Flowers to Plant to Keep Bugs Out of Gardens

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Weeds, diseases and invasive animals are not the only pests that can plague gardeners. Bugs pose problems, too. Harmful insects and mites can injure plants by chewing on the leaves, tunneling into the young buds, or sucking the sap out of the stems. While it is not possible to completely eliminate bugs from the garden, harmful insects can be effectively controlled by planting flowers that naturally repel pests.


  • For effective, all-purpose pest control, it is hard to beat the power of flowering annuals. Create an informal border with the ornamental nicitonia. Valued for its towering foliage and late-blooming flowers, this form of flowering tobacco eliminates aphids, spider mites, beetles, flies and gnats. Use the raucously trailing nasturium to bring a cheerful combination of bright flowers and decorative foliage to hanging baskets and trellises, while ridding the garden of white flies, squash bugs and pumpkin beetles. Fill flower beds, window boxes and borders with geraniums to get rid of cabbage worms and red spider mites.


  • Perennials fight insect invasions with their foliage as well as their flowers. The hardy wormwood plant produces leafy spikes of fragrant spring flowers that repel nematodes. Once the flowers fall away, the foliage continues to protect the garden by repelling animal pests such as deer and rabbits. The foliage of the fall-blooming chrysanthemum contains pyrethrin, a compound favored by organic gardeners world-wide for its ability to control insects such as fleas, flies, moths, chinch bugs and squash bugs. The diminutive, yellow flowers of the long-blooming tansy plant produce an aroma that naturally repels ants, beetles and flying insects all summer long.

Flowering Herbs

  • No matter how small the garden may be, there is always room for flowering herbs. The pungent aroma of most herbs is enough to deter many insects, but for the greatest effect, include a few pennyroyal plants and lavender bushes. Their gray-green foliage is excellent for creating contrast in the garden and their fragrant purple flowers naturally repel ticks, moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes. Add a few catnip plants to the perimeter of the property for additional mosquito control. According to research performed at Iowa State University, catnip flowers are a more potent mosquito repellent than commercial products containing 25 percent DEET.

Beneficial Insects

  • Not all bugs are bad bugs -- some are good guys who prey on pests. In addition to repelling unwanted bugs, certain flowers such as marigolds and alyssum, attract beneficial insects into the yard. Bugs such as the lacewing, ladybug, parasitic wasp and praying mantis keep plant-destroying pests at bay by eating them, or feeding off their eggs and larvae. Inviting beneficial insects into the garden reduces the need for harsh pesticides and toxic chemicals.

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  • Photo Credit Marigolds image by Konstantin Kaschenko from

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