Can You Sprinkle Cinnamon on a Plant To Repel Ants?

Ants are some of the most challenging garden pests to control, and it seems like if you kill one, 100 more will pop up out of nowhere, wreaking havoc on your plants. When ants start trailing into the garden, most people turn to pesticides or natural alternatives. Still, only some of them work, which raises the question – will cinnamon actually repel ants, or is it just a myth? 

You can sprinkle cinnamon on a plant to repel ants, but the results won’t be radical. Cinnamon is an effective ant repellent due to its overwhelming, bitter scent. Still, it takes high concentrations of cinnamon essential oils for the smell to be offensive enough to repel ants. 

In this article, I’ll bust some myths and tell you all you need to know about repelling ants with cinnamon. I’ll tell you more about how effective ground cinnamon is at repelling ants and teach you what type of cinnamon will work for pest control. 

How Effective Is Ground Cinnamon as an Ant Repellent?

Ground cinnamon isn’t an effective ant repellent, but cinnamon leaf essential oils may be effective for controlling some species of ants for a short period. According to experts, ground cinnamon does not have a strong enough scent or the lasting power to repel ants, but highly concentrated cinnamon oils might. 

Ants have a fantastic sense of smell, which is how they find their way into your kitchen, garbage cans, and garden. They know how to find sugar, which they need to survive and reproduce, and they do it incredibly well. 

However, in pest management, many people have started using certain insects’ sense of smell against them, using overpowering odors to ward off bugs such as ants. While some of these herbal methods work, others are a bit of a stretch, and few genuinely work. 

Many second-rate sources claim cinnamon to be an effective pest repellent, but that’s not precisely what science has to say about the matter. 

For example, in an experiment by an entomologist at Texas A&M, the researcher placed ground, powdered cinnamon on one ant hill and left another hill untreated, comparing the amount of ant hill activity over a month. In this study, there was more ant activity on the cinnamon-treated mound than on the untreated hill, which indicates that the ground cinnamon didn’t work as a repellent. 

In addition, experts from the University of Minnesota list cinnamon as an ineffective ingredient for controlling ants. 

However, it might benefit you to know that cinnamon, even in its powdered form, is an effective repellent for some other pests. According to experts at Cornell, cinnamon deters roaches, mosquitoes, dogs, and cats, which can be beneficial for your garden — just not for getting rid of an ant problem. 

Does Cinnamon Essential Oil Work as an Ant Repellent? 

Cinnamon essential oil works as an ant repellent. It has a strong enough scent to repel ants from your plants, but it won’t have too much lasting power, so you’ll need to reapply it regularly. 

When using cinnamon as an ant repellent, the one significant difference between the success stories and failures:s the type of cinnamon used. In studies where researchers used a cinnamon leaf or bark essential oil, they saw success in repelling ants. 

Still, in studies like this one from the Journal of Entomological Science, cinnamon oil doesn’t have staying power when repelling ants. In their research, ants avoided the oil, but the effects only lasted one week. 

So, while potent, concentrated cinnamon oils are effective for repelling ants, you’ll have to reapply them frequently for them to keep the pests at bay. Ground cinnamon is not effective, nor has it been effective for repelling ants in any authoritative studies. 

How To Apply Cinnamon Oil to Plants To Repel Insects

As I discussed, ground cinnamon like the stuff sitting in your spice rack probably won’t do the trick if you want to keep ants away from your plants. You’ll need some highly concentrated cinnamon leaf or bark essential oils if you hope to see any and-repelling effects. 

If you want to get some oils that will work, you might want to consider this Nexon Botanics Organic Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil on Amazon. I can attest that this will work for repelling ants, although you’ll have to reapply it weekly. What I love about this one is that it comes with a dropper, making application to the soil and leaves of your plants simple. It’s also organic, so it’s safe to use on plants you plan to eat or keep in your home. 

After you find a highly concentrated cinnamon leaf or bark essential oil, here’s how you can use it to repel ants: 

  1. Drop around 20 drops of the essential oil around the base of your plant. 
  2. Drip a few drops over areas where ants congregate, such as around blossoms or fruits. 
  3. Reapply the essential oil once a week and after it rains. 

Applying cinnamon essential oils will gradually become more effective as the cinnamon scent builds up in the soil. Eventually, if you keep up with the routine, ants will start to look elsewhere for food. 

Will Cinnamon Harm Plants?

Cinnamon won’t harm plants. Cinnamon is an effective rooting hormone and a safe, organic treatment for fungal infections. Placing ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks, or cinnamon essential oils will not hurt your plants, but it will protect them and encourage healthy growth. 

Cinnamon is a fantastic treatment for infections, and it will usually do a lot of good for any plant. It’s a tested-and approved fungicide, especially when mixed with garlic oil, so you can use it confidently when trying to keep root rot or other infections at bay. 

Other Herbs and Natural Remedies for Repelling Ants

Although cinnamon might not be all it’s cooked up to be by gardeners, hopeful of finding an organic, safe way to repel ants, there are quite a few other “home remedies” for repelling ants in your garden. These methods come recommended by real entomologists and agricultural specialists, so you can trust that they will effectively keep ants away: 

  • Vinegar: Vinegar’s bitter smell deters ants. It’s also an effective ant pesticide and repellent. So, if you see any ants on your plants, spray them with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. The ant should die within minutes. Plus, the lasting scent of the vinegar will ward off any ants who want to live!
  • Lemon: A highly concentrated lemon essential oil will not only repel ants, but the limonene in the lemons will kill them if they consume it. Use the lemon oil in the same way you would apply cinnamon oils. You can also place lemon peels around the base of your plants to deter ants. 

In addition, there are quite a few natural ways to eliminate mounds and kill the ants. 

One of the best ways to ward off ants for good is to pour boiling, soapy water into an ant hill. The boiling water will cook the ants alive, forcing any survivors to find a new home. Re-pour boiling water over the mound once a week for three weeks, and your garden should be ant-free. While this isn’t a repellent, it is a fantastic way to protect your garden from ants without using a pesticide. 

You can also use borax as a natural insecticide for ants and other pests in the garden. You can make a trap for ants with a 50/50 mixture of borax and something sweet.

Paul McCollum from the University of California recommends mixing the borax with jelly to make a gel bait that stays where you put it. However, you can also use corn syrup, sugar water, or plain sugar. Then, set the trap out near your infested plants. This bait works very well since the ants will bring the sweet poison back into the hill, killing everyone else inside. 

It’s critical to note that borax is toxic to pets and humans, too, so use this method with caution, and keep it away from kids and animals. 

Final Thoughts

Ground cinnamon is not an effective ant repellent, but cinnamon leaf or bark essential oils make a decent short-term ant repellent. Cinnamon will also keep fungal infections, roaches, mosquitoes, dogs, and cats at bay, so it can do a lot to protect your garden. 

Vinegar and lemon essential oils are more effective than cinnamon for repelling pests. In addition, you can use boiling water or borax traps to eradicate the ant population near your plants.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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