Dre Campbell

22 Plants that Repel Garden Insect Pests

An endless struggle within the realm of gardening is keeping away bugs that want to harm your precious crop.

An easy way to fight these pests is by planting the right herbs, flowers, and other plants that will repel them.

Many of those that will be discussed below are also great additions around your patio and outdoor furniture to keep the ants, mosquitoes, and other pests away when you’re outside enjoying the weather.

1. Basil

Basil is great for keeping away pesky mosquitoes and your standard house-fly.

Another perk is that it grows easily in a pot in a windowsill, so you can have some for in your kitchen as well as in your garden to keep you protected both inside and out.

Basil is easily incorporated in many recipes, so you’ll never run out of ways to use your basil once you start growing it.

2. Lavender

Not only is it a gorgeous flower, but lavender is also excellent as keeping away pests, particularly flies, fleas, mosquitoes, and moths.

Not only does it add some color to your garden or windowsill, but lavender also adds a sweet and relaxing fragrance to the home or garden.

In addition to growing it in your garden or in a pot, you can also tie small bundles of the herb over doorways and near windows to keep insects out of the house.

3. Lemongrass

lemongrassLemongrass is the key ingredient in many mosquito-repelling candles and oils. This ornamental grass grows as an annual in most locations, but it will be nice and tall and potent during peak mosquito season.

4. Mint

This herb is another successful mosquito repellant as well as a tasty addition to many dishes.

Mint, however, does have a tendency to grow aggressively, taking over any garden bed it may be planted in or near.

The best bet is to plant it in a container; not only will this contain the herb where you want it, but it will also make it easier to move it to a different location (such as atop your patio table) as needed.

5. Rosemary

If your veggies are being endlessly harassed by bugs, you may want to plant some rosemary nearby to help repel some of those pests.

Rosemary grows well in-ground or in a container, and is also a good choice for most ornamental landscaping. As it grows it will repel most bugs, but you can also use the herb to make a repellant spray.

To make a repellant, simply add some dried rosemary to boiling water for half an hour, then straining into a container that contains just as much cool water.

Store the mixture in the fridge in a spray bottle and use when needed.

6. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are great for repelling flies that might otherwise lay their eggs in your garden. Another bonus is that bay leaves are a great addition to many soups, stews, and pasta.

7. Dill

Dill is another double-duty herb that’s great to have on hand. It’s very successful at repelling quite a few bugs, such as aphids, spider mites, cabbage loopers, tomato hornworms, and squash bugs.

To protect these specific plants, add some dill to your garden in the vicinity of the vulnerable items.

8. Petunias

PetuniasAnother common garden flower, petunias are just as productive as they are pretty.

These easy-growers are great at protecting your garden from aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, and squash bugs.

You can find them in almost any color you prefer, and they tend to grow very easily, whether in-ground or in a container.

9. Fennel

If you have a problem with slugs and snails attacking your garden, fennel should definitely be planted in or around your garden. It repels aphids as well as slugs.

10. Thyme

This herb is great for keeping out whiteflies, maggots, corn earworms, cabbage loopers, and tomato hornworms.

It isn’t extremely aggressive (like mint) so can easily be incorporated throughout your garden to protect your cabbages, tomatoes, and other plants.

11. Alliums

Plants belonging to the Allium family are regarded as one of the best all-purpose bug repellents to have in the garden.

They’re great for keeping out slugs, flies, aphids, and cabbage worms. Some examples of Allium plants include chives, leeks, and shallots.

Find the one that’s right for you and your garden, and plant it close to anything from peppers to broccoli to carrots to keep them safe from pests.

12. Chrysanthemums

These flowers are excellent for keeping away nematodes, ants, spider mites, harlequin bugs, Japanese beetles, and even lice and fleas.

Chrysanthemums have a natural ingredient called pyrethrum which is a strong insect-repellant.

These flowers add a nice pop of color anywhere you want to plant them in your yard to protect your garden from unwanted pests.

13. Marigolds

Another beautiful flower that also serves as a natural insect repellent is the marigold.

These flowers give off a scent that repels mosquitoes and aphids, and sometimes even rabbits!

They make for a beautiful border around your garden and will help protect the health of your other plants as well.

14. Nasturtiums

If your garden seems to be loved by squash bugs, beetles, or whiteflies, you’ll definitely want to companion-plant some nasturtiums.

Nasturtiums release a scent in the air that naturally repels many insects without harming any other plants or even deterring the beloved bee.

15. Onions

Although they’re mostly known for repelling your date, onions are also great for repelling certain insects.

Now, they’re not a total-bug repellant like some of the others, but they are great for keeping out cucumber beetles and even carrot maggot flies.

Some farmers also plant onions near their tomatoes to help repel aphids.

16. Calamint

Yet another mint family member, calamint is great for deterring cabbage worms and cabbage loopers, as well as moth larvae.

This mint cousin, however, spreads very easily like mint itself, so be careful where you plant it.

17. Garlic

Garlic is great for protecting your blueberries, roses, and raspberries from Japanese beetles, as well as keeping the aphids off your lettuce.

They may also repel spider mites, so they’re a great companion to any plants that might be susceptible to those pests.

18. Catnip

A perennial member of the mint family, catnip doesn’t proliferate quite as much as mint does, so you’re safe to plant it directly in your garden among your plants.

It’s great for protecting eggplants, radishes, and other plants that are susceptible to flea beetles.

19. Tansy

Many gardeners will plant tansy near their roses to keep away pesky Japanese beetles.

It’s believed that tansy gives off a scent that confuses the pests, making it difficult for them to find the rosebushes and make their homes there.

20. Borage

This herb is great for keeping out hornworms and cabbage worms. It also makes a nice-looking addition to your garden and will support your local honey bee population.

21. Castor Oil Plant

castor oil plantThis should first be prefaced by the warning that castor should be grown with caution—it is poisonous to humans and animals if ingested.

That being said, if you plant it with care and only where appropriate, this plant is excellent at repelling moles and voles. 

22. Tomatoes

That’s right, planting tomatoes can actually help protect other plants in your garden (just to be sure to plant at least one companion plant nearby that will, in turn, protect your tomatoes from pests).

In particular, tomatoes will keep your asparagus free from pests as the scent of tomato plants repels the asparagus beetle.

Since many gardeners plan to have tomatoes anyway, it’s helpful to know that they can perform double-duty if you plant them near your asparagus as well.

Conclusion

There you have it—a whole list of insect-repelling plants to consider including in and around your garden.

If you take the time and plan it correctly, you can have the best companions near each of your plants, repelling the most harmful insects and protecting the health of your garden.

Images via Creative Commons

Sasha Brown

1 comment

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