How to Get Rid of Ants & Slugs in My Potted Plants
Sometimes potted plants may seem to be ant and slug magnets, but you can control infestations with barriers, traps and pesticides. Ants visit potted plants infested with aphids to harvest the sticky honeydew aphids secrete, and they are attracted to the dark, moist conditions beneath and inside plant pots, sometimes building nests in potting soil. Slugs also are drawn to the moist conditions underneath and inside plant pots and snack on plants overnight. Ants and slugs usually infest outdoor potted plants, but they stay on pots taken indoors.
Ants Feeding on Aphids
If ants visit your potted plants to feed on aphids, then an option is to make barriers that ants won’t cross. One barrier is soapy water. Dilute three or four drops of dish-washing detergent in 1 quart of water, and stand the plants on their drip trays in shallow trays containing the soapy water. Take care not to allow the soapy water to slop into the plants’ drip trays. Most plants don’t grow well standing in water. If your potted plants are on a plastic pot stand, then place the stand’s legs in tins that hold soapy water. That method can’t be done with wooden or metal pot stands because the water will damage the stands’ legs. An option for outdoor potted plants is to spray pot stands and the ground and walls around plant pots with a ready-to-use insecticide that is 1 percent propoxur, which kills ants. Don’t use it on edible plants, however. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and safety goggles to apply propoxur insecticide, and follow the instructions on the product’s label, which may advise spraying surfaces only until they are wet, not dripping excess insecticide. A ready-to-use insecticidal soap sprayed to cover the potted plants thoroughly can control aphids on the plants. Insecticidal soap isn’t harmful to people or pets.
Ants Nesting in Pots
Destroying ant nests without harming plants can be difficult. A method that doesn’t damage plants starts with diluting 1 to 2 tablespoons of insecticidal soap in 1 quart of water. Stand the plant pots in the solution for 20 minutes. Then remove the pots from the solution and allow them to drain thoroughly. Discourage ants from recolonizing a potted plant by standing the plant pot on pot feet, which lift the pot off the ground and allow air to circulate below it.
Slugs Living in Pots
You could pick out and kill slugs living in potted plants. Favorite hiding places for slugs are the undersides of plant pots and small cavities in potting soil at root ball edges. Check the bases of the pots, including inside their drainage holes, and pick out the slugs. Run your finger around the inside of the containers at the potting soil’s edge, and remove slugs hiding there. Slugs can be killed by squishing them or putting them in a sealed plastic bag in the trash.
Slugs Visiting Plants
Slugs often visit potted plants at night. Signs of slugs include silvery white trails and irregular holes in plant foliage. Remove potential slug hiding places near your plant pots; they include stones, debris and dense ground-cover plants. Also check for slugs on the undersides of benches and pot stands. You can trap slugs with boards placed near plant pots overnight. Check the boards in the morning, and destroy the slugs you find. An option is to use copper foil, which is an effective slug barrier. Wrap copper foil strips around plant pots or the legs of benches and pot stands. Alternatively, water the plants, put on gloves and thinly sprinkle ready-to-use, 3.25-percent metaldehyde anti-slug granules on the wet potting soil surface around the plants’ stems in evening. Don’t use anti-slug granules in pots containing edible plants or in areas accessible to children or pets. The plants shouldn’t be watered again for 48 hours.
How to Get Rid of Ants & Slugs in My Potted Plants. Sometimes potted plants may seem to be ant and slug magnets, but you can control infestations with barriers, traps and pesticides. Ants visit potted plants infested with aphids to harvest the sticky honeydew aphids secrete, and they are attracted to the dark, …
How to Get Rid of Garden Slugs
Last Updated: October 24, 2020 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Lydia Patubo. Lydia Patubo is the Manager at Flowercraft Garden Center in San Francisco, California. She studied Environmental Horticulture at the City College of San Francisco and has over 10 years of experience with Environmental Horticulture.
There are 20 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 26 testimonials and 89% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.
This article has been viewed 1,925,211 times.
Slugs are the bane of many gardeners existence; the sneaky little gastropods slither in at night, eating the leaves and fruit from many plants. Rather than letting them take over your beloved garden, take action to eliminate the slugs that are ruining your plants. With a variety of techniques including lures and traps as well as using natural predators to rid you of slugs, you’ll be slug-free in no time. Note that all of these methods work just as well for snails.
How to Get Rid of Garden Slugs. Slugs are the bane of many gardeners existence; the sneaky little gastropods slither in at night, eating the leaves and fruit from many plants. Rather than letting them take over your beloved garden, take…