Even the most fervent animal lover would be hard pressed to extend their affection towards every creeping, crawling thing they meet. Most of us have a list of creatures that we’d definitely rather avoid contact with.
Whether you’re worried about your vegetables, about the disease, or you simply get creeped out by roaches, we all have some creatures that we would happily consider “pests”. Deterring these pests has grown into a big business. A range of repellents, poisons, traps, and obstacles widely available to kill or deter unwanted animals.
But these deterrents come with their own unwanted side effects. Mosquito sprays smell horrible and can potentially harm our health. Roach repellent can also be hazardous, and fly traps are just gross. But what if you could deter pests organically, with pretty flowers and attractive looking plants?
Luckily, there’s no need to dream; pest-repelling plants are already a reality. Essential oils in many plants act as a natural deterrent to pesky pests, so whatever insect or animal you’d like to deter, there’s probably an organic option available.
Nobody likes mosquitoes. In the worst case they spread dangerous diseases, and in the best, they cause endless irritation in summer months. Commercially available mosquito repellents sometimes do the trick of keeping these pests away, but they tend to leave you coated in sticky, nasty smelling poisons.
Planting lavender in your garden is a much more attractive option. Lavender is a tough and drought resistant plant that’s easy to maintain once it’s established. You might have also noticed that pests tend not to decimate lavender in the same way that they take to lettuces. That’s because the essential oils in lavender smell great for humans, but tend to put off more smell sensitive pests like mosquitoes.
Citronella grass is another plant that works wonders against mosquitos. It’s a commonly found ingredient in many mosquito repellants, but the living plant is much more effective in deterring mosquitoes.
Flies also spread disease. Unfortunately, they have the same appetite for dog waste as they do for your dinner, and this makes for some rather unpleasant cross-contamination.
Luckily, there are plenty of plants that deter flies whilst also providing a more pleasant sight for humans than a sticky trap full of dead flies. Bay laurel is one of the tastiest pest-repelling plants. Not only does bay add fragrance to stews, it keeps flies at bay during the summer.
Wormwood is best known as an ingredient in absinthe, but the same oils that add flavour to the potent liquor also make wormwood a great pest repellant. The oils secreted by this easy-growing plant are a great deterrent against a wide range of pests, including flies, mosquitos, mice, moths, and ants.
Cockroaches are one of the more unpleasant pests out there. People go to great lengths to get rid of roaches in their home. But you needn’t fumigate your house to deter roaches – simply plant some of these pest-repelling plants.
Bay laurel works well against roaches, but another great roach specific plant is osage orange, a tree that produces a smell intensely disliked by roaches. The tree produces fruit full of essential oils. These can also be extracted and, when diluted with water, used as a natural, lovely smelling roach repellent for the home.
Admittedly, cats aren’t in quite the same league as roaches or mosquitos. Most cat lovers would be hard pressed to consider their fluffy moggies as pests. Unfortunately, not everyone is in the same mind. Some people are intensely allergic to cats and would really prefer that the neighbour’s cat stays in its own backyard.
If you are a keen amateur farmer, you might also have noticed that cats quite enjoy doing their business amongst your carrots and onions. Cat faeces can actually contain some fairly harmful bacteria and viruses, so it’s a good idea to deter your own cats, or the neighbour’s cats, from providing your vegetables with unwanted fertilizer.
Pest-repelling plants are pretty much your only option here. Cats dislike the smell of lavender, pennyroyal, and lemon thyme, so planting some of these at regular intervals in your garden might deter your cat from using your vegetable patch as a toilet.
You might also try the tactic of attracting cats to a specific area of your garden. Try planting catnip somewhere far from your vegetables. Cats go crazy for catnip and it also tends to deter insects like mosquitoes. Of course, if your objective is to keep cats out of your garden altogether. Planting catnip is probably not the best idea.