Everyday Plants That Repel Pesky Bugs


Insects have an important role in our ecosystem. They aerate the soil, pollinate blossoms, and even help control other pests. But what if you just want to sit on your deck without getting eaten alive by mosquitoes? Or maybe you want to create a space that is free of bees to reduce your kids’ risk of getting stung?

There are a variety of plants that repel certain bugs. You can plan your garden around them, and at the same time avoid the use of smelly chemical repellants on your skin.


There are a variety of plants that will repel mosquitoes. Many of them have a strong aroma that the mosquitoes don’t like. Pick a few of these plants whose scent you enjoy, and you’ll be set.

Catnip This leafy plant will get all the neighborhood cats to come visit you! Catnip likes full sun and can really take off, so you might want to control it a bit once the plant gets established.

Citronella grass This is the plant that is used to create the citronella oil you find in citronella candles. No need for a candle, though. The plant is tall, gorgeous, and fragrant. It grows really well and likes to be watered often.

Peppermint – This herb will also grow like crazy, so you’ll need to control it too. You can never have too much peppermint, though. Harvest it and use it in cooking, in tea, or even externally to control itching. Bonus: Peppermint is also a natural way to control rodents, so you can grow a border of peppermint around other plants, and the critters will stay away.


It’s not easy to repel bees, because most plants will attract them for pollination. There are a few plants that people claim to have bee-repelling properties that might be worth a try.

Marigold – This flower does well in a variety of climates, and it appears that red marigolds do the best job of keeping bees away. Marigolds need a lot of water during hot weather, but they’re also very hardy.

Geranium – This colorful perennial also repels bees (and mosquitoes too). They like full sun, and you can plant them in clusters around areas you particularly want to protect, like your kids’ sandbox or the doggie wading pool.

Basil – This herb also grows easily, and you can harvest it all summer to use in your cooking. Basil plants prefer a steady water supply, and they will also produce little flowers that you can pinch away to get a more flavorful plant.


If you’re cooking out on the grill this summer, you might want some plants that deter flies. Ditto if you like to eat outside on your deck. Put some of these plants out on  your deck table, and you’ll spend less time swatting the flies away from your plate while you eat.

Lavender – This pretty plant has a very pleasant scent that flies don’t like. Lavender grows well in both gardens and containers, and it is very tolerant to heat. An added bonus to having lots of lavender? It also attracts butterflies.

Rosemary – This easy-to-grow herb also has a lot of cooking and baking uses when you harvest it. Rosemary likes its soil on the dry side, and it also prefers a little breathing room in order to flourish. Interestingly, cats dislike the scent of rosemary, so if you plant some catnip to keep the mosquitoes away, you can balance that with some rosemary to keep the cats away!

Keep in mind, of course, that you don’t want to keep all bugs away. They do serve a purpose, and you could end up with a doomed garden if you are overzealous about deterring insects. A few plants here and there to keep the pesky bugs away is just fine, though, and I promise you’ll have a more pleasant summer! Enjoy your time outside!


Posted on April 26, 2012, in Environmental Wellness and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. AWESOME list – bookmarking this! THANKS Nisha!

  2. Hmmm…curious about basil repelling bees. Seems when my basil bolts, it's always covered in the big fuzzy bumbl-y bees…..I'll have to pay attention this year. 🙂 I also think I'll make an outfit out of the peppermint I've got running wild at my place now that I know it repels mosquitos!

    • I think the basil idea will mostly work for the stinging honey(?) bees, not the big fuzzy ones. Bees in general are difficult to keep away, but I'm totally with you on the peppermint jacket or pants or dress! I am seeing a lot of peppermint plants in my future! 🙂

  3. jamiegall1930

    Great info especially for this time of year =)

  4. I am planning my gardens and my landscaping now. I'll be using these tips for some of my plants–and paying attention to where they are placed for appropriate effect.

  5. What a great resource for gardening and insects. I giggled when I read about peppermint. I learned the hard way about planting peppermint and lemon balm- it was out of control. I have to say I didn't have mosquitoes!

  6. Anita Fiander

    Great post, I have bookmarked it as we are coming into bug season 🙂

  7. Great post, thanks. My balcony does not see much light but I get a lot of bees from my neighbors. I wonder if there us a plant that can get rid of pesky neighbors.

  8. I giggled when I study about pepper mint. I discovered the difficult way about growing pepper mint and orange balm- it was out of management. I have to say I didn't have mosquitoes!

  9. I love flowers and plants.But, I am not a nature boy. I do not respect bees, hornets, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, etc. NONE of them belong around humans. If my garden suffers from their lack, so be it. Let them run wild in the wild, where they belong. I can buy flowers and plants at the florists, and keep them inside, with me. Horticulturists need to be MORE concerned with making gardens safe for EVERYONE.

  10. I spray a diluted solution of pine sol around my back door to keep flies away. Works for about a week…Then spray again.

  11. We use citronella, Catnip, and Lavender all the time in our California home for mosquitoes. Other than natural repellents, I also teach my family about prevention. Making sure their damp clothes are put away, water doesn't accumulate in our yard, etc. These simple steps have kept our summers more tolerable 🙂

  12. I am planning my gardens and my landscaping now.

  13. Arthur Muhammad

    Mosquitoes seem to be a big problem for every one except me. Mosquitoes do not like baby oil. I have no idea why. over 15 year ago I was in the park with family. Mosquitoes land on me by the hundreds. I sat there with them. They walked around on me with no desire to poke me. there were hundred of them on my pants legs. I did not get one bit. when my children were little I rubbed the baby oil on them and they never received one bit. The drawback is not to allow yourself to get wet. They will have a field day on you. pregnant women to cover themselves. No west Nile virus, etc. When we go to the park I always take a bottle of baby oil for family who never knew.

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