Drive Bugs Away With These 10 Pest Repellent Plants

Pests such as bloodthirsty mosquitoes and tomato-destroying nematodes can send you running indoors and keep you from getting the most out of your garden. Chemical repellents are one way to go, but these 10 plants can give you a beautiful, all-natural hand with driving pests out of your garden. Re-claim your territory!
1: Rosemary
Rosemary is an aromatic herb that makes a wonderful potted plant. Best of all, mosquitoes don’t like the smell of this fragrant herb. Place pots of rosemary near where people will be sitting on your deck, patio or porch, and they will add a touch of green and a pleasant scent to the atmosphere as they help keep mosquitoes at bay. You can also make an easy homemade rosemary mosquito repellent that you can keep in a spray bottle in the fridge, and spritz a little on before you go outside. The cool mist and fresh scent will be a real pick-me-up and, because rosemary is a component in some perfumes, you can bet that this mosquito repellent will smell much better than those chemical sprays. Homegrown rosemary will also do wonders for your roast chicken!
2: Lavender
Lavender is one of the most versatile plants you can grow in your garden. Not only is it beautiful; you can also use lavender to make soaps, sachets, wreaths, and delicious foods such as lavender lemonade and vanilla cheesecake with lavender syrup. But just as we humans love lavender, pests including mosquitoes, deer, and even rabbits think that lavender is the pits. Plant lavender as a border plant next to where people will sit, and the humans will bask in its lovely scent at the same time the fragrance repels hungry mosquitoes. Plant lavender as a border plant in front of roses or other plants that are attractive to deer, and not only will the lavender make an eye-catching accent, it will also help keep the pests away from the other plants.
3: Garlic
Garlic’s strong odor serves as a repellent to several types of pest. Plant garlic near your roses to keep aphids away, or as a companion to other plants where you’ve had problems with Japanese beetles, codling moths, root maggots, carrot root flies, or snails.
4: Marigolds
Marigolds are the perfect multi-purpose flower. They are so easy to grow, they make the ideal flower for introducing your kids to the art of gardening. They are also fairly drought-tolerant, so you don’t have to worry too much about dry spells. And these pretty little blooms release a scent that is unappealing to mosquitoes, so placing pots of marigolds near yourself and your guests can help keep those biting bugs at bay. Marigolds also make excellent companion plants for your tomatoes, because they repel nematodes and rabbits. They may be small, but these little flowers are mighty!
5: Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums are lovely, edible flowers with vivid red, yellow or orange blooms. Their appearance alone would be reason enough to want them in your garden, but these beauties also repel whiteflies, aphids, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. Nasturtiums are also low-maintenance, making them another fun flower to grow with your kids.
6: Petunias
Petunias are one of the most popular annual flowers around, and for good reason. They come in just about every color, and keep blooming all summer long. But did you know that petunias also repel several pests? The sticky “hairs” on their stems and leaves trap aphids, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, and other insects, and the petunias’ roots absorb nutrients from the insects’ bodies. This makes petunias good companion plants for other plants that fall victim to these pests.
7: Mint
Mint might smell refreshing to you, but it smells pretty unattractive to mosquitoes. Place pots of mint around outdoor seating areas to keep mosquitoes away. Mint works best as a potted plant, because it tends to be invasive and can become out of control if you plant it in your garden. Mint is also delicious in recipes such as Moroccan tea: make a pot of hot, sweet green tea, pour it into tall cups, put a generous bouquet of mint into each cup, and drink. Delicious! A hot beverage on a hot day isn’t as crazy as it sounds, either. Science says so!
8: Basil
Basil is another herb whose pungent scent drives mosquitoes away. Basil works best if you make a homemade insect repellent: Place a generous handful of leaves and stems into a heatproof container, and pour 4 ounces of boiling water on top. Let it steep for several hours, strain the mixture, and add 4 ounces of cheap vodka. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle to keep in the fridge and spray on before you go outside. Fresh basil will also add a wonderful touch to your culinary creations.
9: Ageratum
Ageratum is a lovely flower that is available in a gorgeous blue shade that is very difficult to come across. These blooms also secrete a substance called coumarin, which is used in numerous commercial mosquito repellents. Mosquitoes don’t like the smell of coumarin and tend to steer clear. Place pots of ageratum close by, and you can enjoy both the lovely blooms and the lack of mosquitoes.
10: Texas Hummingbird Mint
The name of this plant advertises its other advantage besides pest control: Texas hummingbird mint also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. This showy plant has tall spikes of rosy-pink flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds and a licorice-mint fragrance that repels mosquitoes. With Texas hummingbird mint, you can put out the welcome mat for the wildlife you want, and send the pests packing!
Photos courtesy of Audrey, John Haslam, Serres Fortier, Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon.

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