News and Blog Articles
News and Blog Articles
Last week, we learned about What to Plant to Attract Pollinators, such as birds, bees, and butterflies. Doing your part to provide these animals with food and nesting grounds is an admirable thing, but sometimes, we’d rather not have bees buzzing around our back porch, and would definitely like to avoid birds nesting anywhere near our house, because they get poop everywhere.
What can you plant to keep these pests away?
Let’s start with bugs. On the whole, they’re pretty annoying, especially when you’re sitting on your patio and mosquitos keep landing on your arms and legs. While bees are friendly bugs that we might actually want around, wasps are menaces that terrorize children and adults alike with their angry buzz and painful sting. Plus, bugs like to eat away at your favorite flower bed and decimate your tomato plants.
When selecting plants to run off bugs, try to avoid anything blue, violet, or yellow—those are bees’ favorite colors and they’ll all but flock to them. Bees can’t see the color red, though, so feel free to plant red flowers everywhere. Trumpet-shaped flowers are also a good bet, because bees and other pollinators have a hard time getting to the nectar in them, and they’re more likely to give up than stick around.
What specific plants will deter insidious insects?
Whether you’re looking to prevent bee stings and the subsequent crocodile tears, avoid mosquito bites and the associated itching, or just protect your plants from plant-eating monstrosities, these are for you.
Basil – Bees and wasps especially dislike the smell and won’t even go near it
Mint – Most all stinging insects hate the scent and will avoid it at all costs
Rosemary – Again, the scent is a natural deterrent for insects in general
Garlic – While it isn’t technically an herb, garlic will keep away things like stink bugs and snails (and bonus, it scares off vampires too!)
Lemongrass – These tall stalks actually contain citronella, which is the natural ingredient in most mosquito repellants
Chives – Make a great garnish for your favorite dishes, and specifically abhorrent to Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies
Chrysanthemums - The absolute best flower to plant to keep away bugs is the chrysanthemum. Their beautiful blooms will repel ants, Japanese beetles, roaches, bed bugs, spider mites, ticks, silverfish, harlequin bugs, and lice.
Geraniums - Geraniums have beautiful blooms and a scent that stinging things dislike, and their petals are red, which bees can’t actually see. With miniscule pollen per flower, pollinators will move on to bigger and better things.
Lavender - One of the most popular essential oil scents for humans, lavender is a natural mosquito, moth, and bug repellant. The only bugs willing to stick around are bees, so it can’t be your only line of defense, but it makes a great addition to your anti-insect arsenal.
Marigolds - These colorful flowers come in red varieties, which means bees won’t be able to see them, but no matter their color, their scent puts off stinging insects. Marigolds are hardy and don’t require much care, making them a great addition to your garden.
Nasturtiums - Plant these pretty flowers to specifically fight whiteflies and aphids. Rather than warding them off, nasturtiums actually attract them, and then trap them to keep them off your other plants! Just be sure to check the blooms regularly to dispose of the imprisoned insects, or they might escape to bother your other flora.
Citronella - As you probably already know, citronella will keep away mosquitos and other annoying bugs that might disturb your nice night out on the patio. It’s actually much more effective in its natural plant form than in liquid or candle form, so if you don’t mind the smell yourself, it makes a great addition to your yard.
Cucumber - Bet that’s not one you thought would be on this list, huh? But cucumber plants are actually great at keeping bees and wasps away. Both strongly dislike how bitter and acidic the cucumber peel is, and will generally avoid the plants all together. Plus, you’ll have fresh cucumbers for a summer salad, or even to make your own pickles!
Wormwood - Wormwood actually contains a small amount of absinthe, which is toxic to insects. It has a pungent scent to alert bees, wasps, and other flying pests of the potential danger, and will easily keep them away. Other bugs that might not heed the warning smell will learn quickly that it is poisonous. Remember to be careful if you decide to add wormwood to your garden, though, because it can kill off other plants that are planted too close to it.
Eucalyptus - Bees and wasps specifically don’t like the fragrance eucalyptus gives off, and they’ll steer clear. The drought-tolerant plant loves full sun, meaning it will do well here in Georgia, and can be used in essential oil applications as well as flower arrangements.
The other repeat offenders in your yard are probably birds. Unfortunately, birds are the most difficult to get rid of. There is no one plant that will deter birds from your garden or yard; some might deter a species or two, but there are so many different kinds of birds in any given area that it wouldn’t do you much good. The only way to really keep birds away is to physically scare them off. If you’re trying to protect your vegetable garden from them, you can invest in things like garden netting. If you’d just like to keep them out of your yard, you can purchase things like little owl figurines that detect movement and then swivel their head to intimidate any feathered intruders. You can also DIY bird deterrents like making a wind chime of cut-up CDs, which will spin and move in even the slightest breeze and throw reflections around, scaring away the flying fiends.
So there you have it. Between this list and last week’s The Birds and The Bees: What to Plant to Attract Pollinators, you have all the information you need to make educated decisions on what to plant around your home. Feel free to mix and match between these lists to attract and repel specific insects and pests as you see fit, and happy gardening!
Emily Casuccio is sister and sister-in-law to Rebekah and Scott Rushing, and has over half a decade of experience in copywriting, copyediting, proofreading, and developmental storyboarding. She's worked with both published and undiscovered authors on both fiction and nonfiction, and takes pride in supporting local businesses. Her passion lies in the written word and helping authors of all capacities realize their dreams and achieve their fullest potential. To learn more about her, read samples of her work, or contact her, visit her online portfolio.