Introduction on How to Protect Plants from Ants
Having Ants around your plants in larger numbers can cause many problems. Ants love and are attracted to honeydew that is made by some insect pests like aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs. Although Ants are a nuisance, they do not cause any harm to potted plants. There are different ways to eradicate Ants from potted plants. In this article we also discuss below topics;
- How to protect Ants from plants naturally
- Get rid of Ants without killing plants
- Get rid of Ants in the garden by natural methods
- How to keep Ants away from garden plants naturally
- Home remedies for Ants in plants
- Natural home remedies to get rid of Ants in plants
- How to remove Ants from pots
- Discourage the Ants with dish soap
- What plants help deter Ants
- Different ways to remove Ants from plants
A Step by Step Guide on How to Protect Plants from Ants with Home Made Solutions and Organic Methods
In your home garden, Ants are part of the overall ecosystem. They play many roles as they search for food; occasionally pollinate some plants; eat the eggs of some insects; distribute seeds; and are also a food source for larger insects, birds, lizards and frogs. Though, if you see Ants in your potting mix or lawn, they’re likely there for another reason. Ants need a ‘house’, so the Ant colony is making a nest to lay eggs and raise their families. They’ve selected a dry, sheltered spot like home.
Ants can indirectly cause other problems in plants. When they build their nests underneath plants, the soil they bring to the surface as mounds may bury smaller size plants. The bigger issue is that your plant roots can be disturbed and lose valuable moisture around the root zone. Their presence may indicate those plants need watering.
Why Are Ants in My Potted Plants?
Several reasons can be identified as a source of an Ant infestation around potted plants. Some insects that produce honeydew which Ants use for food, but there are a couple of other causes are;
Old potting mix – Old potting soil mix can’t absorb water as good as a fresh mix. When this situation happens you will end up with the dry soil full of cracks. Then, these cracks are heaven for Ants to inhabit. If the soil is not absorbing water then it is time to change it. Do it carefully as the plant roots are easily damaged.
Homemade Compost – Compost is warm in the center and that is a great place for Ants to live and hide in. When using homemade compost first check it for Ants and if you see any of them simply don’t use it.
Watering – Excess water can be attractive to Ants during hot summer times.
Are Ants Bad or Good for Potted Plants?
Having Ants in potted plants can sometimes point to bigger problems such as having other pests that Ants are attracted to. Then, these pests attract Ants because they leave a honeydew trail that Ants use as food. Ants can help the root system by digging the tunnels in the soil. On the other side, an Ant infestation can bring some types of plant diseases, so it is best to keep their numbers as low as possible.
If you have a lot of black Ants crawling around, check to make sure the plants they frequent aren’t infested with sap-sucking bugs. On the other hand, if you have leafcutters, then they can cause a lot of damage to plants. When they cut up and remove pieces of the plant leaves, they are not only making the plants look bad, they’re leaving big wounds.
The benefits of having Ants in a garden are;
Pollinators – Different types of Ants pollinate flowers as they go about their food gathering, just like bees and butterflies.
Pest predators – Carnivorous varieties of Ants will eat harmful pests such as aphids and grubs. Ladybugs want to encourage them to stick around.
Enriching the soil – Many species eat fungus. As the organic matter they “farm” breaks down, and it releases nutrients into the soil.
Some disadvantages of having Ants in a garden are;
Ants can carry mealybugs, aphids, and sap-sucking insects to plants, and protect them from predators. When Ant colonies get large, their tunneling can harm or weaken root systems.
Fire Ants – Fire Ants are a direct problem for humans. Fire Ants can be a main nuisance for gardeners, and their bites are quite painful.
Leafcutter Ants – In warmer places, they can cause a lot of damage. Gardeners facing an infestation of leafcutters act quickly to get rid of them.
Anthills – The biggest issue with the Ants in the garden are the hills that pop up between my decorative pavers. They are just annoying to look at, but large populations can cause damage by displacing or burying rocks and pavers.
Best Methods to Protect Potted Plants from Ants
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A lot of products used in the home can be used to keep Ants away from potted plants. If you remove sap-sucking insects like aphids, scale, and mealybugs from garden plants, the Ants will leave. These are some natural options;
- Garlic Spray – For this spray, mix oil, garlic, and water into a spray bottle and then apply it directly to the plant and around it. This process requires regular reapplying.
- Lemon Spray – To make this spray combine lemon juice and water. Ants hate the scent of lemons and will keep away from the location sprayed with it. Or, you can use an orange spray instead of lemon for the same results.
- Coffee Grounds – Coffee grounds will not only keep Ants away from plants but it will also add some nutrients to the soil. Using coffee grounds has multiple pluses.
- Peppermint – Peppermint plant will keep a lot of pests away from your plants so we highly recommend using it. So, recommend getting a peppermint essential oil and making a natural repellent spray with it.
- Pour boiling water into Anthills. The hot water will kill Ants and you may need several applications to kill all the Ants.
- Ants don’t like citrus and this could act as an Ant repellent. Just squeeze lemon rind in a cup and sprinkle it on plants.
- If the Ants are too many in plants and you can’t manage to get them off your plants, boil multiple lemons or orange rings in water for around 15 minutes. Strain and spray.
- Ants won’t nest in wet soil or moist potting mix. Fix that, and you’ll see them move house. Thus, to remove Ants that are nesting simply make sure your pots or lawn is watered more often. To deter Ants, use self-watering pots, regular watering, and a moisture-holding potting mix.
- Some spices such as Cinnamon, Cloves, Coffee grounds, or dried mint tea leaves can be scattered around the plant’s base to deter Ants too.
- To stop Ants moving into potted plants, there’s an easy fix. Cut fine fly screen mesh and line your pot at the bottom before adding potting mix, so Ants can’t enter from the base. Sneaky.
- Also, you can try sprinkling cayenne pepper or cinnamon on your pot mulch or rims to help deter them.
- For small potted plants, you can add them to a bucket of water and submerge until air bubbles stop coming to the surface. Then remove. This temporarily re-wet the potting mix and buys you time until you fix the problem accurately.
- If you can’t remove the potting mix easily or the pot or plant is too large, you need to drench or soak the pot to re-moisten the soil and send them packing. A layer of mulch is essential to retain moisture in pots.
- Sprinkle ground cinnamon or cayenne pepper around your garden plants. This may help repel Ants.
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Organic Methods to Protect Garden Plants from Ants
Below are some important natural ways to get rid of Ants in a garden;
1. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth or bone meal throughout the garden area. It is fossilized algae that cut through the exoskeletons of the Ants. DE is made from the ground-up shells of microscopic creatures. It works best when sprinkled right on the Ants, rather than just spreading it around. Also, direct applications will help to prevent harm to beneficial insects. You’d better sprinkle the Ants’ path or around the garden plants, you don’t want the Ants to get to. It works well if the soil is dry.
2. Insecticidal Soap Spray
Organic insecticidal soap is great for targeted insect elimination. When sprayed directly on Ants, a soapy solution can kill them, and disorient them. You can make your insecticidal soap spray from 1 tsp of mild liquid soap, combined with 1 liter of water. Carefully, test your mixture on a single leaf before applying it to the whole plant.
Though commonly Borax sold as a household cleaning product, borax is a naturally occurring boron salt, rather than a synthetic chemical. It is toxic to Ants when they eat it and can wipe out the colony. Combine borax with sugar and water to make a paste for repelling Ants. You can create your bait traps by smearing a thin layer on a small plastic lid. Place these baits in the garden near the paths Ants are travelling or right next to the nest. While all-natural, it can be harmful to pets and people. So don’t use Borax if you have animals or small children running around the yard.
Vinegar is very effective in getting rid of ants in plants. To repel Ants in plants, mix equal amounts of water and vinegar (either white or apple cider) and spray the solution on the Anthills in the garden. The strong scent of vinegar will make the ants avoid the places sprayed with a vinegar solution.
5. Boric Acid
Boric acid is toxic to Ants when ingested; it is suitable for use in the home and garden. Mix boric acid with honey or sugar, maple syrup, and peanut butter to create Ant bait. Ants will ingest it with glee and maybe take some to their colony. Finally, the mixture will poison their system and wipe out their entire clan overnight.
Lemon is a great natural option to repel Ants that you can try at home. Mix a solution of 1 part lemon juice to 3 parts water and then use it as an all-purpose spray. Spray the lemon solution around entryways and the perimeter of the home, in the garden, or any areas where you see Ants.
7. Liquid Dish Soap
Dish soap works wonders to eliminate Ants in plants. Dish soap suffocates them and ruptures their cells, causing them to dehydrate and die. Just mix 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap and baking soda each in a bowl of water. Mix well and then spread the solution along with the areas where you see the Ants entering. Also, you can spray over trails of running Ants; just make sure to mop up the dead Ants with a damp cloth after some time.
Liquid dish soap is another multi-talented kitchen product. Dish soap is good for all sorts of activities, including cleaning clothes and killing fleas on your pets. It makes a fantastic Ant repellent, as well, and is one of the top natural methods to keep them off of your plants. The dish soap won’t harm the plants as it takes care of your Ant problem either. It is an excellent homemade remedy for Carpenter Ants, Sugar Ants, and more, that seem to invade the yard whenever you don’t want them to. To make this simple recipe, combine the soap and water, and then fill the spray bottle. Spray this solution to all plants that you want to protect from Ants. It serves several purposes for pest control and won’t harm children or pets. Repeat the application after rainstorms. Also, you can increase the soap percentage if required, but a stronger solution can harm garden plants.
8. Fresh Garlic
Garlic acts as natural pest control. This plant is not only great for human health but also effective in eliminating Ants from home.
9. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a good household product that you can use for a million different purposes. It makes an excellent Ant repellent, as well. Like coffee grounds, you can also use baking soda and not worry about harming other creatures, which makes it ideal for repelling Ants.
10. Use Cinnamon to Get Rid Of Ants in Plants
Ants have a strong sense of smell. You can keep them away by putting strong-smelling substances such as cinnamon in trails and the pot itself. Cinnamon in oil form spreads the smell better than in powder form that repels the Ants.
11. White vinegar
Pouring about 1 liter of white vinegar directly into the nest can work wonders. It is not harmful to the ground or plants, but it will kill the ants on contact.
Plants That Naturally Repel Ants
Ant-repelling plants are a boon to your garden. Lots of plants have natural defenses against insects, and you can use that to your benefit to guard against Ant infestations. Adding plants that repel Ants to your home garden is a healthy and green solution to your pest control issue. Plants that repel Ants also attract beneficial insects to your yard and also improve your garden’s health.
- Lavender is an excellent choice for your home garden and will keep Ants away in droves while gracing you with a pleasant fragrance.
- Plant mint around the perimeter of your home to repel some insects. Peppermint is a natural insect repellant. Ants hate the mint smell, and your home will smell minty fresh. Plant mint around entryways and the perimeter of the home. Place a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball and then use it to wipe suspected areas. You can also place a peppermint oil cotton ball in areas where the ants frequent.
- Some other insect-repelling plants are Rosemary, Catnip, Peppermint, Thyme, Tansy, Catnip, Pennyroyal, Sage, Peppermint or Spearmint
- In addition to the herbs that act as an organic repellent, planting garlic in the garden offers great protection against these pests as well.
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