13 Insect Repellent Plants to Rid Bad Bugs
|Spearmint – Spearmint will repel fleas, moths, ants, beetles, rodents, aphids, squash bugs, and the cabbage looper. And though a rodent is not an insect, the little critters can wreak some havoc on your garden produce. I don’t mind rodents in the compost pile but have a strict no-rodent policy for the house and garden (who doesn’t, right?). Watch out for spearmint; it will spread like any mint. But as for this insect-repellent herb, that’s A-OK with me. Spread the love, as far as I am concerned.|
|Rosemary – This wonderful-smelling herb that makes chicken taste amazing and thwarts the plans of the cabbage looper, carrot fly, slug, snails, and Mexican bean beetle. Beer will aid in snail and slug control, but you can’t coat your chicken with beer…well…I guess you could, but beer’s not a plant, and…well…I can’t include beer in this article. So anyway, drink your beer, plant your rosemary, and enjoy all that baked chicken, as well as the time you’ll have to relax instead of fighting those pesky bugs.|
Nasturtiums – Yellow, orange, red, and maroon…not only do nasturtium flowers make a salad look stunning, this amazing plant also repels squash bugs, aphids, the cabbage looper, and many different beetles. What a great way to have kale in your salad as well as nasturtium petals and not have to worry about trying to wash off all those pesky aphids. A side of bug-free squash would be nice, as well. Plant some nasturtium this spring for its color and its insect-repelling properties.
UPDATE: 03/11/2017: Nasturtiums and aphids. There is a mixed opinion on this plant and aphids. It appears that this plant may ATTRACT aphids and is used as a “magnet” to pull the aphids from the plants you want to keep in your garden. See below for references.
|Lemon Balm – Sharpens the mind, reduces anxiety, and helps regulate blood sugar — it seems like this perennial herb has it all. When considering the fact that lemon balm helps repel mosquitoes, this herb moves up to the “must-plant” category on the homestead. This “Herb of the Year 2007” repels mosquitoes. It has been said that some forms of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) are nearly 38 percent citronella — 38 percent! That’s huge!|
|Lavender – Have you ever eaten lavender cookies? Maybe you have, or maybe you haven’t but rest assured that moths, scorpions, water scorpions, fleas, and flies, including mosquitoes have not enjoyed the flowery taste of this amazing treat (recipe one day…I promise). Though scorpions are not actually bugs, and they will more likely be beneficial in the garden, I would just as soon not have them crawling around my turnips, thank you very much!|
|Fennel – This plant originated in Southern Europe and Mediterranean regions and has a mild but distinctive licorice flavor and fragrance that aphids, slugs, and snails just don’t like very much. I love me some vitamin C-packed fennel and love me some plants that haven’t been “worked over” by aphids, slugs, and snails.|
|Chrysanthemums – This edible (yes, edible) flower is full of a component called pyrethrins. Pyrethrins attack the nervous systems of all insects. Chrysanthemums repel all kinds of insects, especially roaches, ants, the Japanese beetle, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, and root-knot nematodes. Though some of these pests are not found in the garden, repelling them is definitely high on my priority list (I am a school nurse).|
|Chives – With its little purple pom-pom and the medicinal properties similar to those of garlic, chives are known to repel the carrot fly, Japanese beetle, and aphids. We’ve seen what the carrot fly can do, as well as aphids. The Japanese beetle is fairly new to this country, having been introduced only about 100 years ago. Their grubs feed on the roots and underground stems of plants, particularly grasses. Plant chives; your plants and your next baked potato will thank you.|
|Chamomile – Different varieties of chamomile have been used since ancient times for their calming and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also a known flying-insect repellent. Who out there enjoys flies, mosquitoes, and gnats? Nope — me neither! But I do enjoy a bit of chamomile tea.|
|Catnip – This herbaceous perennial contains a substance called nepetalactone and is known to repel mosquitoes and flies. Research suggests that nepetalactone is 10x more effective than DEET. However, this same research suggests that it is not as effective as a repellent when used on the skin when compared with DEET. But, if it is only one-tenth as effective…who cares!!! Catnip also repels ants, flea beetles, aphids, the Japanese beetle, squash bugs, weevils, the Colorado potato beetle, the cabbage looper, and cockroaches. Wanna know something cool? This plant will repel all kind of bugs, but actually attracts butterflies and lacewings. Butterflies are pretty to look at and lacewings EAT aphids and mites. Be ye warned! Kitties may be attracted to your garden if you plant plenty of catnip. Good: Less rodents. Bad: You may not be grabbing only dirt from the garden the next time you are digging about in the loose garden soil.|
|Artemisias – Artemisia (genus) also known as wormwood, tarragon, sagebrush, and mugwort (sounds Harry-Potter-ey) and has amazing repelling properties. Bugs that flee from this woody plant are ants, cabbage looper, cabbage maggot, carrot fly, codling moth, flea beetles, whiteflies, the Cabbage White, and the Small White, as well as mice. We live in the higher and drier area of Southwestern Idaho where sagebrush grows pretty abundantly. I love the way tarragon smells and tastes…by itself… My palate has not “welcomed” tarragon onto my food. But, I am doing research on a tasty beverage by using tarragon…we’ll see… Meanwhile, I’ll grow it for the insect-repelling nature.|
|Borage – This compostable bioaccumulator of trace minerals and self-seeding honeybee hot-spot repels tomato hornworm and cabbage worms. There’s nothing like a nice stroll in the late afternoon to admire your full and leaf-covered tomato plants only to find them stripped of their foliage the next morning by a giant hornworm (feeding them to the catfish did make me feel a little better). It will also help fill your compost bins and improve your soil when either worked into the soil or used as a mulch.|
|Basil – This soft-leaved plant helps protect your garden against the carrot fly, asparagus beetles, and whiteflies. It helps protect your patio from flies and mosquitoes. What garden or kitchen is complete without basil? Oh! I know! NONE. The taste of basil is enhanced in combination of a couple of other insect-repelling power-plants: rosemary (repels cabbage looper, carrot fly, slugs, snails, and the Mexican bean beetle) and thyme (repels cabbage looper, cabbage maggot, corn earworm, whiteflies, and tomato hornworm). Plant a bit in the garden near your tomatoes; you’ll be using them together anyway. A bit around the cabbage will only help.|
I get some of my seeds from Burpee.com. They have a variety of both hybrid and heirloom seeds.
There are hundreds of other plants that protect against hundreds of other insects. Though the presence alone may not be enough to fully protect your garden from the invading bugs, having them in the garden will be a nice start. Plant more than you’ll need…some for the neighbors, some for you, and some for the bugs because if you plant it, they will come (both the bugs AND the neighbors).
Nasturtiums vs Aphids reference:
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