Outdoor Plants That Repel Ants

Ants can be a real pain to deal with in your home, yard or garden. And even though they aerate the soil and feed on fleas and termites, they also feed on caterpillars and provide protection for bugs that eat garden plants (e.g., aphids).

For some people, sprays and chemicals come in handy in the fight against ants and are readily available.

However, in these days of heightened awareness of the environment and the increased desire to use organic and eco-friendly products, more people are shying away from the use of these chemicals.

So, how can you combat the menace of ants in your home or garden? It is as simple as planting some herbs!

Some of the most common outdoor plants that repel ants are peppermint, rosemary, thyme, lavender, tansy, pennyroyal, the common yarrow, and garlic.

These, of course, aren’t the only plants that help keep ants away. There are others, as well (e.g., catnip, sage).

However, these are the most popular and readily available ones. This is why we included them in this list of ant repelling plants.

So, if you want to learn more about them, keep reading this article!



Both gardeners and homemakers understand the importance of rosemary not only to spice up their cooking but also to repel ants.

The oil in the rosemary is the workhorse of this repellent, so you may need to rough up the leaves a little. All that is required is to buy flower pots, plant the herb, and place those pots around your patio or porch.

You can also plant rosemary in your flowerbeds or borders. Keep in mind, this will not work as well as rosemary essential oil properly extracted from the plant. This requires distillation or you can buy rosemary essential oil and use it to make an insect repellent.


Mint in the garden


Most of us enjoy a refreshing cup of mint tea from time to time without knowing that this refreshing plant can also act as an ant deterrent.

Mint starts out slowly when planted but grows quite aggressively after the first year. You can either grow mint from seed or by removing a small piece from an existing plant, making sure to remove the piece with the root intact. Mint seeds sprout around two weeks after planting.

To prevent your garden from being overrun by mint, plant it in a pot or container. This will curtail its growth and keep it from spreading.

This plant has an overwhelming scent that repels ants and can grow tall and wide enough to provide ample coverage. This makes it perfect for planting near doors and underneath windows.



Even though it is loved by humans and very useful to them, ants detest lavender because of its oils and very pungent scent.

Lavender is a versatile plant because it works not only as an aromatic ingredient in any potpourri mix, but also works well as an indoor fly repellent.



Who would have thought that the thyme that lends aromatic goodness to salad dressing and other culinary delights would also help to repel ants? But yes, it does!

This herb loves the sun and grows slowly, thriving in cracks as well as along sidewalks or flowerbeds. Once grown, it will keep spreading perennially. Even though it does not smell as strongly as other plants that repel ants, it works equally well.



Also known as golden buttons because of its little clusters of aromatic yellow blossoms, tansy blooms in the summer. This plant is a wide-spreading herb that does not die once it takes root. It is considered an invasive and its growth prohibited in some states. Don’t plant it where animals have access to it as it is toxic if eaten.

It grows in a clump and can grow as tall as four feet (1.2 meters) tall and about one and a half feet (0.45 meters) wide. It is also self-seeding and multiplies by spreading its roots underground. Since it spreads fast and wide, you can control it by cutting it back before it flowers or by simply pulling it out by hand.


Wear gloves before touching tansy to avoid any toxins being absorbed into your skin.

It has antifungal and antibacterial properties which made it useful for lining coffins in the past. Nowadays, the leaves and dried flowers are used in floral bouquets.

Common Yarrow


Marta Jonina/Shutterstock.com

Common Yarrow, also known as soldier’s woundwort or milfoil, is a shrub-like plant which grows perennially. It can grow up to ten inches (25.4 centimeters) tall and sixteen inches (40.6 centimeters) wide with either partial shade or full exposure to the sun.

It is quite effective in repelling ants and can be planted from seed or from a cutting taken from an already established plant.

It blooms between June and September and its flower and leaves can be harvested for floral arrangements. While it repels many insects, it attracts butterflies. It is also purported to have medicinal properties and can be used to treat wounds.



Pennyroyal is a relative of mint and can be quite invasive, so if you plant it in your garden, without proper care, it could overrun it. It is, however, an effective ant repellent with a sweet aroma and purple flowers.

If you want to use pennyroyal as a companion plant for those that are prone to pest invasion, one tip is to plant it in a container rather than in the ground. This will curtail its spread while also protecting the other plants.

Pennyroyal is a versatile plant with an aesthetic value that will make whatever effort you put into cultivating and curtailing it worth your time. However, it is toxic when eaten and especially dangerous to cats, so don’t plant it where children or cats could eat or rub against it. 



Garlic can trace its origins to Central Asia and is available in over 600 varieties. It is a perennial plant that grows well in well-drained soil with exposure to sunlight.

Folklore suggests that garlic can scare away unwanted guests such as vampires, evil spirits, and ants. While we cannot provide any proof of its efficacy in dealing with evil spirits or vampires, it has been proven to be an effective ant deterrent.

When you plant garlic around doorways and beneath windows, it ensures that you will not be disturbed by any pesky, irritating ants.

Garlic is also an excellent addition to your culinary repertoire with added medicinal value. So, plant this versatile bulb around your kitchen doorway or garden borders and you will not regret it!


Now that you know about all of these protective plants, there is no excuse for you to allow your home or garden to be overrun by ants or other irritating insects. There is also no need to expose your household to harmful synthetic chemicals. By simply planting these aesthetically-pleasing herbs and ornamental plants around your home, you will not only be protected from ants but will also have delicious homegrown herbs readily available to cook with.

Additionally, you can check out the list of natural ant repellents.


Paul patane

If i put aromatic around my pool will it keep away the flying ants every morning when I go out to my pool there must be hundreds of them in my pool. HELP


    It should help, but I would also suggest keeping your pool covered.


Thyme is attracting ants and destroying the plants.


We have ants all over our property and they constantly invade my tummy feeders. Any suggestions? I plan to try putting some of these suggested plants in containers in the same area, do you think that will help?


    Yes, the plants should help if you want to keep away from the feeders. However, if ants have infested your whole property, I suggest killing the queen ant to deal with the colony. You can try buying some bait gels or liquids that the workers will take back to their nest.
    A guide to dealing with ants can be found on this article.

Douglas R Shane

There is one small area among our many gardens that ants have taken over for some 15 years. Except for an artemesia they have devoured every annual I’ve planted around the artemesia; this summer’s California poppies have been decimated.
In the past I’ve tried coffee grounds, enriching the dry soil with rich compost, and watering the area, none of which was long-lasting.
As we have lots of various varieties of mint, I will try laying cut branches around the area on a regular basis.
Comments welcome!


    Here’s an article about getting rid of ants. You should give some of the tips a try! I hope this helps, good luck!


Is making a homemade garlic spray and spraying around the outside of my house effective?!


    Yes, it should be effective, however, you have to keep in mind this will have to be re-applied often, especially, if the area gets wet. You can read a bit more about homemade repellents by clicking here.

David Murphy

What about the winter? Can I grow some of these plants in the house when it’s to cold outside, or is there another plant that works indoor?

    Kristiana Kripena

    Rosemary, mint, thyme and even lavender and pennyroyal can all be grown indoors as well.


I live in Ohio, just noticed ants in my kitchen already and it is only the end of May! I have a small spot next to the back steps by the kitchen sliding door that I could plant “something”. Are any of these plants in the article able to survive our winters and come back year after year? I’ll add that I have a black thumb but would love a natural way to deter critters and bugs from coming inside! Any advice is welcome!!

    Kristiana Kripena

    Rosemary, mint, thyme, and tansy are winter-hardy plants so you could try planting those. Or, you can also check out our guide to getting rid of ants for other methods how you can keep the ants out of your home.


Are ants attracted to pussywillows?


    Don’t really have much info on this, though, I’ve heard the pollen and nectar in it actually does attract ants (as well as flies, butterflies, etc). Especially, considering that the pussy willow nectar is high in sugar.


How close to your house can you plant these .


    Depending on your individual situation, you can plant them as close as you want.

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