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What to Plant to Keep the Bugs Away

What to Plant to Keep the Bugs Away

Here’s a quick list of some of the best insect-repelling plants you can grow:

  1. Lavender: Not only is lavender beautiful and fragrant, but it is known to repel mosquitoes, fleas, flies, and moths.
  2. Basil: Use it to repel flies and moths in your garden, then harvest it for use in the kitchen!
  3. Thyme: This plant comes in many varieties, and it makes a wonderful ground cover for dry, rocky areas. Thyme will also help keep mosquitoes away from your gardens.
  4. Mint: Mint is another mosquito repellent, but one that you should use with care because it spreads aggressively and may take over a planting. Plant it in pots to keep mosquitoes away from your porch.
  5. Lemongrass: This beautiful grassy plant is packed with citronella, which is one of the best-known alternatives to synthetic repellents like DEET. Crush the leaves and rub on the skin (test a small area first).
  6. Alliums: This member of the onion family is known for tall spikes that produce gigantic balls of purple flowers (although there are also smaller varieties). Alliums are one of the best defenses against a variety of pests, including cabbage worms, aphids, carrot flies, and slugs, as they dislike the smell.

  1. Chrysanthemums: Use these flowers as a border planting around your home to keep out bedbugs, fleas, lice, roaches, ants, and more. These plants contain naturally-occurring pyrethrin, an insecticide. They repel ticks, spider mites, Japanese beetles, and other garden pests. Try making this DIY pest spray!
  2. Petunias: Known for their many colors and a profusion of flowers, petunias help repel leafhoppers, squash bugs, tomato hornworms, and aphids—simply plant near brassicas (cruciferous veggies), beans, basil, tomatoes, grapes, corn, and peppers. Roses also do well when this natural insect deterrent is planted nearby.
  3. Marigolds: The marigold is one of the most well-known insect-repelling plants and with good reason — they have a scent that will keep pests like mosquitoes, nematodes like cabbage worms, and other pests away.  Plant marigolds to attract beneficial insects that attack and kill aphids. Ladybugs are especially fond of aphids.

Pest-repelling plants are both fragrant and beautiful. Try planting a few of these in your garden to keep the bug population in check.

Be sure to check out Farmers’ Almanac’s Gardening By the Moon calendar to pick the best days to plant!

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  • Bridget Bedard says:

    This site is wrong about petunias. Asiatic beetles come out at night and devour the blossoms!

  • Kyah Vaughn says:

    I have aphids ON my marigolds…so clearly they don’t repel them.

    • Alana says:

      They don’t repel them. Aphids actually prefer them over veggies. That’s why they’re planted together, kinda like a sacrificial flower to save your crops.

  • skw1rl says:

    I’ve heard that echinacea repels deer from the garden.

  • Harriett says:

    I learned this from my Uncle who was a farmer for 60+ years and it works. When planting tomatoes plant the tomato then a hot pepper plant then another tomato plant then another hot pepper plant and so forth. The tomatoes do not turn hot and the bugs stay away including squirrels who like to taste peppers When they find out how hot it is they will turn and go and will not come back

  • tammy says:

    I have a hibiscus with aphids I tried bug be gone and hand soap mixed with water, but nothing works I am thinking it’s the plant that has no defense mechanism or the aphids have become immune. Should I give up and forget about the plant or can I spend more time making sure every square inch is treated everyday till they are gone?

  • Doreen Hahn says:

    It has been my experience that marigolds keep squirrels away. Where I live now, my neighbor has a planter outside. There’s a rabbit that keeps digging back where the dahlias and the phlox are. At the other end of the planter she has planted marigolds and dahlias. There’s lots of room there for digging, but that end of the planter hasn’t been bothered. They seem to keep the insects away, too.

  • Alice Cowart says:

    On the matter of ANTS! My Dad used instant grits forever. To this day I still use it. Just remember do not use if it’s going to rain or when watering as it will expand and loose it’s effectiveness. I saw where someone used cornmeal and that should work the same. But, I will also try the cinnamon.

  • David says:

    Need help with stink bugs on tomatoes. Used marigolds and mint now.

  • Nailah Baderinwa says:

    Greetings! I’m also from Ohio (NW) and was interested in seeing if there any plants I didn’t know about (as far as natural pesticides), and saw a few that would neutralize insects on tomato plants I didn’t know about. THANKS!!!

  • Starchynne says:

    Something is eating my ripe strawberries. Some kind of bug because most are eaten from the underside. The plants themselves are fine. I have marigolds planted but not with the strawberries. Maybe should have planted them closer?

    • Alice Cowart says:

      Borage was used when first coming to the Americas.

    • Virgil Turner says:

      You probably have slugs eating the strawberries, so take crushed eggshells and diatomaceous earth and spread on the ground around the strawberries. That should do it.

  • Judie says:

    Thank you for letting me know how to get rid of earwigs I have them bad on my patio out front . I’m going to give that a try thanks again .

  • Kit Loft says:

    I don’t have problems with any critters, because I have raised garden beds, so I can ride right up to it and pick my lovely garden. But I do have marigolds around my garden and have sagebrushes around. Don’t have to use any chemicals at all. My garden is totally organic. Hope this might spark someone to raise their garden, if for no other reason it is less back breaking to have it that way. Good luck!

  • BARBARA Z says:

    For earwigs (also deters other insects): I make a solution of cedar oil, water and a dash of dishsoap.
    I spray all the window sashes and possible entryways (especially around ac units) with the solution.
    I probably use a 1 tsp – 1 tbsp / quart of water.

  • christina prewitt says:

    You need ladybugs and lacewings. You can encourage ladybugs to come by purchasing ladybug food, and possibly even ladybugs themselves. Ladybugs do not hurt plants, but eat aphids.

  • Rose Gingery says:

    Could you please provide a list on deer adverse plants? They love whatever I plant.

  • Michele says:

    How about earwigs? I’m having an awful time with them this year.

  • Amber Kanuckel says:

    Robert: I’ve had stinkbugs in the tomatoes before, too. And Japanese beetles, argh! There is a bunch of stuff that will repel both, but since I don’t want to crowd out the tomatoes with big, bushy herbs, I usually just plant lots of garlic (about a foot apart for each clove) and a few marigolds around them. Seems to work for me!

  • Amber Kanuckel says:

    Chrysanthemums should repel ants, and chives will keep rabbits out as one poster mentioned, and they’ll also chase off Japanese beetles.

    To the poster asking about spiders, that’s a tough one. There aren’t a lot of plants that will repel them. I’d say to get rid of them, you’d want to get rid of the bugs that they’re eating. At my house, they can get bad on our breezeway — like you said, all over everything. My solution is to keep lights off at night (keeps away moths and such) and to use plants that repel flies, mosquitoes and whatever else that is commonly buzzing around.

  • Lorayne Stelling says:

    How do I get rid of spiders. They are all over my screened in patio. I have tried numerous sprays to no avail. There are single strand nests as well as cobwebs.
    They are on the screen, furniture, plants etc.
    Do you have any suggestions to get rid of them so we can enjoy our patio.
    Thank you

    • Amy Long says:

      I’ve heard that spiders do not like peppermint oil or vinegar. Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water, and about 20 drops of peppermint oil in a spray bottle and spray around windows and doors. I haven’t tried this myself but I’ve heard it works.

  • Margaret Rushing says:

    We have lots and lots of ants (maybe harvester ants?) in our garden, do you have any suggestions as to how we can get rid of them?

  • Robert Strickland says:

    The stink bugs are ravaging my tomatoes. I do not want to use pesticides. I want to stay organic. Any suggestions?



  • Brenda Frahm says:

    Chives will keep rabbits out of your flower gardens. Plant small clumps throughout your flowers, and rabbits won’t eat them (the flowers).

  • Christie W says:

    Basil, peppers are being ravaged this year. Very little not being eaten. Zinnia flowers shoots gone. Nasturtium seeds and cukes not showing. Whew. What a year! Heirloom Tom’s flawless. Go figure. Now I appreciate a good winter! I’ve never had problems with bugs I couldn’t manage with good amended soil. Can’t even find soil amending this yr!

  • Linda says:

    Ants don’t like dry tea–so I’ve heard. I have only tried it once, but the ants did not come back. Save used tea bags and dry them. Then sprinkle dry tea in a shallow container and place in the area where needed. Simple, but certainly worth a try.

  • mary says:

    what about a pet-friendly (cats/dogs) repellant for ants. I’ve tried Cream of Tartar, I’ve tried baby powder, I’ve tried Bay leaves, I’ve tried dish soap and they keep coming. Doesn’t help with all this rain we have been having since May….

    • christina prewitt says:

      You could try nematodes

    • Doreen Kryski says:

      For ants a pet and child friendly repellent is cornmeal. Sprinkle cornmeal in the areas you have ants around your house. They stay away.N of sure how it works but it does.

  • Lyn Aldridge says:

    What about scorpions ???

    • christina prewitt says:

      You need chickens 😉 lol
      Seriously though, I wish I knew otherwise. We have only seen a handful, thankfully, thanks to our birds. Be sure you are keeping wood away from your house. They love hanging out under wood.

  • Hauns says:

    I have some of these herbs in my garden but have never really noticed the lack of certain bugs. Will surely pay attention now.

  • Becki says:

    Southernwood might be something else to look at.

  • Becki says:

    My mother and grandmother always used zinnias to keep away rabbits from their gardens. I have also been successful with zinnias in my gardens over the years. However, I do research to find other ways of doing things. Marigolds have been useful. I also use herbs in my gardens every year for many different things. Nothing is a be-all to end-all. Find what works best for you. Research, and try new things.

  • Dean B says:

    I have heard for years that marigolds keep rabbits out of a garden. So a year ago I planted a 4×4 plot solid with marigolds. They came up dense and beautiful. I got busy and did not transplant them as planned. In the fall I went to collect the seed heads and discovered that a rabbit had a nest right in the middle of the marigold patch. So much for that advice.

    • christina prewitt says:

      Lol that is too funny.
      I have zinnias, marigolds, and chives randomly around my garden, and the wild rabbits still feasted on my bellpeppers. There seems to be a whole lot more rabbits this year than last. Possibly because of the rain?

  • RobertAbdo says:

    Thanks for this new information. I have marigold in my garden. Hope it works.

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