The Best Flowers to Deter Pests (and Deer!) From Your Garden, According to Plant Experts

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Whether you're an experienced gardener or just developing your green thumb, you may be wondering about the best flowers for pest control in your garden. While gardening is seen as a therapeutic hobby, frustrations can arise from insects and deer either digging up or eating the flowers you've waited for so long to bloom. Luckily, there are many ways you can naturally deter pests from ransacking your garden — some of which will simply enhance the aesthetic!

“Regularly checking your garden and adapting your strategy can keep it thriving and healthy,” explains Teri Valenzuela, the natural science manager at lawn care company Sunday. Just like caring for indoor plants, gardens of all sizes need a little attention each day to help prevent problems before they start.

We spoke to several plant and lawn-care experts who recommended the best flowers for pest control, as well as important tips for warding off unwanted insects (while keeping the good bugs around!). Here's what you need to know about using flowers and plants to naturally control pests in your garden.

What are the best flowers and plants for natural pest control?

If you've been struggling to control the pests in your garden, chemical pesticides aren't the only option. Many flowers and plants work as a natural pest control, creating an all-round healthier experience outdoors. The following plants may help to deter your garden's unwanted guests:


“Geraniums are great at keeping mosquitoes away,” Valenzuela says. Citronella geraniums in particular have a lovely lemon scent that humans love and mosquitoes hate. Unfortunately, insects such as aphids, cabbage loopers, and geranium budworms tend to be attracted to the plant, but if you're hoping to avoid mosquitoes, then geraniums are a good choice.


As well as being a popular windowbox herb, thyme is another great way to increase your protection against mosquitoes.

“Thyme is a champ against whiteflies and cabbage loopers,” Valenzuela says. This edible herb pulls double-duty, as it's a low-maintenance addition to any garden, and it'll also add depth and flavor to your favorite dishes.


“Marigolds are great and can also be used to deter garden-infesting insects such as aphids, tomato hornworms, and thrips,” says Hamilton Allen Ph.D., a board-certified entomologist and VP of technical and safety at Fox Pest Control. Marigolds are also known to repel mosquitoes.


“Lavender, with its tall, flowy stems and beautiful purple blooms, emits a strong odor from its oil that pests often find unpleasant,” explains David Price, entomologist and technical director at Mosquito Joe, a Neighborly company. As with many other herbs, lavender's pleasing smell keeps many unwanted bugs away — but thankfully bees love it (more on that below!).


As well as being beautiful and easy to maintain, petunias are also one of the best flowers for pest control that a bug-prone garden needs.

“Petunias use their sticky stamens to capture pests,” Valenzuela explains. Pests such as tomato hornworms, aphids, and asparagus beetles are repelled by petunias, according to Ehrlich Pest Control.

Lemon eucalyptus

The more herbaceous and fragrant, the more likely it is to be a natural pest repellant, and lemon eucalyptus is exactly that.

“Lemon eucalyptus, characterized by its attractive broad leaves and white flowers, contains oils that serve as repellents to certain pests,” says Price. It's particularly effective at repelling mosquitoes, he adds.


These pretty perennial flowers will brighten up any garden in their broad range of colors. Asters also repel the majority of common garden pests, according to The Grounds Guys, while sattracting beneficial bugs like butterflies and bumblebees.


A wonderfully fragrant herb to roast with veggies or bake in bread, rosemary can also double as pest control in your garden, particularly when planted alongside other greenery.

“It not only repels mosquitoes but will also repel ants, flies, cockroaches, and wasps,” Price notes.


Calendula is another plant ally that looks beautiful and helps ward off pests. This flower repels asparagus beetles and tomato hornworms, according to The Grounds Guys, giving your vegetable patch a chance to thrive.

Do any plants or flowers deter deer?

In addition to deterring insects from your garden, you may be looking to keep deer away from your plants. Unfortunately, deer are an entirely different breed of garden pest.

“Deer aren’t choosy eaters and will consume any readily available plants,” Allen explains. “Although this is slightly disappointing, you can still do a few things to keep those persistent deer from having a picnic in your yard.”

To stop deer from wreaking havoc in your garden, you can construct a barrier around your favorite shrubs, flowers, and plants. The best way to do this is by planting a border of plants and flowers that deer don't like very much.

“It can be tricky to completely deter deer, but you can certainly make your garden less appetizing for them,” says Valenzuela. These are some of the best flowers and plants that our experts recommend to ward off deer:

  • Daffodils

  • Lavender

  • Thyme

  • Virginia creeper

  • Marigolds

  • Garlic

Meanwhile, Price recommends planting some creeping thyme, “a low vine-like plant with a varying color palette on a blue-green leaf.” Its scent repels rabbits and mosquitoes, along with deer.

Are there other natural methods for controlling pests in the garden?

Along with planting the best flowers for pest control, you can up your backyard's defences by having a few of these expert-recommended, garden-friendly products on hand:

Essential oils

Essential oils, such as peppermint, rosemary, and lemongrass, may be appealing and calming to humans, but many pests detest their strong scents. Therefore, they often “act as an excellent natural repellent,” explains Price. “When diluted, concentrated peppermint oil transforms into a safe, calming, and efficient method for deterring insects.”

Natural pest bait

If plants and flowers aren't working to stave off pests and insects, then it may be worth considering using pest bait and sprays derived from natural ingredients.

Mosquito Deleto, formulated with cedarwood and lemongrass oil, is especially effective against mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas,” says Valenzuela. “Ant Adios is made from biologically derived spinosad to control ants, earwigs, cutworms, sowbugs, pillbugs, and crickets.”

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Which insects are beneficial for the garden?

It's important to remember that not all insects are pests, and many should be left alone to do what they naturally do best. For example, pollinators like bees are crucial to a balanced outdoor ecosystem, and helpful predators like praying mantids can prevent smaller insects from destroying crops and plants.

According to Price and Valenzuela, gardeners should encourage the following insects to thrive in their gardens:

  • Bees

  • Butterflies

  • Praying mantids

  • Ladybugs

  • Lacewings

  • Parasitic flies

  • Wasps

  • Ants

  • Moths

“Incorporating friendly plants like lavender and rosemary can attract these beneficial insects while keeping the pests away,” says Valenzuela.

How should you maintain your garden to prevent pests?

A gardener's work is never done! Planting the best flowers for pest control isn't enough — you must properly maintain your garden to prevent the peskiest pests from taking over. Our experts suggest the following outdoor care tips:

Trim lawns and bushes regularly

“Mosquitoes don’t like the heat and prefer cool, shady foliage,” explains Price. By keeping the garden trimmed, there will be fewer places for mosquitoes to buzz around.

Don't overwater gardens and lawns

An easy, yet effective, way to stop pests from multiplying is ensuring you don't overwater your plants or lawn. Removing any standing water from your backyard space will help to “eliminate mosquito breeding sites,” Price advises.

Encourage a diverse garden

One of the best ways to ensure your backyard isn't overrun by pests is to grow “a more diverse garden,” Valenzuela explains. A garden with a wide variety of plants and flowers “naturally regulates itself with natural predators, creating fewer opportunities for pests to dominate,” she says.

Most importantly, taking time each day to nourish and maintain your garden will help prevent small issues from getting out of hand.

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