Using essential oils in the garden can help to repel pests, invite pollinators, or turn your garden into a lovely atmosphere for relaxation.
Repel Insects with Essential Oils in the Garden
Deet may be effective, but it also has serious health and environmental consequences. Side effects may include skin irritation, neurotoxicity, kidney and liver damage, birth defects, and more. Alternatively, essential oils that repel insects are also effective, as well as safe.*
Ylang Ylang and Palmarosa are two oils sometimes used to create natural bug sprays. And Ylang Ylang has been used as a mosquito repellent successfully in some studies. In one study, Lemongrass essential oil had high mortality rates against the three species of mosquitoes for up to 24 hours after application.*
To make homemade essential oil mosquito repellent, you’ll need:
1. Fill the spray bottle halfway with about 2 ounces of distilled water
2. Add 1 ounce of witch hazel or vodka
3. Add approximately half an ounce of essential oils (about 50 drops)
Don’t fill the bottle to the top! Also, oil and water will separate, so shake the mixture well before each use.
In addition to using Lemongrass and Citronella, you can add any combination of the following essential oils to create a pleasant-smelling DIY mosquito repellant:
Eucalyptus, Lemon, Catnip, Basil, Clove, Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Palmarosa, Tea Tree, Cedarwood, Lavender, Thyme, Peppermint.
Eradicate Fungus with Essential Oils in the Garden
Try these essential oils in the garden to stop a fungus from spreading:
Tea Tree essential oil has the power to not just prevent fungal growth, it can also help kill many species of fungus. If you have existing fungal growth mix about one tablespoon of tea tree oil per cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on infected plants once or twice a week. You can also use this mixture as a fungus preventative. Note: Avoid spraying leaves when the weather is very hot and dry, sun-heated tea tree oil will easily burn leaves. Be sure to keep spray away from eyes.
Other essential oils with powerful fungicidal properties include Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Peppermint, Clove Bud, and Cinnamon essential oils. Use any of these oils by placing 8 – 10 drops of essential oil of choice into a large glass spray bottle filled with water. Always shake well before spraying on your plants.
Deter Slugs with Essential Oils in the Garden
Cedarwood, Hyssop, and Pine are the best essential oils for keeping slugs off of your plants. Use a teaspoon of your chosen oil(s) in a spray bottle filled with water. Spray diluted oil mixture around plants in a ring where slugs and snails like to frequent. Use regularly as needed.
Shutout Rodents with Essential Oils in the Garden
Rodents, such as mice, are offended by the strong, fresh minty scent scent of peppermint. Soak cotton balls with 1 – 2 drops of Peppermint essential oil and place them into the entrances of mouse holes, squirrel nests, and other rodent burrows to persuade pesky rodents to move from your garden. Repeat as needed.
Send the Neighbors Cat/Dog Home
Cats really dislike the smell of Rosemary. Spraying your mulch with Rosemary essential oil diluted in water will send the neighbors cat home. You can also add a few drops of Rosemary essential oil to a wide but shallow dish partially filled with water. Mix very well so you break up oil droplets, drop in strips of cloth or string. Soak until all oil is absorbed. Strings can be tied between your plants or around the outside of your garden. Cloth strips can be hung between garden rows or around plants. Repeat as needed.
If the neighbors dog likes to visit your garden try Black Pepper essential oil or any kind of pepper. Use the same string/cloth method above. Repeat as needed.
Be careful not to overuse these oils in your garden as they may make it unpleasant for you and others. These oil mixtures will not harm animals, they will just help them move along.
Best Essential Oils for Insect Bites
Bugs have a way of always getting to us, but there are many essential oils that you can use to help insect bites heal faster and itch less.
- Lavender is a great topical aid, as it soothes and stops itching.
- Tea tree oil is a great one as well, as it works as an anti- inflammatory and disinfectant.
These essential oils are great for soothing insect bites, reduce swelling, and help to heal.*
Always dilute with carrier oil before putting on the skin.
You can find our DIY recipe for a bug bite soothing roll-on here.
Fragrant Essential Oils Captivate Natural Pollinators
Lavender, Hyssop, Marjoram, Helichrysum, Basil, Sage, and Rosemary are irresistible to bees. Place a drop or two on a cotton ball and place in pots or in the garden.
Try Lavender, Yarrow, Fennel, Helichrysum and Sage essential oils to attract butterflies. Spraying lavender essential oil near the plants will attract butterflies.
Orange essential oil has a really clean and sweet aroma that draws both bees and butterflies. You can make a blend of rosemary oil, lavender oil, orange oil in a spray bottle or combine a few drops of each on cotton balls to help attract them both.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.
aia, Marta Ferreira, and Sarah J Moore. “Plant-Based Insect Repellents: a Review of Their Efficacy, Development and Testing.” Malaria Journal, vol. 10, no. S1, 2011, doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-s1-s11.
Sinha, Sonali, et al. “Evaluation of Toxicity of Essential Oils Palmarosa, Citronella, Lemongrass and Vetiver in Human Lymphocytes.” Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 68, 2014, pp. 71–77., doi:10.1016/j.fct.2014.02.036.