Whilst we’re being encouraged to make our gardens more wildlife-friendly by organisations such as the RSPB, we’re not big fans of the insects that plague our time spent in the garden. Whether it’s pesky flies, gnats, wasps, ants or mosquitoes, come summer our outdoor spaces become a battleground. But did you know that your planting could give you the edge in the war against unwanted insects?
Planted herbs bring aroma to the garden and flavour to the plate, but they’re also great for repelling certain insects. The essential oils in these plants act as a repellent and some can even be effective when used to make insect repellent sprays or lotions to soothe bites.
Bugged by flies? Plant basil, lavender and bay leaf to reduce their presence. Targeted by mosquitoes? Then choose from a huge range of herbs, including lemon balm, mint, lemongrass, rosemary, catnip, lemon thyme, citronella, basil and lavender to repel the little blighters.
Plants bring colour, scent and texture to gardens, but some also keep the nasty insects at bay.
Chrysanthemums, for instance, repel ants that tend to make a beeline for anything sweet that you might be enjoying, such as your refreshing drink or your naughty ice cream. Whereas marigolds and lemon scented geraniums both do a great job at repelling mosquitoes that are intent on ruining your evenings in the garden.
Pitcher plants and Venus fly traps make it their business to feed on insects. Ants, flies and wasps often fall prey to the pitcher plant’s colour, fragrance and nectar and the Venus fly trap’s colourful interior.
Where to plant and position insect-repelling herbs and plants
To maximise your enjoyment of the garden, plant or position insect-repelling herbs and plants in the areas you use the most. So if you’re a fan of barbequing and dining alfresco, make sure these types of plants are arranged in pots or planted near to where you eat, such as your terrace, decking or paved area, to deter bugs that are attracted to you and the food.
If you have a favourite area to relax and read a book or sunbathe, again, ensure these plants and herbs feature close by to deter insects from making a meal of your sun-kissed skin.
And to deter flies and other insects from infiltrating your home, place planted pots of insect-repelling herbs close to doorways, plant in window boxes and hang tied bouquets of lavender throughout the house.
More tips for repelling insects
If you still feel you’re suffering from more than your fair share of unwanted insects despite planting insect-repelling plants and herbs, there are plenty of products that can help. Relatively cheap options include insect repellent spray and citronella candles, which can be positioned close by when dining or relaxing outside in the evening.