15 Essential Oils For Gardening For Pest Control You Will Have To Use To Keep Vermin Away

Is there any better way to relax tired muscles after a hard day’s work than to drop a few drops of scented oil into the bathtub, play the music (2-hour long Japanese flute video from youtube is the best) and enjoy? I’ve almost fall asleep in the tub once. If you love this kind of relaxation, I have great news. In case that you didn’t know, those essential oils can be used in the garden as well.

Here are 15 essential oils for gardening for pest control which you can feel free to try out and use if you have trouble with battling bugs and other vermin.

15 Essential Oils For Gardening For Pest Control


The Basics

15 Essential Oils For Gardening For Pest Control

Essential or scented oils are as the name suggests, oils which are rich in pleasant and relaxing smell. Through the ages, this item was concerned as one of the most wanted luxuries since the process of making them is difficult. However, many of those oils are not edible or can contain traces of specific ingredients which are turning the life of an average bug into a nightmare.

Luckily, not much of these oils will be required. The most common way of distributing and using them is to pour a few drops into the sprayer, add water, a few drops of soap, shake the bottle and fire away.

The reason why the soap is added is to enable water and oil to mix, which is otherwise impossible. Keep in mind that if you wish to keep the production of your vegetables organic, you will have to find a natural soap. Luckily, this is not too hard to find, since organic products are on the rise recently.

How Can Oil Affect The Bug?

Oil affect the bug

There are several ways in which essential oils can influence the pests. Roughly two groups can be made, so here they are.

  • The first group are those oils which are affecting the bugs themselves by either killing or keeping them away.
  • The second group are those which are making the surrounding of bugs inadequate for a living, for example by erasing their pheromone trails.

Of course, not all oils are strictly in one group; many of those listed here will do both of those things. These are the most effective, and more often a bit more expensive.

1. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil

If there was a contest about the most famous essential oil, peppermint-made one will undoubtedly be placed among top three. Besides the lovely and crisp smell, it will also keep some critters away.

Peppermint oil has an overpowering smell, and that can be used in gardens. Ants are known to keep their distance from this aroma since its scent confuses them because it “covers” the pheromone. If you have a tree which is attacked by a colony of ants, spray the mixture of oil and water around the perimeter, it will keep them away. Also, this oil works well as mice and rat repellent, since it irritates their sense of smell. Put a few drops of it on a cotton ball and spread them through the garage or the kitchen.

2. Rosemary Oil

rosemary oil

With beautiful, wood-like scent, rosemary is often used in daily life. Besides repelling pests, it will attract butterflies, which is good, unless you are growing cabbage because the arch-nemesis of it is white cabbage butterfly.

Just make a mixture of oil, water and a few drops of soap, and distribute it in the area around the plants. There are some indications that this oil will keep the larvae of insects away, so it is excellent if your potatoes are suffering from Colorado potato bug infestation. It is not a big deal if you spray some on the plant itself, but this will make the leaves susceptible to sunburns, so be careful.

3. Neem Oil

Neem oil

I have mentioned neem oil while writing about organic insecticides, and it had to be featured again. It is so good and efficient that it deserves to be mentioned again.

When sprayed with a mixture of oil, water, and soap, neem oil messes up the hormones of insects. Therefore, pests like aphids and ants will be disorganized so that the colony will dissipate quite soon. Also, it is safe when used near pets or kids. It is even considered as safe for the environment.

4. Chrysanthemum Oil

Chrysanthemum oil

Is there a better way to eradicate pests than to use oil from the flower which contains pyrethrine, a natural bug-killer?

Chrysanthemum may not be a glamorous flower such as orchids, but it is more than useful. The oil from this little orange guy will kill or keep away aphids and others which may jeopardize your harvest. It affects the insects either by suffocating them or rendering their neurological system useless.

5. Cedarwood Oil

Cedarwood oil

Gained from the cedar tree, this oil has a familiar smell which does a great job to keep the bugs away. However, cedarwood oil has hit-and-miss probability; for me, it was effective, while for you it may prove to be less useful.

To make a mixture, dilute ½ of a pint of cedar oil, dilute with 5 gallons of water and spread it as a foliar spray. Its smell will keep thrips, aphids, and scales, while the oil itself will disrupt the pheromones of cucumber beetles, which is equal to keeping them away. However, to be effective, this oil must regularly be distributed.

6. Pine Oil

Pine oil

As the name suggests, this oil is gained from pine trees and has found its usage in gardens. Since snails are somewhat tricky to tackle since their persistence, this is the ideal solution for them.

Mix about a spoon of pine oil and water with a bit of soap, and distribute the mixture around the plants which are known to be targets of snails and slugs. Its smell is what keeps them at bay, and since snails can’t fly, once they come near the ring of oil, they will turn around and leave (although this might take some time).

7. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil

Although it is not an actual tea, once the ants in your garden understand what is brewing, they are sure to leave.

Mix about a teaspoon of tea tree oil and water in a sprayer and cover the area where the ants reside. The smell is what will keep them away. Moreover, insects, in general, seem to dislike the smell of this oil, so it is universal; you can try it with any pest your garden suffers. Moreover, it is effective in exterminating fungi and fungal diseases. But, be careful; if ingested, tea tree oil may be lethal for pets, and can cause severe damage to human health.

8. Thyme Oil

Thyme oil

A close relative to mint, thyme has a distinctive smell. It will help you keep the pests away, as well as being successful in eliminating fungi and several types of bacteria.

To apply this oil, mix it with water, and spray over pests you wish to eradicate. It will cover them, and since its slippery and greasy nature, the bugs won’t be able to shake it off, so it will eliminate them by suffocating. Also, if you are in doubt whether your plants are suffering from some fungal disease, try applying thyme oil; it may even work.

9. Lavender Oil

Lavender Oil

Is there a man who doesn’t know that a bag of dried lavender flowers will keep the moths away from his closet? If it is useful in protecting your clothes, why it shouldn’t be effective in protecting your garden as well?

The smell of lavender is what makes the bugs turn around and leave. To apply it, make a mixture of lavender oil and water, and distribute where it is needed. It is also known to be of rare oils which can be used undiluted, but I didn’t want to experiment. I’ve also noticed that one evening, while I was spraying the solution in my garden, there we no mosquitoes around. As they usually are attacking me in swarms, this means that lavender oil has another appliance.

10. Lemongrass Oil

lemongrass oil

It may smell like a lemon, but is still grass. Luckily, we can extract its oil and use it as an effective insect repellant.
As the name suggests, this grass has a citric smell, similar to lemon. It is most often used as a mosquito repellant, but it can also be used to eradicate termites which are known to wreak havoc wherever it is possible.

The ingredient in lemongrass oil, Geraniol is effective in tackling certain species of parasites, so it can be even used for killing various larvae.

11. Orange Oil

Orange oil

Have you noticed that when you are peeling an orange, your hands are kind of greasy at first, and once that matter dries you, it is somewhat sticky? Well, that thing is orange oil, and it is used to eliminate pests from gardens.

To eradicate primarily ants, and others such as mites, termites and some sorts of flies, mix one cup of compost tea, one ounce of molasses and 2 ounces of orange oil in a gallon of water. Since the ingredient of orange oil called d-limonene acts as nerve toxin, it kills the insects within minutes. Pour this mixture into spray bottle and eliminate pests which are bothering you. Orange oil also dilutes ant pheromone, so it will prevent them from coming back.

12. Cinnamon Oil

Cinnamon oil

Gained from the bark of a cinnamon tree, this is another smell-based insect repellant. Since its low toxicity, it is great for usage in every garden.

Although cinnamon oil has a sharp and strong smell, I had to endure and to try to use it as an insect repellant. I’ve made a mixture of water and a bit of soap and sprayed the affected area. I couldn’t withstand the smell, and luckily, neither were aphids which were attacking my plants. Also, I’ve noticed that in general, all insects are thinning out, so feel free to use it in case that you don’t know what to do, or if several species are attacking the same area.

13. Basil Oil

Basil oil

Basil oil is very easy to find since this plant is grown for its culinary use. It will help you repel spiders, fleas, and spider aphids.

Mix water and basil oil with a bit of soap, and spray thoroughly the area which is affected by pests. There is also another way you can use, and that is to soak the cotton ball with basil oil and burn it. It would be much easier to set a few basil leaves on fire and put it into the metal container and walk through the garden. If you don’t have leaves close at hand, try with cotton balls.

14. Mugwort Oil

Mugwort oil

This is a bit unknown way to deal with pests since mugwort oil is most often used therapeutically. However, there is one particular beetle which can destroy a whole harvest of beans and peas; the infamous cowpea weevil.

This little guy will eat everything that looks like beans, so to kill it, I had to bring the heavy guns. I’ve mixed mugwort oil and water, added a bit of soap and started soaking the affected area. The degree of effectiveness was very high so that this year there will be no half-eaten peas in my basement.

15. Tansy Oil

Tansy oil

Well, if this plant was used to repel bugs from coffins of kings by keeping the bugs away, why it shouldn’t be used as a repellant in your garden?

Mind that in larger quantities this oil might be toxic, so be careful not to spray it on the fruits of the vegetables such as watermelons. Anyway, I’ve finally found a practical solution for Colorado potato bugs and ticks. Mix a few drops of this oil with water and spray affected leaves, and that is it. The compounds of this oil will kill the bugs quite efficiently. According to several types of research, it can eliminate from 60 to 100% of Colorado potato bugs.


So, here it is. 15 essential oils for gardening for pest control you can use to keep your garden free of vermin. Why would your harvest suffer if there is no need for such thing? Make a mixture, and spray away!

As always, feel free to leave a comment, opinion or advice in the comment section below.

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