We received this question on our site:
Please help! I have a treasured indoor, potted money tree in my office and I came in yesterday to find her covered in ants. What should I do?
Well, first thing is first, take Tree outside. Ants are opportunists; they will be looking for food in your office, even though they probably are feeding on your plant (I’ll get to that in a second) already. They also like to make more than one nest so they’re likely looking for a good spot too. So, to minimize the amount of ants in your office, take Tree outside until the ants are gone.
Now, let’s wage war on these ants.
1. Money trees like humidity. They don’t like too much water (they only need to be watered every few days), so there is a risk of them burning outside. While we treat Tree, we want to keep her in a shaded spot.
2. There’s a good chance that the ants are actually the second infesters (poor Tree). Aphids, mealybugs and scales will attack a plant and leave behind a sticky honeydew residue which attracts the ants. To get rid of all of them (this is the part that might get you a little itchy feeling), remove Tree from her pot and either treat her with an insecticidal spray (follow the directions) or dunk her in a bucket of water for about 20 minutes. You’ll see them running for the hills. Once done (here it is), pick off the leftovers from the leaves and wipe them off with a paper towel. Hopefully, just once will be enough, but you may need a couple dunks.
3. Clean out the pot and let Tree dry off a little first. Get new soil (you may want to use diatomaceous earth) and when she’s dry enough, repot Tree.
4. Many people recommend two ways to keep ants out in future. One, is mint – planting mint nearby, or sprinkling mint – will keep the ants. Also rind of lime and lemon in the soil can keep away ants.
5. Before you bring Tree back inside, make sure you lay down traps for any ants left inside. Spray insecticide around the windows and entrances (there are plenty of organic pesticides that we recommend).
Keep us posted on Tree’s progress. We will be saying a prayer for her swift recovery!