19 Plants That Repel Insects

Companion Planting to Foil Pests

Fresh Mint Plant Potted against a Natural Wood Table
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Plants that repel insects are often used for natural pest control through companion planting, the practice of growing different plants together to achieve specific results. Like humans, insects have their preferred foods, and they usually find these foods by scent. You can make it harder for insects to locate the buffet by mixing in plants that will confuse their sense of smell, such as planting onions between cabbages. This means you won’t be able to plant in tidy rows and large blocks of a single vegetable, but it doesn’t take a lot to have an effect.

Plants with pungent scents are among the most effective insect deterrents, and many of these are herbs, so the plants have two purposes. In addition, some deterrent plants also attract beneficial insects you want in the garden. This is another type of companion planting that is proving to have great use for gardeners.

  • 01 of 19

    Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

    Basil Herb Food Seasoning Plant Part Herb Garden
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    Basil repels asparagus beetle and the tomato hornworm. It’s the scent that deters the insects, so gently touching the leaves to release their oils as you walk by improves its effectiveness.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained soil
  • 02 of 19

    Borage (Borago officinalis)

    Borage flowers close up (Borago officinalis)
    naturaltexture / Getty Images

    Borage repels the tomato hornworm. It also attracts beneficial insects and pollinators, such as native bumblebees. Allow it to self-sow, and you will always have some in your garden.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Annual plant
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil
  • 03 of 19

    Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

    Orange and yellow marigold flowers in a large organic flowerbed
    lubilub / Getty Images

    Calendula, or pot marigold, repels asparagus beetle. It also attracts beneficial insects, so this edible flower is useful throughout your garden.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil
  • 04 of 19

    Catmint (Nepeta)

    Nepeta siberica (Siberian Catmint)

    Marie Iannotti / The Spruce

    Catmint repels aphids, asparagus beetle, Colorado potato beetle, and, squash bugs. The one drawback with catnip is that some varieties can be aggressive spreaders and quickly take over large parts of the garden.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil
    Continue to 5 of 19 below.
  • 05 of 19

    Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

    Chive flower macro
    pejft / Getty Images

    Chives will repel aphids and Japanese beetles. Be sure to harvest your chives, because it will spread quickly if you allow it to go to seed. Even the beautiful flowers are edible.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist soil
  • 06 of 19

    Dill (Anethum graveolens)

    Dill Stems

    LauriPatterson / Getty Images

    Dill is excellent for repelling cabbage moths. Dill is also a good plant for attracting beneficial insects and is a host plant for black swallowtail butterflies. You will lose a little dill while the larvae feed, but they are not around for long, and the butterflies are lovely.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Annual plant
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Uncompacted, well-drained soil
  • 07 of 19

    Garlic (Allium sativum)

    Garlic Bulbs

    Chris Mellor / Getty Images

    Garlic repels aphids, cabbage moths, and Japanese beetles. Planting garlic under roses to repel Japanese beetles is a classic companion planting technique.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 0 to 10 (varies by type)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Fertile, well-drained soil
  • 08 of 19

    Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)

    Horseradish Root

    Aloha 17 / Getty Images

    Use horseradish to repel Colorado potato beetle. This can be tricky because it is hard to plant a perennial like horseradish with a crop like potatoes, which needs to be dug every season, but it should have some effect if grown in the general vicinity.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part sun
    • Soil Needs: Loose, rich soil
    Continue to 9 of 19 below.
  • 09 of 19

    Hyssop (Agastache rupestris)

    Giant Hyssop (Agastache rugosa)

    Rachel Husband / Getty Images

    Beautiful, fragrant hyssop repels cabbage moths. Hyssop is an excellent companion for all sorts of cole crops since they are all attacked by cabbage moth larvae.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil
  • 10 of 19

    Mint (Mentha)

    Mint
    Jenny Dettrick / Getty Images

    The scent of mint repels aphids, cabbage moths, and even ants. To prevent this aggressive grower from taking over your vegetable garden, you can simply lay sprigs of mint among the plants you want to protect, but the sprigs must be replaced often.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, slightly acidic soil
  • 11 of 19

    Onions (allium cepa)

    Red Onions

    Marie Iannotti / The Spruce

    Onions repel aphids, carrot rust flies, and flea beetles. The combination of carrots and onions has done well in testing. To foil flea beetles on eggplants, you can try tossing onion peelings around them, although the actual onion plants work better.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained soil
  • 12 of 19

    Oregano (Origanum)

    Oregano Plant

    Luann Griffin / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Oregano repels cabbage moths. However, it can be difficult to interplant because it is a spreading perennial. You could try laying freshly cut springs near your cole crops, but they will need to be replaced frequently.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Light, sandy, loamy soil
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  • 13 of 19

    Parsley (Petroselinum)

    Flat leaf parsley
    Johner Images / Getty Images

    Parsley repels asparagus beetles. As with basil, you’ll need to be gentle when you crush the leaves to release the scent.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Annual plant (for best taste)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil
  • 14 of 19

    Radish (Raphanus sativus)

    French Breakfast Radishes

    Marie Iannotti / The Spruce

    Radish plants repel cucumber beetles. For the best effect, you will need to seed three or four radishes in each cucumber hill and leave them there to mature while the cucumber plants are growing.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Annual plant
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, sandy, loamy soil
  • 15 of 19

    Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

    Rosemary Herb Plant Vegetable Garden, Fresh Green Leaf Sprigs Close-up

    YinYang / Getty Images

    Rosemary repels cabbage moths, carrot rust flies, and Mexican bean beetles. Although rosemary is not hardy in all zones, you can usually buy small plants inexpensively at the start of the season, and you can always bring them indoors for the winter, as houseplants.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11 (or grow as annual)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Sandy soil
  • 16 of 19

    Sage (Salvia officinalis)

    Golden Sage

    Marie Iannotti / The Spruce

    Sage repels cabbage moths and carrot rust flies. Sage is a perennial plant and can be hard to intercrop but is still useful along the border. Common sage works best as a deterrent.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil
    Continue to 17 of 19 below.
  • 17 of 19

    Savory (Satureja hortensis)

    Summer Savoury - young herb plant, annual ( Satureja, hortensis)
    EdwardSamuelCornwall / Getty Images

    Savory repels Mexican bean beetles. Summer savory works better than winter savory and is easier to interplant because it is generally grown as an annual.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, loose, sandy soil
  • 18 of 19

    Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

    close up view of potted thyme plant with green leaves
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    Thyme plants repel cabbage moths. Most thyme plants are low-growing and double as ground covers in the garden. Although they spread, they are slower to fill out than many other perennial herbs.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil
  • 19 of 19

    Wormwood (Artemisia ludoviciana)

    Absinthe wormwood plant
    Anchy / Getty Images

    Useful wormwood repels flea beetles. It also seems to deter mice. Place fresh sprigs new your entryway, to keep both pests out.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil