What to Do When You Find Ants in Indoor Plants

Posted by Diedra Blackmill on May 23rd 2019

Ants climbing over a plant

Ants are a fairly common indoor pest, and keeping house plants can provide them with places to build nests inside. If you have potted plants, it’s possible for ants to form colonies near their roots, and this is a problem for your plant.

Unlike outdoor plants, indoor plants have a finite amount of soil space to share with ants, and that means the ants can start to destroy the roots as they try to make more room for themselves. Destroyed roots will lead to poor plant health, obviously.

Not to mention you probably don’t want ants living in your house for other reasons.

So when these insects take up residence in your indoor plants, here’s what to do…

Set out ant baits

Getting rid of ants in your plants is pretty much the same as getting rid of ants anywhere in your home. The ants are looking for food sources. They may have found some in your plant and are bringing it back to a larger nest somewhere else.

But once they are in the house, they will continue looking for bits of food.

Kitchen with plants

To stop them from spreading beyond your potted plants, set out ant baits that poison them and destroy the colony.

For baits to be effective, you have to watch the ants’ behavior and make sure you place the baits along the trails they follow in your home. Ants will walk through the exact same path many times. If you put the bait somewhere else other than directly on their existing path, they may ignore it.

Repot the plant

If the ants have actually established themselves in your pot, the only surefire way to get rid of all of them is to repot the plant.

Potting soil and trowel

Loosen the soil around the edges of the pot, and carefully remove your plant without doing too much damage to the roots. You will likely see a lot of ants fleeing the pot, so it’s best to do this outside and not in your home.

Lay the plant down and let the ants run off. Then, carefully loosen the soil from the roots. You’ll need to get off all the existing soil and replace the pot with new soil. If you’ll be using the same pot, make sure you clean it out to remove any remaining insect eggs.

Also rinse off the roots of your plant to remove insect eggs. Then put the plant in a new container with fresh soil. It’s a good idea to put the plant in a new location until you are sure the ant infestation is over in your home. Leave the ant baits in place until you know your home is ant-free.

Put preventive measures in place

Once you’ve gotten rid of existing infestations, it’s a good idea to put measures in place to protect your plant from future infestations. One easy method is to keep your potted plants on saucers with a bit of essential oil in them. Citrus, peppermint, and cinnamon oils naturally repel ants.

Flower with an ant

If you need to repot because of pests, we’ve got plenty of potting soil and containers at Indoor Cultivator. 

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