Alphabetical Plant Listing

Wonderful Plants That Repel Insects

Companion Planting to Deter Garden Pests

Plants have natural defense mechanisms against insects, such as producing chemicals that are toxic or unpalatable to them. Some plants also release pheromones or have physical structures that can deter insects. Additionally, companion planting, where different plants are grown together, can also help repel pests.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

  • The plant: Basil is one of the world's most popular and widely used culinary herbs. Sweet Basil is the quintessential Italian culinary herb, most famous for its use in pesto.
  • Attracts / Repels: Basil naturally repels asparagus beetle, carrot fly, tomato hornworm, mosquitoes, flies, and whiteflies. It also attracts bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects to the garden.
  • Hardiness: Short-lived tender perennial in USDA zones 10-11. Grown as an annual elsewhere. 
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Light, well-drained, fertile soil
  • Companions: Basil is a valuable addition to the vegetable garden and an excellent companion plant for asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, parsley, lettuce, asparagus, beans, beets, cabbage, eggplant, marigolds, potatoes, or oregano. Avoid planting Basil near Rue (Ruta graveolens) and Sage (Salvia officinalis).

Basil, Ocimum basilicum, Sweet Basil

Borage (Borago officinalis)

  • The Plant: Native to the Mediterranean region, Borage is a spreading annual boasting a profusion of open racemes of beautiful, star-shaped, bright blue flowers from early summer to the first frost. The flowers are also edible with a fresh cucumber flavor. 
  • Attracts / Repels: Borage deters cabbage worms and tomato worms. It also acts as a slug and snail trap, deterring these garden pests from your favorite vegetables. It also attracts a wide variety of beneficial insects, such as parasitic wasps, hoverflies, and lacewings, which prey on garden pests. Borage is a magnet for bees, honeybees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
  • Hardiness: Annual plant
  • Sun: Full sun or light shade
  • Soil: Fertile, well-drained soil. However, it tolerates nutrient-poor soils.
  • Companions: Borage is an excellent companion plant in the garden, adding trace minerals to the soil and aiding any plants it is interplanted with by increasing their resistance to pests and disease. It does well with cabbage, strawberries, summer squash or winter squash, and tomatoes.

Borage, Cool Tankard, Talewort, Tailwort

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

  • The Plant: Calendula is a showy hardy annual with aromatic foliage and a profusion of pretty daisy-like flowers over a long season. Prized by gardeners, it has also been used for many centuries for a range of culinary and medicinal purposes.
  • Attracts / Repels: Calendula deters asparagus beetle, tomato hornworm, and nematodes. It is also mosquito repellent. Butterflies, bees, and other pollinators and beneficial insects are drawn to the flowers.
  • Hardiness: Short-lived tender perennial in USDA zones 9-11. Grown as an annual elsewhere. 
  • Sun: Full sun. Some afternoon shade is tolerated in hot summer areas.
  • Soil: Light, poor to moderately fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Companions: Calendula is a good companion plant for cucumber, tomatoes, peas, carrots, asparagus, beans, potatoes, pumpkin, or broccoli.

Pot Marigold, English Marigold, Poet's Marigold, Common Marigold, Scotch Marigold, Calendula officinalis

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

  • The Plant: Catnip is a vigorous perennial forming a spreading clump of branched stems with aromatic, gray-green, toothed leaves. From late spring to early fall, they are topped with long, dense spikes of small white flowers spotted with violet. 
  • Attracts / Repels: Catnip is a repellant for certain insects, including ants, aphids, cabbage looper, Colorado potato beetle, cucumber beetle, flea beetle, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, weevils, mosquitoes, and cockroaches.
  • Hardiness: USDA zones 3-9.
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Any dry to medium, well-drained soil. Thrives in dry soils and is very drought tolerant.
  • Companions: Catnip is a good companion plant for bee balm, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, chamomile, eggplant, mint, potatoes, plums, radishes, roses, and yarrows.

Catmint, Catnep, Catnip, Cat in Clover, Cat's Heal-All

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

  • The plant: Chives have been a popular culinary herb used in cooking for over 5000 years. Grown for the mild onion flavor of their leaves and their pretty flowers, Chives are rewarding little plants to grow outdoors in the garden or indoors in pots. 
  • Attracts / Repels: Chives flowers attract bees and other pollinators to the garden, while their onion scent helps deter carrot flies, Japanese beetles, and aphids. 
  • Hardiness: USDA zones 3-9.
  • Sun: Full sun. Tolerates some shade in hot summer climates.
  • Soil: Fertile, well-drained soil
  • Companions: Chives are good companions to tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, roses, squash, strawberries, sunflowers, and aromatic herbs such as dill, marjoram, parsley, and tarragon. Chives are bad companions for beans and peas.

chives, allium schoenoprasum, herb, aromatic herb

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

  • The Plant: A popular culinary herb noted for its attractive foliage and flowers, dill is an upright annual with feathery, aromatic, blue-green foliage and beautiful flat umbels of tiny yellow flowers in summer. 
  • Attracts / Repels: Dill repels cabbage looper, cabbageworm, spider mites, and tomato hornworm. It also attracts beneficial insects, including ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies, which feed on aphids and other pests. The nectar and pollen produced by the flowers attract pollinators such as honeybees and bumblebees, which can help improve overall crop yields.
  • Hardiness: Annual plant
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Rich, light, well-drained soil
  • Companions: Dill is often planted with vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, potatoes, and tomatoes, which benefit from the insect-repelling properties of dill.

Dill, anethum graveolens, herb, aromatic herb

Garlic (Allium sativum)

  • The Plant: Cultivated for several thousand years, garlic is a perennial vegetable grown as an annual herb. It is related to onions, leeks, and chives and produces aromatic, strongly flavored, edible bulbs which consist of teardrop-shaped cloves enclosed in a white, inedible, parchment-like skin. In late spring, thin, edible, long, green shoots sprout from the ground.

Garlic, Churl's Treacle, Clown's Treacle, Common Garlic, Poor Man's Treacle, Stinking Rose, Rustic Treacle, Camphor of the Poor, Nectar of the Gods, Serpent Garlic, Rocambole

Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

  • The Plant: Hyssop is an upright, clump-forming perennial with attractive spikes of small, tubular, lavender to purple flowers from early summer to early fall.
  • Attracts / Repels: Hyssop repels cabbage looper and cabbageworm. The flowers attract bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and beneficial insects.
  • Hardiness: USDA zones 4-9
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Average, well-drained soil. Tolerates almost any soil, including dry soil. 
  • Companions: Hyssop is a good companion plant for beets, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, chives, and onions.

Blue Giant Hyssop, Blue Giant-hyssop, Fragrant Giant Hyssop, Lavender Hyssop, Anise Hyssop

Mint (Mentha)

  • The Plant: Mint is a versatile and valuable herb with a wide range of uses and benefits that continues to be widely used and appreciated. There are over 30 different species of Mint, including Peppermint, Spearmint, and Apple Mint. 
  • Attracts / Repels: Mint flowers are a source of nectar for beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and predatory wasps, which help pollinate nearby plants or prey on garden pests. Mint has a strong scent that can deter pests such as aphids, black flies, cabbage loopers, cabbage moths, cabbage worms, cabbage maggots, flea beetles, squash bugs, whiteflies, and ants.
  • Hardiness: USDA zones 5-11
  • Sun: Mint plants prefer part shade, though they will grow in full sun.
  • Soil: Light, moist soil.
  • Companions: Mint is an excellent companion to many vegetables, including beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, eggplant, lettuce, marigolds, onions, peas, radishes, roses, and tomatoes. Do not plant it near parsley or rue.

Mint, Spearmint, Peppermint, Mentha, Herb, Aromatic Herb

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

  • The Plant: Nasturtium is a popular annual or short-lived perennial with creeping or sprawling stems that command attention in any landscape. The plant boasts a profusion of long-stalked, edible, funnel-shaped flowers that stand out against the pretty foliage of rounded, parasol-like leaves.
  • Attracts / Repels: Nasturtium deters aphids, asparagus beetle, cabbage looper, carrot fly, Colorado potato beetle, cucumber beetle, flea beetle, cabbageworm, Japanese beetle, Mexican bean beetle, squash bug, and whiteflies. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators are drawn to the flowers. Nasturtium can be used as a trap crop, trapping pests such as aphids and giving a more appealing and delicious meal than nearby vegetable crops.
  • Hardiness: Tender perennial in USDA zones 9-11. Grown as an annual elsewhere. 
  • Sun: Full sun. Some afternoon shade is tolerated in hot summer areas.
  • Soil: Poor, well-drained soil.
  • Companions: Nasturtium is a good companion plant for beans, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, pumpkin, and radishes.

Nasturtium, Common Nasturtium, Indian Cress, Mexican Cress, Peruvian Cress, Garden Nasturtium

Onion (Allium cepa)

  • The Plant: A Staple in the kitchen, Onion is a biennial vegetable grown for its sweet to pungent bulbs and greens. Native to Asia, Onions have been cultivated for 5000 years and provide fantastic flavor to any meal.

Allium cepa, Onion, Onions, Shallot, Shallots, Tree Onion

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

  • The Plant: Oregano is a bushy, rhizomatous, woody-based perennial with square stems clothed with small, aromatic, rounded to ovate leaves. Each leaf is covered with many glands, which, when broken, exude the familiar fragrance of this herb. From midsummer to fall, loose panicles of tiny, two-lipped, pinkish-purple or white flowers are produced above the foliage. 
  • Attracts / Repels: Oregano oil has antimicrobial properties and is used as a natural insecticide. Oregano helps deter certain pests and insects, such as the cabbage butterfly and the cucumber beetle. Flowers attract bees and beneficial insects.
  • Hardiness: USDA zones 4-8
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Any average, well-drained soil
  • Companions: Oregano is often grown alongside cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, pumpkin, and zucchini.

oregano, origanum vulgare, herb, aromatic herb

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

  • The Plant: Native to Europe and the Mediterranean, Parsley is a bushy biennial forming a dense rosette of rich green, triangular, aromatic leaves finely divided into curly or flat leaflets. 
  • Attracts / Repels: Parsley repels asparagus beetles and attracts beneficial insects like hoverflies, parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and damselflies.
  • Hardiness: Usually grown as an annual plant.
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Fertile, moist, but well-drained soil
  • Companions: Parsley is an excellent companion to asparagus, carrots, onions, roses, and tomatoes. It pairs well with most herbs, including basil, chives, dill, fennel, lavender, lemon balm, lovage, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, summer savory, and thyme. Do not plant it near mint plants.

Parsley, Petroselinum crispum, herb, aromatic herb

Radish (Raphanus sativus)

  • The Plant: One of the workhorses for the garden, Radish is an annual and biennial edible root vegetable grown for its colorful, crunchy, peppery roots.
  • Attracts / Repels: Radish repels cabbage maggot, cucumber beetle, rust fly, spider mite, squash bug, and squash vine borer.
  • Hardiness: Annual plant.
  • Sun: Full sun or light shade
  • Soil: Light, rich, near-neutral (pH between 5.5 and 6.8), evenly moist but well-drained soil
  • Companions: Radish is an excellent companion to beets, beans, carrots, chervil, cucumber, lettuce, nasturtium, peas, and members of the squash family.

Radish, Common Radish, Garden Radish

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

  • The Plant: Rosemary is a beautiful evergreen shrub with intensely aromatic, needle-like leaves and clusters of small, pale blue or white flowers. It has a strong, pungent, slightly bitter flavor and aroma, making it a popular herb in many types of cuisine. 
  • Attracts / Repels: Rosemary attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies and deters cabbage looper, cabbage moth, Mexican bean beetle, Japanese beetles, carrot fly, slug, and snail. 
  • Hardiness: USDA Zones 8-11
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Sandy, poor to moderately fertile, slightly acidic, well-drained soil
  • Companions: Rosemary is an excellent companion to cabbage, beans, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes. It pairs well with most herbs, including basil, chives, fennel, lavender, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, parsley, sage, summer savory, tarragon, and thyme

Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, Herb, Aromatic Herb

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

  • The Plant: Sage is a bushy, spreading evergreen sub-shrub with strongly aromatic, finely veined, silver-gray leaves. In early summer, it sends up whorls of camphor-scented, two-lipped, lavender-blue flowers on short, upright flower spikes. 
  • Attracts / Repels: Sage attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies and deters cabbage loopers, cabbage maggots, cabbage worms, beetles, black flea beetles, and carrot flies. 
  • Hardiness: USDA Zones 4-10
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Average, well-drained soil
  • Companions: Sage is a good companion to beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, and lettuce. It pairs well with most herbs, including fennel, lavender, lemon balm, lovage, oregano, parsley, rosemary, summer savory, tarragon, and thyme.

Sage, Garden Sage, Salvia officinalis, herb, aromatic herb

Savory (Satureja hortensis)

  • The Plant: Summer Savory is a bushy annual prized for its stiff, narrowly lance-shaped, aromatic, dark green leaves, which can be used fresh or dried to flavor food.
  • Attracts / Repels: Savory repels cabbage moths, Mexican bean beetles, and black aphids. It also attracts honey bees.
  • Hardiness: Annual plant
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Moderately fertile, preferably alkaline, dry to medium, well-drained soil
  • Companions: Savory is a good companion to beans, onions, parsley, rosemary, sage, and tarragon.

Summer Savory, St Julian's Herb, Satyricon, Stone Basil

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

  • The Plant: Tansy is an erect, rhizomatous perennial bearing flat-topped clusters of buttonlike, golden daisy flowers in mid to late summer. They are borne atop strongly-scented, fern-like fresh green foliage. The leaves are often harvested, dried, and used as potpourri.
  • Attracts / Repels: Tansy deters ants, asparagus beetle, cabbage butterfly, cabbage maggot, carrot fly, Colorado potato beetle, cucumber beetle, cutworm, flies, cabbageworm, Japanese beetle, and squash bug.
  • Hardiness: USDA zones 3-8 
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil: Dry to medium, well-drained soil.
  • Companions: Tansy is a good companion plant for cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, potatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, and fruit trees such as apricots, peaches, or cherries.

Tansy, Buttons, Buttonweed, Ginger Plant, Golden Buttons, Hind-Heal, Immortality, Chrysanthemum vulgare

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

  • The Plant: Thyme is a dwarf, aromatic shrub primarily grown as a culinary herb in herb gardens. It forms a low cushion of branching, woody stems clothed with small, dark gray-green leaves. Spikes of small, whorled, white, or pink flowers appear in late spring to early summer. 
  • Attracts / Repels: Thyme deters cabbage looper, cabbage maggot, cabbageworm, corn earworm, tomato hornworm, and whiteflies. The flowers are rich in nectar and attract butterflies and bees.
  • Hardiness: USDA zones 5-9
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Alkaline to neutral, well-drained soils. Thrives in loose, sandy, or rocky soils with excellent drainage
  • Companions: Thyme is a good companion to most vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, and tomatoes. It pairs well with most herbs, including basil, chives, dill, fennel, lavender, lovage, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and summer savory.

Common Thyme, Garden Thyme, Pot-Herb Thyme, English Thyme, Tomillo

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

  • The Plant: Wormwood is an upright woody-based perennial with finely divided, highly aromatic silver-gray foliage. Tiny, insignificant yellowish flowers appear in dense, leafy, drooping panicles at the stem tips in summer. It is important to be cautious when using this plant as some of its components can be toxic if ingested.
  • Attracts / Repels: Wormwood deters such as ants, cabbage looper, cabbage maggots, carrot flies, codling moths, flea beetles, mice, and whiteflies.
  • Hardiness: USDA zones 4-8
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Poor to moderately fertile, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil

Artemisia absinthium, Wormwood, Absinth, Absinthe, Common Wormwood, Girdle of St John, Green Ginger, Holy Seed, Lad's Love, Mingwort, Old Man, Old Woman, St John's Girdle, Warmot

Shutterstock, 123rf

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

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