Flowers for Backyard Parties that Fight Back Insects

05/13/2021 | Ken Davis Annuals, Bugs, Flowers, In the Garden, Insects, Perennials

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

  • What plants do not attract bugs?
  • Flowers that don’t attract bugs.
  • Do marigolds repel insects?
  • Plants that repel bugs.
  • What plants are good to keep mosquitoes and flies away?
  • Insect repellent plants vegetable garden.
  • What plants keep gnats away?
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Blooming Lavendar Plants in the landscape

Bugs wreak havoc on flowers leaving frustrated gardeners to ponder whether to fight back with chemical pesticides, organic poultices, or angry machete chops. However, even if you’ve lost the battle with bugs this season, you can win the war by planting flowers that insects find unpalatable. These flowers naturally repel insects due to soapy sap, succulent leaves, hairy foliage, and other natural defenses. This allows more time devoted to weeding, bouquet gathering, or just relaxing in the garden.

Here is the Top 10 List of Flowers for bug-free gardens:

African Lily or Lily of the Nile in the landscape Agapanthus africanus)

African LilyAlso known as Lily of the Nile, its thick, strappy foliage shrugs off insects with ease. A proper zone 8 perennial, this blue-flowering plant performs best in the warmer parts of the garden.

Bloddy Cransebill Geranium sanguineum blooming in the landscape

Bloody Cranesbill – Not to be confused with annual geraniums, this wilder cousin of traditional geraniums is a good pest-repelling option. Plant in average soil in partial shade, and enjoy the summer-long flowers and fragrant foliage of this perennial bloomer.

 Butter Daisy Melampodium divaricatum blooming in the landscape

Butter Daisy – It’s a wonder that the cheerful annual Melampodium divaricatum hasn’t earned a rightful place alongside marigolds and zinnias as a local favorite. This flower is easy to start from seed, and plants stay smothered in one-inch yellow blossoms all season. All the bright green plants ask is a location in full sun and regular watering.

Catmint, or Nepeta flowering in the garden

Catmint, or Nepeta,Whether or not you like cats, if pests are a problem, you should include Walker’s Low Catmint in your perennial garden. This beautiful garden plant not only repels bugs but also Javelina, rabbits, and deer. Hummingbirds love the bright blue flowers. Try a pretty carpet of several plants as a companion planting in a rose garden.

Daylily Blooms in the lasndscape Hemerocallis

Daylily With so many perennial colors to choose from, local gardeners collect daylilies like they acquire roses. No matter the color, or fragrance, bugs have a disdain for the taste. Every garden deserves at least one daylily for its low maintenance needs, bug and animal proof, and grows even better than ornamental grasses in local gardens.

Dianthus caryophyllus or Carnation blooming in the Garden

Dianthus – It seems that insects abhor the spicy clove scent of cottage pinks as much as we love it. Dianthus was born to thrive in rock gardens, as sharp drainage is an essential habitat for the success of this spring-flowering plant.

Lavender or Lavandula

Lavender – If you have an area of full sun and well-drained soil, you have the opportunity to grow lavender, one of the most beloved perfumed herbs. The foliage and the flowers are filled with lavender fragrance ripe for potpourri, bouquets, and for use in the kitchen.

Meadow Sage or Salvia pratensis blooming in a container

The earthy fragrance of this spring bloomer seems to please everybody’s sense of smell. Dark blue flowers cover its foot-tall stalks. It is so easy to grow this local wildflower it naturally spreads to form a meadow look without care. Cut back the spent flowers to force them to re-bloom in summer—one of my favorites.

 Rosemary or  Salvia rosmarinus blossoms in the landscape

Rosemary Although gardeners find this evergreen herb delightful, it has the opposite effect on destructive bugs. Rosemary comes in two forms, a ground cover type, and the hip-high upright variety. Both are used in the kitchen, both repel insects from the garden, and both are equally animal-proof. A dependable perennial that should be in every garden.

Russian Sage or Perovskia atriplicifolia planted in a container

Russian Sage– This is an indispensable plant for the hot sunny border because it attracts beneficial bees but offers nothing to bad bugs. Even Javelina finds this bloomer distasteful. This is partly due to a combination of a bright herbal aroma and tough, fuzzy foliage. Gardeners appreciate the waving blue wands of foliage from early summer through Autumn on plants that need no deadheading. Once established, requires no additional irrigation ever again.

Flower Power Label For big fragrant flowers

Flower Power plant food forces Big Fragrant blooms from your flowers. Promotes bigger Tomatoes, Vegetables, Berries, Grapes, Lilacs & Roses on all blooming plants. Use every two weeks for beautiful blooms. Watters Flower Power is explicitly made for Arizona, gives flowers that extra boost to burst into bloom.

Until next week, I’ll be helping gardens with bug-free flowers here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at his Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through the website at or