How to Kill Ants Without Killing Plants

Ants are capable of hurting your plants as well as making your once beautiful garden an uncomfortable environment. As a result, getting rid of ants in the garden is critical, and you may prefer to kill the ants without harming your plants. The reason is that driving away ants is trickier compared to killing them.

Ants in the garden are not always a threat since they assist in the decomposition of broken branches, leaves, and fallen tree trunks. This provides nourishment to your plants. Ants are also crucial in the garden because they improve soil aeration by burrowing into it, making tunnels for optimum drainage, and enhancing root penetration.

Attempting to eliminate such ants from your garden may be difficult, especially if they keep returning after clearing them out. Even more challenging is getting rid of the ants without killing the plants.

How to get rid of ants without killing plants

We will guide you on the best steps to safely eliminate ants from garden plants without causing damage to them. Before you look at that, you should be familiar with the types of ants that invade gardens and may infest the plants in your garden. The following approaches may help you kill ants without killing your plants:

1. Boric Acid and Sugar Paste

To get rid of ants without killing plants, mix sugar and boric acid with water to form a paste, then smear the paste on your plants. Boric acid would be one of the best and safest ant killers, mainly if you use it as a home remedy for your plants. 

You must use sugar as it attracts ants perfectly. It would be best to pick out their points of origin and the areas they might be nesting in on your plants. Block the access points using the boric acid paste you prepared. 

Note that boric acid is also harmful to humans, and you must ensure that if you have other people living in your home, they do not go near or contact the boric acid traps. 

However, boric acid in considerable quantities is not harmful to your plants as they often take up boron in the boric acid. Boron is an essential nutrient for plants. The other best option would be to use boric acid paste at the source of the ants to prevent them from going up your plants. 

They may frequent your plants searching for food and water and often avoid nesting on them. They often carry food to their queen and will most likely bring the boric acid paste to feed their queen. This can also eliminate ants in garden soil without hurting the plant roots.

2. White Vinegar

White vinegar is very effective in killing ants. It is also an excellent repellant and may be used by smearing or spraying it over the ants. You can use a locally available spray bottle to spray white vinegar over the ants. 

You can also pour white vinegar over the ants’ nesting area to eliminate them from their homes. Pouring white vinegar on ants and into their nest guarantees the queen’s death. The queen can lay very many eggs at a time. 

Killing the queen discontinues the ants’ generation and may prove immensely helpful in eliminating ant infestation without killing your plants. White vinegar also does not harm plants.

3. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth only works best in its dry form by drying out insect exoskeletons. This substance is also not harmful and is safe for all plants. It will kill all the ants near it without killing your plants. 

Usually, it is best for use on plants that are not yet infested. Using diatomaceous earth requires a calm day as the wind will likely blow it away. You can carefully spread the diatomaceous earth around the foot of the ant-infested plant to ensure no ants climb up or down the plants. 

You can also spread diatomaceous earth over ants’ nests to eliminate all the ants coming in and leaving the nest. This substance does not kill ants instantly. However, ants moving in and out of the nest are likely to carry some dust into the nest. 

Ants have tiny hairs that attract dust, and taking diatomaceous earth into the nest guarantees it will reach the queen. Killing the queen translates to killing the colony. Thus, using this method, you will avoid killing your plants as you kill ants.

4. Ant-Killing Gel

Ant-killing gel is never poisonous to animals or plants. The gel also attracts ants the same way boric acid paste works. You can smear the paste on the affected plants and allow the ants to feed on it. 

In any colony, ants value their queen, and they will carry food into the nest for the queen to eat. Ant-killing gel will eliminate every ant that consumes it. Plants cannot absorb the gel despite it not being harmful to them. 

The gel can also be smeared on the plant’s leaves and stems. Smearing it on plants ensures that all the ants that pass over or near it notice its presence and strive to get their share.

5. Cold and Hot Water

Cold water does not kill ants. However, it irritates ants and may soak their nests, which may not be a welcome situation for ants. Coldwater will startle ants and get them off your plants. 

After they leave the plants, you can pour hot water on them to kill them. Be cautious not to pour hot water on your plants, as hot water kills plants. First, irritate the ants with cold water and let them move away from the plants before using hot water. 

You can also find their nest and pour hot water directly to eliminate the whole army. In doing so, the ants will not have a home to go back to, and they will also lack a means of continuity.

6. Nematodes

Nematodes are a species of microscopic worms that predate on ants. Introducing nematodes in your garden will be highly beneficial in killing ants without killing your plants. They may benefit you by killing ants and enriching the soil with their activities, like helping in soil aeration and excretion that adds humus to the soil. 

Additionally, nematodes will not kill your plants as they pick out ants. These worms will kill and drive out ant colonies because ants cannot stand living in the same area as their natural enemies.

7. Essential Oil and Liquid Soap

Combining oil and liquid soap produces an excellent combination for killing ants without killing plants. The liquid soap weakens the ants’ exoskeleton while the oil suffocates them to death. 

This method is aggressive and inhumane in killing ants, but it works perfectly. Fortunately, the combination does not harm plants and can be used anywhere around the ant-infested plant. Pouring the mixture directly into their nesting area yields better results as it kills more ants than pouring it directly over the ants on the plants.


You may want to kill ants without killing your plants each time they raid your garden. While killing ants is generally inhumane, it may be the only option to achieve the peace you want in a garden.

Some ants are highly destructive and may damage your plants, leaving your garden bare. You must use near-natural and environmentally-friendly methods to kill the ants if you must eliminate them while saving your plants.

The interventions may be challenging to apply based on the number of plants in your garden. However, it would help if you had the patience and tolerance to manage the whole process. You may also opt to combine the stated interventions to achieve better results.


  • Felix Odi

    Hi, I’m an experienced author and content creator with over 18 years of experience as a publisher. Growing up in rural areas of Bristol, FL, I developed an interest in pest control, fish farming, and poultry keeping. Farming is a main activity in the area, and pests are always part of our major setbacks. I had to learn how to get rid of them with simple DIYs.