For centuries mints have been used to embalm, preserve food and ward against insect infestations. All species of mint, both wild and cultivated, contain aromatic properties repulsive to insects. The essence is contained in the stems, leaves and flowers of the plants. When the plants are brushed against or crushed, the pungent scent is released. Yarrow, when planted next to a plant of the mint family, increases essential oil production in the mint plant.
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Lavender, one of more than 3,000 members of the mint plant family Labiatae, is an aromatic, hardy perennial plant native to Spain, North Africa, Portugal and the sunny coastal areas of the Mediterranean. Today lavender is cultivated in home gardens and as a commercial crop in Canada, the United States, Europe, New Zealand and Australia. Lavender exhibits woody stems, silvery-green feathered foliage and fragrant purple flowers.
In nature, the aromatic essence released by lavender wards off predatory insects that could damage the plant. Lavender flowers present a fragrance that is enticing, calming and pleasant to humans. Crisp, floral, sweet and herbaceous, the scent of lavender is prized for its use in perfumes, lotions, shampoos, soap and air fresheners.
Lemon balm, another prized member of the mint family, is used as a culinary seasoning, as well as an effective insect repellent. Crush lemon balm leaves and rub them on exposed skin to ward off mosquitoes and pesky flies. The pungent, lemon odor, enjoyable to humans, wards off insect bites. Plant lemon balm next to carrots, cucumbers and beans. Planted next to squash, lemon balm repels squash beetles. Lemon balm and other members of the mint family are incompatible with parsley and chamomile. Mint affects these plants' flavor. Chamomile and parley acquire a "minty" taste when cultivated close to mint plants.
Peppermint, spearmint and pineapple mint repel insects, mice and moles. Peppermint is one of the most used species of mint. Presenting a crisp, clean flavor, peppermint is used in toothpaste, mouthwash, lineaments, gum and candy flavoring.
Many garden plants benefit from a synergistic relationship with other plants. Aromatic plants, including mint, have an essence within their roots, leaves and flowers that repels insects that might cause damage to the plant. When planted near other desirable garden plants, mint can help nearby plants remain insect free. Mint repels ants, fleas, cabbage moths, aphids and beetles. Plant mint close to cabbage, tomatoes and carrots. However, take care in how you plant mint, because it can become invasive. It is best planted in containers or in a manner that controls the spread of its roots. You can place containers of mint between garden rows.