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Bugs Be Gone! Natural Bug Repellent Plants for Iowa

If you've ever battled a garden pest infestation, you know the frustration is real. But before you reach for the harsh chemicals, take a deep breath! Mother Nature has already provided us with a fantastic pest control solution: natural bug repellent plants.

These amazing plants don't just look good; they work hard, too! Many repel insects through their strong scents, while others attract beneficial predators that keep pest populations in check. The best part is that not only are these plants safe for your family, pets, and the environment, but they also attract pollinators like butterflies and bees to your garden, a win-win for everyone. So, if you're ready to repel pests the natural way, read on to discover Mother Nature's secret weapon!


Bug-Busting Beauties: Plant Spotlight

Let's meet your new gardening heroes: here are some of our favorite organic bug repellent plants!

  • Basil: This culinary superstar's aromatic leaves keep flies and mosquitoes at bay. When planting basil, choose a location with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight and well-drained soil, and space your plants about 12-18 inches apart for optimal growth. If you're a bit short on space, pair our basil up with heavy drinkers like tomatoes, as larger plants help regulate its soil's moisture. Fun fact: there are over 150 varieties of basil, each with a slightly different flavor profile!



  • Lavender: This fragrant favorite not only adds beauty to your garden but also repels flies, mosquitoes, and even fleas! Lavender thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. Plant them 18-24 inches apart for a lovely, low-maintenance border.
  • Lemongrass: This citrusy wonder repels mosquitoes and flies with its powerful scent. Lemongrass prefers full sun and moist soil and can grow quite large, so plant it at least 3 feet away from other plants. It also does incredibly well when grown in containers to ward away bugs from your patio!
  • Lemon Thyme: A smaller relative of its lemongrass cousin that's just as zesty, lemon thyme repels flies, aphids, and even some beetles. This low-growing herb enjoys full sun and well-drained soil. Plant it between your vegetables or along your walkways for added pest control and a delightful citrus aroma.

  • Mint: Mint is an absolute powerhouse of natural pest control for home gardens. A fast-growing favorite, mint thrives in partial shade and moist soil, deterring ants, aphids, and even some rodents with its strong scent. Be aware that mint is an aggressive spreader, so plant it in a container or designated area of your garden.

  • Rosemary: This versatile herb loves full sun and well-drained soil and adds flavor to your cooking while also repelling flies, mosquitoes, and even certain beetle species. Plant it near your grilling area or patio for a fragrant, pest-repellent backyard addition.


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  • Alliums: These strong-smelling plants, which include edible favorites like chives, garlic, and onions, add zip to your dishes while also deterring a variety of pests, including aphids, rabbits, and certain rodents. Alliums prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Plant them throughout your garden in attractive clusters for a multi-layered defense.

  • Catnip: While loved by our feline friends, catnip also repels flies, mosquitoes, and even some squash bugs! This easy-growing herb enjoys full sun and well-drained soil. Plant it near your seating areas or in containers for added pest control and feline entertainment (from a safe distance, of course!).


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  • Nasturtiums: These vibrant flowering plants attract beneficial insects like ladybugs that prey on aphids and other garden pests. Nasturtiums are fast-growing and easy to care for, thriving in full sun and well-drained soil. Plant them throughout your garden for a colorful, pest-controlling addition.

Bonus Plants from Wallace's Garden Center!


  • Marigolds: These cheerful flowers add beauty to your garden while also deterring aphids, whiteflies, and nematodes.

  • Citronella Grass: A powerhouse pest repellent, citronella grass keeps mosquitoes and flies at bay with its strong citrus scent.


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Creating Your Pest-Proof Paradise 

For a strong natural garden defense system, create a diverse and thriving plant community in your beds and planters. By interplanting a mix of repelling herbs and flowers, you'll confuse invading pests while also disrupting their life cycles, making it harder for them to establish themselves. This diversity also encourages a more balanced ecosystem, attracting beneficial predators like ladybugs and praying mantises that will help keep pest populations in check. Remember also that healthy plants are naturally more resistant to pests! Proper watering, fertilization, and organic gardening practices all contribute to a vibrant garden that can better fend off unwanted visitors.

Come on down to Wallace's Garden Center today and find your next collection of natural bug repellent plants! We have a wide selection in stock, and our expert staff are here to help you choose the right ones for your garden. Don't forget to also check out our blog for more gardening tips, including more natural pest control options and home gardening tips for Bettendorf and the rest of the Quad Cities!

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