Getting rid of ants can be tricky, especially when they infiltrate your yard and garden. According to the National Wildlife Federation, there are over 12,000 different species of ants throughout the world.
In the United States, there are roughly 1,000 ant species roaming about. Most ants are considered nothing more than nuisance pests, but there are some ants that can be damaging to homes, buildings, and agriculture.
Certain species of ants can devour ornamental plants and destroy vegetable gardens or fruit trees. Worse, ants in your garden can mean that ants are that much closer to getting into your home.
In today’s article, we are going to discuss how to deal with ants in the garden the natural way! Join us as we take a look at 10 plants that repel ants.
But First, How Do Plants Repel Ants In The First Place?
Companion planting can repel ants by disrupting their sense of smell.
There are quite a few plants that ants, and many other insects for that matter, are attracted to. Equally as important, there are several types of plants that ants and other insects are repelled by.
The secret is in the scent.
Like most insects, ants rely heavily on their sense of smell. They use this sense of smell to not only navigate the world around them and detect dangers, food, and environmental changes, but they also use it to communicate.
Ants in particular are expert communicators via scent. In fact, ants leave behind a scent trail to help lead other ants in their colony to food, safety, and shelter.
Disrupting this sense of smell disrupts one of the ant’s most important senses, so it comes as no surprise that strong-smelling plants can deter these pests.
Some of the best plants that repel ants include mint, rosemary, thyme, lavender, common yarrow, tansy, pennyroyal, basil, onions, and garlic.
Of course, it’s one thing to know which plants deter ants, but it’s another thing to know exactly how to use them appropriately to get rid of these pesky pests.
Keep reading to learn more!
How To Use Companion Planting With Plants That Repel Ants
Companion planting should be done strategically in order to work.
Part of the joy of gardening is watching your yard bloom and blossom with beautiful flowers, ornamental and exotic plants, and delicious fruits and veggies.
There is almost nothing as frustrating as watching your hard work get destroyed by ravenous pests like ants.
For organic gardeners, getting rid of pests can pose a tricky problem, but you might be surprised to find that there are a variety of natural methods you can use to repel pests without putting chemicals in your garden and yard.
One of the best ways to manage pests is to use companion planting.
Companion planting is the act of planting specific plants around your garden in a strategic way to help reduce the attraction of ornamental plants or edible plants by disguising their smell.
There are a few specific types of plants that repel ants and other pests you must use when using companion planting, and it’s important to place them in your garden with forethought.
The good news is that companion planting can actually enhance the look of your garden, and many plants that repel ants have a scent humans actually love.
The best way to implement companion planting in your garden is to plant specific types of plants and herbs like garlic, basil, sage, or dill, around more attractive or sweet-smelling flowers or garden veggies.
Remember to place plants strategically around your garden, taking care to ensure plants that are tolerant of shade are planted accordingly and vice versa.
But which plants are the best plants that repel ants? Let’s take a look!
Mint can be grown both indoors and out.
Mint is a fragrant herb commonly used in culinary recipes. There are actually a wide variety of mint plants, all of which have a strong smell that most people find pleasant.
Mint is easy to grow and tolerant of a number of environments. You can grow it in a garden or in small pots in your home. This plant is generally a bright green, leafy plant that blossoms regularly with small white, pink, or purple flowers.
People have used mint for hundreds of years as an ingredient in dishes, garnishes for drinks, air fresheners, candies, ground covers, and even herbal medications for natural healing remedies.
Because mint is both beautiful and easy to grow, it is one of the most highly recommended plants that repel ants on our list.
To use mint as a repellent plant in your garden, it’s best to plant the herb in moist soil that has good drainage and is not too wet. If you are planning on growing mint in your garden, you won’t need to plant more than one or two plants.
Mint grows quickly and just one or two plants will easily cover the garden as needed. Not only does mint repel ants, but it can also repel a number of other pests like mosquitoes, flies, spiders, roaches, and even rodents.
Rosemary is a popular herb for many culinary dishes.
Also known as Rosmarinus Officinalis or Salvia Rosmarinus, rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that has long been used for holistic and medicinal purposes. Rosemary makes a fragrant essential oil and also makes a delicious addition to certain culinary recipes.
This plant is fragrant enough to repel a number of pests in the garden including ants, snails, flies, beetles, and other garden-destroying insects and animals.
Rosemary is not as easy to grow as mint, but it is still a highly recommended plant when it comes to plants that repel ants.
To successfully use rosemary in companion planting for pest control, plant it in sun-rich areas in well-drained soil. Plant the herb at least two to three feet apart from other plants. Rosemary is an evergreen plant, and it blooms with lovely blue, white, or pink flowers during late spring and early summer.
Though rosemary is one of our plants that repel ants, you should note that it can attract honeybees.
Thyme is a strong-smelling herb that is repulsive to pests like ants.
Thyme is another popular herb and another one of our fragrant plants that repel ants. Native to Eurasia, thyme has long been used as an herb to garnish and dress dishes like eggs, meats, poultry, cheeses, and more.
Because of its strong fragrance, thyme is typically delightful to people but repulsive to pests. Not only does it help to repel ants when it comes to companion planting, but thyme can also repel pests like whiteflies, corn earworms, cabbage loopers, and more.
To plant thyme in your garden successfully, plant it about one to two feet apart from other plants in sunny areas. It does best in well-drained soil that is fertile and healthy.
Lavender is famous for its beautiful purple blossoms and calming scent.
Did you know that lavender is actually related to mint? This fragrant purple plant is a sweet-smelling beautify that is incredibly delightful and even calming to people while being repulsive to a variety of garden-destroying pests.
Lavender is famous for its blossoming purple flowers. Native to the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and India, lavender is believed to have been used historically for medicinal purposes as well as for holy purposes.
Records show that lavender has likely been used for a variety of reasons for as long as 2,500 years.
Today, lavender is commonly used as a calming aid, with many people claiming it can help with depression, stress, insomnia, and more.
When it comes to pest control, lavender is another one of our plants that repel ants. It also repels fleas, mosquitoes, moths, and flies.
Like most of our plants that repel ants on this list, lavender thrives best in well-drained soil. In fact, many experts suggest you combine gravel and soil together when companion planting lavender to help ensure the plant grows properly.
5. Common Yarrow
Common Yarrow is a tall plant growing up to three feet.
If you’re looking for a beautiful companion plant for your garden to help repel ants and add some romantic ambiance, we suggest considering common yarrow. Common yarrow is a tall plant that is native to the north. It grows to stand around three feet tall and stands straight on stems until the top, which branches out.
Common yarrow is a member of the aster family and grows beautiful white flowers. The blossoms bloom through April and October.
When using common yarrow in your garden, it’s best to plant it in an area of your garden that has complete sunlight. While it can grow in partially shaded areas of the garden, it may not do as well or protect your garden plants as thoroughly from ants and other pests in shady areas.
You can use this plant as a border plant for companion planting to repel ants. Common yarrow will also repel mosquitoes, flies, and more. In fact, common yarrow is often used to make essential oils that repel pests like mosquitoes naturally.
6. Common Tansy
Bright and yellow, common tansy makes a lovely and protective garden addition.
Another one of our plants that repel ants is common tansy. This is a bright, beautiful plant that is native to Asia and Europe. Tansy is a perennial belonging to the aster family. Depending on your region, common tansy may be considered a noxious weed.
However, when properly controlled, this invasive species of plant can help repel a number of pests when strategically planted in gardens.
Tansy blossoms are bright, yellow flowers that are fragrant and attractive to people and gardeners. Tansy is also an impressive plant when it comes to pest control in gardens.
When planted correctly in gardens, tansy can repel ants, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, moths, ticks, and even rodents like rats, mice, moles, and voles.
To best utilize tansy as one of our plants that repel ants, experts recommend planting seeds during springtime. Tansy does not do well in frost, so you will want to ensure the weather is right for the plant to grow accordingly.
Once you plant the seeds, cover them with 1/4th inch of soil and water them one time. This should suffice to ensure proper protection for your garden plants while also adding a hint of color to your garden.
Pennyroyal is a somewhat controversial plant, though it can protect against pests.
Pennyroyal is a plant that is popular for the essential oils it creates that have long been used for medicinal purposes. However, pennyroyal has become quite infamous over time due to a long list of concerns regarding its safety.
With that said, pennyroyal is one of the most popular forms of insect repellent due to its effectiveness.
Like mint or lavender, pennyroyal is one of our plants that repel ants using its strong scent. It repels many other pests in gardens as well when properly utilized, including mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and gnats.
Pennyroyal is easy to grow, and it is a plant commonly used by gardeners not only for companion planting to protect gardens from pests, but also to fill in bare spots around the yard.
Pennyroyal can be planted as seeds or cuttlings, and it is quick to spread. When companion planting, be sure to plant it a few feet from the plants you wish for it to protect.
Basil is more than just a tasty herb that goes on pizza! This delightful plant also protects against garden pests.
Most of us are familiar with basil and its delightful flavor, especially when added to Italian dishes, soups, and sauces.
Also known as Ocimum basilicum, basil is an herb belonging to the mint family. Native to India, basil is used worldwide for culinary purposes, medicinal purposes, and as a form of common pest control.
Basil repels mosques, flies, ants, weevils, roaches, and more. It can be grown both indoors and out, in potted plants or in rich, healthy soil.
To plant basil as one of your companion plants that repel ants, basil must be planted during spring and planted as a seed. Basil does not grow well indoors, but it can thrive outside when planted under the right conditions. It also is a plant that requires at least six to eight hours of sun a day in order to thrive.
This video below goes into more detail about how you can successfully grow basil in your yard.
Garlic can protect against a number of garden pests, not just ants.
Garlic does more than keep the blood-sucking vampires away! This allium and other allium plants like it (onions, chives, etc), can help protect your garden from pests like ants, roaches, mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and more.
Though we consume the bulb that grows below ground, it is the fragrant smelling shoots that help to repel a number of garden pests when used as companion planting. Garlic is an especially useful plant to use when trying to protect vegetables in your garden.
Do you have a bulb of garlic on your counter? You can use the cloves to grow garlic in your yard simply by planting the cloves one to two inches below the surface of the soil. Experts say it’s best not to skin the cloves, as this will protect them and help them to develop.
The best time to plant garlic will depend on where you live and your region’s climate, though most people find that September through October is the best time in which to begin planting garlic as a companion plant in your garden.
Sage is an easy to grow and fragrant plant.
Last but never least on our list of plants that repel ants we have sage. Sage is another herb that has long been used for a wide variety of purposes throughout history, most commonly medicinal purposes and culinary purposes.
Luckily, sage is easy to grow in gardens and yards, and it produces a strong fragrance that repels a number of pests including ants, carrot flies, snails, beetles, cabbage moths, black flea beetles, and more.
Sage can do well in vegetable gardens as a garden protector and pest repellent, though it shouldn’t be planted near onions, rue, or cucumbers.
You can plant sage during spring or fall on cooler days. It’s best to plant sage about two feet apart from other plants and to plant this herb in areas that get a lot of sunlight.
Other Common Plants And Household Products That Repel Ants
Essential oils can also help to repel pests in the garden.
The above plants that repel ants are certainly worth looking into, but if you’re not a fan of companion planting or you’re simply not a fan of the above plants that repel ants, there are more plants and options for you to consider.
Some other plants that repel ants include:
- Carnivorous Plants
- Lemon Balm
- And Common Marigolds
By doing a bit of research, you can find out which of the above plants that repel ants will work best in your garden. Of course, if you prefer to forgo companion planting altogether, there are other methods you can use as well to get rid of ants.
Many of the above plants that repel ants produce essential oils you can use to make your own repellent. Because essential oils are plant-based, they are generally safe to use directly in gardens to repel pests like ants.
Some of the most popular essential oils you can use in gardens to keep pests at bay include:
- Tea Tree Oil
- Citrus Oil
- And Eucalyptus Oil
To use essential oils as a pest repellent, you have a few options. One option is to combine 15 to 20 drops of the above essential oil of your choice into two cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake the solution and spray the mixture over garden plants at least two to three times a week to protect the plants and repel pests.
You can also use saturated cotton balls. Simply dunk the cotton balls in the oil of your choice and leave them around your garden to repel pests. Replace cotton balls once every three days for the best results.
Home Products That Repel Ants
Companion planting can be time-consuming and essential oils can be costly. If you’re in a pinch and need a quick solution for getting rid of ants, you can always try the household products below:
- Ground Black Pepper
- White Vinegar
Plant-Based Or Natural Products That Also Repel Ants
Along with using companion planting, you can also use natural products to repel pests. (https://unsplash.com/photos/JjT_7MwREm4)
If you are passionate about organic gardening and getting rid of pests in your garden naturally without the use of chemicals, we recommend also investing in a few products for pest control.
While companion planting and using plants that repel ants can be helpful, it is not always 100% effective in keeping these pests at bay and protecting your hard-grown flowers and vegetation.
The good news is that you don’t need to rely on chemical pest repellents and insecticides to keep your garden flourishing.
Along with companion planting using the above plants that repel ants, we also recommend you try a few of the below products.
Garden Safe Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer
Also known as DE, Diatomaceous Earth is an all-natural product you can use to get rid of ants and other crawling insects safely and naturally. The product is derived from fossilized algae and works by penetrating the ant’s waxy exoskeleton. This penetration dehydrates the pest and eventually kills it.
In order for Diatomaceous Earth to work properly, it should be dry and will need to crawl through it. We do recommend that you replace the Diatomaceous Earth if it is rained or sprinkled on, and we recommend you continue to use it to keep ants at bay.
Diatomaceous Earth is harmless to people, pets, or the environment. It will also not harm beneficial insects.
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control Spray
Wondercide is another one of the plant-based products we recommend to use in conjunction with plants that repel ants.
This product has no spray and wait time and is safe to use directly on the garden and ornamental plants. It is made with natural ingredients like essential oils including peppermint oil, rosemary oil, and cedar oil.
This spray also comes ready to use with a nozzle for more controlled application. It not only repels ants, but it is also effective against mosquitos, flies, gnats, ticks, fleas, roaches, and more.
Mighty Mint Ant Killer
Mighty Mint Ant Killer is a product that is made with natural ingredients like peppermint oil and other products that not only kill ants on contact but repel future ants from coming around. The spray is completely plant-based and works on all species of ants, so it doesn’t matter which types of ants you are dealing with.
The product can also help protect your garden and yard from other garden-destroying insects like flies, beetles, moths, and more. Because this spray is all-natural, it is perfectly safe to use in gardens and yards where children and pets play.
EcoRaider Ant And Crawling Insect Killer
Another product we recommend for getting rid of ants in the garden naturally is a product by EcoRaider Ant and Crawling Insect Killer. This product is designed specifically to kill and repel pests like ants without harming your garden.
Most importantly, it is made with all-natural ingredients and is safe to use around children and pets. This product can work on a variety of ants, including fire ants and other difficult to control pests.
You can order it in two different sizes and use this product both indoors and out. It works to kill ants on contact and then continues to protect by disrupting scent trails left behind by scout ants for up to four weeks.
Colton’s Pest Control
Colton’s Pest Control spray is another mint spray that uses 100% natural ingredients to kill and repel ants without being harmful to the environment, your garden, or your family.
It is made using a combination of ingredients like mint, cedar oil, geranium oil, and lemongrass to repel not only ants but also spiders, roaches, fleas, and more. The spray also provides long-lasting protection in your garden.
For the best results, it is recommended to spray it several times a day around infested areas until you notice less pest activity. Then you may spray it periodically to help prevent pests from coming back around.
This product is safe enough to use daily on your garden plants and will not harm ornamental flowers or edible garden veggies or fruits.
Tips And Tricks For Keeping Ants At Bay In The Garden
Removing aphids can help reduce ants, as can a number of other steps.
Ants are certainly a nuisance, and they can even be costly if they get into your home. Taking care of ants in your garden is one way to help ensure ants don’t make their way inside, but getting rid of them in the garden can be just as tricky as getting rid of them in your home.
Using companion planting as a method to get rid of ants is an effective and natural method we love for pest control, especially when used in conjunction with some of our listed products above.
Of course, we always like to say that prevention is key to any pest control regimen, and the same is true for keeping ants out of your garden.
Here are a few tips and tricks you can use to keep ants from becoming a nuisance in the future.
Remove Pests Like Aphids
Ants and aphids have a symbiotic relationship in which the aphids help provide the sweet secretion of honeydew that ants love. In turn, ants protect the aphids. Unfortunately, this relationship can mean more aphids in your garden, which can be harmful to your plants.
Getting rid of aphids can reduce the attraction your garden has to ants, and it can also help prevent damage to your plants.
Utilize Companion Planting
As we’ve covered, utilizing companion planting is a common way to not only repel ants but also to prevent them. The more you can work to make your garden less attractive to ants, the better off your garden will be.
Invite The Predators
A great way to get rid of ants is to invite their predators to your garden. Ants have a number of natural predators you might consider allowing to move in, including spiders, snakes, lizards, and birds.
Last, Consider Letting Them Stay!
Yes, this does seem counterproductive to the entire article, but in smaller numbers ants can actually be beneficial to your garden. Ants can help your garden thrive by aerating the soil when they dig tunnels below the earth.
However, not all species of ants are beneficial to gardens, and large numbers of ants can do more harm than good.
If you’re struggling with ants in your garden, we highly recommend utilizing the methods listed above to control them.
So, what do you think about using companion planting as a method for controlling pests like ants in your garden? Share your thoughts with us on the process in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.