaches to get rid of ants in your houseplant. For example, you can use insecticides, white vinegar, homemade citrus extracts, or essential oils.

In this article, we’ll talk about how to get rid of ants in houseplants, what causes them, and more!

Why are Ants Attracted to My Houseplants?

Ants on a houseplant

It may come as a surprise that ants aren’t necessarily drawn to houseplants themselves but rather to the things they find in them. Let’s take a look at three potential reasons why ants have taken up residence in your indoor plants:

1.   They’re Drawn to Your Plant’s Scent

Ants have a phenomenal sense of smell. In fact, research has shown that they have four to five times as many odor receptors as the majority of other insects.

The most common reason why ants appear in an indoor plant is that they’re drawn to these two specific scents.


Since ants can smell odors a mile away, they’ll most definitely gather around your plant’s flowers. This is because flowers have a sweet fragrance. Additionally, they contain energy-rich nectar, which ants are absolute suckers for.

Also Check: 7 Houseplants That Love Water


Your houseplant can get infested with small insects, such as aphids, scales, or mealybugs. As these pests feed on your plant, they produce a sweet and nutritious excrement called honeydew. Ants go absolutely nuts for this sticky substance!

2.   They’re Thirsty

In extremely hot climates, ants get thirsty and begin scouting for a place to drink. Because they can smell water from a long distance, you may find them creeping through an open window to drink from your plant pot!

3.   There are Sweets Lying Around

Ants have a sweet tooth. Yes, you read that right! Ants typically enjoy sugary foods because it provides them with a lot of energy. These guys can smell that stuff from a distance!

If there are crumbs anywhere near your pot, the ants will congregate around it. While they’re at it, they’ll probably make their way to your plant to see if there’s more food.

Are Ants Dangerous to Houseplants?

First and foremost, it’s important to note that ants aren’t pests. Ants, you see, can feed on other pests. This is really helpful because these pests may cause considerable harm or even death to your houseplant. 

However, ants may sometimes pose a threat themselves. They can enter the plant’s soil and begin building their nests, leaving the soil in very dry conditions. The plant may die if it’s not treated as soon as possible.

How to Get Rid of Ants in Houseplants

Although ants don’t pose a severe threat most of the time, it’s best to get rid of them as soon as you spot them in your houseplants. Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to remove ants from your plants.

Some of these methods involve using natural substances, whereas others don’t. That said, here are five different ways to get rid of ants in houseplants:

1.   Use Insecticides

Spraying insecticides

The most commonly used method to get rid of insects in plants is to use an insecticide. The insect repellant usually comes in three forms: spray, dust, and bait.

Once the ants come in contact with whichever form of insecticide you use, they’ll begin to dehydrate and eventually die.

Whether it’s spray, dust, or bait, take additional precautions while working with pesticides. If any of this is done improperly, it can be extremely harmful to you and others. 

Lastly, it’s important to note that pesticides may also be harmful to your plant. In fact, studies show that pesticides have a deleterious impact on the rhizobacteria in plants.

Method of Use

Always follow the product’s package instructions. It will tell you how much to put in, how to use it, and anything else you need to know. However, the following are general guidelines to follow:

  • Apply insecticide at a cool temperature: using it on your plant in hot climates may damage it.
  • Apply insecticide to the entire plant: Make sure you get all areas of it, especially under the leaves.
  • Don’t apply insecticide next to a draft: It might be carried by the wind and end up on other plants.

2.   Use White Vinegar

You don’t necessarily have to kill the ants; you can use white vinegar to drive them away instead. Vinegar is a cheap, effective ant repellant. This is due to its powerful acidic smell.

Ants rely on their sense of smell to find food and water to survive. When you spray vinegar on them, the acidic scent becomes too much for the ants to tolerate. As a result, all of the ants flee the area immediately.

Method of Use

First, add vinegar and water in a spray bottle in a 50/50 ratio. Then, shake the bottle to thoroughly combine the liquids.

Finally, spray the vinegar-water mixture directly on the ants.

3.   Use Citrus

Citrus fruit slices

To drive the ants away, use citruses, such as oranges, lemons, limes, or grapefruit. These citrus fruits contain d-limonene, a chemical that’s toxic to ants.

Furthermore, citrus has a powerful odor that ants despise. It works similarly to vinegar in that it overwhelms the ants’ sense of smell, causing them to evacuate immediately.

Method of Use

Whether you have a combination of citrus fruits at home or just one kind, anything is going to work. Using the rinds of these fruits, you can make your very own DIY citrus ant repellant. All you have to do is follow the steps below:

  1. First, cut the fruit rinds into tiny pieces.
  2. Next, place the cut peels in a gallon jar until it’s half full.
  3. Finally, fill the rest of the jar with water and put the lid on it.
  4. Store the jar in a cool, dark area for three to five days or until the peels are paler in color and the water is tinted.
  5. Drain the citrus extract into a basin using a strainer.
  6. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
  7. Spray the plant with the citrus mixture.

Related: 7 Houseplants That Repel Flies

4.   Use Essential Oils

Because essential oils have a strong aroma and contain d-limonene, they’re also considered excellent ant repellents. Peppermint oil, citronella oil, cinnamon oil, and lemongrass oil are among the best essential oils for getting rid of ants in houseplants.

Method of Use

All you have to do is combine a few drops of your preferred oil with some water. Then, transfer the liquid to a spray bottle and begin spraying your plant.

Another thing you can do is soak a cotton ball in the oil-water combination and place it near the ant trail. The pungent aroma of the oil will undoubtedly repel the ants.

5.   Repot Your Plant

The moment the ants enter the root system, your plant is at risk of serious harm. They may be in there innocently digging for food, but it’s also possible they’re nibbling on your plant’s roots. At this stage, you’ll need to repot your plant.

It’s critical to use a sterilized pot when repotting your plant. This is because the plant will most probably be suffering from a fungal infection.

Final Thoughts

Finding ants in a houseplant might be a nuisance. Fortunately, they don’t cause the plant much damage. They can, however, inflict harm if they build a nest in the soil. It’s therefore preferable to get rid of them as soon as you see them.

If you’re wondering how to get rid of ants in houseplants, you’re in the right place!