PlantsThat Repel Pests
Sometimes it gets to be a vicious cycle … year after year our plants and flowers become overrun with pesky insects and year after year we apply insecticides to keep them away!
Particularly in Zone 5 gardens (and just about anywhere actually), detrimental insects are a fact of life and can never be controlled 100%. Fortunately though, there are a few common sense solutions to keep harmful insects away from your garden. Here are some tips to keep the bugs away, and a handy list of plants that do the job naturally and without the aid of pesticides …
Tip #1: Till Thoroughly Before Planting
You’d be amazed at how imbedded certain ground dwelling insects can be. When you’re ready to plant, be sure to dig and till the soil thoroughly. Quite often, you’ll see hidden larvae and other bugs you won’t want around your plants. Just remove as many as you can and be aware of what types of bugs you’ve found for future reference. We like to place the bugs out in the open for a bit, or place them on a tray out in the open … provides a great meal for the birds!
Tip #2: Pick Up Dead Or Dying Plant Material and Weed Often
Insects just love to make their home in dead or dying plant material in your garden. Even when your plants appear to be thriving, they tend to attack the weaker branches or leaves on your plants, leaving them more succeptible to damage. The more you remove such material, the lesser the chance the insects will stay.
The same holds true for weeding. Not only will your garden look better and avoid the risk of being crowded out, but insects will have less territory to lurk and hide.
Tip #3: Don’t Over Fertilize …
In problematic gardens, the temptation exists to apply more fertilizer to try and over compensate. This is one of the worst things you can do, because what tends to happen is the fertilizer feeds harmful pests like grubs and other parasites as opposed to the intended plants …
One method we use is to apply slightly less fertilizer than the manufacturer recommends. Remember, even though we generally trust fertilizer manufacturers and their recommendations, they are in the business of selling fertilizer! If you use just a bit less than their recommendations, you eliminate the risk of over fertilizing.
This tip is so common sense that it’s often forgotten. In actuality, this should be one of your first considerations when deciding what to plant. Sadly, most people just look at colors when planting their gardens, with little thought to how plants will coexist and what pest problems may occur.
There are quite a few really good looking plants that also serve to repel pests. Simply put, if your garden has an insect problem, mix in a few plants the pests don’t like. Doing so is the ultra natural way to keep insects out of your garden … by letting Mother Nature do her job!
To help you, here’s a list of common harmful insect pests and plants to repel them …
Common Pests and Plants To Repel Them
Ants … Mint family plants (catmint, peppermint, spearmint)
Aphids … Catnip, Chives, Cilantro, Garlic (allium), Marigold, Nasturtium
Cabbage loppers … Dill, Garlic, Onion, Rosemary, Sage
Fleas … Catnip, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon grass, Rosemary
Japanese beetles … Chive, Garlic, Geranium
Leafhopper … Geranium, Petunia
Rabbits … Garlic, Onion, Marigold
Slugs … Fennel, Garlic, Rosemary
Squash bugs … Marigold, Nasturtium, Peppermint, Petunia, Radish
Whiteflies … Basil, Peppermint, Thyme
Plant a few flowers enjoyed by beneficial insects (like ladybugs) such as Cilantro, Cosmos, Dill, Fennel, Geranium, Sweet Alyssum and Yarrow. This will encourage them to stop by, drink some nectar, lay some eggs, and control common aphids – without the use of pesticides.
A Tip About Mint Plants … Mints are invasive plants, so to keep them under control plant them in pots that can be buried in the ground. Otherwise, they can overrun your garden over time. The plus side is mint plants are perennials, hardy, easy to grow and can withstand harsh winters.
Another natural way to control pests is just catching them in the act of destruction and disposing of them before they multiply. This works great for Japanese beetles and caterpillars. Simply drop them in a jar or can of soapy water as you collect them. ( I use an empty coffee can ) The large soap molecules clog their respiratory systems, quickly euthanizing them …