Pest Repellent Shade Plants: Shade Plants Bugs Don’t Like
By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)
One of the most common issues in the garden are those relates directly to pests. Whether insects are attacking prized rose bushes or the mosquitoes have simply become unbearable, many gardeners find themselves searching for a solution to the problem. While chemical options are available, choosing an organic solution is preferred.
But what about shady areas – another common issue? You can actually fix both problems simply by adding shade plants bugs don’t like to alleviate the stress of insects in the yard and regain enjoyment of outdoor spaces even in those darkest corners.
Are There Shade Plants Bugs Don’t Like?
The concept of planting bug resistant shade plants is not new. In fact, vegetable gardeners have been using companion planting techniques for decades as a means to help deter pests. Plants like marigolds and chrysanthemums have been praised for their ability to reduce numbers of “bad bugs” in the garden. Other ornamentals, like citronella grass, have been praised for their purported ability to repel insects. However, finding pest repellent shade plants seems to be much more difficult.
Many shade gardens provide ideal conditions for insects to thrive. Due to their location, shady microclimates often remain consistently humid and moist. This, in combination with low light levels, makes shady spots the best location for bugs to hide. Insects, such as mosquitoes, are naturally drawn to these areas of the yard where they can safely hide during the hottest parts of the day.
Gardeners can change this habitat by improving drainage, by removing low growing plants, and by replacing them with those with a more open growth habit. Better air circulation and weed suppression will be key in reducing insect populations. Many pest repellent shade plants are effective because they help create an environment that is not conducive to insect life. This can be related to the size, shape, height, and overall structure of the plant.
Pest Repellent Shade Plants
Many shade plants that keep bugs away are also highly fragrant. Fragrant flowering plants and herbs, such as mint, are known for their robust scent. These odors may help to deter insects in the garden. Lemon thyme is a great choice for shady areas and a number of insects dislike its lemony aroma. Both lemon balm and bee balm can tolerate shade and also produce citrusy scents insects don’t like. Don’t overlook the power of alliums – like chives and garlic. These, too, produce lovely flowers and offensive odors to many bugs.
Not only will shade tolerant herb plants provide a powerful aroma, but will prove quite useful in the kitchen as well. Though some plants have been found to repel insects, it is important to note that the incorporation of shade plants that keep bugs away is not a definitive “cure” for insect issues in the garden.
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Perennial Plants that Repel Mosquitoes
As humans, we like to multitask whenever we can. If we can combine two activities and save time and effort, we consider that to be the best way to go. Wouldn’t it be nice to extend multitasking to our gardens?
You bet it would, which is why we’ve developed this guide to perennial plants that repel mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus or Zika virus. In this guide, we look at seven shade plants that repel mosquitoes. We explore a list of plants for all climates, and we provide valuable tips to help you make sure that your perennials not only survive but thrive.
There are useful pointers on when and what to plant and help you know which plants will scare away the flying pests you want to eliminate the natural way. With our assistance and your perseverance, in no time at all, you’ll be lounging happily outside, mosquito free and loving it!
Information on Perennials that Repel Mosquitoes
To start with, what are perennials? They are plants that require only a time and energy investment on your part during their initial planting period. Once the plants take root, they bloom regularly, without needing any additional assistance.
Vegetable perennials such as asparagus and artichokes are among the best-known perennials, but there are many perennial flowers and perennial ground cover plants, too.
Tilling topsoil is harmful to ground cover and damages the ecosystem every time you sow annual crops, you injure your garden’s root-and-soil system and take away a welcoming environment for earthworms and other burrowing creatures.
You won’t have to replant perennials every year, thus improving your soil quality over time and aiding the environment.
Caring for Shade Plants that Repel Mosquitoes
You want to give your perennials their best shot at doing well, so if you’re planting them in the ground, make sure to wait until the last frost of the year is past. Some plants repelling mosquitoes handle cold or hot weather more readily than others, so always check the specific requirements for your perennials.
Many perennials that repel mosquitoes work well when paired with another plant type, so get to know the plants that work well together in your vegetable garden or yard. For example, lavender and floss flowers make a great team. Plants that repel mosquitoes may also work as wasp repellent plants, as well, so explore your options before planting.
Because perennial mosquito repellent plants are so adaptable and hearty, they tend to take over any untended garden or lawn areas, so make sure to stay current with weeding and thinning to prevent rampant overgrowth.
Your perennial plants will usually be content with water from rainfall, but if you have any concerns about how your perennials will fare in your climate, consult your local agriculture office to find out which insect repellent plants are right for your soil. You can also avoid any issues and reduce your concern by planting low water plants that require little moisture.
Repels moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes. Lavender has been used for centuries to add a pleasantly sweet fragrance to homes and clothes drawers. Although people love the smell of lavender, mosquitoes, flies and other unwanted insects hate it. Place tied bouquets in your home to help keep flies outdoors. Plant it in sunny areas of the garden or near entryways to your house to help keep those areas pest free. You can also use oil extracted from the flowers as a mosquito repellent you can apply to exposed skin when going into the garden or patio. The Everything Lavender website has a guide for extracting the oil and making a lavender-infused body oil. Added benefits are that lavender oil nourishes the skin and has a calming effect that induces sleep.
Sun Loving Flowers That Resist Deer
Decorative gardens often take the brunt of deer pressure. Deer often feel safe in pursuing a snack on plants at the end of driveways or lining a sidewalk. Using deer-resistant plants can not only prevent a drive-by deer snack, but it can brighten up these typically sunny areas.
6. Daffodils (Narcissus spp.)
Plants that are toxic to deer like daffodils and foxgloves are a good bet for sprucing up your landscape. However, keep in mind that plants that are toxic to deer can also be harmful to goats and sheep. Members of the amaryllis family contain a poisonous toxin called lycorine which is toxic to mammals. Other members of this family include snowflakes and snowdrops.
Plant daffodils in the fall for spring blooms. Think daffodils are boring? They don’t just come in yellow but a wide variety of colors and petal shapes. They grow in zones 3-8.
7. Foxgloves (Digitalis spp.)
Foxglove is a tall, elegant plant with bell-shaped flowers in colorful bunches. Foxglove is a biannual and will readily self-seed. It prefers part shade and rich organic soil, but it can handle full sun if it isn’t too scorching in your area. They grow in zones 4-10. Foxglove contains toxins which may be harmful to humans and deer.
8. Poppies (Papaver rhoeas)
Dorothy loved running through the field of poppies, but fear not, you won’t fall asleep when planting them, just be sure not to eat them. The isoquinoline alkaloids in Oriental poppies are toxic and can cause sedation and irritation to deer as well as your children and family pet. They’re a delightful meadow plant that’s easy to grow from seed in zones 3-9.
9. Snapdragons (Antirrhinum)
Snapdragons are my youngest son’s favorite flower. Who can resist putting gentle pressure on the petals to make their “mouths” open and close? Snapdragons come in a wide variety of colors and are a cheerful addition to a flower bed or container. They are hardy in zone 8-9, but you can grow them as an annual outside of that range.
10. Silver Mound (Artemisia schmidtiana)
I love to plant silver mound in front of brightly colored flowers. The leaves look almost silky, and they have a silver hue. Although they don’t produce flowers, the plant has an intoxicating smell that repels deer and attracts humans. This deer-resistant plant thrives in zones 3-9.
11. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
The delicate looking tall, wispy stems of the Russian sage are covered with purple flowers (and bees) from summer till fall frosts. They thrive in zones 5-9 and are not picky about soil.
12. Peonies (Paeonia)
What better way to say hello to spring than with a peony bush or two? The large blooms are stunning and fragrant, but short-lived. Fortunately, deer don’t like the smell. They’re great for colde`r climates and hardy in zones 2-8.
13. Bee Balm (Monarda)
Everybody knows that bees love bee balm, but did you know that deer don’t? Bee balm has brilliant spiky flowers that hang around all summer. It grows up to three feet high so is great for the center or back of the garden bed. It grows in sun or part shade in zones 4-9.
14. Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)
Do the deer like to drink out of your water feature? Iris is deer resistant and loves moist, sunny areas. Iris grow from rhizomes. Plant them in late summer so that they can get established. Iris comes in a variety of colors and sizes, and they do best in zones 3-9.
15. Hollyhocks (Alcea)
Love the look of a fabulous Victorian cottage garden? Hollyhocks are hardy biennials that grow in zones 2-10. They are tall and stately and look oh so pretty along a picket fence. Some varieties grow up to eight feet tall with large four-inch flowers.
16. Gladiolas (Gladiolus)
Glads, short for gladiolas, are tall spikes with flowers growing up the stems. They look great as a backdrop behind a bed of shorter contrasting flowers and foliage plants. Glads grow from corms, which you should plant after the danger of frost. You can dig them up and store them in a cool location for winter if you are in zone 6 or lower.
Don’t Bug Me! House Plants That Resist Pests
Plenty of people tell me they’d love to bring more plants into their homes and offices, but they don’t have a green thumb, or even a yellow thumb. Even if you are a beginner, you can make it a lot easier on yourself if you choose plants proven to be easier to care for than others. (But we’re standing by to help: it’s our mission at Good Earth Plant company to enrich people’s lives with plants).
Another strategy is to choose plants that are naturally resistant to bugs, as in pests! If you aren’t having to fight off mites, scale, ants, flies, snails or the dreaded fungus gnats, your gardening experience will be much more rewarding.
Here are a dozen houseplants I like because bugs don’t like them. They are all fairly easy to grow and should survive even the worst brown thumb plant killer. Give one (or more) of them a try.
NOTE: One of the reasons bugs avoid most of the plants on this list is that their leaves are naturally toxic. This means most of these plants are also toxic to animals and sometimes even little kids, so if you are a pet owner or have babies and toddlers likely to chew on a plant, pay attention to which are safe and which are not for your critters and kids.
Good Earth Plant Company’s Top 12 Insect Repelling Plants That Are Easy to Grow
Bold Sanseviera plants in striking pots make a statement and improve the indoor environment without wasting water.
Called mother-in-law’s-tongue or snake plant, sansevierias are nearly the toughest houseplants around. Seriously, if you can kill one you’re a plant assassin. These are plants with leathery leaves in pretty cream, yellow, and green variegated patterns. They grow straight upright and can reach several feet tall. Sanseveierias prefer a nice sunny spot but will grow in nearly any kind of light. Don’t overwater these plants. Overwatering is about the only way to kill one. Once every 10 days is plenty and in the winter you can water it once a month. Put one in a gorgeous tall pot as a showpiece or group several.
Because of the tough leaves, bugs stay away.
Keep your pets and kids from chewing on sansevierias as they are poisonous.
Chinese evergreens can grow nearly anywhere, which is why they are popular choices in workplaces.
The Chinese evergreen is super disease-resistant and bugs tend to leave it alone. It has green variegated leaves and will bear white flowers similar to a calla lily. The flowers are followed by green berries that turn red-orange. It can handle almost any light setting. The more silver or yellow in the leaves, the more light your plant requires. Dark green varieties can grow in shade. But don’t ever put it in direct sun. Put it under a ceiling floodlight that is on six to eight hours a day and it won’t need much natural light at all.
This plant likes to be warm and it appreciates humidity. Water it every seven days and you can keep the soil a little moist, but it’s OK to let it dry out once in a while. The one thing that can hurt this plant is a draft. If the leaves on your Chinese evergreen start turning yellow, try moving your plant to a new location because it was probably on the receiving end of a nasty draft.
The Chinese evergreen is toxic to pets, so it is best kept out of their reach or in households without pets.
Good Earth Plant Company recently chose bromeliads as part of our plantscaping services to the Alpha Project in public spaces like its lobby and its offices.
One of our favorites at Good Earth Plant Company! Bromeliads come in over 2,000 varieties. Pineapples are bromeliads! But we don’t recommend you plant one at home. Try one of the many commonly sold decorative varieties. Bromeliads have thick, fleshy leaves which wind up from a central bowl that forms a small natural vase. Insects don’t like chewing on these tough leaves so they rarely bother a bromeliad. Plant diseases are rarely a problem for this plant. Its foliage comes in a variety of colors. It will survive without direct light and it’s even OK in artificial light, but the more bright indirect light it gets, the more colorful its leaves will be. Don’t keep the center of the plant filled with water while in low light and the potting mix just barely moist. Water whenever the potting mixture looks dry by pouring the water into the center “cup” of the plant. Watering a plant really doesn’t get much easier. The plant should be kept drier in the winter, and has been known to survive for weeks without water.
Another reason we love bromeliads: they are one of the few on the list NOT poisonous.
4. Aspidistra Elatior
You can probably guess why this plant is called the “Cast Iron” plant. It’s tough as… you know the rest. This plant will grow under nearly any conditions: heat, cold, overwatering, underwatering, dust, or low light. It is a pest resistant champ. It likes cool filtered sun and its soil should be kept evenly moist. Water it thoroughly every time it dries out, then leave it alone. There are over 93 reported species of this plant. Most have shiny dark leaves up to 24-inches long. It’s easy to grow cuttings. Cut a leaf off down into the soil to include some roots, put it into potting mix, and eventually you’ll have a new plant.
Another plus: The Cast Iron plant is non-toxic.
The cissus is also called grape ivy or kangaroo vine. It is another plant safe for pets and kids. It will tolerate cooler temperatures and drafty spots. It doesn’t like direct sun but nearly anything else will do. It is a pretty aggressive climber, so don’t leave anything in its path it can grab. It has small green leaves and will do just fine in a decorated pot.
Taste the rainbow! Coleus leaves bring beautiful bright colors into your home.
6. Coleus Blumei
This plant is known for its wild colorful leaves in nearly every color of the rainbow. It loves bright sun and it needs moist soil, so this is a good plant for those of you who just can’t keep your hands off the watering can. It’s one of those plants with leathery tough leaves, and insects don’t want to work that hard for a meal. Coleus plants are not harmful to people, but this one can make a pet quick sick, so be aware.
Dracaena leaves come in a variety of striking patterns.
You are probably familiar with these tall, tough plants. They have long spear shaped leathery leaves and come in lots of colors such as spotted with yellow or cream, striped white, edged with burgundy, and plain green. It can easily survive indoors even under less than ideal conditions, anything short of outright neglect. Dracaenas need plenty of filtered light. Some do just fine under fluorescent light. Because there are many different hybrids, ask someone at your favorite garden center to help you choose the right one. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. These plants like humidity, so they’re great for a kitchen or bathroom. Those leathery leaves repel insects, but they are poisonous to pets.
Mosquito plants are easy grow choices for pots inside or outside your home. Skeeters hate them!
8. Mosquito Plant or Citronella Plant
This plant is actually a member of the geranium family, bred by a Dutch botanist by crossing African geraniums and Citronella grass. The plant’s leaves smell like citronella, which is a mosquito repellent. You can crush a leaf and rub it on your skin to help naturally keep mosquitos away. It can be grown indoors. It gets about a foot tall and can tolerate anything from full sun to part shade. Consider also growing this in pots on your porch or patio. The Citronella plant’s leaves has a strong citrus aroma which naturally repels mosquitos.
9. Culinary Herbs
The strong scent and flavor oils in most herbs are way too strong for most pests. Basil, chives, chamomile, and mint repel most bugs including mosquitos. Most types of herbs you can buy in your garden center can be grown together in rectangular boxes except for mint. Mint is very aggressive and will do its best to move out its neighbors, so grow mint on its own. Cooking herbs generally require good sunlight and drainage. It’s fun to grow herbs in a sunny kitchen window and then use them for cooking or tea.
Non-toxic of course, although you don’t want your animals eating them all.
Bugs hate catnip, but your feline friends will love it.
I’m including catnip for readers who are cat lovers. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) contains “nepetalactone,” the chemical compound that drives cats crazy. It turns out this stuff is also a natural cockroach deterrent! This is a pretty plant similar to the culinary herbs you might know better, and grows in the same type of bright sunny conditions. It will get six inches tall. Grow it in a pot, then trim the plant. You can either sprinkle small amounts where you want to keep pests away, or you can simmer it in small amounts of water and then put the solution in a spray bottle and spray it in corners and on baseboards. But you need to remember, while you’ll keep the cockroaches away, your spray will make the cats want to play!
The plant is nontoxic to humans and other pets.
Jade plants come in many colors and shapes and all of them are easy to grow.
11. Crassula Arborescens
You know this one as the jade plant. It comes in many varieties and colors. What they all have in common are smooth, fleshy succulent leaves that insects dislike due to toxic and nasty tasting sap. Jade plants grow quickly – sometimes too quickly, as they will outgrow a pot in record time. The good news is that you can be pretty aggressive about trimming them, and root the cuttings for more jade plants. They are easy going, and while they like sun they will grow in medium light too. Best grown in a window. They can tolerate nearly any temperature. Frequent re-potting of your jade plants will help them stay healthy. The jade plant is another one pet owners should avoid for toxicity to their cats and dogs.
Ready for action, these Venus Flytraps digest insects after catching them in their leaves.
12. Venus Flytrap
You can bet a carnivorous plant won’t attract too many bugs! The Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is a plant native to wetland areas of the East Coast and the Carolinas. Its leaves form a trapping structure triggered by tiny hairs on the surface. When a bug lands on the leaves or crawls across them and touches one of these hairs, the leaf trap starts closing. If there is another contact within about 20 seconds, you’ll be startled to see it snapping shut. The plant then digests the insect. In its native damp soil, the Venus flytrap developed this adaptation to make up for the lack of nitrogen in the soil. These plants get about six inches tall and they are very each to grow inside. They really will get rid of flies and gnats. They like sun with damp soil. I just bought one at Home Depot on a whim. Let’s see how it does. Try a terrarium?
With all of the rain and cool weather we’re having, (and snow for our readers elsewhere) it’s the perfect time to indulge in a little indoor gardening. Try a few of the plants on our list. Remember, they all have the ability to clean your indoor air. Having a little success with just a few houseplants can inspire you to try a few more, and having something green and growing nearby in the winter (even a San Diego winter) is great for your wellbeing!