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Plants As Pest Control

Recently my basil (my favorite herb to cook with!) has been getting eaten by Japanese Beetles.  And my cat, but that’s another issue!  But I needed to figure out how to keep these beetles away from my favorite plant without putting something on the plants that could be harmful to me, my kids, OR my cat – and using plants as pest control is perfect.

Here is a helpful list of plants that double as pest control (I’ll spare you pictures of the pests themselves, in case you’re not a fan of bugs like me!):

Artemisia – This plant produces a strong antiseptic (but not unpleasant) aroma that repels most insects. Planted in drifts it can also deter small animals. A nice variety is ‘Powis Castle’. But use this plant in flower borders and not in vegetable gardens, because it produces a botanical poison.


Basil – Go figure! The oils in basil are said to repel thrips, flies and mosquitoes. Plant basil alongside tomatoes for larger, tastier tomatoes. However, basil and rue should not be planted together. And of course, then you’ll need something to repel those Japanese Beetles!


bee balm
Bee Balm or Monarda – This plant attracts bees to your garden, which is great for pollination – but of course, keep it away from where the kids play! It is another plant that you can grow with your tomatoes.


Borage or Starflower – This plant is a real workhorse in the garden. It repels tomato hornworms and cabbage worms and attracts beneficial bees and wasps (again, keep it away from the play areas). Borage also adds trace elements to the soil. This is an annual, but readily comes back each year from seed.



Catnip – Apparently this plant repels just about everything, except for cats of course! Use it to keep away flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants, and weevils. Use sachets of dried catnip to deter the annual parade of ants that may invade your kitchen. A pretty variety of catnip is ‘Six Hills Giant’ because of its proliferation of sky blue blooms.

I plan to use catnip to draw my cat AWAY from my basil!!!


Chives – Chives are one of my favorite herbs. I love the flavor in a ton of recipes! You can plant chives to repel Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies. It has also been said that chives will help prevent scab when planted among apple trees.


white chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemums – This all-natural pesticide can help control things like roaches, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, and you can use it to control ants in certain parts of your garden. In the garden, white flowering chrysanthemums are said to drive away Japanese beetles, and C. coccineum, commonly known as Painted Daisy, kills root nematodes.


Dahlias – I had my eye on these gorgeous, old fashioned flowers earlier this season, and I wish I had picked some up! Dahlias repel nematodes and the blooms are great for adding bold splashes of color to flower borders and fresh arrangements.


Dill – Dill is best planted with cucumbers and onions. During the cool season, you can plant it with lettuce. Dill attracts hoverflies and predatory wasps, and its foliage is used as food by swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Tomato hornworms are also attracted to dill, so if you plant it at a distance, you can help draw these destructive insects away from your tomatoes. Dill repels aphids and spider mites. You can also sprinkle dill leaves on squash plants to repel squash bugs.  Bonus: you can make as many dill pickles as you want!


four oclocks
Four O’Clocks – This plant is a favorite food for Japanese beetles (again, those darn beetles!). However, because of its poisonous foliage rarely do they get to finish their meal. It is important to note that Four O’Clocks are also poisonous to people and animals, so avoid planting it if you have small children or pets.


Garlic – Garlic. I love the stuff. In addition to its great taste and health benefits, garlic planted near roses repels aphids. It also deters codling moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails, and carrot root fly.


Hyssop – Hyssop is great for attracting honeybees to the garden, if that’s one of your goals.  Plus, it’s gorgeous!


Lavender – Lavender has a nice, fresh scent and delicate blue blooms. Lavender is a favorite among many beneficial insects and also repels fleas and moths.


Marigolds – The marigold is probably the most well known plant for repelling insects. French marigolds repel whiteflies and kill bad nematodes. Mexican marigolds are said to offend a host of destructive insects and wild rabbits as well. If you choose marigolds for your garden they must be scented to work as a repellant. And while this plant drives away many bad bugs, it also attracts spider mites and snails – so plant it near Dill.  I just put yellow and gold marigolds in my herb garden and I love the color that it adds!


Nasturtiums – Plant nasturtiums with my tomatoes and cucumbers as a way to fight off woolly aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. The flowers, especially the yellow blooming varieties, act as a trap for aphids.


Petunias – Petunias repel asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, a range of aphids, tomato worms, and a good many other pests.


Sunflowers – Use sunflowers as a way to draw aphids away from my other plants. Ants move their colonies onto sunflowers. The sunflowers are tough enough that they don’t get damaged.





Crabgrass Prevention

One of our most frequent questions in July and August is, what to do about Crabgrass?  The great thing is, crabgrass prevention is fairly easy if you address it directly. Here’s what you need to know about crabgrass: Crabgrass is an annual plant, so it will all die after the first frost and, if it’s addressed correctly,Continue Reading