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Insect-Deterrent Plants for the Vegetable Garden

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Asters
Aster will deter most insect pests in the garden. These are New England asters, also called the Michaelmas daisy

Some plants will deter insects in the vegetable garden. This is one form of companion planting. Companion planting–growing plants singly or together–to repel insects, fight disease, or enhance the growth of another plant is a technique that many gardeners have used for generations. Some companion plants have been scientifically proven to deter insects; some companion planting combinations are anecdotal or attributed to “garden wisdom.”

Repelling insects by creating effective crop combinations uses plants’ natural fragrances, oils, compounds, and colors to chase pests away. For example, some aromatic compounds may mask the scent of companion plants: the aroma of garlic will chase away bean beetles and potato bugs. And the color of some plants will confuse some insect pests and send them on their way before they can do any harm.

One way to get started with companion planting is to draw on the science and wisdom of gardeners. Try some of these combinations and draw your own conclusions based on your observations and planting successes. Keep a record of what works and let others know.

The companion plantings in this chart are aimed at deterring pests from the garden. Note that there are also companion plantings that will attract beneficial insects to your garden.

Plant Insects and Pests Deterred Plant Near
Asters Most insects Sunflower, plant around the garden
Basil Flies and mosquitoes Tomato; avoid planting near rue
Borage Tomato worn, cabbage worms Tomato, cabbage family crops, strawberry
Calendula Asparagus beetles, tomato hornworms, most insects All vegetables and herbs
Catnip Flea beetles, spittlebugs, ants, Japanese beetles, weevils All vegetables
Celery White cabbage butterfly Leek, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, bush bean
Chrysanthemum Most insects, nematodes, spider mites Tomato; avoid planting near lettuce
Dead Nettle Potato bugs Potato
Eggplant Colorado potato beetle Green bean, lettuce
Flax (Linnum usitatissimum) Potato bugs Potato, carrot
Garlic Japanese beetle, aphids, spider mites, other insects, and blight Tomato, eggplant, cabbage family plants; avoid planting near peas, beans, and other legumes
Geranium Cabbageworms, corn earworms, Japanese beetles, most insects Interplant with vegetables, especially cabbage
Horseradish Potato bug Potato, horseradish needs a permanent home
Henbit Most insects  
Hyssop Cabbage moth Cabbage family, orchards, grapevines; avoid planting near radishes
Marigold Nearly all insects including Mexican bean beetles and nematodes Potato, tomato, pepper, eggplant, roses
Mint Cabbage moth and ants Cabbage, tomato
Mole plant(Euphorbia lathyrus) Moles, gophers, mice Space around the garden every 5 feet as a barrier
Nasturtium Aphids, squash bugs, striped pumpkin beetles, whiteflies Beans, cabbage family plants, cucumber
Onion family Most pests, Colorado potato beetles, carrot rust flies, spider mites Most vegetables except peas, beans, sage
Petunia Bean pests, Mexican bean beetles, potato bugs, squash bugs Beans, squash, potato
Pot Marigold Asparagus beetles, tomato worms, general garden pests Asparagus, tomato, most vegetables
Peppermint White cabbage butterfly Cabbage
Radish Cucumber beetles, squash borers Beans, carrot, cucumber, kohlrabi, parsnip, onion, squash
Rosemary Cabbage moth, bean beetle, carrot fly Beans, cabbage family plants, carrot
Rue Japanese beetle Avoid skin contact; do not plant near cabbage family plants
Sage Cabbage moth, carrot fly Plant with perennial vegetables; avoid planting with cucumbers and rue
Salsify Carrot fly Carrot family plants
Southernwood(Artemisia abrotanum) Cabbage moth, black aphids Cabbage family plants or make a southernwood-water solution to spray cabbage
Summer Savory Bean beetles Beans, onion
Tansy Flying insects, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs, ants Squash, potato; avoid planting near collard
Thyme Cabbage worm Eggplant, cabbage, potato, tomato, almost all vegetables, and herbs
Tomato Asparagus beetle Asparagus, dill, borage
Wormwood(Artemisia absinthium) Carrot fly, white cabbage butterfly, black flea beetle Do not plant wormwood in the vegetable garden, but leaves used to make a spray will deter insects.

 

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

Germination

Seed Shelf Life

Companion plants tomatoes and marigolds1

Companion Planting in the Vegetable Garden