Garden Myths – Vaseline as Horticultural Glue

In my last post, Garden Myths – Ants will not walk over Pennyroyal, I tested Pennyroyal as an ant repellent. This week – can Vaseline be used as an alternative to horticultural glue?

Horticultural glue is a sticky substance (yes, I said it) that you apply around a tree’s trunk that prevent ants and other pests from climbing up your trees. Why are ants a problem? Well, ants themselves do not harm plants, but they protect and farm a variety of other pests, including aphids, scale and white flies. This prevents the natural predators of these pests from controlling their numbers.

Ladybugs are a natural predator of aphids and scale insects

Ladybugs are a natural predator of aphids and scale insects. Picture blatantly stolen from Wikipedia.

Problem is, horticultural glue is not available in South Africa and it is expensive. Someone suggested I try using Vaseline instead – apparently ants can not walk over the sticky stuff.

When in doubt, lubricate!

When in doubt, lubricate!

For this test, I will need to establish if Vaseline is an effective ant barrier, and if so, how long does it last?

Nice, thick band of the sticky stuff

Nice, thick band of the sticky stuff

All dressed up and nowhere to go

All dressed up and nowhere to go


Within minutes of applying the Vaseline, it appears that the ants already in my lemon tree are trapped. Ants trying to climb up the tree are stopped in their tracks. Well, looks like we might have a winner. So how long does it last?


Two days later...

Two days later…

After only 2 days, the Vaseline seems to have gone slightly less tacky. The ants seem to have no problem walking over it now, even if it slows them down a little.

Unfortunately, another garden myth busted.

Other Garden Myths in this series:

3 thoughts on “Garden Myths – Vaseline as Horticultural Glue

  1. Nearly killed my grapefruit tree with bands of Vaseline it seeped into the bark and was slowly preventing nutrients from travelling ! Beware!

  2. Best to make a band around the tree first, I use duct tape sticky side to the tree then doubled back on itself so the sticky side is facing out. The ants won’t walk on it. Over time it stops being sticky due to dust etc, so then I smear some vaseline on or just put another layer of duct tape with sticky side out. It works but does take some regular inspection for maintenance

  3. i use vasaline but over a layer of nursery tape making sure vasaline do not come into contact with trunk, the main foctor thats making this work for me is mixing 3 drops of Malasol insecticide into vasaline before applying to tape, i havent had ants for years on citrus and growing strong.

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