11 Plants That Repel Stink Bugs

As the nice weather comes, so do insects. Some of them, including stink bugs, aren’t really welcomed. Accidentally stepping on one leaves a foul stench that follows you around for up to an hour, which is an inconvenience, to say the least. So what can you do to keep stink bugs away?

The most natural way to keep stink bugs at bay is to spice up your garden with plants these bugs don’t enjoy being around.

There are several plants that naturally repel stink bugs. These include:

  • Herbs like catnip, thyme, lavender, lemongrass, mint and rosemary
  • Vegetables like garlic and radishes
  • Flowering plants like chrysanthemums and nasturtiums

Here is how these plants can help you repel stink bugs: 

1. Catnip

Otherwise known as Nepeta cataria, catnip is a member of the mint family. It’s a herb, although it’s not consumed by humans. Back in the day, it was used as a medication for all kinds of illnesses, but it has fallen out of favor with the rise of medicine we know today. Yet, you can still see people grow this herb in their homes, especially if they own a cat. Why? Well, because they go bat crazy about it!

Catnip leaves contain Nepetalactone, a compound that cats find oddly appealing. It works as a defense chemical against pathogens and insects because of its bitter taste. So while cats find it very attractive, stink bugs won’t. To them, the scent is too empowering and repelling, and there’s no way they want to be anywhere near catnip.

The best thing about catnip is that it’s extremely easy to grow and requires very little care. However, keep in mind that this herb can be invasive, so you need to control its spread. Otherwise, stink bug infestation won’t be the only garden issue you’re facing.

2. Chrysanthemum

First cultivated in China several centuries ago, chrysanthemums are now a beautiful addition to gardens across the world. These late bloomers come in shades of red, yellow, pink, white as well as bicolor. There are over 100 different chrysanthemum cultivars in the United States alone, and they all can serve as stink bug repellent.

In fact, these beautiful flowers will keep other pests at bay as well, because they’re a natural source of insecticide. Pyrethrin, a compound that naturally occurs in the seed cases of chrysanthemum flowers, works in such a way that it attacks the nervous systems of insects. As a natural ingredient, pyrethrin is therefore extracted and used in, not only garden insecticides, but also repelling sprays and pet shampoos. Still, its synthesized form can be harmful to the environment. For that reason, planting chrysanthemums is a much eco-friendly option that will also work well at keeping annoying pests, including stink bugs, away.

3. Thyme

As a herb, thyme is used in different cooking recipes. It adds a spicy aroma to soups, stews, different sauces and marinades. To some people, it’s a staple in the kitchen. There are different types of thyme, including lemon thyme, English thyme, caraway thyme etc. One thing they all have in common is that they have a powerful, summery scent. What this means is that it’s an ideal tool for keeping stink bugs away.

Thyme is yet another herb that doesn’t require any special treatment to grow. You can plant it either in your garden or in a pot, and it can withstand winter conditions, too. It’s not invasive, so you can plant it next to your tomatoes, cabbages or whichever plants in your garden stink bugs are attracted to.

4. Garlic

Whether you love or hate garlic, you have to agree it has a rather powerful scent. Ironically, stink bugs simply can’t stand such strong odors. And for that reason, you’re never going to find them hanging around in a garden next to garlic plants. 

But if you don’t have to own a garden to be free of these annoying bugs. You can always plant garlic in pots and keep them on your balcony. A couple of plants will do. And aside from not having a stink bug problem anymore, you can also have fresh garlic to put in whatever meal you’re making. Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow in a pot, and about 15 plants are usually enough to get you through a whole year.

5. Radishes

Radishes are one of those plants that have quite a distinctive odor. For that reason, they’re not on the top of the all-time favorite veggies list. Radishes are to thank the Methanethiol for their weird smell. This natural gas is released from decaying organic matter in marshes and can be found in plant tissues. In fact, there are a couple of known cases where a reported gas leak turned out to be just a field of radishes gone bad. 

If you’re not a fan of radishes, you will probably find their smell repelling too. But you know what else will be repelled by it? Stink bugs. And in case of a stink bug infestation, it’s good to have several options available. Sometimes, a stinky garden can be your best line of defense against these annoying pests. 

And if you do like these veggies, why not fill two needs with one deed? Radishes are one of the fastest-growing vegetables, and can grow well in pots, too. So as long as you have a cool sunny spot to keep them in, you can enjoy these veggies once they hit their harvesting date.

6. Lavender

Lavender is one of those plants that has a long history of use in medicine, cosmetics and even cuisine. And, thanks to its beautiful color and smell, lavender often finds its way in landscape design projects.

With some exceptions, people generally like the smell of lavender. Bugs, on the other hand, can’t stand it. That’s why we put lavender sachets in our closets to repel moths and use body sprays to keep mosquitoes away. And you know what else is repelled by the scent of this purple plant? That’s right, stink bugs. 

You could use dried lavender or essential oils, but it’s even better to plant this herb. It will not only smell beautifully, but also look good in your garden or on a patio. You can even keep it indoors, as long as it’s getting enough direct light. A south-facing window would be ideal. 

7. Marigold

Tagetes, more commonly known as marigolds, are colorful tiny flowers that are pretty enough to make the cut in gardens all around the country. In fact, even though they’re native to the Americas, they have become naturalized in different parts of the world, too. Marigolds bloom in shades ranging from white to deep red, and might also have maroon highlights. If there’s a flower that speaks “fall,” it’s marigold.

But the reason marigolds are grown doesn’t lay solely in their beauty. Their musky scent is known to repel some common pests, including stink bugs. For that reason, you’ll often see people plant them close to tomato, eggplant, chili pepper and potato crops, as well as tobacco. These flowers are a great source of nectar for both butterflies and bumblebees, so planting them is a great way to help with increasing the population of these pollinating insects.

Marigolds are such easygoing plants that will blossom even under a plant newbie’s care. Aside from planting them in the garden near your veggie crops, you can also put them in containers and keep them on the patio or a window. As long as they have six hours of sunlight and well-draining soil, these flowers will be happy. And in return, they’ll make you happy by repelling those annoying stink bugs. 

8. Lemongrass

You’ve probably heard of citronella. If nothing else, you’ve surely used citronella candles or coils to keep mosquitoes away. Well, citronella oil used in these products is obtained from leaves and stems of lemongrass. This herb originates from Sri Lanka, but nowadays can be found in almost every part of the world. As an ingredient, lemongrass is commonly used in Asian cuisine, as well as tea making. Lemongrass has citrus and lemon flavor, with a tinge of mint note. It’s rather strong, which means that it’s not on the stink bug’s top of the list of plants to nibble on. 

Aside from growing lemongrass for its pest-repelling ability, there are other benefits of this plant that you can enjoy. This herb is a source of different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. What’s more, it also contains antifungal and antimicrobial compounds. Whether you’re troubled by constipation, nausea or stomach infection, a tea made of lemongrass can alleviate your symptoms. 

You’ll be happy to hear that lemongrass is also easy to grow. Their only real danger is frost, and as long as you’re sure there won’t be any until the next winter, you can plant lemongrass early in the spring. Its looks are at par with other ornamental grasses, but its benefits will surely prevail when picking what to plant in your backyard.

9. Mint

Stink bugs seem to hate every herb in the sage family, including the most popular one, mint. This comes as no surprise, considering how strong of a scent this herb has. It doesn’t matter whether it’s spearmint, peppermint, apple mint or any other species, these bugs, along with other annoying insects, choose to stay as far away as they can. 

For that reason, mint is a great companion herb. You can plant it next to your vegetable crops to keep them safe from pests. But that’s not all. These strong-smelling plants attract pollinators, so by planting them, you’re filling two needs with one deed. 

Needless to say that growing mint in pots also has benefits aside from creating a pest-free zone around you. You can make homemade tea or mojito, spice up your pesto and even create a mint bubble bath. Possibilities are endless! 

The best thing about mint is how easy you can grow it. Garden, pots, indoors… Wherever you want. In fact, you can even grow it in a glass filled with water! Just give it enough light each day, and it will bloom.

10. Rosemary

Rosemary is a shrub native to the Mediterranean region that was brought to the Americas with the first European settlers. Thanks to them, we all can enjoy this marvelous herb. Rosemary is such a staple in the kitchen, and certain meals can’t be envisioned without this spice. It has such a specific, strong scent that stink bugs seem to hate. In fact, other annoying insects would agree, so you can expect your rosemary garden to be pest-free at all times.

If you live in warmer parts of the States, where winter temperatures don’t go under 0, you can plant rosemary in the garden, and this perennial plant will eventually grow into a beautiful large bush. In colder climates, it’s best to grow it in pots, so that you can take it indoors once temperatures go below 0 degrees.

11. Nasturtium

Nasturtiums are perennial plants with colorful flowers. They can be bushy or climbing, and both types look wonderful in any garden. And that’s where you’ll often see them. Nasturtiums are one of the most commonly used companion plants, as it repels all kinds of insects, including stink bugs. But don’t worry, they do not have the same effect on bees. On the contrary, bees are attracted to these beautiful flowers.

Nasturtiums do well in containers, so you can plant them even if you don’t own a garden. They can actually look really good cascading from window boxes or over walls. With adequate sunlight and decent watering, they will give your property a nice, romantic look.

Final Verdict

You have several options when choosing the main weapon against stink bugs. These insects are repealed by plants with strong odors like garlic and rosemary. One thing to keep in mind is that some of these plants can be allergens, so make sure to check how you react to them before planting them around your home. 

Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

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