By Lindsay Owens
This time of year, many of us are spending more time outside. Whether it’s on deck, patio, or out in the garden, there’s a good possibility you’ve encountered some pests. Some of those pests are likely bothering you, and some are more than likely trying to invade your flowers and vegetable plants.
Let’s try to help tackle the bugs bugging us first. Yes, there are tons of bug repellants on the market, but some plants also naturally help repel bugs. Here are just a few:
- Citronella – Yep. Just like the stuff you put in a tiki torch. Citronella plants love the sun, are relatively easy to care for (just add water) and even get a pretty lavender bloom. Citronella plants, which are annuals in our area, can be planted directly in the grown or left in pots (take note, they may require more water if potted especially placed on concrete or brick that traps heat). Bring your potted citronella inside if you’d like to use it again the next year.
- Lemongrass – With its citrusy scent, lemongrass can also help keep bugs at bay. Also an annual in our area, lemongrass can be planted in a large container and wintered over in a space where it won’t freeze.
- Lemon balm – Much like lemongrass, with its lemony scent, lemon balm can help ward off mosquitos and gnats. Added bonus: lemon balm is a perennial for our zone and continues to keep bugs from coming back for years to come.
Kill two birds with one stone and plant some of these choices:
- Marigolds – These usually orange or yellow beauties don’t just keep bugs away from you; they help keep bugs away from garden plants too. The scent of marigolds is a turn-off for garden pests like nematodes that can damage roots and cabbage worms that like to feast on not only their namesake but also other members of the cabbage family like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. The blooming beauties are also good for attracting good bugs like ladybugs that eat aphids that can damage many plants, especially those in the cucurbit family, including cucumbers, melons and gourds, to name a name. You can’t have pickles if the aphids take out your cucumbers.
- Mums – The fall favorites naturally contain pyrethrum used in many bug repellants. Mums will not only keep the bugs off you but also help reduce the number of spider mites, Japanese beetles, ants and fleas away.