10 Plants that Repel Insects in a Vegetable Garden


Flowering plants and herbs that repel annoying insects in a vegetable garden can be purchased at most garden supply stores. The flowers and herbs mentioned in this article are noted for being able to ward off a variety of aggravating insects from practically any vegetable garden. The essential oils contained in these plants and herbs can also be used to make natural insect repellents, as well.

Flowers that Repel Insects in a Vegetable Garden

Marigolds – Marigolds give off a scent that repels mosquitoes, aphids, and even rabbits. Additionally, the roots of marigolds ward off nematodes. Marigolds are annuals. They are most effective when placed along the border of flowerbeds and throughout the vegetable garden. They grow well in sunny locations.

Petunias — Petunias are sometimes referred to as nature’s pesticide. This easy to grow, colorful plant grows in hanging baskets, containers, and throughout the garden. Petunias are more effective when planted in sunny locations near herbs and vegetables — like tomato plants, basil, peppers, and beans. They also repel squash bugs, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, tomato hornworms, and aphids.

Chrysanthemums – Chrysanthemums help fend off spider mites, bed bugs, fleas, ants, roaches, lice, Japanese beetles, silverfish, harlequin bugs, root knot nematodes, and ticks. Chrysanthemums contain an ingredient called pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide that kills jumping and flying insects. In fact, pyrethrum is commonly used in American home and garden insecticides – including aerosol bombs, indoor sprays, and pet shampoo. Although a homemade insecticide can be made using chrysanthemums, it’s important to note that pyrethrum can be carcinogenic to humans. Therefore, before making the insecticide, it’s critical to learn how to make it the safe way.

Alliums – Plants in the Allium family repel a variety of insects that invade vegetable gardens. For example, alliums repel cabbageworms, slugs, carrot flies, and aphids. When grown in a vegetable garden, alliums help protect kohlrabi, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and peppers, to name a few.

Nasturtiums – Nasturtiums release a chemical in the air, which repels many types of beetles, cabbage loopers, aphids, squish bugs, and whiteflies. Nasturtiums are grown best as a companion plant – along the edge of the garden. Companion planting involves grouping a variety of plants close to one another. Each plant group helps the plants in the other group. Additionally, nasturtiums stave off insects from vegetables, such as kale, collards, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and kohlrabi.

Herbs that Repel Insects

Mint – In addition to its savory smell and mouth-watering taste, mint repels mosquitoes. This herb spreads quite aggressively – planting mint in containers is strongly suggested. Containers of mint should be strategically placed throughout the vegetable garden to help keep the garden free of insects.

Lemongrass – Lemongrass is an annual that wards off mosquitoes, as well. Citronella is one of the natural ingredients found in lemongrass. Citronella helps detract mosquitoes. Unlike mint, lemongrass can be grown in the ground, or in a container. Place this annual in a well-drained, sunny location.

Basil – Basil can also be grown in containers. Place the containers of basil by house doors and outdoor leisure areas to help repel houseflies and mosquitoes. Fresh basil can also be used as an insect repellent. Pour 4 ounces of boiling water into a container that has 4 to 6 ounces of clean, fresh basil leaves (stems attached.) Let the leaves steep in the boiling water for a few hours. Remove the leaves and squeeze the moisture out of the leaves into the mixture. Add 4 ounces of vodka into the basil-water mixture – thoroughly stir – then store the mixture in the refrigerator. When going outdoors, use the mixture as an insect repellant spray – avoid getting the mixture in eyes, mouth, or nose.

Lemon Thyme – As long as this herb is planted in a sunny location, lemon thyme can grow in practically any location – including rock and shallow soil. This plant repels mosquitoes, but only if the leaves are slightly bruised to release its chemicals.

Rosemary – The rosemary plant and its cuttings repel mosquitoes and a variety of insects that can harm a vegetable garden. Rosemary can be grown within the garden, in containers, or landscape beds. Make an insect repellant spray with rosemary by placing 1 quart of dried rosemary in a quart of boiling water. Boil for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain the liquid in no less than a half-gallon container that includes a quart of cold water. Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator. Add the mixture in small spray bottles when going outdoors. When the container in the refrigerator loses its rosemary smell, the remaining repellant can be discarded.

Natural Insect Barrier

A few insects — including mosquitoes — may find their way into any yard or vegetable garden. One of the best things that can be done to keep mosquitoes at bay is to eliminate any standing water around the perimeter of the home. Mosquitoes breed in standing water.

Growing these flowering plants and herbs in and around a vegetable garden and sporadically around the home will help create an eco-friendly insect barrier – the natural way.

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George Zapo, CPH
George Zapo, CPH is certified in Public Health Promotion & Education. George focuses on writing informative articles promoting healthy behavior and lifestyles. Read more of George's articles at his website: https://georgezapo.com.