Ants on your plants or in your kitchen needn't be a problem if you grow spearmint near their hills and hiding places. Savvy gardeners have used many other plants to repel insects, slugs and snails, deer, mice, moles, gophers and rabbits from areas where they don't belong. If you want to prevent painful insect stings at your picnics and barbecues, grow repellent plants in pots on your patio or deck.
The pungent root crop garlic is useful in repelling aphids, Japanese beetles, Mexican bean beetles, mites and other destructive insects from valuable vegetables, ornamentals, fruit trees and houseplants. If you grow garlic as a repellent in your garden, plant it in a ring around the perimeter of your growing area. After you harvest the bulbs in late summer or fall, put them in a blender with water and use the solution to spray affected plants. Spraying plants with a garlic-water combination is more effective in repelling insects than simply growing this plant near your plants.
Mints of several types can help to repel ants, aphids, fleas, asparagus beetles and mice. Spearmint, peppermint and pennyroyal, all members of the large mint family, can have repellent properties if you grow them around your prized plants. If you mix boric acid with apple-mint jelly and drop dabs of the mixture in areas where you have seen ants, the sugar will attract them and the boric acid will kill them.
This fragrant herb is pleasing to humans but the asparagus beetle, Mexican bean beetle, slugs and snails, carrot fly and cabbage moth will stay away from areas where it grows. One plant might not be effective in reducing the numbers of these creatures, so grow several rosemary plants in areas where you know such pests exist and enjoy your fresh rosemary in a variety of recipes. Rosemary is also believed to help repel bothersome mosquitoes.
Citronella, Lemon Balm and Lemon Thyme
Both the citronella geranium and citronella grass are said to repel mosquitoes, but according to Iowa State University, lemon balm and lemon thyme are more effective. An advantage of lemon balm and lemon thyme over the citronella plants is that you can make a delightful tea from their leaves and use them in recipes. However, if you crush the leaves of your citronella plant and rub them on your skin, its repellent properties are enhanced.
The peppery tasting leaves and pretty yellow or orange flowers make nasturtiums attractive to humans, but this plant repels several insects. Included are white flies, pumpkin and squash beetles and some types of aphids. When you grow them under the right conditions, nasturtiums will travel, spread and reseed themselves for next summer's crop, creating more plants that will help to keep certain bothersome insects away.