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Updated on May 13, 2020. Posted on May 5, 2020

12 Plants That Naturally Keep Unwanted Bugs Away

Bye bye, bugs.

1. Lavender

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People love the fragrant scent of lavender. Bugs, however, do not. Not only is lavender oil a natural mosquito repellant, but you can also hang dried lavender in your closet to keep moths away from your clothes. Really, the only bugs you'll probably see hanging around lavender are bees.

2. Basil

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Basil should be a staple in any herb garden not just for the delicious taste it adds to your foods, but also because it will keep mosquitoes out of your garden. There are six types of naturally occurring mosquito-repellant volatiles, and basil contains four of them. You can also use the herb to create homemade mosquito spray.

3. Mint

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Mint is another example of a great cooking herb that keeps pests away. Menthol, the active ingredient in mint, acts as a pesticide for mosquito larvae and mites. It also repels ants and spiders. Mint also gets bonus points for keeping mice away as well.

It's worth noting that mint is an invasive species. So make sure you grow it in a separate bed away from your other plants in the garden.

4. Rosemary

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With basil, mint, and now rosemary, your herb garden is starting to look pretty bug-proof!

A quick online search will reveal no shortage of delicious grilled dishes that use rosemary, but did you know that using rosemary on the grill itself can keep bugs away at an outdoor cookout? The Old Farmer's Almanac says "if the bugs are really bad, like around dusk, throw a few sprigs of rosemary on the grill and the aromatic smoke will help drive the mosquitoes away."

5. Marigolds

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Marigolds are a very pretty plant to grow, but they're not just easy on the eyes. The Old Farmer's Almanac reminds us that marigolds might keep mosquitoes away, and they also keep away nematodes, a microscopic worm that damages the roots of garden vegetables. Louisiana State University has more information about using marigolds to fight off the dreaded nematode.

6. Catnip

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According to some studies, catnip is ten times more effective than deet, the chemical found in many commercial insect repellants. If that's not enough to sell you on growing this plant in your garden, consider that it's100 times more effective than deet when it comes to repelling cockroaches.

Be warned, though, it may attract cats.

7. Osage oranges

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Another natural cockroach repellant to try? Osage oranges. Folk wisdom has touted these green, wrinkly, grapefruit-sized fruits for their ability to keep all sorts of bugs away. In 1953, Donald Culross Peattie, a chemist at the University of Alabama, observed that "a single Osage orange in a room will drive away cockroaches, apparently by its cedar-like aroma."

If you're planning on growing your own Osage oranges, know that the trees can get up to 20 feet tall, and their trunks can be several feet in diameter.

8. Chrysanthemums

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Chrysanthemums are beautiful flowers that also work overtime to keep unwanted bugs out of your yard. According to America's favorite repairperson, Bob Vila, chrysanthemums contain a chemical called pyrethrum that "can kill and repel ants, ticks, fleas, spider mites, roaches, Japanese beetles, and even bed bugs."

9. Nasturtiums

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Whiteflies and aphids can do serious damage to the plants in your garden. Luckily, you can trap those little suckers in nasturtiums. Aphids and whiteflies are very attracted to them, so put the nasturtiums near your most valuable plants to trap the bugs. You'll want to check your traps regularly, though, to make sure the bugs don't stick around too long.

10. Garlic

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You've probably heard that garlic is the number one choice for keeping vampires away. But even if you're probably not going to get a lot of vampires in your garden, you should still plant it because it's useful in keeping away stink bugs, snails, and other garden pests. Planting garlic around the perimeter of your garden could keep all sorts of unwanted animal guests out. Plus, you get to harvest the garlic for use in the kitchen later.

11. Lemongrass

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Lemongrass contains citronella, the natural ingredient that you'll find in many mosquito repellants. But actually growing lemongrass does a better job of keeping mosquitoes away because the plant in its natural form has a stronger smell.

12. Venus flytraps

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If you prefer a more extreme way to keep bugs away, planting some Venus flytraps in your garden might do the trick. Venus flytraps eat flies (obviously) as well as other small insects. So they can help catch the bugs that the other eleven plants on this list might not keep away.

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