Pests & Diseases

10 Pest Repelling Plants That Keep Bugs Away Naturally

Garden bugs bugging you? These pest repelling plants are known to keep your plants pest-free.

My first garden was a success…almost. I remember watching the tomato leaves develop little buds that soon turned into tiny little green tomato babies. My zucchini was just starting to blossom. And the cucumbers! There were so many cucumbers! What I didn’t have in my garden, however, was a variety of pest repelling plants. And because I found out too late that I needed some of those plants, my garden soon turned into a very disappointing learning experience.

As I watched those lovely vegetables fall prey to the hungry mouths of barely visible pests, I looked to the heavens and cried out. Okay, I didn’t really do that. I was annoyed, though. I didn’t want to spray my plants with toxic insecticide, and at that point, I didn’t understand companion planting or natural pest deterrents.

Luckily for me, the gardening community is well-known for sharing tips and advice. One of my more experienced gardening buddies clued me into the beauty of pest repelling plants. I shouldn’t have been surprised; after all, that’s how farmers have protected crops for generations. Still, I learned a lot and thought it might help share some of what I found out.

Discover 7 top tips for growing, harvesting, and enjoying tomatoes from your home garden—when you access the FREE guide The Best Way to Grow Tomatoes, right now!

These 10 pest repelling plants will help your garden stay healthy all season long

The great thing about pest repelling plants, aside from the fact that they keep harmful bugs away from your vegetables, is that they can add brilliant color to your garden and some of them are quite tasty additions to your meals. Let’s start with a favorite:

1. Basil

Basil is well-known as a companion plant for tomatoes. The herb repels many of the pests that like to feed on tomato plants. As a bonus for humans, it is thought that basil helps deter mosquitos, too.

2. Catmint

This member of the mint family is known to keep away the Japanese flying beetle, weevils, and ants. Just beware that plants in the mint family will take over your entire garden if you aren’t careful.

3. Dill

Dill is a fascinating herb. You can use the seeds, the plant itself, and the flowers in your kitchen. The flowers, in fact, are quite beautiful. Spider mites, squash bugs, and aphids stay away from dill, but the herb may attract tomato hornworms, so keep that in mind if you plant dill.

4. Garlic

I don’t know how anyone can cook without garlic. It is truly a wonder of nature. Although, there are plenty of garden pests that might disagree with my sentiments. The pungent allium might be intoxicating to us, but to harmful pests, it is a clear sign to stay away.

5. Marigold

I find the marigold to be one of the best pest repelling plants in my garden, but I might be biased. The gorgeous orange, red, and yellow flowers add so much visual POP to my garden, and they attract pollinators. Marigolds deter nematodes, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, and cabbage worms.

6. Mint

Even though it may smell refreshing to us, mint is decidedly unpopular in the insect world. Mint will help keep cabbage moths away from your garden.

7. Nasturtium

These edible flowers make stunning and delicious additions to a salad. But as much as I love them, aphids love them, too. So much, in fact, that they will leave your vegetables alone and munch on the nasturtium. That’s good. Even better, though, is that beneficial insects, like ladybugs, will also head to the nasturtium to feast on the aphids.

8. Petunias

The petunia is a powerhouse among pest repelling plants. Leafhoppers, squash bugs, aphids, tomato hornworms, potato bugs, asparagus beetles, and more all avoid your vegetables when the petunia is around. It doesn’t hurt that this flower is a beauty.

9. Rosemary 

I can’t get enough rosemary in my kitchen. It smells so amazing. Carrot flies, snails, and cabbage moths, however, are not fond of rosemary.

10. Thyme

Thyme is a perennial herb that will keep whiteflies, tomato hornworms, and other harmful pests out of your garden.

There are many more pest repelling plants you can add to your garden. I happen to like these because I enjoy them either in the kitchen, as an aesthetic addition to my garden, or in the case of catnip, I love watching the neighborhood felines frolic in the yard.

Do you have a favorite plant you use to help keep harmful pests away? I’d love to get your ideas in the comments below.

Discover 7 top tips for growing, harvesting, and enjoying tomatoes from your home garden—when you access the FREE guide The Best Way to Grow Tomatoes, right now!

By Amanda MacArthur

Amanda MacArthur is Senior Editor & Producer for Food Gardening Network and GreenPrints. She is responsible for generating all daily content and managing distribution across web, email, and social. In her producer role, she plans, edits, and deploys all video content for guides, magazine issues, and daily tips. As a best-selling cookbook author, Amanda cooks using ingredients from her outdoor gardens in the summer and from her indoor hydroponic garden in the winter.

10 replies on “10 Pest Repelling Plants That Keep Bugs Away Naturally”

Hello Amanda,
This article is very helpful to “protect” a variety of plants and veggie plants, can you tell me what can I use to protect my avocado trees?
There is a white tiny foam like looking something that grows incrusted in the branches (and it seems to “burn/dry” the area where it grows) not sure what it is or how to get rid of it. Im bit scare of damaging my avo trees if I dont handle this right.

Hi Maria, that sounds like avocado tree sap. When a branch is injured it leaks sap which turns into a dry/powdery white substance at the source, which can happen from as simple as a heavy bird sitting on the branch or even a scratch. Think of it like dried blood or a scab, even though it looks scary it means the tree is healthy and protecting itself.

I’m in Australia and need something natural preferred to stop pests eating my geraniums. Any suggestions appreciated thanks josie

I’m having problems with my watermelons & strawberries (so far) and Opossums and/or Racoons. I think we have both. How do I stop them from eating my plants, then adding insult to injury they dig up the roots.
Can anyone help me?
I’ve tried just about everything.

I have had success with black sewing thread suspended between stakes. The thread should be around the height of the cat’s face and horizontal to the ground. The distance between stakes can be 6 feet or more as long as the thread stays up in the area of the cat’s face. Surround the area you want to protect from the cat’s and watch their reaction when they touch their face on the thread. This won’t work for dogs or any animal if they are running, the thread will break. The nice thing is it is harmless to the animals and the environment. It is, however, a nuisances if you have to mow around the area you want to protect.

This is so helpful. Since mint and catnip spread , can I plant it in pots around the garden and it still be helpful to the garden?

Yes! That’s actually the best way to grow them, and if they start spreading (they will), just stay on top of them and pull them like weeds 🙂

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