How Some Plants Can Act As Insect Repellent

If you’re a green thumb, you must be aware of insects and pests that attack your garden or your indoor plants. You must have browsed a lot to gain information about how to tackle pests and insects if they have attacked your plant. But did you even know that there are so many varieties of plants that are insect repellents themselves? Yes. There are ample varieties of insect-repellent plants which can save you the time and hassle of insecticide treatments.

What Is The Mechanism Behind the Insect Repellent Plants?

Many plants, including citronella, pyrethrum, and others, contain chemical components including linalool, coumarin, estragole, and others that emit a strong odour repulsive to many pests. These insect-repellent plants contain natural compounds that are toxic or unpalatable to insects. These compounds act as a defence mechanism for the plant, helping to deter or repel insects that might otherwise feed on or damage the plant.

There are several different types of natural compounds that can act as insect repellents in plants. Some of the most common include:

  • Essential oils. Many insect-repellent plants, such as citronella, lavender, and peppermint, produce essential oils that have a strong scent that repels insects. These oils can be extracted and used in insect-repellent products for humans.
  • Alkaloids. Alkaloids are nitrogen-containing compounds that are toxic to insects. Plants like tobacco, which produce nicotine, are toxic to many insects and can be used as insect repellent.
  • Terpenes. Terpenes are a class of compounds found in many plants that have a strong scent and can repel insects. Plants like marigolds, which produce the terpene limonene, are effective at repelling a range of insects.
  • Fatty acids. Fatty acids found in plants like garlic and onion are toxic to many insects and can be used as a natural insect repellent.

These natural compounds act on the sensory receptors of insects, repelling them and preventing them from feeding on or damaging the plant. The specific mechanism by which these compounds work can vary depending on the type of compound and the insect species involved. Some compounds, for example, may interfere with the insect’s ability to locate the plant or recognize it as a suitable host, while others may act as a toxin, disrupting the insect’s metabolic processes and causing it to die.

Overall, insect-repellent plants use a combination of natural compounds and sensory mechanisms to protect themselves from insect damage and can be a useful tool for natural pest control in both indoor and outdoor environments.

peculiar odour has an impact on how insects’ neurons operate, which prevents pests from detecting a delicate fragrance coming from the host they feed on. 

Here is a list of some plants that are natural insect repellents. 


“Lemon grass” is another name for citronella. Citronella oil is a pure oil made from Cymbopogon species’ leaves and stems. Due to its antifungal properties, this oil is a prominent element in the creation of insect repellents. Numerous insects, especially mosquitoes, are considered to be repelled by the aroma. Some individuals think that applying the plant’s crushed form to the skin is effective.

Although it is not as successful as you may assume at keeping mosquitoes away, growing it both indoors and outdoors won’t harm anything and will undoubtedly help keep adult whiteflies away.


This is a lovely ornamental flower that comes in many hues. It is made up of pyrethrin, an ingredient in commercial insect repellents. All insects’ neurological systems are attacked by this pyrethrin, which prevents female mosquitoes from biting. Compared to many synthetic pesticides, these species are far less hazardous to mammals and birds. Chrysanthemums also keep ants, insects, lice, and fleas away.


Basil is frequently referred to as the “King of Herbs” or the “Queen of Aromatic Herbs.” This plant not only helps to repel pests, but it can also emit a calming scent to the human brain. It exudes a substance called “estragole” that deters mosquitoes as well as other pests including white flies, asparagus beetles, and carrot flies.


We all know that tobacco is injurious to health but did you know that they are natural repellent? Around the major part of the world, this plant is acknowledged to be a vital contributor to illnesses and fatalities that may be prevented. But tobacco does more than only contribute to chronic lung conditions. Yes, tobacco will help you ward off carrot flies and beetles, making it a wonderful choice for companion gardening.


Geranium is widely known for its beautiful flowers with vibrant shades. These plants are not just known for their beauty but they are also known for being a natural insect repellent. Natural and synthetic insect repellent sprays contain geranium extract, commonly known as geraniol. Numerous insects, including mosquitoes and common pests that may harm many fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes and cabbage, are repelled by it. 


Aphids, cabbage moths, flea beetles, squash bugs, whiteflies, and even ants are all repelled by the aroma of mint. The peppermint and menthol in mint have biocidal qualities that help deter and manage mites, mosquitoes, and a variety of other pests. You may easily scatter mint sprigs among the plants you wish to protect to keep this aggressive growth of weeds from encroaching on your vegetable garden, but the sprigs need to be changed out frequently. Or, to confine the plant, grow mint in pots and position them among the vegetables.


Tomatoes are excellent insect repellents when planted as companion plants. These companion tomato plants will normally grow 180 cm (6 feet) or more above the ground. Tomato plants are vines that are initially decumbent.


Petunias, which are renowned for their vibrant colours and abundance of blooms, work to ward off pests including aphids, squash bugs, tomato hornworms, and leafhoppers. To get rid of these pests, plant them next to herbs and vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, peppers, and basil.  They come in a wide range of types and are simple to cultivate. It serves as a natural pest defence for vegetables in vegetable gardens when utilised as a companion plant.

Soil Type and Fertiliser for Insect Repellent Plants?

The soil and fertilizer requirements for insect-repellent plants can vary depending on the specific plant species. However, in general, most insect-repellent plants prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Here are some general guidelines to help you care for your insect-repellent plants:


Use a well-draining soil mix that is rich in organic matter, such as compost or peat moss. Avoid heavy or clay soils that can retain too much moisture.

Ensure good drainage by using a pot with drainage holes, or by adding a layer of gravel to the bottom of the pot.


Use a balanced, all-purpose fertiliser that is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You can also use a slow-release fertiliser to provide nutrients over a longer period.

Be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to excessive growth and reduce the effectiveness of the plant’s insect-repellent compounds.

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