Cockroaches are the last thing most people want in their home or garden. They are disgusting to look at, damage garden beds, and even spread disease and exacerbate conditions such as asthma.
However, sometimes the solution to a cockroach problem is worse than the actual infestation. Most exterminations use harsh chemicals that contaminate the home and can be dangerous for humans or pets.
Luckily, mother nature has plenty of remedies to prevent cockroaches from invading your home or garden in the first place. Several plants act as a natural barrier and repel cockroaches.
Try planting these herbs and flowers in your garden or strategically place pots indoors. Their natural odor or chemicals can keep roaches out of your kitchen and make your house safe again.
1 – Bay Leaves
Many herbs repel cockroaches due to their strong scent. Bay leaves are by far the most effective herb at keeping away these creepy bugs.
Bay leaves have a compound called eucalyptol, which is most commonly found in eucalyptus. In addition to flavoring mouthwash and soothing coughs, eucalyptol also repels bugs and is even used in some veterinary medicine to treat parasites.
Even though bay leaves have a mild flavor that most humans barely notice in soups and other aromatic foods, cockroaches despise it. Even a few leaves are enough to keep those critters away.
2 – Catnip
Plant catnip and you’ll make your cats happy and keep roaches away.
Catnip is extremely effective against cockroaches. In fact, researchers at Iowa State University discovered that catnip is even more effective initially at repelling cockroaches than DEET!
The best part is that catnip manages to repel cockroaches by completely natural means, without any of the harmful side effects contained in DEET. That is because its essential oils contain the chemical compound nepetalactone, a naturally occurring roach repellent.
Catnip is also effective against other pests such as ants and weevils. Even if you don’t have cats, you may still want to grow catnip to protect your home against crawling invasions.
3 – Chrysanthemums
Chrysanthemums can add a lovely pop of color to your garden, but they don’t just look pretty. They are a natural cockroach repellent.
The reason why chrysanthemums are anathema to roaches is because they contain pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide that occurs in several flowers in the pyrethrum family, which includes chrysanthemums.
Chrysanthemums are also useful because they offer long-lasting protection. Their growing season is relatively long and stretches into October, covering most of the periods when cockroaches tend to be active.
4 – Cucumbers
Although cucumbers have a mild scent to humans, there is something about their odor that cockroaches hate. Scientists are still unsure why cockroaches are repelled by the scent of cucumber or what compound makes them behave that way.
However, you do not need to know why cucumbers repel cockroaches, just that they work.
Just growing cucumbers may not be enough to keep cockroaches away because the scent of the whole plant is too mild even for these very sensitive bugs. The odor of a cucumber really shines when you peel it, so strategically placing a few slices or even leaving peelings in the trash bin will keep the bugs away.
5 – Hedge Apples
Hedge apples, also known as osage oranges, are neither apples or oranges. This distant relative of the mulberry tree is not edible at all, despite its fruity nicknames.
However, hedge apples have other uses besides food. Both the tree and the fruit are strong cockroach repellents.
Some grocery stores sell hedge apples because many people like to use this knotty green fruit as decoration. If you cannot find the individual fruits, you can try planting your own small tree.
Some people believe that hedge apples can also repel other bugs, such as spiders and mosquitos. In fact, the same researchers from the catnip study isolated Osage orange essential oils and elmol, a type of compound, and found that they do have repelling properties.
6 – Aromatic Plants
Cockroaches are repelled by certain chemical compounds mentioned above, such as pyrethrum and eucalyptol. They also have strong aversions to certain odors.
You can repel cockroaches with many common household herbs and kitchen plants. Here are a few that are the most effective.
Garlic: Garlic’s pungent odor sometimes repels humans, so it will be even more effective against cockroaches with their strong sense of smell. Planting garlic in your garden, crushing cloves and leaving it around the house, or sprinkling garlic powder will repel cockroaches.
Mint: Mint, particularly peppermint, is another cockroach repeller with a potent smell. Planting a few sprigs of peppermint or using essential oil will keep cockroaches out of your garden and home.
Rosemary: The fresh odor of rosemary is too much for cockroaches. A pot of this plant or even a few sprigs keeps these bugs away.
How to Use Plants to Keep Cockroaches Away
Besides keeping whole plants, there are a few ways you can prepare natural cockroach repellents using the plants listed above.
One of the most effective is to keep living, growing plants around. Whether you plant osage orange or chrysanthemums in your garden beds or keep a few strategically placed potted herbs in your kitchen, they will keep roaches away without needing renewing.
You can also strategically place leaves of certain plants such as catnip in areas that attract cockroaches. Or, crush up plants using a mortar and pestle and sprinkle that powder along baseboards or other areas where bugs congregate.
Finally, you can make a liquid repellent out of some plants such as mint by boiling it into a tea. Then, put the liquid in a spray bottle and you have a natural insecticide.
The Power of Plants
Many plants, including aromatic herbs and flowers with certain compounds, are naturally occurring cockroach repellents. They keep away those bugs and help make your home a healthier place to live.
Natural remedies tend to last for less time than chemical insecticides, so you will have to renew the applications every so often. However, they are far safer for humans and other pets.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.