The following plants will help control those pesky bugs that summertime brings, or all year if you live in the south like I do. Mosquitoes are a menace most of the year here in the woods where I live, so those plants are my favorite of course, but they all have wonderful benefits beyond just repelling bugs. We like multipurpose around these parts! Each section will be linked to a post on that particular plant as I make them, so eventually you will be able to go through and find all the goods on each plant beyond bug repellent properties. Follow me on my social media or on this blog to stay up to date.
A characteristic of most bug repelling plants is the strong aroma that the plant gives off.
*Cucumbers may not like a lot of these plants, so plant further away and/or do more research on companion plants for cucumbers. If I do a post on it, I will link it here.
Alliums-plants like onions and garlic. Very pungent smell. Repels cabbage worms, aphids, carrot flies, and slugs, which dislike the smell. Great companion plants for a lot of garden plants, especially strawberries.
Basil-the smell of all basil types repels mosquitoes, moths, and flies. Great to plant near tomatoes for more flavorful and pest free fruit/plants. You can also crush the leaves and rub on your skin while working outside to keep bugs away from you. Pinch off blooms to push energy to foliage growth and create better tasting leaves if using to ingest as flowering plants can create a bitter taste. If bitten by a mosquito, you can chew up basil leaves and apply as a field poultice to stop itching and reduce swelling. Basil essential oil is also fantastic for relieving the irritation from bug bites.
Beauty Berry-leaves can be distilled to get callicarpenals that are considered to be stronger than DEET in store bought mosquito spray. Leaves can also be crushed and rubbed on clothing, but not nearly as effective as leaf extract. Toxicity is not established, so avoid rubbing directly onto skin. Berries are edible, but not that great tasting raw.
Bee Balm-a pretty flower that attracts bees and butterflies, but repels unwanted bugs like mosquitoes.
Catnip-is in the mint family, and can easily take over your garden if left unchecked, but is great at repelling mosquitoes. Studies have shown it to be ten times more effective than DEET! If you have cats, however, good luck. They may ravage your catnip beds. The herb itself makes cats spastic, but calms humans.
Chrysanthemums-great border plants that help keep out bedbugs, fleas, roaches, ants, and more! Contain pyrethrin, a naturally occurring insecticide. Also repels ticks, spider mites, and Japanese beetles.
Lavender-repels mosquitoes, fleas, flies, and moths. Calming smell that is great to have around patios and places of rest outside. Very tough and drought resistant once established, but I somehow manage to kill mine. Every. Time. If you have lavender growing tips, please leave them below. It is one of my favorite plants, but I just can’t keep them alive. I think the humidity works against me.
Lemongrass-is packed with citronella oil and closely related to the Citronella plant, but is edible and great in tea with many health benefits! Citronella oil is an awesome mosquito repellent and a natural alternative to DEET. Leaves can be crushed and rubbed on clothing. Test on small area of skin before applying directly to skin. Some people’s skin may be irritated. Grows well in pots, but gets quite big at 3-5 feet tall, so pot up accordingly.
Marigolds-the scent repels mosquitoes, whiteflies, nematodes like cabbage worms, and many other pests. Plant in garden as companion plant to almost everything, or keep in pots around entrance to home to keep bugs out.
Mint-a great non-toxic mosquito, fly and ant repellent, but can invade your garden space. Best planted in pots or specific garden beds. Will spread readily. Plant in pots, and keep near doors. Pick leaves frequently to promote growth. Bring inside during the winter and keep flies out of the house!
Nasturtium-repels whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, beetles, and cabbage loopers. Great companion plants in the garden, and flowers and leaves are edible! The plants produce an airborne chemical that protects themselves and the plants in the general vicinity to them from bugs. Likes moist soil and full sun. Deadhead to promote blooms.
Petunias-are a great companion to roses, brassicas, beans, basil, tomatoes, grapes, corn and peppers. Repels leafhoppers, squash bugs, horn-worms, and aphids. Plus they are pretty, so why not?
Rosemary-woody scent keeps away mosquitoes, cabbage moths, and carrot flies. Cucumber especially does not like this plant. It can inhibit the growth, so plant away from each other. Grows well in hot and dry climates and can thrive in containers placed near doorways and patios. Thick bushes can also be pruned into interesting shapes and whatnot if that is something you like. Also great in a smudge stick for home fumigation. Thankfully, this plant is easy to grow, unlike Lavender, in my experience.
Sage-keep this growing around your fire pit. Toss into fire and let the smoke repel bugs. You can also dry it and use in homemade bug spray. I also like to make smudge sticks and burn in the house to get rid of bugs as well. Great combined with rosemary for fumigation.
Thyme-a great bug repelling ground cover in rocky and dry areas. Repels mosquitoes and is lovely in food. Comes in many varieties for different flavors and scents.
I hope you enjoyed today’s post. If you know of any other bug repelling plants that we can benefit from, drop a comment and let us know! In the days to come, we will need to learn to be more reliant on each other, nature, and the knowledge of the world around us rather than looking to stores to supply what you need to survive in these trying times.
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Emma Lee Joy