Keeping them away from your immediate vicinity is a top priority when it comes to the inevitable face-off between you and bugs. There are pesticides and bug traps, but these plants reduce the need for many chemicals around the patio.
Plants are in the business of repelling insects as a natural way of defending themselves. They also need insects to perform cross-pollination so they can survive. It is an arms race between plants and insects, each trying to survive and prosper.
We rounded up the plants gardeners use to repel bugs, not just the garden, but the BBQ and patios. Their unique properties send pests in other directions while simultaneously sprucing up your gardens.
Catmint, Nepeta, is a beautiful garden plant that repels bugs but also Javelina, rabbits, and deer. Hummingbirds love the bright blue flowers. Try a pretty carpet of several plants as a companion planting in a rose garden.
Daylily – With so many perennial colors to choose from, local gardeners collect daylilies like they acquire roses. No matter the color, or fragrance, bugs have a disdain for the taste. Every garden deserves at least one daylily for its low maintenance needs, bug and animal proof.
Marigolds contain pyrethrum, an insecticidal compound used in bug repellents. Gardeners have long sworn they keep annoying pests, like mosquitoes and destructive nematodes away. The stunning pompom blooms are gorgeous, with a smell bugs just don’t like. Try using them to create a pretty border around patios or place potted marigolds near entryways and windows.
Mint – many repellents contain essential mint oil. Consider combining 10 drops of peppermint, thyme, and rosemary essential oils mixed with water in a spray bottle. Spritz the solution around your garden to repel flies, fleas, mosquitoes, aphids, ants, and spiders. A similar effect is found by hosing these herbal plants down to release their scent around the patio.
Lavender is effective against mosquitoes and other arthropods. What is pleasant to gardeners is often repulsive to bugs. It’s not clear why the flowering herb repels so well, but it is the lavender smell that repels.
Rosemary – thanks to its particularly pungent scent, helps keep mosquitoes away. The research found when compared to 11 other essential oils, rosemary had the most protracted repellent effects on mosquitoes while deterring insects like aphids and spider mites.
Russian Sage – is an indispensable plant for hot borders. Gardeners appreciate the waving blue wands of foliage from early summer through Autumn on plants that need no deadheading. Even Javelina finds this bloomer distasteful.
Sage has a reputation for getting rid of ants, flies, and mosquitoes. The research found that having a pot of sage around can offer up to 32% protection against mosquitoes. That’s 32% more protection than you would have with no repellent, especially if you enjoy using fresh sage in the kitchen.
Scented Geranium does not emit a detectable fragrance unless the leaves are brushed, bruised, or crushed. There’s an added benefit in that the leaves of scented geraniums are edible, adding their volatile oils to flavored sugars, bread, and pastries. The resulting aroma is so sublime that you’ll find excuses to touch this plant frequently.
What else can you do to keep bugs away?
We know that planting these desirable garden plants around your deck, patio, and BBQ areas reduces insect activity. This is especially true when wetting down the foliage before use releases their essential oils.
Standing water should be removed or changed often as mosquitoes breed in just an inch of stagnant water. Oversee your pet’s water bowl for shrimp-like insects swimming in their water.
Moving air is a natural enemy of mosquitoes. You can even use fans. They are fragile, and air movement prohibits their flying and ability to land. One or two inexpensive box fans placed strategically dramatically reduce mosquitoes in the area.
Many pests, including berry bugs and ticks, like living in dark areas with high humidity under your bushes. Keep branches trimmed and away from the house to avoid a highway for pests entering your home.
Watters Cyonara Insect Spray kills flies, mosquitoes, ants, and other pesky insects on contact. Designed for garden use, it works equally well to clear out spiders and bugs from your home.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping local gardeners with bug-free gardens at Watters Garden Center.
Ken Lain can be found at Watters Garden Center throughout the week, 1815 Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his website at WattersGardenCenter.com or Top10Plants.com.