How to Grow an Insect Repellent Garden

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How to Grow an Insect Repellent Garden

How to Grow an Insect Repellent Garden is the perfect garden to create when you hate bugs that ruin all the hard work you’ve done in your yard.  

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all, it teaches entire trust. – Gertrude Jekyll

Trying to live a cozy life is easier when your garden is bug-free.  A buggy yard isn’t very hygge.  

I’m going to be moving to a new state that has a lot more bugs than I’m used to being around, so I’ve been researching what not-so-great bugs I have to prepare for and what to do to combat the problem.  

(Not only do they have tons of bugs – but lots of snakes!  I ended up joining a state snake group to help me identify local snakes, and now I have night terrors.  Don’t do this.  Ignorance is bliss.)

Researching pest control has turned into a full-time job! 

The perfect weapon against having unwanted critters turn your yard into a place that you don’t want to be is to plant the herbs, flowers, and plants that repel insects.

Since you love to garden, I’m guessing you like all things cozy living. I created a Facebook group called Creating a Cozy Life with over 5,000 like-minded souls.

It’s a group where we share recipes, pictures of things that leave you in awe, and ideas on how to make your life just a little bit more snug.  Join here to be part of the virtual cozy cabin.

Butterflies and ladybugs are welcome in my garden.  Bugs like mosquitos and flies are not!

Let’s not waste any more time.  Finding the perfect plants to pair with your garden is easy once you know what critters they repel.  

Here are the plants you’ll need for How to Grow an Insect Repellent Garden:

1) Basil –

Basil Insect Repellent Basil is one of those herbs that have so many different uses that it’s a must in any garden.  Not only can you make a fantastic pesto, but basil does a fantastic job at keeping not-so-great insects away from other plants and you!  

What’s so appealing about having basil in your garden is that it repels mosquitos and flies.  Keeping those two pests away alone would make it a must-have.  

It also deters the carrot fly, whiteflies and asparagus beetles.  

I know you love pesto, but keep some leaves to repel all the bugs.  

2) Bay –

Bay leaf repels flies.  FLIES.  I hate flies.  Seriously.  But…they love me.  I will open my front door for two seconds and in comes an army of flies to drive me nuts.  

I think flies were put on this earth for the sole purpose of teaching us how annoying small things can be.  Little teachers that I can live without.  

It looks like I’ll be having a bay garden.  

Not only does bay deter flies, but roaches as well!  Moths, ants, beetles, and weevils also don’t like the smell of bay.  

It’s common to place bay leaves inside your pantry and other cupboards to repel critters.  Also, put bay leaves in your canisters to protect baking staples from bugs.  

It seems that every soup recipe calls for one or two bay leaves.  And I (heart) soup.  What’s a cozy living life without soup I ask?  

I think I’m in love with bay now.  You might want to invest in bay stock shares if there’s such a thing before I start my new garden.  

3) Borage – 

Borage plant insect repellent

Borage does double-duty in the garden.  It attracts beneficial insects like bees, and it repels cabbage worms and tomato hornworms.  

Any insect that messes with my heirloom tomatoes has got to go.  What would summer be like without sun-ripened tomatoes?  I shudder to think about it.  

And don’t you just love any plant that bees love?  The bees in my garden make me so happy.  You want to give them everything their little hearts desire.  

Give the bees in your garden the gift of borage and send the tomato-killers packing at the same time.  

4) Catnip – 

Cats aren’t the only ones that will be digging catnip.  This powerhouse of a plant is worth more than it’s weight in gold with its repellent properties.  

Some of the pesky bugs it helps keep your garden from having are cockroaches, ants, squash bugs, weevils, Japanese beetles, flea beetles, and cabbage looper.  

Warning: neighborhood cats might be seen hanging out a lot more frequently!  

5) Chamomile – 

Not only will you have sweet dreams when you use Chamomile to make tea, but it is known for repelling flying insects. 

If Chamomile didn’t make a great tea or repel any pests, I would still plant it in my garden because I think the flowers are simply gorgeous.  

6) Chives – 

Chive plants repel insects

I seriously love chives.  

When I was writing my blog post about chives, I couldn’t believe how many gardens I saw along my daily walking path had them dotted throughout their yards.  

Everyone knows that planting chives is a great way to keep pests away and garnish your dishes at the same time.  

This herb is a heavy hitter in the insect repellent line-of-work.  It keeps insects like ants, aphids and Japanese beetles at bay.  

If you love roses, make sure you plant chives next to them because they can help your bushes develop black spot.  

Your apple trees will also benefit with chives growing near them, they help prevent apple scab.  

7) Cilantro – 

I wrote an entire post on Creating a Salsa Garden because I seriously can’t get enough salsa.  It seems to pair well with a lot of my favorite meals.  

Growing cilantro is one of the main components to a salsa garden, of course.  

Did you know that science has discovered that some people have a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap when they eat it?  That’s why some people really hate cilantro.  

I’m super happy I’m not one of those soap-tasting people because cilantro is delicious to me.  

One time, I brought in a load of topsoil for my garden to expand the garden bed, and it was LOADED full of cilantro seeds.  I had enough cilantro for the entire neighborhood all summer long.  

Making salsa isn’t the only thing cilantro is good for, it repels potato beetles, spider mite and aphids.    

8) Dill – 

Where would pickles be without dill?  That’s a question to seriously ponder if you’ve got a little time on your hands.  

Spider mites, cabbage loopers, and squash bugs are just some of the insects that don’t like dill (and probably they have a distaste for pickles too!)

You don’t want to plant dill near your tomatoes because dill can attract tomato hornworms.   Also keep dill away from your carrots.  

Any insect that turns up its nose at pickles needs to go in my humble opinion.  


9) Garlic – 

First of all, you should already have garlic in your garden.  Garlic is fantastic, and I really can’t get enough of the stuff, and I bet you can’t either.  

I love garlic.  Roses love garlic.  Who doesn’t love garlic? 

Vampires and Werewolves, that’s who.

Apparently, bean beetles, cabbage loopers, and root maggots don’t like garlic either.  

What in the world are root maggots?  I guess I’ve lived this long without knowing – so I’ll leave it there.  

Bonus:  Garlic repels rabbits.  Now I love rabbits…but you don’t want them eating ALL your produce.  

So if you want to keep your garden Vampire, Werewolf, bean beetle, cabbage looper, and root maggot free, you’ll be growing an abundance of garlic.  

Now you can have as much garlic bread as your little heart desires. 

10) Geranium – 

Big fan of Geraniums here.  Especially Scented Geraniums.  

Not only are they beautiful, smell good, and can be used in lots of recipes and homemade beauty products, but they help keep your garden pests away.  

They keep so many harmful insects away – every garden should have some.  Japanese beetles, corn earworms and cabbage worms are just some of the insects this beauty repels.  

11) Horseradish – 

The one thing I’ve always questioned in life is “How on earth can you eat prime rib without creamy horseradish sauce?”  

Did you know those people exist?  Some people walk the earth that eats prime rib without it!  It doesn’t seem plausible, but it’s true.  Cross my heart.  

Besides making lots of things a little bit more tasty, (horseradish mashed potatoes comes to mind) horseradish will guard your castle, home, cottage or tiny home with valor against pests that are determined to give you headaches.  

You want to grow horseradish near your potatoes.  Colorado potato beetles don’t like it.  

12) Lavender – 

Lavender plants repel insects

I know a lot about lavender.  I grow lavender, and it’s an absolute must-have in every garden I have.  

But…what I didn’t know is that lavender repels scorpions.  SCORPIONS!  If I lived in a state with scorpions, I would turn my yard into a lavender farm.  

It also helps stop fleas (yay! with as many dogs as I have, anything that repels fleas will get me excited), FLIES (see above for my hate of flies), mosquitos and moths.  

You can also make tons of gifts with lavender.  Keep icky bugs away, make homemade gifts for your friends.  Win, win!  

13) Lemon Balm – 

I grow lemon balm for tea.  Going outside my back door to gather ingredients for tea is something that makes my heart happy.  

In our cozy living group, we have several tea foragers showing us the goods that they gathered (don’t you just love people like that?)  

Lemon balm is good for your body and good for your soul.  

Mosquitos aren’t fans apparently.  I think they even have an “I hate Lemon Balm” support group on Facebook.  

14) Lemongrass – 

This plant is also one of those versatile must-haves for your garden.  

Not only can you give your dishes a touch of Asian flavor, add beauty to your garden, bring the scent of lemon to the area, but it is well known in Asian countries as a mosquito repellent.  


And….wait for it…it repels SNAKES!  When I invite you over to my house for tea, look for the home surrounded by lemongrass.  

Lemongrass is my new friend.  

15) Marigold – 

Planting Marigolds is something most gardeners have heard before, but have they really listened?  

If you want a powerhouse that deters most pests, then look no further than this fantastic flower.  Plus, it makes your garden even more beautiful.  

What’s not to love?  

16) Mint –

Mint Plants Repel Insects

Mint can be invasive, so make sure you keep it contained.  I like to keep my mint in large pots dotted around my yard.  

One of my go-to teas to make is my chocolate mint/lemon balm combination tea.  I drink it nearly every day.  

Mint is an herb that everyone loves because of how many different things you can do with it – including using it in my Watermelon Salad with Black Olives and Mint.  Yum!  

Plus…mice and rats hate mint.  Talk about a bonus.  

I’m not big on rats and mice to begin with, but after having rats attack the wiring on my car TWICE and footing those enormous bills, I ended up loving mint more.

It turns out the wiring for some cars were made with soy.  Rats and mice love soy and are attracted to the smell and taste of this little treat.  It’s like slathering peanut butter on the wires of your vehicle.  

Honda makes a tape to wrap your wiring it that is made of scorching hot pepper.  I had my wires wrapped in that tape and added mint throughout my car and no more problems!  

(Look up the make and year of your car to see if you have soy wires. This little tip might save you thousands of dollars.  You’re welcome!) 

I have mint everywhere now.  In my car as an air freshener, in my engine, surrounding my house.  Mint and I are best friends for life.  It’s one of those giving friends that you can always rely on.  

All varieties of mint also help with aphids, flea beetles, and cabbage moths.

17) Nasturtium – 

If you love adding flowers to your salads, and at the same time drive away icky bugs, then planting Nasturtiums is a must.  

The one thing I love about adding flowers in dishes is they add pure beauty without much work.  

Everyone will assume you’re a gourmet cook by jazzing up your dishes with this beautiful bloom.  

In addition to making everything it touches a little bit better, Nasturtium help deter striped pumpkin beetles, whiteflies, squash bugs, and aphids.  

18) Oregano – 

Plant oregano near your garlic and onions to help protect them from leafhoppers, spider mites, and aphids.  

You can then make a big pot of spaghetti sauce so you can enjoy the flavor of oregano.  

Create an entire evening dedicated to this amazing herb. Dine alfresco, add a red and white checkered tablecloth to your table, play “That’s Amore!” by Dean Martin, serve your favorite wine, and get transported to Italy for a few moments.  

(And don’t forget to invite me over! Yum.) 

19) Pennyroyal – 

Commercial insect repellents like to use Pennyroyal as one if it’s ingredients.  Now you know a little secret weapon.  

Mosquitos, ticks, fleas, and gnats are not fans.  

20) Rosemary – 

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs to cook with.  I add rosemary to my apple crisp for a unique twist on this amazing dessert.   When I get the recipe up on my blog, I will add it here.  

You’ll want to plant rosemary near cabbage, carrots, and beans because it repels cabbage moths, carrot flies, and bean beetles.  

Plus, you need a little rosemary in your life.  It brings good luck if you plant it near your garden gate…and we can all use a little bit more luck!  

21) Sage – 

Sage plant insect repellent

I have a large pot of sage growing on my front porch.  There’s something about it that I find so beautiful.  

Apparently, I need to plant some near carrots because this gorgeous plant drives carrot flies away.  Besides, moths and ticks don’t like it either.  

Sage will also help protect your potatoes from flea beetles, so plant a pot of sage near them. 

It looks like you’ll be seeing a lot more recipes featuring sage on the blog.  

22) Southernwood – 

What the heck is Southernwood?  It’s a species of plant that is related to the sunflower family, according to Wikipedia.  

It’s a bushy shrub with small yellow flowers and has a strong lemony scent.  

If you dry its leaves, it can be used to keep moths away from your clothing.  You can also use the leaves and flowers to make herbal teas.  

You should plant Southernwood near your fruit trees because it will help protect them from pests.  

It also deters cabbage moths and black aphids.  

23) Tarragon – 

Tarragon Plant Insect Repellent

Tarragon pairs well with most vegetables in your garden and keeps an array of bad bugs away from them.  

Not only do I add Tarragon to my chicken salad, but it helps prevent flies and mosquitos from buzzing around my yard.  That makes me happy.  

I also like to make little herb bouquets to decorate my home, and Tarragon is always included.  I love the look of it.  

24) Thyme – 

Thyme is another herb I use to make tea with daily.  It’s so darn good for you, and I got addicted to the flavor (with a little stevia, of course.) 

This herb repels cabbage looper, cabbage maggot (what’s with all the bugs attacking cabbage, what did it ever do to them?), cutworms, squash bugs, corn earworm, whiteflies, and tomato hornworm.  Whew!  

I don’t think I have to convince anyone to grow thyme now.  It’s one of those over-achievers that’s perfect at everything they do.  

25) Wormwood – 

Slugs can be a colossal pain where I live.  When I first moved to my house, I bought several pots of basil.  

I couldn’t wait to start harvesting basil for my Caprese salads.  So, I planted all my pots in one day.  

That night, dreams of pesto danced in my head, and I was giddy with anticipation.  

In the morning, I went to go check on it (because of course, they would’ve probably grown a foot overnight!)  Every single plant was mowed to the ground.  


Plant markers were the only thing left to signal they were ever there.  

Apparently, the slugs and snails in my neighborhood had a basil bbq.  Everyone was invited except me.  It was clearly a good time had been had by all.  They really know how to throw a party.  

Wormwood is the perfect plant to edge your garden with so this doesn’t happen to you.  It helps discourage slugs from sending out invites to their friends and family for the next party planned.  Small foraging animals also don’t like wormwood.

Now I throw my own bbq’s, and THEY are not invited.   

26) Yarrow – 

Yarrow Plant Insect Repellent Yarrow likes to grow in full sun and has beautiful lacy white and yellow flowers.  

Not only can this herb grow practically anywhere, but yarrow also helps with colds and flus when made into a tea.  

It also is used to help stop the bleeding when you get a cut.  Some of the pests it helps control are fleas, ticks, and mosquitos.  

If you have pets, you should have yarrow in your garden to help protect them too!  

Vladka over at Simply Beyond Herbs wrote a post on making your own Natural Bug Bite Cream in case you do get bit.  You can find it here. 

We’ve reached the end of How to Grow an Insect Repellent Garden.  

I created a pin below so you can add this post to your Pinterest board to refer back to.  You can also follow me here on Pinterest.  

Don’t forget to join the Cozy Living Group – today I posted a video of a lizard trying to grab bubbles.  Yep, you’re seriously missing out.  

I hope you enjoyed it!  Let me know in the comments below what your favorite insect repellent plant is and if you added any of these plants to your garden.  

Thanks for stopping by!  

Related Herb Posts:   

How to Grow a Mint Garden

11 Reasons to Start an Herb Garden 

How to Grow Your Own Tea Garden 

How to Grow Chives 

Related Garden Posts: 

Gardening for Beginners – Tips and Tricks 

How to Add Hygge to your Garden 

She Shed Garden Tour 

How to Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden Naturally 

Take a Tour of a Rustic Garden Potting Shed

How to Grow a Salsa Garden

How to Grow an Insect Repellent Garden

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