If you struggle with pests in your garden, consider turning to some natural pest repellent solutions. A well-known usage of companion planting is using specific plants to either kill pests directly or deter them from the companion crops. Pesticides and other chemical pest control methods should be used sparingly or not at all when possible; they can be detrimental to the environment and destroy beneficial microorganisms and/or insects in your garden. Many of the most common pest repelling plants are herbs that can easily be planted next to larger crops to maximize space. Vego Garden has a collection of smaller beds like the Herb Garden twin pack and Kids Garden kits for those seeking to grow herbs and other plants on a small-scale. Alternatively, if you prefer to separate your main plants from your pest-control plants, consider purchasing a Cascading Metal Raised Bed for plants with different root and nutrient requirements.
Known for its sweet and calming fragrance, lavender repels moths, fleas, flies, and mosquitos. Position tied bundles in your house or plant in sunny areas of your garden and entryways to ward off pests. You can use this herb for more than just pest repellent in your garden. Lavender oil has many versatile uses and is believed to have a variety of medicinal and cosmetic uses, including easing anxiety and sleep problems. When applied to the skin, it can serve as mosquito repellent. Note that essential oils should be packaged in a dark amber or cobalt bottle to prevent deterioration.
For those who want to efficiently maximize their gardening space, consider planting basil. A popular herb for growing both indoors and outdoors, basil is often used as garnishes to enhance the flavor of dishes. It is commonly used to make pesto and other Italian foods. Place containers in outdoor areas where you frequent, such as the patio, to deter mosquitos, moths, and flies. If you are feeling creative, you can make a DIY insect repellent by using 6 ounces of freshly picked basil leaves and pouring 4 ounces of boiling water over them. Let the leaves steep for several hours before straining the liquid into a spray bottle. Add vodka or witch hazel to the bottle. To increase potency, add ¼ teaspoon essential oil. Use this spray around your garden beds area frequented by unwanted insects.
Marigolds, a member of the Asteraceae family, which includes asters, daisies, and sunflowers, repel aphids and mosquitos while also attracting beneficial insects such as ladybugs, which prey on aphids. While a common misconception is that they repel nematodes, they are instead thought to act as hosts for root-nematodes. Once they have infiltrated the root, they are killed by nematicides present in the plant. If you are experiencing a nematode problem, plant marigolds as a cover crop to help manage the issue. These flowers are usually found in cheerful shades of red, orange, and yellow, but some cultivators have manipulated them to be bicolor or white blossoms. Marigolds are able to grow in almost any soil, but prefer those with better drainage conditions.
Alliums are a genus of plant that contain some familiar garden staples like onions, garlic, scallions, leeks, and shallots. These garden staples are a popular companion plant for repelling pests due to their unwelcome sulfuric/onion smell. These are great plants for beginner gardeners to use as natural pest deterrents since they are known for their simple maintenance, versatility in cooking, and pleasant taste. While you may enjoy the pungent taste and smell, a broad spectrum of pests, including aphids, cabbage worms, and carrot flies, do not. Popular crops to grow next to alliums include tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, and carrots.
Lemongrass is known for its citrusy scent. It is a shrub-like herb native to tropical regions of Asia that contains citronella, the extract of which is used to make citronella candles, a popular insect repellent. Citronella makes lemongrass a great addition to your garden for pest control. However, due to its tendency to spread throughout whatever container it is in, make sure you prune it consistently or keep it in a separate area where it will not encroach into other areas of your garden. You can also select a small raised garden bed, which will act as a barrier to prevent it from spreading. Be careful, the leaves can be sharp, so wear garden gloves when cutting it to protect your hands.
Petunias are a useful plant for deterring potato beetles, squash bugs, tomato worms, aphids, and leafhoppers. They are available in a wide range of colors, from the usual pinks and purples to velvety black, and are popular with gardeners looking to add color to their gardens. For those seeking a unique option, consider growing Night Sky petunias; their violet petals are mottled with white dots, emulating stars scattered across the night sky. Requiring minimal maintenance, they can be grown in the ground, containers, garden beds, or hanging baskets. Petunias can be grown in full-sun locations next to vegetables such as beans, basil, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.
Chrysanthemums repel a variety of pests including bedbugs, roaches, ants, fleas, Japanese beetles, and root-knot nematodes. Their effectiveness can be attributed to the extract pyrethrum, which has been used as a natural insecticide by farmers for many years. Modern insecticides contain pyrethroids, synthetic compounds derived from pyrethrum and pyrethrins, which are toxic to insects. However, pyrethroids are known to be highly toxic to fish and general aquatic invertebrates, presenting an ecological health concern. By planting chrysanthemums in your garden, you can circumvent the detrimental environmental effects while still receiving the insect-repelling benefits.
8. Lemon thyme
Lemon thyme is a hardy herb that repels mosquitoes and is common in herb gardens, rock gardens, in planters, or as a garden border. Lemon thyme is able to tolerate poor soil conditions, making it easy to maintain. As long as you do not overwater it, you should encounter no problems caring for it. Possessing a similar appearance to regular thyme, lemon thyme produces a stronger citrus aroma and flavor. However, there is a small drawback to using this plant as an insect repellant; it will only repel insects when the leaves are bruised enough to release the active repelling ingredients. You can do this by cutting off a few leaves or crushing them while on the plant. Another benefit that counteracts this slight drawback is that lemon thyme can also attract beads to help pollinate your garden! Let some of the plants produce flowers to attract the bees. These flowers are tiny and a beautiful light purple color that will add some aesthetic appeal to the garden overall. Some people may be allergic to thyme, so test it before planting a bunch around your space.
Mint and other members of the same family like sage, lemon balm, and oregano repel mosquitos. It is well known that the aromatic properties make mint useful as a garnish or additional flavoring in drinks, but it has pest repelling properties as well. It can spread aggressively and become difficult to remove, so keep it confined to a pot, planter, or raised bed. Place the planted containers of mint around the deck or patio to ward off a variety of pests, particularly mosquitos. Peppermint has been found to be particularly effective. You can make a natural insect repelling solution by mixing peppermint oil with vodka or witch hazel; put the solution in a spray bottle and you have a great anti-mosquito spray for outdoor activities with the family!
While often touted as a companion plant, nasturtiums are actually considered a trap crop, or sacrificial crop, because they attract predatory insects such as aphids and cabbage worms to their leaves. By diverting the pests away from your other plants, nasturtiums reduce the possibility of an infestation. It is easier to spot and terminate an infestation on nasturtiums than on other major plants like broad beans, a favorite of aphids. Make sure you do not merely plant it, but also pull-out and destroy infested areas to keep the infestation from spreading to nearby plants. It’s very important to monitor your nasturtiums closely.
Any combination of the plants above can be used to deter pests from your garden. Getting creative with the location and type of companion plants will take some time, but is well worth it in the end. Take your time, protect your garden, and enjoy the journey!