Plants that deter pests

Using Companion Planting to Deter Pests in Vegetable Gardens

By Charlie Nardozzi, The Editors of the National Gardening Association

Many vegetable gardeners use a technique called companion planting to reduce pest problems. A companion plant is one that provides some sort of benefit to other plants growing nearby. Some plants are grown together because they seem to increase each other’s yields. However, the companion plants discussed here repel pests.

Is that really possible? Some people swear by it. It is true, that a variety of plants, herbs, and flowers provides a diverse ecosystem so that predatory insects are more likely to hang around and take care of the bad guys. Besides, trying some of these combinations certainly won’t hurt your garden.

These plants are thought to repel specific pests; plant them near crops where these pests are a common problem:

  • Anise planted among members of the cabbage family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and so on) is said to repel imported cabbage worms.

  • Basil is said to repel whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites; it’s a good companion to tomatoes because these are insects that feed on tomato plants.

  • Catnip is said to repel some types of aphids, flea beetles, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles.

  • Garlic may repel nematodes and other soil insects.

  • Leeks are thought to repel carrot flies.

  • Marigolds planted around vegetables are said to repel root nematodes, Mexican bean beetles, and Colorado potato beetles.

  • Mustard greens are supposed to repel aphids.

  • Nasturtiums are said to repel Colorado potato beetles.

  • Radishes may repel striped cucumber beetles.

  • Ryegrass may repel root-knot nematodes.

  • Southernwood may repel moths and flea beetles.

  • Tansy is supposed to repel some aphids, squash bugs, and Colorado potato beetles as well as ants.

  • White clover may repel cabbage root flies.

  • Wormwood may repel flea beetles.

Many herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, and coriander, also are said to repel pests. Smaller companion plants, such as marigolds, can be interplanted with vegetables. Taller or more vigorous plants, such as ryegrass or wormwood, should be planted nearby — but not among — vegetables. You don’t want them to overwhelm your veggie plants.

7 Indoor Plants that Repel Insects

The 7 Best Plants to Repel Bugs

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Any self-respecting chef will always have basil leaves handy. They’re great in salads, pasta, soups and many other recipes, but insects aren’t such a fan of basil. Place pots of basil by your doors and effectively keep away house flies and mosquitoes! Best of all, Basil is really, really easy to grow!

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They are also known to have the ability to purify indoor air and remove toxins. More than that, chrysanthemums are also potent at repelling roaches, ants, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas and bedbugs. Chrysanthemums can also make a space look pretty, so don’t be afraid to place them all over the house.

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Lavender has such a lovely scent. It helps us relax, relieves stress, and promotes healthy sleep. What’s funny is that same smell we love is what drives pests away! Lavender has been used to perfume clothes and repel moths, which explains why grandma was in the habit of placing bundles of lavender in the closet. Plant them near entryways to repel mosquitoes, fleas, moths and even some rodents.

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The citronella found in lemongrass is a staple ingredient in insecticides and repellents. It’s a pleasant smell to us humans, but to mosquitoes, it’s a totally different thing!

Avoid using citronella candles though as they are often laden with toxic chemicals, plus the combustion produces toxins in the air. Instead, opt to plant lemongrass where mosquitoes could enter, near doors and windows.

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Various types of marigold produce a scent that repels mosquitoes, rodents and even rabbits! These pretty flowers are highly recommended to be planted around the house, or along the borders of flower beds.

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Like lavender and marigold, mint is great at keeping those pesky mozzies at bay. Aromatic oils from mint can also be used to make a mosquito repellent spray by mixing the oils with cider vinegar and vodka.

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Rosemary is another herb that’s a favourite of many accomplished chefs. And like most herbs, rosemary can be planted indoors or outdoors. Place it near doors and windows to stop mosquitoes cold. Or, place sprigs of rosemary in clothes drawers to repel silverfish and moths.

If you care about air quality and minimising harmful bacteria and pollutants in your home, you may want to think about having your carpet and air conditioner cleaned. Both of these affect air quality in your home. Carpet acts as an air filter by trapping airborne contaminants, but this only works when the carpet is clean. Any filter gets clogged! And your air con isn’t at its best when it’s full of gunk. Contact us to discover the best options for cleaner air in your home.

24 Plants that Repel Insects

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Plants have unique natural abilities to emit different chemical substances. With them they repel or attract specific insects. Flowers bring a pretty sight and a pleasant fragrance for us. However, for pests they often pose a life threat. That’s why such plants can perfectly serve as a replacement for the synthetic insecticides, as long as you know how to use this to your advantage.

Quick Rundown

Here’s the take out of the unwanted insects and their respective bane:

  • Plants that repel mosquitoes – lavender, mint, basil, rosemary, lemon balm, lemon grass, nepeta, mugwort, marigolds, ageratum, oregano, bee balm, cedar tree;
  • Plants that repel flies – lavender, basil, rosemary, bay leaves, mugwort;
  • Plants that repel moths – lavender, mugwort;
  • Plants that vegetable bugs – rosemary, chives, fenel, parsley, marigolds, lemon thyme, dill, chryzanthemums, nasturtiums, petunias, alliums;

For a thorough look on specific plants and the reasons behind their seemingly magical effects, dig in below.

Herbs That Repel Insects

Apart from mosquitoes, lavender oil can chase other bugs, such as fleas, flies and moths. Many peoples have used it for thousands of years to scent their homes and clothes. A bouquet of lavenders will keep bugs away, but the most effective is lavender essential oil.

You can make it yourself, or purchase it from the nearest natural drug store. The liquid will not only act as a natural repellent, but it can also calm your heart rate and bring you a better sleep. There’s one thing you should be wary of when it comes to essential oils – never leave them to come in contact with your skin.

The essential oils always come with a “carrier” – another substance in which only a handful of drops go in. This extract is too strong even for a resilient skin.

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Since ancient times, mint was used to strengthen the mind. Greek and Roman baths, as well as feast rooms, were infused with mint that helped boosting concentration. Until the 17th century, mint was used to spice to the meals of both poor and rich folk. Later on during the 18th century it disappeared from sight, until present days.

Although a domesticated plant, the mint still spreads like weeds if left in the ground, therefore it’s best to grow it in pots. You can use mint essential oil in a combo with a cheap vodka and apple cider vinegar to create a homemade repellent for mosquitoes. Placing mint pots around your patio and garden will also help you keep mosquitoes away.

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Basil is rich in essential oils, tannins, organic acids and mineral salts. The birthplace of the so-called king’s herb, are the tropical geographic lengths of Asia and Africa. Yet, the basil has been highly praised in Europe for centuries.

It’s connected with ancient mythologies, and was used in balsaming the diseased in Egypt. At the time of the Roman Empire, the suitors used a basil stalk instead of a flower bouquet as a symbol of love. In Mexico, on the other hand, people believed that a spray of basil in the pocket will bring you money, whereas your loved one will be faithful forever. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, the folk assumed that scorpions lurk under it. Its name comes from the Greek word for royal – basilico, whereas according to the Indian religion its flavour is sacred.

Mosquitoes are repulsed by the basil scent. A pot of basil, or a stalk hung is a natural repellent. Some people say that if you eat lots of basil with your salad, it will repel the annoying mosquitoes far away, but that’s yet to be confirmed. In any case, basil’s one of your best chances of survival against those pesky little creatures, plus it adds a unique flavor to your dish, so why not abuse on it!

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The rosemary’s origins are Mediterranean, whereas its forestry citrus-like aroma adorns kitchens, gardens and pharmacies all around the world. Connected with names, such as sea dew and old man, the rosemary looks like lavender, with flat needle-like leaves.

The rosemary is one of the herbs that are multifunctional. It’s extremely resistant to outer conditions, therefore, it’s easy to grow both in and out of the house. However, it needs a lot of sunlight if the pot is inside your home, but it doesn’t require too much warmth and air humidity. Sprinkling the plant with water several times a week will suffice.

Rosemary repels not only the bad old mosquitoes, but also different vegetables, that’s why it is a recommended companion plant. To prepare a rosemary repellent you need to boil about 1 kg of dried rosemary in 1 litre of water for about half an hour and then strain the liquid into a litre of cool water. Spraying with small bottles outdoors will help you repel a good portion of the mosquitoes away.

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Lemon Balm

The lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a well-known ingredient in herbal teas.

The lemon balm originates from the mountain regions of Southern Europe. Since ancient times, it’s been used by the Persians and Greeks for treating different diseases, caused by neuro system problems. Having lemon balm in your garden will repel mosquitoes too, thanks to the natural essential oils and strong smell of the plant.

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The lemongrass, also called cymbopogon, is a perennial tropical grass plant. It has tall sharp leaves and reaches around 15 cm. The birthplace of the plant is India, but people also grow it in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Africa, Brazil, and Guatemala.

The lemongrass oil has antiseptic and anti-mucus properties and helps with insomnia, too. The lemongrass oil also acts as a repellent – not only mosquitoes but flies and other unwanted bugs stay away from it.

Just as the basil, the lemongrass is used as a herb and a spice for culinary purposes, both fresh or ground.

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Bay Leaves

Bayleaf is just another sacred for ancient Greeks and Romans plant. It carries a ton of healing properties, which are as strong as its smell. It helps with stomach, kidney and liver problems, too. It makes the rankings here, because it’s a great fly repellent. The annoying little creatures will disappear at the sight of it. Several strategically placed bowls of bay leaves in your rooms will take care of this business. And by the way, did we mention bay leaves are a wonderful condiment to different soups and stews? Bring it on!

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Lemon thyme

The lemon thyme is a bush, reaching 50 cm in diameter. It’s evergreen, with yellow-green small leaves that smell like lemon. The fully-grown plants blossom during the summer with pink, lavender-like flowers.

The herb was first used somewhat 5000 years ago when the Sumer civilisation began to use it as a means of soothing pain. The ancient Greeks began using it as a culinary supplement – the hills of the country were practically covered with the fragrant plant, which gradually turned into a symbol of elegance and courage. The Romans also associated it with bravery and power and before entering a battle, the soldiers bathed in water, aromatized with the herb, because they believed it will bring them the win on the field.

In order to infuse its qualities and repel the nasty mosquitoes, you must first release the chemicals in the plant by crushing the leaves. Make sure that, at first, you are not allergic to those chemicals by smearing a piece of crushed leaf on your arm for a few days.

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It’s a well-known herb all over the world and it’s widely used in culinary. A proof of its healing properties can be the fact that the gladiators in Ancient Roman Empire used to eat dill in order to be strong and tenacious. However, one of the oldest mentions of the herb’s name is in the Bible. You guessed it right – dill is an invaluable helper in the battle with different vegetable pests – tomato hornworms, aphids, spider mites, cabbage loopers, and squash bugs, to name a few. The fennel kind, on the other hand, keeps slugs and snails at distance.

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Oregano is one of those universal spices used throughout the world and is well-known to everyone who’s spent at least some time in the kitchen. Not many knows, on the other hand, that oregano belongs to the family of natural insect repellents. Mosquitos, cabbage butterfly, and cucumber beetle don’t stand a chance, amongst others, however, some insects won’t bother, such as spider mites, leafhoppers and aphids. Therefore, you can plant the oregano near garlic and onions.

Apart from those bugs, you can dry and grind the plant’s overground part and use it against moths and ants infestations in your house. If it doesn’t prove to be as useful against ants as you’d hoped, then consider some of our more serious ant killer tactics. These methods work both for ants in your home and garden.

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Common mugwort (Artemisia absinthium L.), also known as white mugwort or yomogi in Japan, is a grass perennial and fragrant plant. It grows on meadows and bushes, in grassy and rocky areas. Its origins stem from Europe and Siberia, but today it’s widely spread in the USA as well.

The white mugwort has a typical pleasant flavour and a strong bitter taste. Its beautiful, silver-green leaves may be the most famous for absinthe distillation usage, but that’s not all. Its natural essential oils emit a distinctive smell which does a great job at repelling not only flies, but also insects such as mosquitoes and moths, and even small pests, like mice. Plant them in pots around the garden, or grow them directly in the soil. You can also dry some of the herbs and place it in small bags where necessary.

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Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) with its fine green feathers is the smallest kind of edible onion. The chives is a perennial plant, reaching 50 cm at height, and it originates both from the New and the Old World.

The chives is a popular plant, used predominantly as a culinary spice, but not many people know it also repels carrot flies, aphids and Japanese beetles.

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The history of fennel is as rich as its taste. In Ancient Greece, it played an important role in honouring the gods. It was planted in their honour in the shrine gardens, whereas people wore wreaths made of its light leaves. The plant was famous in ancient Egypt, China, India, Rome, and Persia. They considered it improves eyesight. They also believed that this plant helps for curing digestive and neuro system problems. It was used as food, medicine, herb and plant repellent for centuries. Aphids, slugs, and snails don’t stand a chance near the fennel strong smell, which is due to the essential oils found in the fennel.

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Although, generally, you wouldn’t put parsley in the category of natural mosquito repellents, parsley does contain chemicals that repel asparagus beetles. So it makes sense to plant it around asparagus and other susceptible to those bugs cultures.

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Flowers That Repel Insects

In the wild marigolds are agile and also happen to grow out of dumping-grounds. The marigold is a peculiar barometer – if the blossoms remain closed after 7 in the morning, then it means it will rain during the day.

There are different kinds of marigolds – lighter and darker, with larger and smaller blossoms, but they all carry the same health benefits. Plus, marigolds’ smell chases off not only aphids and mosquitoes but also big animals such as rabbits.

The flower contains essential oils, bitter compounds, carotene, organic acids, flavonoids, etc. It’s no accident that the marigold potion is pretty bitter. Its fragrance dissolves well in alcohol, which explains its wide usage in different skin creams.

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This seasonal flower effectively repels mosquitoes with its fragrance. During production of some repellents, one of the important ingredients comes from the plant. However, it’s not recommended to rub your skin with ageratum leaves . That might cause unwanted and very unpleasant allergic reactions. The ageratum is extremely easy to grow – undemanding to the soil and light-loving.

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A special chemical in the chrysanthemums, called pyrethrum, is the thing that keeps bugs away. Roaches, ticks, fleas, bed bugs, spider mites, Japanese beetles and ants – be gone. The ingredient is part of different insecticides in the USA and is used in sprays and flea pet shampoos. Be careful with the spray bottles, if you happen to have one, since pyrethrum is poisonous to people in certain amounts.

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Nasturtium is not only beautiful but also a useful plant. If you plant it next to tomatoes in your vegetable garden, it will chase off the dangerous whiteflies. Also, aphids, beetles and squash bugs stay away from the plant. The cabbage looper, on the other hand, will prefer to lay its eggs on the nasturtium, therefore, your cabbage will be safe. The flower is also a part of traditional medicine due to its chemical compounds.

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Petunia is one of the most popular domestic plants during the last decades. This colourful and tufty appearance is a result of numerous breed attempts. You may have never suspected, though, that petunias also can help dealing with nasty insects. They don’t directly kill or repel them, but more likely they trap them with their sticky stamens. The insects can’t get away and eventually die and dissolve in the soil, where they become nutrients for the plants. Pretty gruesome for such a beautiful plant! Since it deals with aphids, asparagus beetles and tomato hornworms, you can plant it near crops that can benefit from the plant’s natural abilities.

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This plant is also known as catmints, which is a milder version of the famous catnip. As you guessed it, the nepeta plant also attracts cats like flies on honey. On the other hand, it does a successful job at repelling mosquitoes. The effect is due to nepetalactone, which, according to researches made, can be up to 10 times stronger than DEET – an active ingredient in most commercial repellents. It’s still not established whether this ingredient or the smell of catmint repels mosquitoes. Some of the other advantages of this perennial flower are the easiness to grow and the fact that it attracts bees.

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Alliums are a flowering form of onions and garlics. Allium giganteum repels a wide range of insects, especially the ones that destroy vegetable gardens, such as slugs, cabbage worms, carrot flies and aphids. You can plant alliums closely to potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots and peppers. Some flower bushes can also benefit from the nearby alliums, such as roses.

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Bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) is known as a beautiful flowering perennial essential oil plant, as well as a vegetable plant with a spicy taste. It possesses valuable health benefits, too. Thanks to the essential oils, found in the plant, it repels mosquitoes. They can do that while still blooming, but it’s easier for the plant to release its natural abilities to chase off the annoying bugs by grinding its leaves.

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Carnivorous Plants

Of course, it’s a witty way to represent the carnivorous plants family, which, in fact, are quite picky about food and conditions of the environment, so have double eyes when you buy one for yourself.

The pleasant colours and smells attract the unsuspecting bugs to their slow demise. Some of those fly-catchers and venus traps could make a nice addition to your garden. Be wary though – they require a bit of care in order to grow well, particularly considering the watering amounts.

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Cedar Tree

The advantages of having a cedar tree in your garden do not exhaust with its pretty outlook. It will also repel unwanted mosquitoes. The cedar oil’s bug-repellent qualities were familiar since Ancient Egypt. At the time, the folk used it to embalm their dead, only because it chases off bugs. People don’t always extract cedar oil from the cedar three, though. Sometimes this essential oil can come from conifer trees or cypress. Apart from pest repellent ingredient, it is used in medicine and in perfumes.

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Although all these plants have natural abilities to repel mosquitoes and other unwanted pests, you will find that they are not always effective. Especially when it comes to outside factors, such as a light breeze that will swing off the smell in an opposite direction. Nevertheless, you can incorporate different combinations of the given herbs and plants, and be one step ahead in the never-ending battle with pesky insects.


Did you like it? Did you find the plan you were looking for? Do you have any additional tips regarding insect-repelling plants? Please, add a comment below if you know any other plant that repels insects so that more people are aware and help the community of fellow gardeners!

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Plants That Repel Mosquitoes and Other Insects

Which plants repel mosquitoes and other insects in the backyard and garden? Here’s a list of the best insect-repelling plants to use in your garden.

It’s not just mosquitoes; gnats, biting flies, ants, and other pests can take the fun right out of any outdoor activity.

Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance, too, as there are many mosquito-borne diseases out there, including viruses such as West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Dengue.

Block Insect Scent Receptors

Mosquitoes and many other insects target their victims by the odors and gases we give off—carbon dioxide, sweat, and smelly feet to name a few. They can be attracted from as far as 100 feet away.

The scents of mint, fruit, and even chocolate can block the receptors that the bugs use to find us.

Since many plants give off these fragrances, why not plant them around your yard or put some pots of them on your deck or patio to ward off the biters? It won’t magically make the area a bug-free zone, but it may help.

List of Plants That Repel Mosquitoes and Other Insects

Many plants that are listed as “insect-repelling” are, in fact, not. Here are a few plants that I have found repel the bugs that bug us:

  • Lemon grass is used to make citronella oil, which has proven mosquito repelling abilities. Since it is hardy only in tropical zones, plant yours in a pot and bring it inside when the temperatures drop if you intend to keep it over the winter.
  • While we are on the topic of lemon, any plant with a strong, citrus fragrance will keep bugs at bay. Try lemon-scented geraniums, lemon thyme, or lemon balm. Lemon balm is in the mint family, so confine it to a pot to keep it from spreading crazily.
  • Lavender repels moths, flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. Use it fresh or dry some of the flowers to hang around the house or put in with your clothing to keep bugs out. Here’s how to make lavendar sachets.
  • Garlic keeps away more than vampires. It repels mosquitoes and cabbage moths.
  • Rosemary may prevent flies and mosquitoes from ruining a cookout. If the bugs are really bad, like around dusk, throw a few sprigs of rosemary on the grill and the aromatic smoke will help drive the mosquitoes away.
  • Basil is another culinary herb that does double duty by repelling flies and mosquitoes too.
  • Peppermint exudes a strong fragrance that ants, mosquitoes, and even mice don’t like. Grow it in a pot to contain its rampant growth.
  • Catmints including catnip have been found to be even more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes and ants. Just be sure to locate catnip away from plants that can’t take being rolled on by all the cats in the neighborhood.
  • Marigolds have long been the gardener’s companion for repelling damaging nematodes (microscopic worms) that attack the roots of garden vegetables, but they can fend off mosquitoes as well.

I’m sure there are other plants that have acquired a bug-repelling reputation, but I wouldn’t depend on only a few plants to make my yard insect-free. One of the most effective things you can do to cut the mosquito population down is to eliminate any standing water where they breed.

For more mosquito repellent advice, see Natural Mosquito Repellents and Mosquito Bite Remedies.

Do you have any tips for keep mosquitoes and other biting bugs away? Share them in the comments below!

Are There Plants that Repel Bugs?

With spring just around the corner, people are anxious to fold up their thick blankets, store away their long coats and spend some good quality time outside enjoying the warmer weather. Not many things can ruin the joy and comfort of a perfect spring day more than bugs buzzing and biting.

Don’t let the bugs bring you down, though. You can get into the spirit of spring with some old-fashioned, DIY gardening and grow plants that will help keep the bugs away…or can you?

Are There Plants that Help Repel Mosquitoes?

A mosquito’s life mission may not actually be to make your planned night outside an itchy and annoying event, but it sure can seem like it. So homeowners look for all kinds of ways to help repel these pests, including plants that deter bugs.

Citrosa, popularly given the name “mosquito plant,” is often thought of by gardeners as a natural mosquito repellent. Citrosa contains citronella oil, which is widely used as a mosquito repellent. However, Citrosa only contains a trace of the oil, which is not enough for it to be an effective repellent.

Lemon thyme is another plant that contains citronella oil.

Are There Plants that Help Repel Beetles?

Beetles may attempt to invade your home in search of food and shelter. These insects, which can vary in size and appearance depending on species, can be a nuisance for homeowners. Some can cause damage to wood or fabric, while others can infest grain products. So it’s no wonder why you’d want help keeping these bugs away from your home.

In the world of home gardening, marigolds have been planted by homeowners for decades to help repel insects like beetles. However, there is little to no documentation that supports this plant’s success at doing so.

What About Other Plants that Deter Bugs?

There are additional plants that gardeners believe help repel insects, like basil, lavender and chrysanthemums, just to name a few. However, these spices and flowers may only have minimal effectiveness in helping repel insects. They should not be relied on for pest control because they’ll probably fall short on the job. And in many cases, like with basil and lavender, it’s the oil in the plant that helps keep pests away, rather than the plant itself.

Helpful Insects Are Good to Have Around

This spring when you’re outside enjoying the weather and beauty the season brings, remember that though some of these small insects can be big pests, not all of them are bad. In fact, some of them are actually very beneficial to the environment.

There are some bugs that prey on and eat harmful pests, like:

  • Ladybugs, who eat several pests that can damage your garden, like aphids and mites.
  • Spined solider bugs, who also prey on garden pests, like aphids, as well as moths and spider mites.
  • Praying Mantises, who eat pests like mosquitoes, flies and moths.

Related > Bug Brawls – Your Worst Enemy’s Worst Enemies

There are also bugs who are pollinators that fertilize flowers, like:

  • Bees, who are said to be responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat.
  • Pollen wasps, who look similar to other types of wasps, but are more solitary and prefer to pollinate flowers and plants rather than feed on other insects.

You want to be careful to not deter these insects from your garden.

While gardening is a fun and beneficial hobby that should be encouraged this spring, it should probably not be done as a reliable method to help keep pests away. Instead, garden to grow your own food and show off all of your beautiful flowers to your friends, but leave the pest control to more proven methods.

Pest Repellent Plants

Every garden is sometimes afflicted with pests – grasshoppers, cabbage white butterfly caterpillars, scale and aphids being very common. Is it always necessary to use a spray, either bought or home-made? Just having certain plants in your garden can help repel insects or confuse them with their strong scent. If they are planted near susceptible plants they will contribute to keeping insects at bay.

Here are some suggestions, mostly taken from the book Pest-Repellent Plants, by Penny Woodward (published by Hyland House). You can find loads more wonderful information at Penny’s website at

Marjoram and oregano

These two will deter pumpkin beetles when planted near cucurbits. They also confuse white cabbage butterflies when planted near brassicas. A hedge growing around an onion patch will protect the onions from onion maggot.

Planted randomly through a garden, marigold smell tends to confuse flying insects! Grow them amongst crops such as tomato to repel whitefly and soil nematodes, with carrots to deter carrot fly and with brassicas to mask their smell. Between rows of beans, marigolds will deter spider mites and a range of beetles.

Strongly scented lavenders will protect nearby plants from insects such as whitefly, and lavender planted under and near fruit trees can deter codling moth. A hedge around onions will protect them from onion maggot, and lavenders planted near native plants can repel the moths that produce borer larvae.

Remember though, that there is a weed species of lavender and this must be avoided. Lavandula stoechas (Topped Lavender or French Lavender) and its 40 odd cultivars is still allowed into Australia but it is subject to legislation in Victoria as a regionally prohibited and regionally controlled weed, proclaimed in the Victorian Government Gazette of 18 December 1997 ( It is also a problem in many other areas, especially South Australia.

Garlic has the ability to repel airborne and soilborne pests. It deters beetles, spider mites and fruit flies. The smell of garlic and other alliums confuses carrot fly and white cabbage butterfly. When planted amongst raspberry canes garlic will protect them from a variety of grubs.

The general insect repellent properties of basil make it an excellent plant to grow throughout the vegetable garden. Basil especially protects cabbages, beans, and tomatoes. It even protects cucurbits from downy mildew. Grow basil in pots near doorways to deter flies.


Sage attracts bees but repels many pest insects and protects onions from onion maggot. Sage also repels ants, so grow it in pots near doorways, and lay sprigs of sage on shelves and entry points. It is also supposed to keep mice away.

Its scent masks the smell of other plants such as brassicas and deters carrot fly. A hedge of rosemary around a vegetable garden acts as a general pest repellent for insects such as whitefly. Add sprigs of rosemary to clothes cupboards to repel moths and silverfish.

Land cress Barbarea vulgaris

This plant is also known as Bittercress, Herb Barbara, Rocketcress, Yellow Rocketcress, Winter Rocket, and Wound Rocket. It should not be confused with Barbarea verna, a different species, but which has similar properties. It is very attractive to cabbage white butterflies which lay their eggs on it. The larvae which hatch out and feed on the leaves, which have a high saponin content, die. So when planted in your garden, maybe even amongst your cabbages and kale, it will minimise attack on these vegetables by these nasty caterpillars.

It is edible chopped in salads, but make sure you use the young leaves since bitterness increases as the plants mature. It is best not to let the pretty yellow flowers go to seed unless you want a prolific crop of new plants.

Pics © Elaine Shallue and Sharron Pfueller (SGA)

Natural Insect Repellents… Plants, recipes and ideas

I was amused, reading an article that stated “the success of insect repellent plants is part folklore, part experience and part wishful thinking.” I’d like to think that gardeners in earlier times used plants seriously for all sorts of purposes and that hundreds of years of experience has given truth to some of these uses. I also wish that as a society we could adapt natural methods of pest control. Too many toxic chemicals that poison our soils, our water, our wildlife, our plants and ourselves!

There is a vast array of information out there about using plants for medicinal remedies, as insect and disease repellents and for companion planting in the garden. I will give you a few ideas and some recipes to lead you down the garden path to more sustainable and friendly gardening.
Using insect repellent plants is about keeping a better balance in your garden. By using the natural properties of certain plants, we create a more natural ecosystem for the plants, soil, good bugs, and bacteria that make for a healthier environment for your plants to live in.
I will say that it can be trial and error, with different plants in different gardens, soils and temperatures and in different seasons.
But that is the fun of gardening, nutting out what works in your own garden and finding success with a particular method. The trick is, just to try!

How do insect repellent plants work?

Those plants most commonly used for their repellent properties are mostly ones that contain “volatile oils”, which usually means that when the foliage or flowers are crushed or brushed against, they release strong odours, some pleasant, some not so pleasant.
Volatile oils work more effectively in warmer weather and in humid weather even more so.

The oils of these plants are extracted to make essences that can be used for many different purposes including natural insect repellents. Scientists cannot be exact about how and when the oils are released but it is known that each different plant is influenced by sunlight, temperature, humidity, size and health of the plant.

Using insect repellent plants in the garden

Insect repellent plants work by using odours to confuse and deter insects. Simple factors like breezes, proximity and quantities of certain plants will be influential in their success to repel. Sometimes it is simply brushing past a plant or watering it at a certain time of the day that will cause the odours to be released. Having strong smelling plants in the garden can be a lovely part of gardening and experimenting with their uses is fascinating.

Placement of plants in areas such as doorways, pathways, near outdoor eating areas, dog kennels and chook pens will increase their effectiveness. Lavender and rosemary borders, wormwood as an accent plant, geraniums for foliage and year round colour, colour in pots and along vegetable garden borders, ageratum, cleome and cosmos in cottage gardens. Herbs have lovely vibrant foliage, like basil (try columnar basil!).

However, before I give you some insect repellent plant ideas please remember that people must be very careful with these sorts of plants in regards to human allergies, particularly those of the skin. Some of the foliage and flowers of insect repellent plants can cause skin irritations and be toxic if ingested. If using these plants around children and family pets, do your research. If using oil extracts, buy good quality oils and essences from a reputable health food store and ask questions about the safety of the product for human use and on your pets.

Flowering insect repellent plants

Lavender Catnip
Rosemary Chrysanthemums
Geraniums Marigolds
Sunflowers Calendula
Nasturtiums Cosmos
Cleome Ageratum

Carnivorous Plants

Venus flytraps
Pitcher Plants

Mosquito and fly repelling plants

“Mozzie Blocker” (Leptospermum releases it’s natural Citronella like scent when the weather is warm)
Lemon Thyme
Artemisia (Repels Cabbage moth, Whiteflies, Codling Moths and Mice)
Catnip (Mosquitos, Weevils and Cockroaches Ten times more effective than DEET)
Coriander & Dill (Repel aphids and spider mites)
French Marigolds (Repel whiteflies and kill nematodes)
Garlic (Repels aphids, codling moth and snails)
Marigolds (Contain pyrethrum which mosquitoes find offensive)
Ageratum (Emits a smell that mosquitoes find offensive and secretes a substance called Coumarin which is widely used in repellents.)
Chamomile (Repels flying insects)
Oregano (Repellent for many pests)
Mints (Especially spearmint & peppermint: repel fleas, moths aphids)
Calendula (Pests above and below the ground)


The citronella plant or Citrosa is a tropical plant that looks like lemon grass. While the plant is not really suitable for Melbourne’s climate, citronella oil is widely available. There is a Geranium that produces a citronella like scent that can be planted in the garden and consider Lemon Thyme, which has the same amount of repellent qualities as Citrosa and grows beautifully in Melbourne.

Plants recommended to plant with tomatoes

The most frequent companion planting question we get is for tomatoes. Recommended for planting with tomatoes are asparagus, basil, beans, calendula, carrots, chives, cleome, cosmos, cucumber, garlic, lemon balm, lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, peas, sage & stinging nettle.

Basil: Repels insects and improves growth and flavour.
Borage: Improves growth and flavour.
Garlic: Repels Red Spider Mite.

Don’t plant tomatoes with cabbages (they stunt the growth), corn, dill, fennel, eggplants, capsicum and potatoes (encourages disease).

Natural Bug Recipes

If you are keen to make your own natural sprays then try these recipes.

Use 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar in a half a litre of water then add Citronella, Peppermint and Eucalyptus Oils (about 8 drops of each)

If Ants are getting inside or in yours pets’ bowl, try putting a line of cinnamon powder in their way. They won’t cross it.

Use 4 – 6 cloves of garlic, the outer rings of an onion, and some really hot chilies. Score the chilies, leave the seeds and let them steep in half a litre of boiled water with the garlic and the onion.

Leave for 24 hours then strain the water and add a few drops of baby shampoo and use in a spray bottle. Use every 3 -4 days on those plants being eaten by pests.

Lucky for us, there are garden plants that naturally send bad bugs packing. These insect-repelling plants generally have strong odours and oils that are offensive to some mosquitoes, flies, and other bugs.

59 likes – View Post on Instagram It’s the little things sometimes. And seeing my plants (🌱) grow makes my heart happy. The fact this smells delicious helps too, of course. (😏) Any other green thumb edible favorites out there? Aside from my basil plant, I’m in love with my Meyer lemon tree too (🍋🌳). It’s actually started to fruit…! ⇣ #basilplant #windowgarden #freshherbs

Grow this excellent mosquito repellent as a centrepiece on your patio table, or plant a drift of basil in the garden bed.

Both insect-repelling and a culinary herb, basil is easy to grow from seed or transplants. There are many varieties of basil—and they all repel insects—so choose the variety that best suits your needs. Try ‘Thai Magic’ for use in Southeast Asian dishes or ‘Spicy Globe’ for a tabletop container.

112 likes – View Post on Instagram Instagram post by 🌵Dita Lubis 🌿 * Aug 14, 2017 at 2:12am UTC

Rodents will also be far away with the help of a plant. Mint plants, such as peppermint, can deter rodents in your home. Pests, such as mosquitoes, ants, flies; and other rodents, such as mice and rats, will be no more with this plant lying around. Mint can be in the form of crushed leaves, oils, sprays, or even mint gum to shoo them away for good.

85 likes – View Post on Instagram So my mother-in-law gave me this lavender plant & not only do I love it & the way it looks in my home, but it smells ah-maze-ing! But the BEST part is, it’s only 2.99 at Kroger right now! I couldn’t make this up if I tried! 🌿 now all I have to do is keep it alive! 😝 . . . #lavender #homelove #furnituredesign #krogerdeals #krogering #plant #herbs #plantlover #greenthumb #spring #shiplap #lavendarplant #fresh #homedecor #farmhouse #farmhouselove #farmhousedecor #farmersmarket #mybhg #love #inspo #earth #follow #weekend #memorialdayweekend #memorialday #inpiration #cottagestyle #interior123 #instagood

Lavender has a charming scent we all know and love—except for some insects, that is. Mosquitoes, moths, and flies tend to stay away from lavender plants in general, but the most effective way to keep them away is to rub the plant on your skin and nearby surfaces to release the oils.

26 likes – View Post on Instagram This garlic is growing slow and steady! It’s been an interesting experiment using scraps as house plants. #garlicplant #garlicshoots #plantstrong

A great companion plant for many food crops, garlic can repel several insect pests. Plant it near plants in the cabbage family, as well as carrots and tomatoes. Garlic is planted from individual cloves purchased at the garden centre. Plant the cloves in fall, and shoots will emerge from the soil the following spring.

Lemon Thyme

7 likes – View Post on Instagram Having fresh herbs to hand from the garden rocks, especially as they’re different to the ones I normally use. #homegrownherbs #freshherbs #lemonthyme #foodiesbcn #foodlover

A creeping herb with a bright citrus fragrance, lemon thyme releases oils that repel many kinds of bugs. Use lemon thyme as a groundcover and enjoy its insect-repelling properties every time you tread on it. Lemon thyme grows well in full sun and well-drained soil. It is drought-tolerant and easy to grow from transplants purchased at the garden centre.

A popular culinary herb, lemon thyme has the best flavour before the plant flowers.

This article originally appeared on Better Homes and Gardens US.

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