Plants that Repel Pests & Attract Wildlife

Your Colorado garden should be an oasis for birds and butterflies while fending off annoying and destructive garden pests. By carefully choosing which plants you grow in your yard, it can be! Olive Dawson offers this guide to plants that repel pests and attract wildlife.

Repel & Attract: Using Plants to Repel Pests and Bring Fluttering Wildlife

Let’s face it–nobody wants to deal with annoying pests, like slugs, aphids, or crickets, in the garden. Unfortunately, getting rid of these pests often means using dangerous chemicals that repel beneficial creatures, like fluttering pollinators and pest-eating birds.

Luckily, the most important tool in fighting garden pests and attracting beneficial pollinators is one you already have in your toolbox–the plants themselves. Consider adding these plants to refresh your backyard and cultivate a garden oasis.

marigolds purple orange flowers


Marigolds are a unique plant in that they attract bees but repel wasps. They can deter other insect pests as well, like beetles and aphids, and are best utilized as a companion plant in a vegetable garden. These low maintenance plants are perfect for tiny home gardening and small spaces. There are very few plants that don’t perform well when planted with marigolds, making them a must-have tool for repelling pests and attracting helpful creatures to your garden.

basil potted plant herb


Basil is a fantastic plant to grow in any garden. Not only is it a good companion plant for tomatoes, it also has a strong smell that helps to repel mosquitoes and flies. In terms of garden pests, basil is good at keeping carrot flies, asparagus beetles, and whiteflies at bay.

Lavender purple flowers bees


Lavender produces strong-smelling flowers that are beautiful in any garden, and also help to attract beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies. While we find the scent of lavender to be quite pleasant, it is absolutely repugnant to most insects, including ants, flies, and fleas. This plant is also drought-resistant, meaning it will flower even when other plants are floundering.

lemongrass bush colorado landscape


Lemongrass contains citronella, the popular ingredient in many mosquito repellants. This plant is also good at deterring a number of other insects including wasps, hornets, and mosquitoes. On the other hand, lemongrass is a popular attractant for honey bees, as it contains oils that recreate the smell of the queen bee’s pheromones.

garlic on mat


Garlic repels a laundry list of pests, including root maggots, cabbage loopers, Mexican bean beetles, and peach tree borers. While you have to be mindful about which plants you choose to grow near your garlic, it is a fantastic companion plant for dozens of common garden vegetables. Garlic can help increase your garden’s productivity by replenishing the soil, all while keeping harmful pests at bay.

mint herb plant leaves


Even though mint does not flower, it produces an aroma and appearance that are very attractive to bees. This aggressively growing plant is a natural pest deterrent when used either outside or indoors, and can help repel mosquitoes, ants, and other insects. On the same note, rosemary, which is also in the mint family, can deter spiders and mosquitoes in the garden and in the home.

petunias purple flowers


Petunias bring a pop of color to your garden, but also keep aphids, asparagus beetles, squash bugs, hornworms, and leafhoppers far away. Their bright, showy flowers that make petunias irresistible to these beneficial creatures like birds, butterflies, and bees.

borage purple flowers plant


Borage is one of the most bee-friendly plants around, producing beautiful purple flowers that will liven up any outdoor space. While bees flock to it, borage helps repel tomato hornworm, cabbage worms, and several other pests at the same time.

Consider utilizing other natural techniques to manage pests in your garden. Avoid overwatering your garden. Limit weeds and control plant pests by manually removing them from the plants when you happen to spot them. Harness the power of nature by growing the plants above to create the most beautiful, pest-free and wildlife-friendly garden in your neighborhood.

Olive Dawson is a gardening and landscape design writer and environmentalist. She is always searching for new ways to reduce waste and grow food organically. She is most proud of her homemade beauty products.