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Flowers that Fight Pests and Insects

Using flowers to deter pests and insects goes by a fancy term called “companion planting,” a practice used by organic and biodynamic gardeners when one plants certain types of plants near each other because they are mutually beneficial. In the case of growing food in a garden plot, there are a number of flowers you can plant for natural pest control. Toss out the pesticides and instead plant some attractive and aromatic flowers. Once you do this, you will be gardening “biodynamically”!

What works in my vegetable patch may or may not work equally well in yours. Every garden has a different growing climate, soil type, and of course, a different set of pests. You will have to experiment to find out what works best for your situation. Choosing flowers and other plants that are native to your area will help, as the beneficial insects will already know what to look for.

Here’s a reasonably good list of herbs and flowers that fights pests and insects. And virtually all of them are available in the Seeds ‘n Such catalog or on our website at

Genovese Sweet Basil

Basil-The oils in basil are said to repel thrips, flies and mosquitoes. Plant basil alongside tomatoes for larger, tastier fruits. However, basil and rue should not be planted together.

Borage – Commonly grown and used for culinary purposes in Great Britain, borage is still not well known in the U.S. Although it is an herb, borage can detertomato hornwormsandcabbage worms, and is believed to help almost any plant increase its resistance to disease and pests.

Catnip– This plant repels just about everything, except for cats of course! Use it to keep away flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants, and weevils. Use sachets of dried catnip to deter the annual parade of ants that invade your kitchen.

Chives– Chives are one of the most popular herbs. Not only is their flavor universally loved, but their grassy foliage and round flower heads also add so much interest to the garden. You can plant chives to repel Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies. It has also been said that chives will help prevent scab when planted among apple trees.

Chrysanthemums – Chrysanthemums are beautiful in flower arrangements, as they come in a wide spectrum of colors, including white, yellow or pink, and they can be quite helpful with pests in the garden. Chrysanthemums contain a chemical called pyrethrum that’s toxic to insects but safe for human and animal consumption. Aside from planting these colorful flowers around your garden bed, you can also make a tea from the flowers and use it on root nematodes and to repel Japanese beetles.

Dahlias – These old-fashioned favorites produce blooms with a variety of shapes and colors, making them a popular choice for flower gardeners. They’re said to also repel nematodes, making them both beautiful and useful in your vegetable garden.

Dill– You should always find a place for this plant in your garden. Dill is best planted with cucumbers and onions. During the cool season, plant it with lettuce. Dill attracts hoverflies and predatory wasps, and its foliage is used as food by swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Tomato hornworms are also attracted to dill, so if you plant it at a distance, you can help draw these destructive insects away from your tomatoes. Dill repels aphids and spider mites. Sprinkle dill leaves on squash plants to repel squash bugs.

Four O’Clocks – Four O’Clock flowers will attract and kill Japanese beetles, making them an excellent bait flower to place near your vegetable garden. These flowers are also poisonous to people and animals, though, so take care to choose safe locations if you want to plant these.

LavenderKnown for its delicate, violet leaves and pleasing aroma, lavender is used in everything from potpourri to tea and baked goods to frosting. Lavender not only is a superb general insect repellant in your garden, it also smells (and looks) lovely. It’s used to repel most insects you’d want to keep out of the garden, particularly fleas, moths and mosquitoes. It can also help protect other plants near it from whiteflies.

Marigolds – The marigold is probably the most well known plant for repelling insects. They are very popular as they are cheap to grow and contain vibrant orange hues. Plant the scented varieties of marigolds to deter pests. The French Marigold varieties are recommended for keeping whiteflies away from tomatoes and killing nematodes, and they protect the health of the soil under the plants. Mexican marigolds are said to “bug” many destructive insects. While this plant drives away many bad bugs, it also attracts spider mites andsnails.

Nasturtiums – Nasturtiums planted near tomatoes and cucumbers can fight offaphids, whiteflies,squash bugs, andcucumber beetles. The flowers, especially the yellow blooming varieties, act as a trap for aphids.

Petunias –Petunias can repel asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, aphids, tomato hornworms and several others.

Sunflowers – Sunflowers might be the largest flower you have in your garden, and what a better beacon to say “come on over” to beneficial pollinators. Sunflowers also draw aphids away from other plants. Frequently ants will move their colonies onto sunflowers which are tough enough that they suffer no damage.

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