Are Ants In Potted Plants Good Or Bad?

This post will clear the confusion in your head if ants in potted plants are good or bad. 

You’ll find an in-depth yet easy-to-understand reason for ants in potted plants

And much more!

Keep reading to know it all. 

Are Ants Good Or Bad For Potted Plants?

ants in potted plants good or bad

The answer is ants are harmless to potted plants. Yet, they don’t bring any massive benefits to potted plants either.

But ants can harm seedlings and tiny plants. 

It’s because ants dig tunnels underneath the soil, which may damage the roots of the seedlings with tender roots. 

The tunnels that ants create underneath the soil brings one benefit to mature plants. The roots of these plants can penetrate the soil deeper. 

The tunnels aerate the soil. Better aerated soil helps the plants absorb the hidden nutrients fast. 

Do Ants Eat Plant Roots?

No, ants do not eat plant roots. Plant roots are not a part of their diet. Ants don’t eat stems and leaves of plants either.

But ants can displace the soil around the plant’s roots when they’re building their nests. 

The displacement of the soil exposes certain parts of the plant’s roots. That dries up the roots, which can make the plants wilt over.

Why There Are Ants In Potted Plants?

There are three significant reasons for ants in potted plants –

  • High level of wetness in the soil. 
  • Honeydew from other pests in the plants.
  • Insect larvae present in the soil.

Ants love damp soil, and that’s the kind of soil they’d dig into to make nests. 

Ironically, ants can also make nests in soil that are dry at the surface but damp underneath. 

So, if you’re inconsistent with watering your plant pots, then it can make the soil in the pot habitable for plants. 

Many gardens and yards have bugs like aphids, chinch worms, and mealybugs.

These bugs produce honeydew, which attracts the ants to potted plants.

The damp soil in potted plants attracts fruit flies and fungus gnats

These flies lay eggs in the damp soil. The larvae from the eggs, which the ants eat, also attract ants.

That’s one of the reasons why potted indoor plants attract ants. 

The artificial light from your attracts the fungus gnats, which then get attracted to the damp soil of indoor potted plants.  

Ants In Potting Soil Bag

Ants in potting soil bags needed a special mention because many people don’t know about it. 

There are pests like ants and maggots in many cheap soil bags available. 

And when you pour the soil on the pot, you introduce ants in the potted plants. 

It’s because when you purchase a potting soil bag, it can contain ants. 

The best way to avoid this situation is by using pasteurized soil. Pasteurized soil is heated and clean, and it doesn’t contain any ants or pests. 

You can also pasteurize soil in your home. And it’s straightforward to do that. 

All you’ve to do is, put the potting soil in a pot. 

Seal the pot with aluminum foil and heat it in an oven at 80 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Once you heat it, let it cool off before you pour the soil into the pot.

That’s it. That’s an easy way to pasteurize the soil.

Pasteurizing the soil also unlocks the nutrients of the ground, which is healthy for your potted plants. 

How To Get Rid Of Ants In Potted Plants?

Get rid of ants in potted plants

Ants aren’t harmful to potted plants. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get rid of them. 

If you don’t, ants can build nests in your yard or garden, which can lead to a sudden ant infestation in your home. 

And if your indoor potted plants have ants, then your home is at risk of ant infestation if you don’t get rid of them. 

Here’s how to get rid of ants in potted plants in seven easy steps. 

Step#1 – Get Rid Of Pests In The Pot

If there are honeydew making pests like aphids and mealybugs, get rid of them. 

You can easily do it by spraying a mixture of dish soap and water on the plants. 

Caution: Many blogs recommend spraying a mixture of white vinegar with water on the plants and soil. Please don’t do it, ever. Vinegar is acidic, and it changes the soil’s pH levels, which severely damages the plants. 

Step#2 – Water The Soil In The Pot

If you haven’t watered the soil for a few days, then do it. But don’t flood the pot with water. 

Step#3 – Change The Potted Soil With Pasteurized Soil

Use this method only if you can see a section of bare roots or the pot has seedlings. 

It’s because if the potted plants’ roots are visible, then it means ants have started to nest. 

And if there are seedlings in the pot, then the ants can damage their roots. 

So, in both cases, it’s always wise to change the entire soil in the pot. 

To change the soil, all you’ve to do is uproot the plant, empty the pot, clean it, and put pasteurized soil instead of regular soil. 

That’s it. 

Step#4 – Use Ant Spray On The Soil

Use organic ant spray, which is safe for plants, on the soil. 

We highly recommend MDXconcepts Home Organic Pest Control Spray to get rid of ants in potted soil. 

Some Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Ants In Potted Plants

If you don’t want to use insecticide spray, then here are some natural ways to eliminate ants in potted plants.

  • Sprinkle cinnamon powder on the soil. Ants hate the smell of cinnamon. 
  • Use coffee grounds on the potting soil. It repels ants.
  • Put 3-5 drops of citrus or peppermint essential oils in a bottle of water. Mix it well and spray it on the plants and the soil. The smell of both oils repels ants.
  • Scatter food grade diatomaceous earth in the pot. It kills the ants, and it’s safe for plants.

Plants That Attract Ants

Some plants attract ants. We’re not telling you not to keep them in your home. 

But in case if you keep them, just be a little eagle-eyed about the ant’s presence around these plants. And take swift actions.

The plants that attract ants are –

  • Peonies
  • Wild Parsnip
  • Desert Willow
  • Small Stonecrop
  • Clematis
  • Roses
  • Pentstemon

The sweet nectar of peonies, wild parsnip, and desert willow attract ants. 

Whereas clematis, roses, small stonecrop, and penstemon attract aphids. Ants eat aphids, and the honeydew the aphids make also attracts ants. 


The only advantage ants in potted plants bring is that they aerate the soil by making tunnels inside the pot’s soil. 

That makes the roots of the plants access more nutrients of the soil. 

But ants can cause damage to the seedlings while they’re digging tunnels inside the soil. 

And finally, ants don’t cause any damage to mature potted plants.