Pest-Repelling Plants – Not What You Think They Are

Have you been planning out next year's garden, hoping to ward off pests by planting species that have pest-repelling properties? Investigate any claims that a particular plant will ward off bugs. There are a few popular ideas out there that are either myths or only half-truths, and finding those out now will save you a lot of frustration later on.

Oranges for Warding off Cockroaches

One myth states that the peel of an orange can make cockroaches avoid your home. This is not quite true because the fruit that most people consider to be an orange isn't going to make the bugs run away. There is a less common fruit called the Osage orange (and sometimes it's called a hedge apple), that is not really an orange; the name may have led to the confusion. The Osage orange tree itself is the subject of insect-repelling myths -- supposedly planting the tree will help repel bugs -- and extracts from the crushed fruit do have some properties that bugs don't like. But just planting the trees or setting the fruit around your home won't really have an effect on bug populations.

Citronella Plants for Warding off Mosquitoes

You'd think this one would be a winner because citronella oil is a common mosquito repellent. However, that's the oil. The plant itself -- whether you get the original grass of China plant or the newer citrosa plant -- isn't going to do much to repel the bugs because the oil is contained within the plant. You could expose some of the oil by breaking a leaf or two, but then you'd have a damaged, weakened plant that might not live long.

Marigolds for Warding off Everything

Marigolds -- those in the Tagetes genus -- are supposed to be excellent for companion planting, knocking out bug species after bug species. This is only partly true. Marigolds do have some protective effect against some nematode species. Those aren't really bugs, but they are garden pests that can harm the roots of your plants. However, you have to essentially match up the species of marigold with the species of nematode, which is nearly impossible for an average home gardener who can't analyze the tiny worms.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System notes that French dwarf marigolds seem to have the best effects, at least on nematodes. However, it will take you a few months to get any results, and marigolds can attract spider mites. Note that another species, pot marigolds, are actually in the Calendula genus and not part of the marigold pest-repelling myth.

If you really want to control pests in your garden and by extension, your home, contact a pest control company and arrange for regular service. You can have the company come by every month or two to inspect and preventively spray your property to eliminate the chances of a bug infestation.