Do Some Plants Repel Insects ?

Common Marigold

You may not have noticed, but over the last 60 years or so, as a society and as consumers we have gone away from doing things the sensible way.

When something becomes a pest nowadays, we tend to go for the ‘Big Guns’ straight away without considering whether we ought to have less of a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction.

There’s a fly in the room, so out with the spray.

French Marigolds

We think of plants as having to attract insects in order to pollinate them, don’t we ? And of course that is true.

But did you know that many plants, like these French Marigolds for example are commonly used by growers in order to repel insects? These are very handy planted between the rows of veg. to repel insects.

Elder Flower – Sambucus nigra

Take the Elder for example. Sambucus nigra – A common enough small tree or large shrub, depending upon your point of view. 

Back in the day, well before the advent of home refrigeration, food storage areas, or ‘larders’, as we used to call them were always placed on the shady side of the house. The window would have a fine steel mesh in it and not glass so the larder was always cool. The shelves would be of marble or slate, again for coolness, and outside, adjacent to the window would be planted an Elder Tree because a). it was shade tolerant, and b). it repels flies.

Lavender ‘Hidcote’

So if it has been long known that Elder keeps insects away, are there any other plants which have a common effect?

Well the answer is – Plenty !

And what they have in common is a very strong smell; so you are looking at plants like Lavender which is known for its strong scent.


Rosemarinus officinalis

Rosemary, the culinary plant has a similar effect, as do other culinary herbs, like Dill, Mint, Basil,Bay Trees, Onions, Garlic and Thyme.

Also you could try Lemon Balm, Petunias, Citronella Grass, some Chrysanthemums and Nasturtiums.