10 bug-repelling plants for your garden

Nothing ruins a backyard barbecue faster than unwanted guests of the six-legged variety. Mosquitoes, flies, beetles and other pesky party-crashers can be more than just annoying- their bites can carry diseases like West Nile Virus or Lyme Disease. 

Before spraying your party down with toxic chemical insect repellents, try adding some of these helpful plants to your garden. These plants are lovely additions to any garden, and many of them add flavor to barbecue recipes as well!


1. Petunias

In addition to brightening your yard with colorful flowers, these flowers are often planted near produce to repel squash bugs, beetles and aphids.

2. Basil

Basil contains an essential oil that kills mosquito eggs. Plant basil in pots near gathering areas to ward off flies and mosquitoes, and as a bonus, you can add the leaves to your salads and pesto!

3. Marigolds

These pretty, sun-loving plants are well known and loved by gardeners for their ability to keep pests at bay. They’ll help keep mosquitoes and aphids out of your yard.

4. Lavender

The same scent that helps us fall asleep is absolutely repulsive to flies, moths and mosquitoes. Lavender is a lovely plant that grows well in a sunny location. You can also diffuse lavender essential oil or keep a few bouquets around to ward off pests.

5. Rosemary

The potent (and tasty) mentholyptic notes of rosemary are more than just a great seasoning for beef! In addition to repelling mosquitoes, rosemary will help protect your vegetable plants from infestation.

6. Mint

Growing mint near your doorways repels ants and spiders from entering. This delightful-smelling plant (along with its cousin lemon balm) also helps repel biting insects. Plus, it's always great to have mint around for summertime mojitos!

7. Catnip

While catnip is technically also a member of the mint family, its bug repellent properties due to its nepetalactone (the same property that attracts cats) deserve a mention of their own.

8. Chrysanthemums

Pyrethrins is a compound that’s found in chrysanthemums which is used in many commercial insect repellents. It keeps mosquitoes, roaches, beetles, ticks and silverfish away.

9. Alliums

Chives, leeks, onions, garlic, scallions and shallots fall into this group. These plants grow tall with pretty purple, white or pink flowers and help protect other veggies (and your yard) against slugs, flies and worms, although they can attract moths.

10. Lemongrass

Citronella is the oil found in lemongrass that gives it such a lovely, citrus-y scent. you can add dry lemongrass to your fire pit, keep pots of lemongrass near your outdoor entertaining area, or diffuse lemongrass to keep the bugs away!


  • Remove any standing water, which is an enticing breeding ground for bugs.
  • Keep food covered when eating outdoors.
  • Keep trash and recycling covered, and far away from where you’ll be hanging out outside.
  • Add a few drops of Lemongrass or Bug Off Essential oil to a spray bottle filled with distilled water for a natural bug spray!


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