Even the most beautiful garden is going to harbor some insect pests. Aphids, Mosquitos, and Whiteflies, as well as other nasty little critters, have an amazing ability to cause a lot of damage and frustration but there are ways that we can fight back against these pests! There are plenty of sprays and chemicals available for such a task but did you know that there are plants you can grow that can help keep the bugs away?

While adding insect-repelling plants to your yard won’t guarantee an insect-free environment it can help reduce their numbers. Strategically placing these defense forces on your deck or patio and in your landscape is something every gardener should think about. Many herbs have essential oils that repel or even kill insects and these are just a few of the herbs that you can use in your garden for this purpose:

  • Basil - This is a great herb to grow near the entrances to your home as they repel house flies and mosquitos. You can also use fresh basil to make a mosquito repellent spray that you can use on your skin. Try putting 6 ounces of Basil in a container and pour 4 ounces of boiling water on the leaves. Let this mixture stand for 3 to 4 hours. Take the liquid and mix it with 4 ounces of cheap vodka. Place the elixir in a spray bottle and spray yourself before you go outdoors. Make sure to not spray this repellant in your mouth, eyes or nose as it can be irritating to these areas of your body. You can store the excess spray in your refrigerator.
  • Lavender - Many of us adore the smell of Lavender but insects absolutely hate it! Plant it in sunny areas or near your doors and windows to keep the insects away. You can also use Lavender indoors to shoo away houseflies and other indoor pests.
  • Thyme - This herb may be the all-time champion insect repellant! It repels whiteflies, cabbage maggots, corn earworms, and tomato hornworms. 

Flowers not only add beauty to the landscape but they also can provide protection to their neighbors too:

  • Marigolds - The scent from Marigolds repels aphids above the ground and nematodes below the ground. Try using them in the vegetable garden as well as the flower border.
  • Chrysanthemums - Mums produce pyrethrum which can kill flying bugs as well as those that crawl or jump. It is also used to repel spider mites, Japanese beetles, ants, and ticks. Pyrethrum is often used in insect repellants that are sold in garden centers and stores.
  • Allium - This bulb is a relative of Onions, Chives, and Leeks. All of these plants repel numerous insects including slugs, cabbage worms, and aphids. Vegetables that will benefit from being near Allium and its relatives include Tomatoes, Peppers, Potatoes, and Broccoli just to name a few.

Finally, if you really want to be creative you can try to grow carnivorous plants such as Pitcher Plants and Venus Fly Traps. These require very moist but sunny conditions so you may try growing them in pots that sit in a saucer of water to try to replicate the boggy conditions that they thrive in when growing in their natural environment.

If you have other plants that you’ve used to repel insects in your yard please share them with us on our Facebook page.

Select photos courtesy of Jill Mazur

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  • Gayle.bradshaw05@gmail.com Jun 17

    how do you use Thyme to get rid of or discourage tomato hornworms?

    You would plant it in proximity to the tomato. Thyme is a low growing plant so you can sow the seeds or plant(s) right at the ground level near the tomato plant.

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