A DIY Organic Garden Insect Spray That Works!

2 Materials
10 Minutes

I have had problems in my backyard herb garden for a couple of years with some type of insect that devoured basil and marigolds (often the least-touched plants). I had tried a couple other organic pest deterrents with limited success. But this year the bugs were particularly bad and made their way across the path to eat all the growing tips of a trumpet vine.

If I was going to get enough basil for our year's worth of pesto and a bloom on the trumpet vine, I needed to take action.

Note: the recipe is located on my blog- https://anoregoncottage.com/homemade-garlic-mint-garden-insect-spray-really-works/

Also: Reader testimonials & FAQ: https://anoregoncottage.com/diy-garlic-mint-garden-insect-spray-testimonials-faqs

One of the things I had tried briefly last year that seemed to work was a homemade garden insect spray made with garlic and mint, a bit of cayenne and soap. So I decided this year to write down a "recipe" and record the before-and-after pictures to share the results. And I'm glad I did - I was blown away by the success of this easy, natural pest deterrent!

This shows how bad the basil had been attacked by the mystery bug (some have suggested earwigs, but I've never seen them), 2 weeks after spraying and then 4 weeks later. Can you believe it?

This is a super healthy basil plant now - even more healthy than my main garden basil that wasn't ever attacked. Seriously amazing.

Here's another before and after for you: the bugs attacked most of the tender new growth of my trumpet vine.

After only 2 sprayings (and a bout of rain after the 1st), the trumpet vine is loaded with new growth and I'm having to prune it back (if you know anything about trumpet vines, you'll know it's back to normal now, ha!).

***NOTE: PLEASE CLICK TO MY BLOG for the spray recipe AT THE LINK BELOW - I'm so happy to be able to share this with other gardeners!

AND check out the FAQ for all your questions answered: https://anoregoncottage.com/diy-garlic-mint-garden-insect-spray-testimonials-faqs

Suggested materials:

  • Mint
  • Garlic

Top Hometalk Projects

Spruce Up Your Plain Lamp With One Of These Great Ideas
15 Clever Repurposing Ideas That Will Add Some Creativity to Your Home
13 Spectacular Ways To Display Your House Number
30 Fun Ways To Keep Your Home Organized
16 Stunning Sign Ideas You Can Make for Your Home
15 Affordable DIY Projects You Can Do Right Now!
18 Adorable Bird Feeders You'll Want To Make Right Now
Jami @ An Oregon Cottage

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

57 questions
  • Rita
    on Mar 23, 2016

    How to rid wood worms? And grasshoppers? Thanks

  • LadyJoker
    on Apr 5, 2016

    Would this work on Pine Trees - we seem to have these caterpillar like bugs eating away on our Mugo Pine and destroying them?

  • Jgr3767007
    on Apr 5, 2016

    How do you get the recipe?

  • Charlann Kable
    Charlann Kable
    on Apr 5, 2016

    Is it safe to use on fruit trees as well?

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on Apr 5, 2016

      I haven't used it on fruit, but it may - I suggest doing your own test of a part of your tree like I did these plants and see if it works.

    • Patricia Harris
      Patricia Harris
      on Apr 5, 2016

      Hi, on reading the ingredients all sounds very safe. As I make my own detergent even then I am cautious. But the ingredients are not penetrative past the skin of fruit trees. We all wash our fruits anyway as good organic gardners do cause one never knows what could transfer nasties. Thanks Charlann for a fantastic recipe as I have had a few issues with some plants that are normally safe. Love your site. From AUSTRALIA, cheers Patricia.

  • Pai4224187
    on Apr 5, 2016

    This seems really great for non-edibles, but wouldn't it make your basil taste like garlic and mint? Might make pesto taste kind of gross...?

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on Apr 5, 2016

      I usually spray my basil 1-2x at the beginning of their growth and by the time I harvest weeks later there is no residual flavor at all. Mainly because it's pumping out tons of new growth that's not being eaten. :)

  • Dee B
    Dee B
    on Apr 6, 2016

    Tried this but the cayenne clogs the sprayer. What type of cayenne did you use?

  • Beth Hornbeck
    Beth Hornbeck
    on Apr 6, 2016

    Does this repel Misquitoes as well?

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on Apr 6, 2016

      I've never put that to a test, Beth, so I don't know. I think citronella and tea tree oils do a better job with mosquitos, and I wouldn't put this on people (it's stinky!).

    • Belle
      on Apr 27, 2016

      grow rosemary and cilantro in pots on your patio to ward off mosquitos. I have a screened gazebo I put up every summer, and I have those plants in the corners and on the table. The screen is open most of the time b/c of watering, meals, back & forth etc. and the plants seem to do the trick! The rosemary is fragrant, and both herbs can be used in your cooking. Nothing like cilantro in Mexican dishes! Cilantro grows fast and will reseed itself in gardens. Keep it clipped back, however, if it shoots off, the result will be coriander seeds which can also be used in cooking. Also the fragrant lemon or rose geranium are said to do well, but I don't have experience with them.

  • Kim4132677
    on Apr 14, 2016

    Does this spray get rid of all bugs, or just pests

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on Apr 14, 2016

      In my experience in my garden over the years I've used this now, it seems to repel the insects eating the plant long enough for it to recover and then grow healthy. I only use it 2-3 times until they are growing well enough to ward off a few bites. If good bugs are repelled, they don't stay away since I have pollinators all over my garden. Hope that answers your question!

  • Billie Lineberry-Hooper
    Billie Lineberry-Hooper
    on Apr 27, 2016

    Do you think this would work on Japanesee Beetles?

  • Terri
    on May 3, 2016

    Do you think I could use this on my Rose bushes for Aphids?

  • Sharonann Wogan
    Sharonann Wogan
    on May 18, 2016

    Can you tell me please if it repels bugs off rose bushes too. You know, the aphids...

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on May 18, 2016

      I'm still experimenting with all that it works with, but I did use it for Japanese Beetles on roses last summer and it seemed to repel them - there wasn't nearly as much damage as before. Aphids I tend to just wash off with water, so I haven't tried it specifically for them.

    • Missy
      on Aug 9, 2016

      Plant merigolds around your roses, no more aphids!

  • Cathy C.
    Cathy C.
    on Jun 11, 2016

    What kind of mint did you use? Quite a few plants belong to the mint family.

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on Jun 12, 2016

      I think any strong-smelling mint would work, but I've used both spearmint and peppermint successfully.

    • Jaime
      on Aug 9, 2017

      Cathy, Mint is mint... If u smell it, and it smells minty, it will work
  • Muriel
    on Jun 20, 2016

    Does your basil taste like garlic afterwards?

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on Jun 20, 2016

      It may if I harvested right away, but I use it only a couple times, letting it rebound between and in that time it wears off, since we don't notice any flavor when we do eat it.

  • Tyl7753869
    on Jun 23, 2016

    Did you use whole garlic or garlic powder? And if you did use whole garlic, did you just smash it then mix it with the mint?

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on Jun 23, 2016

      I used chopped garlic - find all the directions on my site with the recipe!

    • Mary
      on Jul 7, 2016

      Very neat idea thanks so much. Mary W. Chula Vista,,CA & Idyllwild, C A

    • Ohn7261542
      on Jul 13, 2016

      If you put everything into the food processor, all the garlic will be chopped up with the mint. So you don't really have to smash it at all. Doesn't really matter.

  • Alex Donaghy
    Alex Donaghy
    on Jul 8, 2016

    What is the exact measurements and recipe for you garden spray?

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on Jul 9, 2016

      Please see the bottom of the post for the url to the recipe.

    • Chris
      on Aug 9, 2016

      Jami, I have tried to link on and signed up for the daily emails, but have not received a confirmation so I can sign on. I have tried 3 times now. Chris

    • Chris
      on Aug 9, 2016

      Jami, I have tried to link on and signed up for the daily emails, but have not received a confirmation so I can sign on. I have tried 3 times now. Chris

  • Theresa
    on Aug 9, 2016

    I am having a problem with something eating my Mint!! I couldn't get 3 cups of Mint if I tried. Any suggestions??

  • Hap7371038
    on Aug 9, 2016

    Something is eating my avocado leaves.can you helo me

  • Sue
    on Aug 9, 2016

    his would be great if it worked for slugs. has any one noticed if It works on slugs?

  • Mary
    on Aug 9, 2016

    Can I use Mint Oil instead?

  • Nevette Tharp
    Nevette Tharp
    on Aug 9, 2016

    You didn't specify what kind of mint. I grow spearmint, will that work?

    • Barb in Texas
      Barb in Texas
      on Aug 10, 2016

      Mints are all related, what works with one should work with another other.

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on Aug 10, 2016

      Yep - thanks Barb. :) The stronger smelling mints works best for this - you can get all your questions answered and see how it's working in others gardens by visiting the FAQ linked in the post!

  • Patricia Meyer
    Patricia Meyer
    on Aug 10, 2016

    What is the recipe?

  • Rud9696935
    on Aug 10, 2016

    What can I put in my birdseed that won't harm the lovely birds but will get rid of the darned rats with bushy tails otherwise known as squirrels that occasionally visit my birds' feeding area?

  • Bijoux
    on Aug 10, 2016

    That sounds like a great way to get rid of some pests. Do you have any secrets for snails & slugs. They eat a lot!!

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      Jami @ An Oregon Cottage
      on Aug 11, 2016

      The classics: beer in a tuna can buried soil level (so they fall into it), diatomaceous earth sprinkled around, natural slug bait like Sluggo.

    • Mse1612009
      on Aug 11, 2016

      Collect snails in a bucket. Crust them and then spread them around your garden. Guaranteed you won't have anymore snails.

    • Mse1612009
      on Aug 11, 2016

      If you use diatomaceous earth, make sure it is FOOD GRADE.

    • Bijoux
      on Aug 11, 2016

      Thank you for pointing that out. I did not know about "food grade". I will look when I go shopping.

    • Bijoux
      on Aug 11, 2016

      I would have to put out a lot of beer & a lot of containers. I have tried but it was hard keeping up with it. I also get slugs at bottom of pots & they work there way up inside to plants & devistate them! I have used copper wire and it helps a bit with the snail problem, but not the slugs.

    • JRS
      on Aug 12, 2016

      Use corn meal for slugs, place glass jars or plastic bottles cut in half put a tsp of corn meal in containers place them randomly, around the plants, make sure it is level so they are able to crawl in. First time I did this the next day there were about 1/2 a dozen in each container they were dead. Did this once a week with fresh meal they have not returned. It works.

  • Susan wilson
    Susan wilson
    on Aug 11, 2016

    Garlic and mint spray recipe

  • Kathy
    on Aug 12, 2016

    Why can't you just share the recipe?!!

    • Sonia Burrows
      Sonia Burrows
      on Aug 21, 2016

      Recipe type: Organic Garden Bug Spray Yield: 12 cups Ingredients 2 whole heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled 3 c. mint leaves (and stems, too - I just throw it all in now) 2 tsp. dry cayenne pepper 12 c. water 2 small squirts of biodegradable dishwashing liquid Directions Add the garlic and mint to a food processor and pulse for a few seconds. Transfer mixture to a large pot and add the cayenne and 12c. water. Bring to a boil; remove from heat and let sit overnight. Strain into a couple spray bottles (or gallon garden sprayer) and add the two small squirts of dish soap. To Use: - shake well before each use - this mainly repels bugs, though if they rub against it, it can kill them. - spray all the leaves on affected plants, including the undersides - preferably on a cloudy day so as not to burn the plants. - wait a few days to see the affect and then apply more if needed (many times I’ve only needed to do one application) Notes - This is like a pepper spray, so you can protect your skin and eyes like you would when using any hot peppers, although the potency is less because it only uses dried cayenne. - Wait a few days to harvest after using so there isn't any spicy residuals (I only used 2 applications the whole summer, so there never was any taste to the produce). - The scent keeps bugs away, but I still had ladybugs and bees, maybe because I only used the spray a few times.

    • Stillyoung
      on May 30, 2017

      Bees and ladybugs are obviously good insects and you do not want to kill them. The regular honey bee which produces honey, is endangered but we need it for pollination of crops and all plants - bees don't eat leaves or flowers or vegetable and the lady bugs actually eat aphids on roses. too bad that in my area, we sometimes get hundreds of ladybugs way before any aphid show up on rose bushes.
  • Constance De Witt
    Constance De Witt
    on Aug 13, 2016

    Do you have a recipe to stop the birds destroying my succulents?

  • Odd4433224
    on Aug 24, 2016

    Do you have a systemic recipe to kill the rust fungus that keeps ruining my frangipani??? I'm tired of pulling off the bad leaves, and spraying once a week.. Thanks. Thelma

    • Ines
      on Sep 1, 2016

      Try neem oil. Mix 1 part neem oil to 9 parts water. Add a squirt of dishwashing detergent. Spray the affected leaves. 1 or 2 applications usually suffice.

  • Jonesjacqueline222
    on Sep 10, 2016

    My Cannas plants have grown over eight feet tall and were prolific until the worms take over. Please help me!

  • Catherine Ayers
    Catherine Ayers
    on Oct 13, 2016


  • Bri
    on Apr 25, 2017

    Did the soap have leave any taste effect on the herbs?
  • Stillyoung
    on May 30, 2017

    Do you know if cayenne pepper would deter racoons from eating all my bird seed? I end up purchasing many extra large bags of seed as the feeders are emptied out by racoons climbing the poles ( even with wide metal baffles on them , no matter what shape) or just shaking the pole to make the seed fall down. I have resorted to taking down all feeders in the evening at times, but don't always remember.
    • Carol Brown
      Carol Brown
      on May 31, 2017

      We have to take in our bird feeders every night. It's the only way raccoons don't destroy & devour all the bird feed & feeders.
    • Stillyoung
      on Jun 1, 2017

      Thank you- I will do that from now on, jut have to put up a reminder.
  • Dawn Abraham
    Dawn Abraham
    on Jun 7, 2017

    What kind of sprayer do you use that doesn't quit spraying and get gunked up right away???? Help!
    • Carrie Bell
      Carrie Bell
      on Aug 8, 2017

      If your sprayer is getting clogged try straining the liquid through a fine mesh tea strainer or a coffee filter. It is the bits in the mixture that is stopping up the sprayer.
  • Keena
    on Jul 3, 2017

    Would this spray get rid of ants?
    • Janet Braude
      Janet Braude
      on Aug 14, 2017

      A good homemade deterrent to ants, doesn't kill them, but they don't like the smell
      of peppermint oil. They will not come back for a good period of time. Then I spray again.
      I don't have an exact amount of water, In a pint sprayer of water I put in a couple drops of oil. I use it outside on the porch and it really does the job.
  • Jet15263900
    on Aug 8, 2017

    Can you please sign me up for your newsletter.
  • T Mercado
    T Mercado
    on Aug 8, 2017

    You spray it with soap. Would the basil not have a soap taste to it?
    • Jean McCormick
      Jean McCormick
      on Aug 9, 2017

      No, because you will have some rain at some point, and you'll wash it, and any residue will be rinsed off by the time you put it on your food.
  • Melissa
    on Aug 18, 2017

    Can you spray this on rhubarb without changing the taste
  • Rav10828214
    on Sep 7, 2017

    What can I use fore lawn (st.Augustin) for
    Weeds ,bugs
  • Teresita
    on Jan 19, 2018

    I have bad weeds issue on my lawn what is the best home remedy. Thank you
  • Charlotte M Wadkins
    Charlotte M Wadkins
    on Jun 7, 2018

    Your bug and weed spray seems to be something that would deter slugs (salt, etc) which is what is attacking some of my younger flowers and natural flowers I keep in the yard as specimens. But, do you have a SPECIFIC something for them? Maybe a dry thing to put around a plot or bed?

  • Marydell oakley
    Marydell oakley
    on Jun 19, 2018

    How much of each item in recipe?

  • Karen Ramon
    Karen Ramon
    on Jun 25, 2018

    Never seen the recipe in post, so this article is not very helpful.

    Recipe for spray?

  • Deborah Tolson
    Deborah Tolson
    on Jun 29, 2018

    I couldn’t get the recipe?

    i wish you could have put it in the article

  • Lo416727052
    on Jul 15, 2018

    how to get bettles from roses

  • Shirlene
    on Jan 31, 2019

    Can I put it on my flowers

  • Aimee Elliott
    Aimee Elliott
    on May 29, 2019

    Think it will work on aphids? They are just starting in my hoop house And I don't want them to take up permanent residence.

  • Maru
    on Jun 19, 2019

    Would it work on most outdoor plants? Even roses?

  • Sherry Bowman
    Sherry Bowman
    on Jul 5, 2019

    Will this spray hurt animals or pets?

  • Irma L.
    Irma L.
    on Jul 19, 2019

    We're is the recipe?

    • Mary
      on Jul 23, 2019

      Read the above again. She said the recipe was in her blog and gave the address.

  • Susan Turner
    Susan Turner
    on Jul 23, 2019

    Will this work for roses?

  • Joyce
    on Jul 29, 2019

    How much basil, mint, etc you add ? . Thanks

  • Ivy
    on Aug 22, 2019

    is there a list for other plants this will (or maybe easier, shouldn’t be used on)?

    I have cosmos and zinnias that get mold/ aphids

  • Brain Shaker
    Brain Shaker
    on Aug 26, 2019

    I cant find the recipe even from the link you provided; what amount of garlic cayenne and soap do you mix? thanks

  • Darhl Simkin
    Darhl Simkin
    on Oct 12, 2019

    So what is the recipe!!

  • Bea
    on Nov 13, 2019

    Can I grow potatoes inside during the winter?

    • Imojean Steinbuch
      Imojean Steinbuch
      on May 13, 2020

      I tried to grow potatoes inside in a pot but they grew really really long vines.

      Didn't even look like potatoes. Maybe not enough light.

  • Magi
    on Jan 20, 2020

    What about indoor plants? Does it work for them. I had a jade plant fir 2 yrs. Something ate it up. So hurt. I tried so hard to grow this plant. What di you think happen?

  • Vickie McCorkle Burnham
    Vickie McCorkle Burnham
    on May 15, 2020

    Do you think I could could substitute mint essential oil for the fresh mint?

  • Catherine
    on Jun 18, 2020

    I do not see a link to click on??

    where is it?

Join the conversation

2 of 186 comments
  • Jenny Fung
    Jenny Fung
    on Aug 24, 2020

    I can't find the link.

  • Elise
    on Mar 8, 2021

    Just be careful- last year I repeatedly sprayed my porch & garden with peppermint oil & water and had no bugs- it was great until I noticed some veggies were not growing because the pollinators would not come near the garden. This year I’m planting marigolds in my garden & daily checking the garden for bad bugs. I also sprayed the oil in my car because mice were sneaking in & it works.

Your comment...