29 Best Natural Insect Repellent Plants to Grow are an excellent addition to any garden, providing aesthetic appeal and a practical solution for keeping pesky insects at bay. These plants possess natural compounds and fragrances that act as powerful deterrents, effectively repelling mosquitoes, flies, and other bothersome bugs.
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 many 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 joined 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 you don’t want to be is to plant the herbs, flowers, and plants that repel insects.
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.
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The Best Natural Insect Repellent Plants to Grow
Basil is one of those herbs with so many uses that it’s a must in any garden. Not only can you make a fantastic pesto, but basil does a fantastic job keeping not-so-great insects away from other plants and you!
What’s so appealing about having basil plants in your garden is that they repel mosquitos and flies. Keeping those two pests away alone would make it a must-have.
It also deters the carrot fly, tomato hornworm, whiteflies, and asparagus beetles. Basil plants are great pest repelling plants that work well in companion planting. They will also look beautiful in a flower bed.
I know you love homemade pesto, but keep some leaves to repel all the bugs.
2. Bay Leaf Plant
Bay leaf plants repels flies. FLIES. I hate flies. Seriously. But…they love me. I will open my front door for two seconds, and an army of flies comes right in 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’m in love with bay leaves now. You should invest in bay stock shares (if there’s such a thing) before I start my new garden.
3. Bee Balm
Great news! Bee balm attracts good things like bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies to your garden.
It’s also a mosquito repelling plant that has beautiful flowers. You can use bee balm to make jelly and tea. Anything that repel mosquitos is a must-have in my garden!
Borage does double duty in the garden. It attracts beneficial insects like bees; and 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.
Don’t you love any plant that bees love? They love borage. 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 simultaneously.
Cats aren’t the only ones that will be digging catnip. This powerhouse of a plant is worth more than its 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 loopers.
Warning: neighborhood cats might be found hanging out a lot more frequently!
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 the flowers are gorgeous.
I seriously love chives.
When writing my article 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 simultaneously.
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, plant chives next to them because they can help prevent your bushes from developing black spots.
Your apple trees will also benefit from chives growing near them. They help prevent apple scab.
I wrote an entire post on Creating a Salsa Garden because I can’t get enough salsa. It pairs well with a lot of my favorite meals.
Growing cilantro is one of the main components of 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.
Once, 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 mites, and aphids.
9. Citronella Grass
Citronella grass, known for its distinct lemony fragrance, has long been recognized for repelling mosquitos and a variety of insects that are unwelcome to your garden. This natural repellent is used to create citronella candles, citronella oil, and sprays that keep unwanted visitors away.
What makes these plants so unique is that the strong scent of citronella masks the attractant scents humans emit, making it difficult for annoying mosquitos locate their target.
Place the citronella plant in well-draining soil and allow ample room for the grass to expand. It’s one of the best plants to deter mosquito bites. It’s one of the top-selling insect repellent plants to get.
I think I’m going to have to find someone that makes clothes out of citronella grass to wear all summer long.
Where would pickles be without dill? That’s a question to ponder if you have 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. Keep dill away from your carrots also.
In my humble opinion, any insect that turns up its nose at pickles needs to go. If you love making pickles and are looking for insect repellent plants, dill is the herb to grow.
11. Floss Flower
Floss flowers not only beautify gardens with their vibrant blue, pink, and white blossoms but are also great insect repellent plants. The plant’s oils are great for annoying mosquitoes and the plant has medicinal properties.
If you’re looking for mosquito-repellent plants, floss flowers should be on your list of plants to add to your garden.
First of all, you should already have garlic in your garden. I love garlic. Roses love garlic. Who doesn’t love garlic?
Vampires and Werewolves, that’s who.
Bean beetles, cabbage loopers, and root maggots don’t like garlic either.
What in the world are root maggots? 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 grow an abundance of garlic as one of your insect repellent plants.
Now you can have as much garlic bread as your little heart desires.
Big fan of geraniums here. Especially scented geraniums.
Not only are the scented geranium beautiful, smell good, and can be used in recipes and homemade beauty products, but they help keep your garden pests away. I like to add this mosquito plant to my window boxes.
They keep so many harmful insects away – every garden should have some. Japanese beetle, corn earworms, and cabbage worms are just some of the insects this beauty repels.
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 come to mind), horseradish will guard your castle, home, cottage, or tiny home with valor against determined pests to give you headaches. It’s a great insect repelling plant to have on hand.
You want to grow horseradish near your potatoes. Colorado potato beetles don’t like it.
I know a lot about lavender. I grow lavender, and it’s an absolute must-have in every garden. It’s a beautiful perennial plant that you can find in many flower beds. The strong scents lavender gives off makes this herb one of the best pest-repelling plants for your garden.
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 excites me.), FLIES (see above for my hate of flies), mosquitos, and moths. Who wouldn’t want a mosquito repellent plant that is so beautiful and smells so good?
You can also make tons of gifts with this plant like lavender essential oil. Keep icky bugs away, and make homemade gifts for your friends. Win, win!
16. 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. Lemon balm is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family.
Our cozy living group, has several tea foragers showing us the goods 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.
This plant is also one of those versatile must-have for your garden. If you’re looking for insect repellent plants to deter lots of pests, this one does the job.
Not only can you give your dishes a touch of Asian flavor, add beauty to your garden, and 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 to my house for tea, look for the home surrounded by lemongrass.
Lemon grass is my new friend.
18. Marigold Plants
Planting marigolds is something most gardeners have heard before, but have they listened?
If you want a powerhouse that deters most pests, look no further than this fantastic flower. You should plant marigolds near tomatoes in your garden to deter tomato worms. It also makes your vegetable garden more beautiful.
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 is my chocolate mint/lemon balm combination tea. I drink it nearly every day. The peppermint plant is a great plant to have to use as insect repellent plants and in the kitchen. It has great health benefits as well.
Mint is an herb 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 was 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 that’s made of scorching hot pepper. I wrapped my wires in that tape and added mint throughout my car. I experienced 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. If you want more information about mint plants, How to Grow a Mint Garden will give you more ideas.
If you love adding flowers to your salads and at the same time drive away icky bugs, then planting nasturtiums is a must. It’s a beautiful flower to add to your insect repellent plants.
The one thing I love about adding flowers to 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 deters striped pumpkin beetles, whiteflies, squash bugs, and aphids.
Plant oregano near your garlic and onions to help protect them from leafhoppers, spider mites, and aphids. It has a strong smell that bad bugs hate.
Then you can make a big pot of spaghetti sauce to enjoy the flavor of oregano.
Create an entire evening dedicated to this excellent 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 remember to invite me over for supper. Yum!
Commercial insect repellents use Pennyroyal as one of the ingredients in their formulas. Now you know a little secret weapon.
Mosquitos, ticks, fleas, and gnats are not fans.
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. It’s one of the best insect repellent plants for your vegetable garden. It also looks beautiful in a herb garden.
Plus, it would be best if you had 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 more luck! Just plant your rosemary bush in a spot with good drainage. Rosemary plants don’t like their feet wet. It’s a perennial herb that grows as an evergreen shrub.
I wrote an article on How to Grow Rosemary.
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. It’s one of the best insect repellent plants to deter moths and ticks too.
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.
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, you can use it to keep moths away from your clothing. You can also use the leaves and flowers to make herbal teas.
Planting Southernwood near your fruit trees will help protect them from pests. It also deters cabbage moths and black aphids.
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 I always include tarragon.
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 bit of 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 earworms, whiteflies, and tomato hornworms. 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. Lemon thyme is a great option to plant. Be sure to plant in well-drained soil because thyme doesn’t like standing water. It’s a beautiful plant to add to your garden.
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. 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 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 the basil plants were ever there.
Apparently, the slugs and snails in my neighborhood had a basil BBQ. Everyone was invited except me. Clearly a good time had been had by all. They 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 barbeque’s, and THEY are not invited. Wormwood is one of the best insect repellent plants for slugs.
Yarrow likes to grow in full sun and has beautiful lacy white and yellow flowers.
This herb can grow practically anywhere and yarrow 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 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!
How to Deter Pests Using Essential Oil
Vladka at Simply Beyond Herbs wrote an article on how to make your own Natural Bug Bite Cream in case you do get bit.
We’ve reached the end of The Best Natural Insect Repellent Plants to Grow. 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.
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