24 Plants that Repel Insects

Last update: 9 months ago

15 min read


Plants have unique natural abilities to emit different chemical substances. With them they repel or attract specific insects. The beautiful flowers of the herbs or our garden flowers mean a pretty sight and a pleasant fragrance for us. However, for pests they sometimes mean a threat. That’s why such plants can perfectly serve as a replacement for the synthetic insecticides, as long as we know how to use them.


For anyone, who’d like to go out in the wilderness of the garden and battle with the pesky pests immediately, here’s the take out of the unwanted insects and their respective bane:

  1. Which plants repel mosquitoes – lavender, mint, basil, rosemary, lemon balm, lemon grass, nepeta, mugwort, marigold, ageratum, oregano, bee balm, cedar tree;
  2. Which plants repel flies – lavender, basil, rosemary, bay leaves, mugwort;
  3. Which plants repel moths – lavender, mugwort;
  4. Which plants repel vegetable bugs – rosemary, chives, fennel, parsley, marigolds, lemon thyme, dill, chrysanthemums, nasturtiums, petunias, alliums;

To understand why mosquitoes are afraid of certain plants, you might want to take a look at this piece that describes the hated bug in details. For a more thorough look on specific plants and the reasons behind their seemingly magical effects, dig in below.

Herbs That Repel Insects



Apart from mosquitoes, lavender oil can chase other bugs, such as fleas, flies and moths. Many people have used it for decades in order to scent their homes and clothes. A bouquet of lavenders will keep bugs away from your room, but the most effective form of the plant is its essential oil version. You can make it yourself, or purchase it from the nearest natural drug store. The liquid will not only act as a natural repellent, but it can also calm your heart rate and bring you a better sleep. There’s one thing you should be wary of, when it comes to essential oils – never leave them come in contact with your skin. The essential oils always come with a “carrier” – another substance in which only a handful of drops go in. The extract is too strong even for a not too sensitive skin.



A refreshing drink during summer, or a flavourful and warming tea during winter, the mint is one of the widely used herbs.

According to the ancient Greek, the mint strengthens the mind, whereas baths, infused with mint helped raising the concentration levels. The ancient Romans aromatised the feast rooms, because they thought the mint empowers the brain function. Until the 17th century, mint was used as an addition to the meals of both poor and rich folk. Later on during the 18th century it disappears from sight, until today’s time.

Although a domesticated plant, the mint still spreads like weeds, if left in the ground, therefore it’s best to grow it in pots. You can use mint essential oil in a combo with a cheap vodka and apple cider vinegar to create a homemade repellent for mosquitoes. Placing mint pots around your patio and garden will also help you great time in keeping mosquitoes away.



In the never-ending battle with mosquitoes, there’s one herb that will help you undoubtedly – the almighty basil. It’s rich in essential oils, tannins, organic acids, mineral salts. The birthplace of the so-called king’s herb, are the tropical geographic lengths of Asia and Africa. Yet, the basil has been highly praised in Europe for centuries.

It’s connected with ancient mythologies, and was used in balsaming the diseased in Egypt. At the time of the Roman Empire, the suitors used a basil stalk instead of a flower bouquet as a symbol of love. In Mexico, on the other hand, people believed that a spray of basil in the pocket will bring you money, whereas your loved one will be faithful forever. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, the folk assumed that scorpions lurk under it. Its name comes from the Greek word for royal – basilico, whereas according to the Indian religion its flavour is sacred.

Mosquitoes are especially afraid and repulsed by the basil scent. A pot of basil, or a stalk hung on the window can help you in chasing the insects off the room. Some people say that if you eat lots of basil with your salad, it will repel the annoying mosquitoes far away, but that’s yet to be confirmed. In any case, basil’s one of your best chances of survival against those pesky little creatures.



The rosemary’s origins are Mediterranean, whereas its forestry citrus-like aroma adorns kitchens, gardens and pharmacies all around the world. Connected with names, such as sea dew and old man, the rosemary looks like lavender, with flat needle-like leaves.

The rosemary is one of the herbs that are multifunctional. It’s extremely resistant to outer conditions, therefore, it’s easy to grow both in and out of the house. However, it needs a lot of sunlight if the pot is inside your home, but it doesn’t require too much warmth and air humidity. Sprinkling the plant with water several times a week will provide the necessary amount of the precious liquid.

Rosemary repels not only the bad old mosquitoes, but also different pests on vegetable plants, that’s why it happens to be a proper companion plant. Apart from the vegetable gardens, you can grow rosemary on our patio, too. The rosemary repellent is even easier to prepare – you need to boil about 1 kg of dried rosemary in 1 litre of water for about half an hour and then strain the liquid into a litre of cool water. Store it in your fridge, until it loses the typical rosemary smell. Spraying with small bottles outdoors will help you repel a good portion of the mosquitoes away.

Lemon Balm

lemon balm

The lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a well-known ingredient in many a herbal tea. This perennial grass plant with dark-green leaves, which has a typical lemon smell, brings an array of health benefits.

The lemon balm originates from the mountain regions of Southern Europe. Since ancient times, it’s been used by the Persians and Greeks for treating different diseases, caused by neuro system problems. Having lemon balm in your garden will repel mosquitoes too, thanks to the natural essential oils and strong smell of the plant.


lemon grass

The lemon grass, also called cymbopogon, is a perennial tropical grass plant. It has tall sharp leaves and reaches around 15 cm. The birthplace of the plant is India, but people also grow it in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Africa, Brazil and Guatemala.

The lemon grass oil is part of the essential oils family. It has antiseptic and anti-mucus properties, helps with insomnia, too. The lemongrass oil also acts as a repellent – not only mosquitoes but flies and other unwanted bugs stay away from it.

Just as the basil, the lemongrass is used as a herb and a spice for culinary purposes, both fresh or ground.

Bay Leaves

bay leaves

Bayleaf is just another sacred for ancient Greeks and Romans plant. It carries a ton of healing properties, which are as strong as its smell. It helps with stomach, kidney and liver problems, too. It makes the rankings here, because it’s a great fly repellent. The annoying little creatures will disappear at the sight of it. Several strategically placed bowls of bay leaves in your rooms will take care of this business. And by the way, did we mention bay leaves are a wonderful condiment to different soups and stews? Bring it on!

Lemon thyme

lemon thyme

The lemon thyme is a bush, reaching 50 cm in diameter. It’s evergreen, with yellow-green small leaves that smell like lemon. The fully-grown plants blossom during the summer with pink, lavender-like flowers.

The herb was first used somewhat 5000 years ago, when the Sumer civilisation began to use it as means of soothing pain. The ancient Greeks began using it as a culinary supplement – the hills of the country were practically covered with the fragrant plant, which gradually turned into a symbol of elegance and courage. The Romans also associated it with bravery and power and before entering a battle, the soldiers bathed in water, aromatized with the herb, because they believed it will bring them the win on the field.

In order to infuse its qualities and repel the nasty mosquitoes, you must first release the chemicals in the plant by crushing the leaves. Make sure that, at first, you are not allergic to those chemicals by smearing a piece of crushed leaf on your arm for a few days.



It’s a well-known herb all over the world and it’s widely used in culinary. A proof of its healing properties can be the fact that the gladiators in Ancient Roman Empire used to eat dill in order to be strong and tenacious. However, one of the oldest mentions of the herb’s name is in the Bible. You guessed it right – dill is an invaluable helper in the battle with different vegetable pests – tomato hornworms, aphids, spider mites, cabbage loopers and squash bugs, to name a few. The fennel kind, on the other hand, keeps slugs and snails at distance.



Oregano is one of those universal spices used throughout the world and is well-known to everyone who’s spent at least some time in the kitchen. Not many know, on the other hand, that oregano belongs to the family of natural insect repellents. Mosquitos, cabbage butterfly and cucumber beetle don’t stand a chance, amongst others, however, some insects won’t bother, such as spider mites, leafhoppers and aphids. Therefore, you can plant the oregano near garlic and onions.

Apart from those bugs, you can dry and grind the plant’s overground part and use it against moths and ants infestations in your house.



Common mugwort (Artemisia absinthium L.), also known as white mugwort or yomogi in Japan, is a grass perennial and fragrant plant. It grows on meadows and bushes, in grassy and rocky areas. Its origins stem from Europe and Siberia, but today it’s widely spread in the USA as well.

The white mugwort has a typical pleasant flavour and a strong bitter taste. Its beautiful, silver-green leaves may be the most famous for absinthe distillation usage, but that’s not all. Its natural essential oils emit a distinctive smell which does a great job at repelling not only flies, but also insects such as mosquitoes and moths, and even small pests, like mice. Plant them in pots around the garden, or grow them directly in the soil. You can also dry some of the herb and place it in small bags where necessary.



Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) with its fine green feathers is the smallest kind of edible onion. The chives is a perennial plant, reaching 50 cm at height, and it originates both from the New and the Old World.

The chives is  a popular plant, used predominantly as a culinary spice, but not many people know it also repels carrot flies, aphids and Japanese beetles.



The history of fennel is as rich as its taste. In Ancient Greece, it played an important role in honouring the gods. It was planted in their honour in the shrine gardens, whereas people wore wreaths made of its light leaves. The plant was famous in ancient Egypt, China, India, Rome and Persia. They considered it improves eyesight. They also believed that this plant helps for curing digestive and neurosystem problems. It was used as food, medicine, herb and plant repellent for centuries. Aphids, slugs and snails don’t stand a chance near the fennel strong smell, which is due to the essential oils found in the fennel.



Although, generally, you wouldn’t put parsley in the category of natural mosquito repellents, parsley does contain chemicals that repel asparagus beetles. So it makes sense to plant it around asparagus and other susceptible to those bugs cultures.

Decorative Flowers That Repel Insects



The orange and yellow flowers grow in many gardens, however, in the wild they are agile and also happen to grow out of dumping-grounds. The marigold is a peculiar barometer – if the blossoms remain closed after 7 in the morning, then it means it will rain during the day.

There are different kinds of marigolds – lighter and darker, with larger and smaller blossoms, but they all carry the same health benefits. Plus, marigolds’ smell chases off not only aphids and mosquitoes, but also big animals such as rabbits.

The flower contains essential oils, bitter compounds, carotene, organic acids, flavonoids, etc. It’s no accident that the marigold potion is pretty bitter. Its fragrance dissolves well in alcohol, which explains its wide usage in different skin creams.



This seasonal flower effectively repels mosquitoes with its fragrance. During production of some repellents, one of the important ingredients comes from the plant. However, it’s not recommended to rub your skin with ageratum leaves . That might cause unwanted and very unpleasant allergic reactions. The ageratum is extremely easy to grow – undemanding to the soil and light-loving.



A special chemical in the chrysanthemums, called pyrethrum, is the thing that keeps bugs away. Roaches, ticks, fleas, bed bugs, spider mites, Japanese beetles and ants – be gone. The ingredient is part of different insecticides in the USA and is used in sprays and flea pet shampoos. Be careful with the spray bottles, if you happen to have one, since pyrethrum is poisonous to people in certain amounts.



Nasturtium is not only beautiful, but also a useful plant. If you plant it next to tomatoes in your vegetable garden, it will chase off the dangerous whiteflies. Also aphids, beetles and squash bugs stay away from the plant. The cabbage looper, on the other hand, will prefer to lay its eggs on the nasturtium, therefore, your cabbage will be safe. The flower is also a part of the traditional medicine due to its chemical compounds.



Petunia is one of the most popular domestic plants during the last decades. This colourful and tufty appearance is a result of numerous breed attempts. You may have never suspected, though, that petunias also can help dealing with nasty insects. They don’t directly kill or repel them, but more likely they trap them with their sticky stamens. The insects can’t get away and eventually die and dissolve in the soil, where they become nutrients for the plants. Pretty gruesome for such a beautiful plant! Since it deals with aphids, asparagus beetles and tomato hornworms, you can plant it near crops that can benefit from the plant’s natural abilities.



This plant is also known as catmints, which is a milder version of the famous catnip. As you guessed it, the nepeta plant also attracts cats like flies on honey. On the other hand, it does a successful job at repelling mosquitoes. The effect is due to nepetalactone, which, according to researches made, can be up to 10 times stronger than DEET – an active ingredient in most commercial repellents. It’s still not established whether this ingredient or the smell of catmint repels mosquitoes. Some of the other advantages of this perennial flower are the easiness to grow and the fact that it attracts bees.



Alliums are a flowering form of onions and garlics. Allium giganteum repels a wide range of insects, especially the ones that destroy vegetable gardens, such as slugs, cabbage worms, carrot flies and aphids. You can plant alliums closely to potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots and peppers. Some flower bushes can also benefit from the nearby alliums, such as roses.

Bee Balm

bee balm

Bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) is known as a beautiful flowering perennial essential oil plant, as well as a vegetable plant with a spicy taste. It possesses valuable health benefits, too. Thanks to the essential oils, found in the plant, it repels mosquitoes. They can do that while still blooming, but it’s easier for the plant to release its natural abilities to chase off the annoying bugs by grinding its leaves.


Carnivorous Plants

venus trap

Of course, it’s a witty way to represent the carnivorous plants family, which, in fact, are quite picky about food and conditions of the environment, so have double eyes when you buy one for yourself.

The pleasant colours and smells attract the unsuspecting bugs to their slow demise. Some of those fly-catchers and venus traps could make a nice addition to your garden. Be wary though – they require a bit of care in order to grow well, particularly considering the watering amounts.

Cedar Tree

cedar tree

The advantages of having a cedar tree in your garden do not exhaust with its pretty outlook. It will also repel unwanted mosquitoes. The cedar oil’s bug-repellent qualities were familiar since Ancient Egypt. At the time, the folk used it to embalm their dead, only because it chases off bugs. People don’t always extract cedar oil from the cedar three, though. Sometimes this essential oil can come from conifer trees or cypress. Apart from pest repellent ingredient, it is use in medicine and in perfumes.

Although all these plants have natural abilities to repel mosquitoes and other unwanted pests, you will find that they are not always effective. Especially when it comes to outside factors, such as a light breeze that will swing off the smell in an opposite direction. Nevertheless, you can incorporate different combinations of the given herbs and plants, and be one step ahead in the never ending battle with pesky insects.



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