9 Plants that Repel Pesky Insects

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The joys of spending time outdoors are often quickly overrun with the buzzing and biting of annoying insects, and some will attack and ruin garden vegetables as well. Experienced gardeners know that planting certain decorative plants and herbs alongside crops help to repel many insects and protect plants from damage, due to the concentrations of essential oils.

Insect repelling plants are often aromatic herbs and flowers that are routinely used in cooking, so simply planting a small kitchen herb garden may bring two-fold benefits; fresh herbs for your table and reduction of pesky bugs in your yard. Even those insects that are not a danger to the plant may find the strong scents of the oils unappealing and avoid them. Steeping a quantity of leaves in boiling water, then straining them, and mixing with alcohol or witch hazel, will result in an effective bug spray.


Basil is known to repel both houseflies and mosquitoes. Keeping a herb garden will help to reduce the population of mosquitoes, and may help to prevent houseflies from entering when doors are opened. It is a herb that is able to be made into a topical insect spray.


Lavender has been used for centuries for its calming and healing properties, but many people don’t know that it can also repel moths, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes. Plant this herb near doorways and in sunny areas, as the heat of the sun will help it to release more of the insect repelling essential oils throughout the day.


Citronella is a natural oil that has been marketed for years as an insect repellant. It’s been added to candles and decorative torches as well, to help keep unwanted pests at bay. Most people don’t realize that the citronella oil is found naturally in a plant that you can grow in your garden. Lemongrass can be planted in the ground, or kept in pots. It’s an ornamental plant that can grow to 3 feet in diameter if given the room to grow.


Like many of the others listed here, thyme drives away unwanted mosquitoes. Its aromatic leaves are more effective at repelling insects if the leaves have been crushed or bruised. This is another plant that is ornamental, tasty, and useful. Plant it in your kitchen herb garden or near your patio, or better yet, plant an herb garden next to the patio. Thyme can also be made into a spray-on insect repellant.


Most varieties of mint are effective in driving off mosquitoes. Grow your mint in pots unless you have an area where you’re willing to let it spread. Essential oils are found throughout the plant, and can easily be extracted to be made into a topical insect repellant as well.


Rosemary is good to plant alongside vegetables or other plants that are known victims of predation, as not only mosquitoes, but a wide variety of other insects and even small mammals dislike it. Place trimmings or small potted rosemary plants to help keep away the pests.


Alliums of many varieties have also been used as insect repellants for thousands of years. Many ancient peoples used to rub them on their skin to keep from being a target of feasting bugs. They include chives, wild onions, and leeks. If you have a large quantity of wild onions in your yard, simply mowing the lawn can release enough essential oils to keep insects at bay for several days.


This fall favorite is known to kill jumping and flying insects, along with many others. They contain a compound called pyrethrums, which is a basis for many commercial insecticides, as well as flea sprays and dog shampoos. In addition to their effective insect control, they are quite attractive in pots around the home.


This plant doesn’t fall under the category of herbs or flowers, but it’s too important to pass by. Cedar wood and cedar oil have been known for generations as an effective moth repellant, and many closets and clothing chests are lined with the wood to prevent insect damage to cloth. Cedar is also a repellant to many different types of insects, including the fleas, which is why it’s also commonly sold as pet bedding. One simple way to help with season long insect control in your yard is to spread cedar bark mulch in and around your landscaped areas. It can prevent a variety of insect pests from becoming a problem.


Written by:

Sasha Brown

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