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Organic Gardening: Repel Bugs Naturally with Garden Herbs

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Naturally Repel Insects from Your Garden - Feature

Like many gardeners out there, I’m learning about the frustrations of keeping an organic garden. Flies, beetles and other annoying pests destroyed most of the vegetables I grew last year. Chemical pesticides are a big “no-no” in organic gardening, so what’s a girl to do? I can’t just let this massacre continue to reign in my garden.

After some research, I discovered that some herbs are natural bug deterrents. Not only that, but some also allow pollenating insects, such as bees and butterflies, to access your plants without being killed by chemical mixes… SCORE!

Watch out, pests! I’m ready for you this year. The employees at Country Harmony helped me immensely in picking out my herbaceous weapons. They told me which herbs are best to plant and how to care for each type. Here is a list of some herbs and which type of bugs they deter:



Basil – Flies, Mosquitos, Thrips. Plant some near tomato plants for more flavorful tomatoes. Basil is weak against aphids, so plant near some garlic.







Catnip – Mosquitos. When you’re done for the season, dry the leaves to make a catnip toy for your cat.








Chives – ants, aphids, fleas, nematodes. Chives are actually a small species of onion. You use the stems for cooking. Plant this herb with carrots. Chives can also be planted amongst rose bushes to defend against the disease Blackspot.







Mint – Cabbage Moths, flies, flees, ants. This herb can grow out of control rather quickly. If you’re more concerned about repelling flying insects, try planting mint in a pot near your vegetables.






Oregano – Mosquitos (can you tell I really don’t like this pest?), Cucumber beetle, Cabbage butterfly. While oregano repels many types of insects, they are susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and leafhoopers. Plant oregano near garlic, onions or chives to protect them from these insects.







Rosemary – I don’t like cooking with rosemary, but they work well in a garden with cucumbers. Carrot Fly, Mexican bean beetle, Mosquitos, Cabbage Moths







Sage – This is an excellent one, because it repels many types of insects. Plus they look nice and don’t have a strong odor, in case you want to place some around the house. Sage can take a long time to grow. I suggest not starting from a seed. Mosquitos, Cabbage Moths, Carrot Fly









Thyme – Cabbage Moth, whiteflies. Thyme oil helps with respiratory and digestive problems in people.




I stocked up on basil, oregano and sage for my garden. I suppose I’ll get some catnip too, for DeeDee Ramone. She’s been doing a good job of keeping the mice away lately. She deserves a good reward.

For the gardener with limited space to work with, having to add more plants to your garden isn’t easy. Instead of picking herbs based solely on the type of bug they repel, plan which vegetables you want to grow and pair them with herbs and other plants that benefit each other. If you want the benefits of an herb but don’t want to grow it, you can buy oils from the store. Spray these oils onto your vegetables once a week, or more after a big rain storm.

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Kayley Wagner
More about Kayley Wagner

During the spring of 2012, I had the urge to start a vegetable garden. From my first bean plant, which perished prematurely when I was six, to my little pine tree, which didn’t survive the first three months in my college dorm room, I’ve wanted to prove that I inherited my Grandpa Mount’s green thumb. Even though I chose to start my garden during the longest drought in Indiana history in decades, my plants managed to produce a few tomatoes and radishes. This gave me the motivational drive to do what I can to learn gardening.

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16 responses to “Organic Gardening: Repel Bugs Naturally with Garden Herbs”

  1. Jp Superboy says:

    my spinach almost died from catepillars, even with oregano, but I placed some tarragon besides them along with my tomatoes whalla! gone like a bubble; thanks for the info;)

    • You’re welcome JP! Thanks for letting me know about the tarragon. My garden has been doing pretty well this year, with the exception of grubs interfering with my potatoes. We cut open one of the potatoes and found a huge cavity. GRRR!!

  2. Susan Coker says:

    What bug is that on the top of this page? I think that’s what I have, and now there are hundreds of them. I have just sprayed with my onion/pepper spray, and it’s too soon to tell if it sends them elsewhere. They don’t seem to be eating the lettuce and spinach but they must be doing something in my garden. They just run; I haven’t seen them fly. Ugh!

  3. Susan Coker says:

    What bug is that on the top of this page? I think that’s what I have, and now there are hundreds of them. I have just sprayed with my onion/pepper/garlic spray, and it’s too soon to tell if it sends them elsewhere. They don’t seem to be eating the lettuce and spinach but they must be doing something in my garden. They just run; I haven’t seen them fly. Ugh!

    After more googling, I think they’re harlequin bugs. Organic control is dishwashing soap spray, diatomaceous earth, and more. I’m going to try the DE next. They could be building up to attack my tomato plants, which they are quite near.

    • death says:

      it is a boxelder bug not sure what they eat but never had trouble in the garden with them but they do swarm the house every year if you find a way to kill them tell me

  4. Happy Room says:

    That’s what I was looking for. Very nice blog indeed, thank you admin…

    • Dd says:

      Somewhere near is a Box Elder tree. I had a couple and they nearly destroyed them. They never bothered my garden though. It is a hard bug to get rid of. I found a nest one time on the ground once. it was full of brand new bright red (solid red as babies) bugs. I just kept mashing with my foot. It looked like I had sacrificed a small animal when I was done.

  5. Dalton says:

    I just started growing lots of oregano outside of my house just for fun but ive noticed a huge increase in mosquito activity lately. I get eaten alive at night now. They were never a problem before.

  6. sam says:

    Most herbs are toxic for cats,dogs,and other animals. Pls go to to learn more about them.

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  8. Ken says:

    Excellent article. I just picked up a bag of dry sage from the Asian Market the other day on a whim. I never really took herbs seriously, but the stuff has such a pungent odor, I just figured it would repel bugs. Googled it, and this article came up. Very helpful. Plus, sage is such a mood lifter. A sprig between the cheek and gums is like rocket fuel.

  9. Lynn says:

    This is an excellent resource. I will definitely take all of your tips for organic gardening into careful consideration and I will use these methods for repelling the bugs naturally!

  10. Susan King says:

    For box elders..spray with water mixed with dish soap and listerine. The listerine knocks them diwn while the soap will stick and make it impossible to fly..doing them in

  11. Which are the easiest to grow and keep alive on a balcony?

  12. vex 3 says:

    The issues you share are great and many people are interested. It gives me lots of useful information. help me expand my knowledge.

  13. Jennifer Rogers says:

    I am truly grateful for your post. I am new to gardening and appreciate this info since the pests are a big problem.

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