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Plants That Repel Bugs from the Garden or Home

Plants That Repel Bugs from the Garden or Home

Posted by Grange Co-op on 27th Sep 2023

Insects are a problem for gardeners on any scale, from a few raised beds to a large plot. Some pests feed directly on your vegetables, while others go after the leaves, stems, or roots. Any damage to the plant reduces vigor and productivity, so you don’t get the quality or volume you want from your crops. No matter what types of veggies you grow, eventually you’ll need to use some type of pest control.

How Companion Plants for Gardens Keep Pests Away

Some plants function as a natural insect repellent by exhibiting strong scents. Others release chemicals that repel, trap, or even kill insects. Some companion plants work by attracting beneficial insects that, in turn, eliminate unwanted insects. For example, ladybugs are predators with an insatiable appetite for aphids. Planting calendula, marigold, or yarrow in your garden to attract ladybugs will help keep aphids out of your nearby vegetables.

Chemical pesticides remain the primary choice of global farmers. But there are worries that consuming too many foods containing chemical pesticides can have serious consequences for our health. Learning to take advantage of companion planting for pest control can reduce or eliminate the need for chemical pesticides. You can find most of what you need at the garden center. Make a list of the vegetables you will plant and find the right companion plants that repel bugs common to those veggies.

Companion Planting Chart









-Lures caterpillars away and deters beetles and aphids

-The blooms attract lacewings away from cabbage worms


Dwarf Sunflower




-Attracts ladybugs, which control aphids

-Deters pest worms while attracting beneficial insects

-Repels a wide range of pests, including aphids





-Deters general garden pests

-Repels hornworms

-Repels whiteflies, mosquitoes, spider mites, and aphids

-Disorients moths that lay tomato hornworms


Cilantro, Oregano, and Rosemary

-Contain natural insect repellent to deter many pests





-Attracts aphids to keep them away from radishes

-Deters pest worms and attracts beneficial insects



Alliums such as Garlic, Leeks, and Onions

-Deter aphids, mites, and flies

-Deter cucumber beetles and carrot fly



Poached Egg Plant

-Repels cutworms

-Draws in hoverflies, which control aphids

Brussel Sprouts





-Repels Japanese beetles, aphids, and blight

-Repels squash bugs and whiteflies


-Acts as a trap crop



-Repel pests and attract lacewings, which are predator pests that feed on aphids and other insects



Celery, Dill, Rosemary, Onion, Mint, and Thyme

-Lures caterpillars away

-Repel a wide range of pests







-Deters aphids, cabbage worms, and other pests common to turnips while attracting ladybugs and hoverflies that prey on garden pests

-Deters aphids, beetles, and onion fly

-Repels flea beetles and aphids





-Protects against pumpkin and squash beetles

-Deters beetles and root-knot   nematodes

Plants That Repel Bugs from Your Home

Keeping bugs out of the garden is a matter of knowing which companion plants work with which crops. But you can use plants as a natural insect repellent for the home too. Some of the same plants you use in the garden work for keeping pests out of the home. Many are colorful flowers that make an attractive addition to the garden or landscaping.


Chrysanthemums, or simply mums, are some of the most effective natural insect repellents you can use. These plants contain pyrethrins, naturally occurring chemicals that are toxic to roaches, mosquitoes, ants, bedbugs, fleas, ticks, silverfish, and a range of other pests. These chemicals kill bugs by attacking their nervous systems. Planting mums in pots out on the patio can help keep mosquitoes away while entertaining outdoors. You can also plant them around your home to keep pests from entering.

Pyrethrins are so effective as a natural insect repellent that they are used as ingredients in insect sprays that you can apply directly to vegetables. This characteristic is what makes chrysanthemums potentially the most effective companion plant for keeping pests out of the garden and home.


Tansy is a long-lasting plant with yellow button-like blooms. It grows well as a border plant or as edging. It deters Japanese beetles, flying insects, squash bugs, ants, and mice. To keep flies out of your home, tie up and hang a bunch of tansy leaves indoors. Unlike companion plants that you must plant every year, tansy is a perennial that you only plant once. Start small, as these vigorous plants spread and reseed. Locate in a spot where you can mow around it.


Nasturtiums were originally intensely colored flowers that were primarily bright yellow and orange. Today, they come in many varieties, ranging from bright colors to muted jewel tones. Nasturtiums also serve an important purpose. They can repel beetles as well as aphids and squash bugs. These lovely blooms keep away house flies, and they act as a trap crop to draw away bad insects and attract beneficial insects.

Nasturtiums are a cool-season annual. That means they're exhausted as soon as temperatures top 85 degrees, so grow them in early spring or fall. In zones 2 to 8, plant them after the last spring frost for spring and early summer flowers.

Citronella Geraniums 

Citronella geraniums have attractive lavender-pink blooms with a dark, deep crimson brush. They are a popular outdoor flower that has the added benefit of keeping mosquitos and other flying insects away. Traditional bedding types love hot weather and hold up well in dry conditions. Like tansy, geraniums are perennials that live through several growing cycles.

In the garden, geraniums and nasturtiums repel all things that harm brassicas — cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, and flea beetles among them — with their peppery, astringent scent. They also attract pests like aphids, which feed on brussels sprouts.

Mint and Thyme

Fragrant perennial herbs like mint and thyme help keep aphids, cabbage moths, and whiteflies out of the garden. They also help to repel hungry foragers like rabbits and deer. Mint is especially beneficial around the home, as it repels pests like fleas, mice, mosquitos, ants, and beetles.

Osage Orange

The Osage orange or hedge apple tree is a medium-sized tree or shrub that repels cockroaches, flies, spiders, and many other insects. Although the fruit is edible, most people don’t like the bitter taste. However, the chemicals in the fruit are the component that deters house pests.

Better Landscaping to Keep Pests Out

The choices you make in your landscaping will have a direct impact on the types of bugs that get into your house. If you use outdoor lighting, opt for colored bulbs that are known not to attract bugs.

Minimize the amount of shade and damp, dark spaces that can attract insects. Also, stay away from organic mulch that insects will feed on. Instead, use rubber, plastic, rocks, or pebbles.

There are many plants that repel bugs from the garden, your outdoor living space, and inside your home. Although it might take a multifaceted approach to avoid using chemicals around your home, planting the right companion plants is a great place to start!

Shop Grange Co-op for Your Fall and Spring Gardening Needs

Grange Co-op is your one-stop shopping place for everything you need to plant and maintain your garden. Shop for power gardening tools to tackle all those big jobs with ease and hand tools for those smaller jobs that require a little more finesse. We also carry a variety of seasonal plants and seeds to help get your garden off to a healthy start. If you have a question, just let us know! Our gardening experts are happy to help you find the right tools for the job.