How to Stop Ants Nesting in Your Flower & Plant Pots {Repel Them For Good}}

My plant pots are full of ants. Again. I wanted to know how to stop ants nesting in your flower & plant pots, but I couldn’t find a good article to help me.

This is why I had to do this for anyone who is experiencing the same thing. Do coffee grounds stop ants from nesting? Does cinnamon work to prevent ants? Why are there ants in my potted plants in the first place?

In this article, we will work together and solve the problem of how to stop ants nesting in your flower & plant pots.

How to Stop Ants Nesting in Your Flower & Plant Pots

Try warm water and dish soap. Add peppermint oil to the mixture as well. Vinegar and water in a 50/50 split as a spray solution works well too. A little goes a long way.

One teaspoon of dish soap and a few drops of peppermint oil can be sprayed willingly on any flower pot and potted plants without harming them. Others use coffee grounds, cinnamon or pepper powders on the top soil with mixed results.

If you want to take it to the next level, try sprinkling diatomaceous earth as a commercial product meant to dehydrate and kill ants or other insects on contact.

How Do I Keep Ants Out of My Flower Pots?

Keeping ants out of your flower pots is tough when these pesky and persistent insects keep coming back. Where are they coming from?

If these potted plants are inside your home, make sure to follow the ants to figure out how they are getting in and seal that entryways with caulking or diatomaceous earth.

Now, let’s look into the pot itself. Stir up the soil and sprinkle diatomaceous earth on top only. Spread this powder around the planter as well. This is going to kill the ants.

Keep in mind that ants release oleic acid when they die and it draws in other ants or insects who may also die on contact if they touch diatomaceous earth. Finish off with peppermint oil sprayed with water and deter all of them from coming back.

How Do You Keep Ants From Nesting in Plant Pots Naturally?

A natural method to keep ants from nesting in plant pots can include coffee grounds. Whenever you finish your cup of coffee in the morning, take out the coffee grounds from the machine and sprinkle them on top of the soil.

You will not harm the plant, but you will repel ants. They will be disturbed and wish to leave the space. You should toss around the soil a bit first and add the coffee grounds on the top only.

Other natural methods include:

  • Lemon juice
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Pepper powder
  • Lavender
  • Eucalyptus
  • Garlic

Some of the items on the list can be sprinkled, while others are poured or sprayed on top of the soil to prevent ants from nesting here.

Why Are There Ants in My Potted Plants?

Ants are part of the ecosystem surrounding plants. They were here before we were. You may have set your potted plants and become frustrated with the inclusion of ants.

They don’t mean to disturb you, but this is their nature. Ants are in your potted plants because they:

  • are searching for food
  • distributing seeds
  • eating other insect eggs
  • building nests

Many ants get eaten in plant pots located outside by birds, lizards, frogs and larger insects.

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Do Ants Harm Plants in Pots?

Not much. Ants don’t intend to harm or damage plants. They can disrupt the soil and mess up some roots. Overall, they are just looking for food and shelter.

Since they are digging into the soil, there will be some disruption. Low growing plants could get covered in the soil that ants are tossing around. Some plant pots will not recover if the roots have been disturbed too much.

What Can You Spray on Plants to Keep Ants Away?

You can try a variety of essential oil sprays where you take a few drops and add them into a spray bottle of water. You can also use lemon juice or vinegar as well.

Use them both together with water or go for the 50/50 approach where half the mixture is water. You will not only disturb the ants in the pot, you will also cover their scent trail that leads to it.

Vinegar will end up killing the ants, while essential oils like peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and more will repel them.

Will Coffee Grounds Get Rid of Ants?

Coffee grounds have mixed results for getting rid of ants. Do not go out buying coffee grounds just for this task. If you are a coffee drinker, save your coffee grounds and give it a shot without having to lose a thing.

Toss around the soil first and settle it by patting it down. Then, sprinkle the coffee grounds on the topsoil of the plant pot and get some in the planter as well.

Some ants might consider coffee grounds as a food source and carry it back to their nest. Ants will either die or be repelled by too many coffee grounds that they will choose another location instead.

Will Cinnamon Hurt Plants?

Cinnamon is great for plants. It’s a rooting agent and stimulates root growth, As an added bonus, ants and many other insects hate cinnamon! They can die from inhalation of cinnamon as it dries out their exoskeleton from the inside out.

Start with your cuttings and sprinkle some cinnamon powder on them right away. Hormone rooting powder or willow water are also rooting agents, but they don’t repel ants the way that cinnamon does.

How Long Will Vinegar Keep Ants Away?

Vinegar can be used as a spray mixed with water to repel or even kill ants. Spray it in all areas or even in your plant pots. Start with the windows, doors, baseboards and kill the scent trail that ants have secretly left behind to direct themselves to your favorite plants.

After an hour or so, ants will be disoriented or they will die on contact with vinegar. Do this spray action once or twice a day for a week and you may end up with relief when you stop seeing ants.

6 Ways to Remove Ants From a Pot of Plants of Flowers

Let’s get to this list right away and remove ants from a pot of plants or flowers:

1. Use a teaspoon of dish soap with water and spray on the topsoil. 
2. Remove aphids with the same spray. Ants love honeydew from aphids and will follow them anywhere.
3. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the topsoil to kill ants on contact.
4. Replace the soil altogether.
5. Try sprinkling baking soda on top and in the saucer (planter).
6. Spray or sprinkle citrus, peppermint, coffee or cinnamon.

We recommend trying any of the methods above for a diligent period of one week at least. You will win this battle if you remain persistent and do not give up after a day or two.

Ants in Potted Plants Outside

The potted plants are located outside of your home, you can get more aggressive. You can apply insecticide and pesticides at will without worrying about its effects in your home.

Wear a mask and spray the ants and their entire pathway that leads to the plants. If you want to take it a step further, sprinkle coffee grounds, citrus rinds or pepper powders on the topsoil and in the saucers as well.

How Do I Get Rid of Ants Without Harming My Plants?

You will not harm your plants if you use multiple solutions like:

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Baking soda
  • Essential oil sprays such as peppermint
  • Cinnamon

Does diatomaceous earth kill ants? Yes. Diatomaceous earth comes in food grade versions that are made from hard shelled algae diatoms. Your plants will not be harmed. It will dehydrate the ants and plenty of other insects.

What Plants Help Deter Ants?

Here’s a suggestion. Why not grow some plants that actually repel ants? You can blend or balance your potted plant areas with or your garden with these plants below to keep ants from entering this area.

Ants are strongly directed by scent and the aroma of the following plants are repulsive to ants:

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Catnip
  • Peppermint
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Tansy

We also suggest adding in garlic and sprinkling coffee grounds on the topsoil of your favorite plants in pots as well.


Ants are a common aspect of gardening and belong in this ecosystem. We are creating our own spaces by taking plants out of the natural soil and placing or growing them in our own pots.

Ants are going to find a way to get in there, but we can work on making sure there are no entryways for them and also covering their scent trails with a few sprays of vinegar and water.

Coffee grounds on the topsoil works well and so does cinnamon. Diatomaceous earth is the ultimate ant killer and will not harm your plants either. Good luck and happy planting.


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Jason Barrett

Hello, I'm Jason. I have 11 years of experience in dealing with pests. I try to provide you the best information that'll help you to make the pest control process easy & affordable