Marigolds and mosquito plants are probably the first things that come to mind when you think about pest-repellent plants. Truth is, there’s a whole world of interesting annuals and perennials that will help you drive away bugs, mice, deer and more. Here are some species that can help you eliminate a pest problem—and I’ve shared a recipe for an all-natural insect repellent for those of you who would rather avoid DEET!
Lemongrass is one of those versatile spices that belongs in every vegetable and herb garden. This plant contains citronella, which means it will help you repel many different kinds of insects, including mosquitoes. As an added bonus, cats hate the smell of lemongrass. Tired of the neighborhood strays using your veggie garden and flowerbeds as a litter box? Plant some lemongrass to keep them away.
Cats love this member of the mint family, but mosquitoes despise it. In fact, tests comparing catnip extract to DEET found that catnip is just as effective at repelling mosquitoes…though you may find yourself surrounded by overly friendly cats! If you want to keep your porch or patio mosquito-free, plant catnip in hanging baskets along the perimeter.
You can also make an easy, all-natural bug spray out of catnip. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and then add a large handful of chopped catnip to the water. Let the mixture steep for at least 10 minutes – although longer will result in a more potent brew. Once the solution has cooled, strain out the greenery, pour the liquid into a spray bottle and use it just like store-bought insect repellents.
Beebalm is one of those perennials that used to be popular, but has lately faded from prominence. However, these plants give off wonderful strong scent that happens to repel mosquitoes. When beebalm blooms, it will attract plenty of good creatures to your garden, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. It also attracts predatory insects that will devour the bugs that are eating your plants.
Like lemongrass, mint is another super-versatile spice. The strong, fresh scent will make your herb or vegetable bed smell nice, and you can clip the leaves to use in teas, cocktails or other flavorful concoctions. Mint also repels all sorts of pests, including mosquitoes, flies, fleas and cabbage worms.
What makes mint special is that it offers some protection against mice and deer. Mice don’t like the smell of mint, so if you plant it along the borders of your home, you’ll keep the mice outside where they belong. When you plant it next to the fruits, vegetables and flowers that deer love to eat, the strong scent will help hide your valuable plants from the deer’s keen sense of smell.
Lavender is another strongly scented plant that will help mask the smells of the plants that deer like to eat. In addition, this fragrant perennial also repels ticks and mice. Towards the end of the season, you can cut the lavender back, dry it and add it to sachets that will keep moths out of your pantry and closets.
Do you know of more pest repelling plants that we can grow here in Ohio? If so, feel free to share in the comments section!