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Rose plant… red ants - advice

fizzylizfizzyliz Posts: 352
Hi, I was just pulling some weeds out of a pot containing a ross plant and going to top up with some soil and feed. As I was pulling the weeds out I noticed the pot is full of red ants… should I discard and put my rise in some new soil or just top up soil on top of the red ants? Not sure it’s a good thing to have red ants nesting in there? Thanks!


  • gjautosgjautos BuckinghamshirePosts: 370
    I'm probably wrong, but I'm always happy to see ants on my Roses, they eat all the aphids. So in my opinion they are a good thing.
  • fizzylizfizzyliz Posts: 352
    @gjautos ok thank you 😊 wasn’t sure if black were ok and red not… I’ll just tip up the soil then 😊👍
  • herbaceousherbaceous OxfordshirePosts: 2,313
    I think you will find the ants 'farm' the aphids for their sugary excretions so, far from reducing their numbers they protect the aphids from other predators.

    Ants tend to nest in dry conditions fizzyliz so thoroughly soaking the pot for several days will encourage them to move on. I always try to encourage emigration as the red ants bite me  :s 
    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,975
    My ants *cultivate* the aphids, defending them from predators, rather than killing them....
  • gjautosgjautos BuckinghamshirePosts: 370
    edited May 2021
    See told you I was probably wrong!🤣 
    Seriously though, I've never heard of ants farming aphids. Thats pretty amazing really. Clever little things.

    It is odd though, in my garden, the roses with ants nesting under them have no aphids, the roses with no ants nests have lots of aphids. I use a water/washing up liquid spray to deal with them. That's what made me think ants fot rid of aphids.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,184
    edited May 2021
    This explains the relationship between ants and aphids.

    And yes,  keeping the soil in the pot damp will make life uncomfortable for the ants. 

    If you can lift the pot without putting your back out you should immerse it totally in water until the air bubbles stop ... then let it drain. That’ll see them off. 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 🐜 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    The problem with ant nest in the roots of plants, is that they create chambers and this can leave the roots hanging in fresh air, which isn't helpful.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    edited May 2021
    I had them in a potted magnolia stellata which suddenly seemed to look like it needed more water, but didn't really pick-up much when I gave it extra.  After a few dry days, I sprinkled kiln-dried sand (the sort you brush over block paviours) on the surface after reading some non-chemical anti-ant tips.  Lots of the fine sand went down the ant tunnels at the surface, and this is something they seem to find difficult to keep cleaning out.  After a couple of days, I followed-up by by copiously watering the pot every day for a week (they like their nests dry) and during that time noticed a trail of ants moving across the path to another bed, carrying eggs, so was sure they had decided to move-on.  Whether it was the sand, water or both, I don't know, but they did go. :)
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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