Roses, rosemary, and eucalyptus are natural insect repellents. In fact, you probably have garlic, bay leaves, and possibly cloves and cayenne pepper in your kitchen. These are all plants that offer protection from ants and flying insects, such as mosquitoes. Lemongrass is a natural source of citronella. For small or enclosed uses, these should be sufficient for a bug-free afternoon. But let’s also look at a couple of natural heavy-hitters in insect repellents, marigolds and mint. And keep in mind that most garden plants have preferred neighbors.
The best way to avoid most insects is through the use of plants that act as natural insect repellents. Growing up on a farm, we always planted marigold seeds to help protect the corn and peppers and other vegetables. Marigolds are not harmful to people or pets, and may be planted around the perimeter of a yard, or grown in a flowerbed. If you grow cherry tomatoes in a potted environment, keep a potted marigold nearby as well. Marigolds are large plants, making them an excellent addition to perimeter flower beds, or spaced around a porch or deck. These hardy plants have a long and well documented history as a safe all natural insect repellent.
Mint is an aromatic and effective insect repellent, providing a pleasing scent that many insects, such as mosquitoes and ants, will avoid. In some areas, mint can be grown in patches, or around the perimeter of the yard, which has the added attraction of releasing the odor each time you cut the lawn. In other places, mint can be grown as a shrub, or in a small herb garden, and leaves may be cultivated. There are a number of ways mint may be used, ranging from simply crushing the leaves and scattering them about to various lotions and sprays. In sprays and lotions, you may also consider adding other natural oils, for an even more effective chemical free homemade insect repellent. Lightly spaying the lawn or deck is one method to create a bug free environment that is appealing to your friends and family. Catnip is a member of the mint family, and works well as a natural insect repellent.