Herbs to Deter Common Garden Pests

green plant on clear cup

If there’s one thing I can assure you, it’s that I know all too well the frustrations that come with trying to do the right thing and grow organically only to come out and find that lush beautiful garden of last week annihilated by pests.

My first year growing my own garden was when I was in the south, growing what else but tomatoes.  I came out to find my poor plants covered in aphids and had to do something.  I fought them tooth and nail.

Fast forward to the next year, I had done some reading to find that basil is actually a great companion to tomatoes.  I planted plenty of basil (1 plant between each of my tomato plants but offset) and voila!  Even when I found aphids on other weedy vines in my garden, there were none on my tomato plants.

Of course, the next logical thing to do was to dig deeper to find out which other herbs I could most absolutely should add into my garden to deter pests while keeping the most incredible fresh fare rolling from my kitchen.  Here’s what I’ve found so far:

healthy sun plant pot


Makes war on:  Flies, mosquitos, thrips, and aphids. Plant some near tomato plants for more flavorful tomatoes.


Use against: Mosquitos. When you’re done for the season, dry the leaves to make a catnip toy for your cat.

aromatic bloom blooming blossom


Helpful in deterring: Ants, aphids, fleas, and nematodes. Chives are actually a small species of onion. You use the stems for cooking. Plant this herb with carrots. Chives can also be planted amongst rose bushes to defend against the disease Blackspot.

photography of garlic on wooden table


Garlic Repels Japanese beatles, aphids, mosquitoes and more.

If you want to use garlic as a repellent, then you want to plant them in a circle surrounding the garden that you want to protect.  Another option is to use garlic in a water solution. Then spray the solution on plants to protect them from nasty bugs.

Do not plant near: legumes (beans), strawberries, potatoes, and peas.

purple petal flowers focus photographLavender

Repels moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes. Lavender has been used for centuries to add a pleasantly sweet fragrance to homes and clothes drawers. Although people love the smell of lavender, mosquitoes, flies and other unwanted insects hate it. Place tied bouquets in your home to help keep flies outdoors. Plant it in sunny areas of the garden or near entryways to your house to help keep those areas pest free. You can also use oil extracted from the flowers as a mosquito repellent you can apply to exposed skin when going into the garden or patio.


Repels mosquitoes. You’ve no doubt seen citronella candles in stores during the summer and read how citronella will keep mosquitoes away. Citronella is a natural oil found in lemongrass, an ornamental that can grow up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide in one season. (It’s worth noting that lemongrass isn’t just the name of one plant; it’s the umbrella name for plants in the Cymbopogon family, which also includes citronella grass.)

Lemon Thyme

Repels mosquitoes. This hardy herb can adapt to a number of conditions. The plant itself will not repel pesky mosquitoes. To release its chemicals, you must first bruise the leaves. To do this, simply cut off a few stems and rub them between your hands. Before you do that, though, it’s advisable to make sure the plant’s natural properties will not adversely affect you. Determine your tolerance by rubbing crushed leaves on a small area on your forearm for several days.



Use against:  Cabbage moths, flies, flees, ants. This herb can grow out of control rather quickly. If you’re more concerned about repelling flying insects, try planting mint in a pot near your vegetables.

green leaf plant


Use to ward off:  Mosquitos (can you tell I really don’t like this pest?  We used to live in the South where I swore the mosquito was our “State Bird”), Cucumber beetle, and Cabbage butterfly. While oregano repels many types of insects, they are susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and leafhoopers. Plant oregano near garlic, onions or chives to protect them from these insects.


plant blur leaves green

I love having fresh rosemary in my garden, even if I never use as much as I grow and really only use it in cool weather cook.  They’re said to work well in a garden with cucumbers. Use against: Carrot Fly, Mexican bean beetle, Mosquitos, Cabbage Moths


This is an excellent one, because it repels many types of insects. Plus they look nice and don’t have a strong odor, in case you want to place some around the house. Sage can take a long time to grow so you may want to start with healthy seedlings in pots over starting them from seed (unless, of course, you have the set up to get that jump start ahead of the season). Use against:  Mosquitos, Cabbage Moths, Carrot Fly


Use to combat:  Cabbage Moth, whiteflies. Thyme oil helps with respiratory and digestive problems in people.

Other Herbs of Great Note:

Bay leaves: Repel flies. When you grow this plant, you won’t have to rely on the dried leaves from stores to add flavor to roasts and soups. Just pick the leaves as you need them.

Chives: Repel carrot flies, Japanese beetle and aphids.

Dill: Repels aphids, squash bugs, spider mites, cabbage loopers and tomato hornworms.

Fennel: Repels aphids, slugs and snails.

Lemon Balm: Repels mosquitoes.

Oregano: Repels many pests and will provide ground cover and humidity for peppers.

Parsley: Repels asparagus beetles.

Thyme: Repels whiteflies, cabbage loopers, cabbage maggots, corn earworms, whiteflies, tomato hornworms and small whites.

How about it?  What other herbs do you plant to deter pests common to your garden?

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