Plants That Repel Roaches and Other Insects

Updated February 21, 2017

It can be unpleasant to watch roaches and other insects invade the garden when you are enjoying the evening with friends and family. While some homeowners may resort to toxic chemical products to get rid of these pests, others choose environmentally-friendly methods to keep insects out of the garden. One such natural method is to grow certain plant and flower species that repel cockroaches and other insects, including beetles, aphids, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.


As the name suggests, Catnip is an aromatic plant from the mint family that is famous for attracting cats. It is also a very good insect repellent that keeps roaches, ants, beetles, mosquitoes, fleas and aphids away. Catnip can be easily grown at home and is non-toxic to humans and household pets. This perennial plant produces small lilac or white flowers and grows up to 5 feet tall. Nepetlactone is the chemical in catnip that keeps roaches away. According to Iowa State University, catnip oil is more effective in repelling mosquitoes than DEET, the active chemical in heavy-duty insect repellents.

Osage Orange

Osage orange or hedge apple is a tree found in North America. This tree is considered a good insect repellent, and its smell is greatly disliked by roaches. The three compounds in osage orange oil are known roach repellents. These trees produce inedible, wrinkled and large fruit that is orange in colour. The tree is commonly grown in the American Midwest as a wind break. You can make your own roach repellent by crushing the fruit and extracting its oil. The oil can be diluted with water and sprayed around boundaries of the house that might be entry points for roaches.


The pungent odour of garlic repels mosquitoes and other insects. Freshly minced cloves work the best. However, the smell might be disturbing to humans as well. For a milder garlic roach repellent, sprinkle garlic powder in corners of the house, doorways and windowsills to keep roaches away.

Bay Laurel

Bay laurel is popular for its culinary uses. Though the mild smell of bay leaves is enjoyed by humans, it is abhorrent to roaches. These leaves also have compounds that are excellent roach repellents. The leaves of this plant contain compounds, such as eucalyptol, that are used in many insecticides. The leaves also contain several essential oils that are ingredients in insect repellents. This plant can be used in storage areas to repel roaches and other insects from food. You can keep bay leaves on shelves, cabinets and in the pantry to repel pests. Fresh leaves are more repellent to insects as they contain a higher amount of essential oil than old or dry leaves.


Lavender is known for its rich, pleasant and refreshing fragrance. However, it is also a very good insect repellent. This plant is not favoured by roaches, moths, ticks and other insects. This hardy plant produces bushy purple flowers that can be easily grown in the garden. The flowers produce healthy and refreshing fragrance, and also keep roaches away from the home.

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About the Author

Tom Don has been a freelance writer and editor since 2005. He covers topics such as small business, health and fitness for various online publications. Don holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration and Master of Science in website administration from Johns Hopkins University.