So, you want to use plants to repel bees and wasps.
In this article, we’ll cover some plants are that scientifically-proven to keep bees and wasps away.
By the end of this guide, you’ll have a list of plants you can grow to keep your yard free of these pests.
Plants are awesome because they use an all-natural approach.
This means without harmful residues and poisonous to keep your yard pest-free.
We’ll break up the page into sections. Feel free to bookmark this page so you can reference back to it quickly.
And if you have any questions, leave a comment below.
Ready to use a natural approach with plants for your wasp and bee problem? Let’s go!
Last updated: 8/30/20.
How do you keep bees and wasps away with plants?
The answer is simple- you just set up a bunch of plants that bees and wasps hate. If they hate the plant, then they’ll stay away.
There are multiple ways a plant can act as a natural repellent:
- By using scents and smells that bees and wasps absolutely hate
- By using sharp thorns
- Fake flowers
- Colors that they’re colorblind to and can’t see
- Carnivorous plants that literally eat flying pests
- Plants that attract other animals that prey on bees and wasps
Does using plants really work?
You’re free to choose plants that work for you. Rather than buying and trying to plant foliage that’s out of your hardiness zone, try planting stuff that grows natively in your area. Don’t choose plants that are hard to grow. You’re just wasting time.
And always buy planted pots. This makes it easier it place where you want and you don’t have to start from seed.
Are there any plants that repel wasps?
There sure are, but there aren’t that many. The reason behind that is because wasps eat other bugs that usually harm plants.
Thus, plants appreciate wasps as a natural repellent to keep bugs away that would usually destroy the plant itself.
And that’s why most plants are “accepting” of wasps. The wasps keep the harmful bugs off the plant. And the plant offers a source of food for the wasp. Plants actually have evolved in coloration to attract wasps because they want more of them.
So that’s why your selection of wasp-repelling plants is limited. But there are a few types of plants you can buy that will naturally repel wasps.
Maybe you’re trying to keep them out of your yard when you do gardening. Or you want to keep them away from your guests when you BBQ.
Or you just don’t want your dog or kids to get stung. Whatever the reason, here are some plants that will help you keep wasps away.
Mint is effective against wasps because of the strong-scented nature of the plant. This natural herb also emits natural essential oils from the plant.
Both the scent of mint and the oil are wasp repellents, as they hate the scent of mint because it’s overpowering.
These plants can be purchased from seed or potted from specialty nurseries. You can grow and upkeep mint easily.
Plant in pots and place them around your garden as wasp deterrents.
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Some popular places to place the mint plant as a repellent:
- Patio doors
- Patio decks
- Near outdoor spas
- Around pools
- Next to BBQs
- Around your patio furniture
- Near garden gates
- Next to doors
The plant does well in full sun or partial shade. You can also reuse the plant as an herb for cooking or chewing if you please. Check out this resource on mint care.
Keep in mind that mint does grow easily. So you need to keep it pruned and trimmed or else it can take over your yard. You can also propagate the plant to save on costs.
What about spearmint?
Spearmint is a specific type of mint. It has many names: garden mint, common mint, mackerel mint, lamb mint.
So when you read about people referring to spearmint as a wasp or bee repeller, you can just think of it as regular mint. Spearmint does well in zone 5.
2. Trumpet flowers
These are weirdly-shaped plants that seem to keep wasps and bees away. They’re less attractive for yellow jackets because of their shape and will leave them uninterested.
Bees will also have a hard time trying to get to the nectar of these plants, so this is a nice flowering plant that doesn’t attract any additional flying pests.
Trumpet flowers have multiple varieties, such as amaryllis, honeysuckle, and narcissus and buttercups. So you have plenty of choices to keep your yard flowered and not have to deal with excess pests. These plants do well in hardiness zones 8-12.
Wormwood has long been known to have the ability to repel pests by nature. Also known as Artemisia, this shrub often is harvested by people to use as an insecticidal deterrent.
After wormwood is cut and dried, it can be bundled as a set of leaves to keep some pests like moths and wasps away. The plant can be used both dried or live.
Both will help deter wasps from your yard. You can plant wormwood in partial shade and set up a perimeter around your home as a barrier.
Be sure to never plant it near your edibles, as it can slow down nearby plants due to its insecticidal properties. Wormwood prefers well-drained soil with stable temperatures and grows through zones 4-8.
This herb is very easy to grow with moist soil and bright sun. you can also use lemongrass for cooking, tea, and other applications.
You can buy it potted and place it around your yard as “repellent stations.” The lemon scent from this herb is pleasing for most people.
So you should have no problems using it to keep wasps away for a social event in your yard. Lemongrass does well through zone 8-10.
You’ve probably heard of citronella before. It’s commonly used as a wax in citronella-scented candles to repel mosquitoes and other flying bugs. This plant has a strong smell that can be used to repel wasps and bees.
The best part about this plant is that it can be grown both indoors and outdoors, as it’s a very versatile plant.
You can place citronella next to your windows or patio doors if you plan to put it indoors as it does need direct sun. Be sure to use well-draining soil also. Citronella does well in zones 8-12.
Thyme has been reported to work against wasps, but I couldn’t find any solid proof online from reputable sources. Again, this was mainly just a bunch of reports from anecdotal sources.
However, thyme is easy to grow and you can buy it at the grocery pre-planted, or at any nursery.
Thyme does well in a pot, so you can buy a few bunches and place them around your yard. If it all fails, you can eat the thyme as a culinary herb!
So you’ve got nothing to lose. Either you repel the bees, or you have a healthy herb. This herb does well through zones 4-8.
Eucalyptus is another easy-to-grow plant that has the ability to keep both bees and wasps away.
The fragrance that eucalyptus emits is powerful enough to keep these pests at bay. For best results, plant it in a few planters and place them around your yard evenly distributed.
Each potted plant can be “tested” for effectiveness by using your nose. As soon as the scent is gone, that’s the “range” of how far the plant’s scent can reach. So you may need quite a few pots to cover your entire garden.
Eucalyptus can be grown in hardiness zones 7a through 10b.
Basil plants have also been reported to keep wasps away, but I couldn’t find any scientific proof.
Anecdotal reports from homeowners seem to favor basic as a repellent, so I included it in this list here. Basic also acts as a double-usage plant because it can be used as a culinary ingredient and repel wasps at the same time.
Buy it potted rather than from seed to save time. Put the pots around your home in direct sun. Plant it in moist soil with well-draining properties.
You can buy basil for cheap, so even if it doesn’t work in repelling wasps, you can still use it as an herb.
Basil is also a plant that seems to only repel wasps but not bees. This plant grows well in zones 10 and above.
How to repel bees using plants
The easiest and guaranteed answer to this question would be to not plant flowering plants.
Bees are only attracted to plants where they can feed and pollinate. Plants that don’t flowers have nothing to attract bees.
So theoretically, if you just stick with non-flowering plants, you should be safe from bees entering your garden.
But this does pose a limitation. Most plants are only attractive because they flower. As a gardener, wouldn’t you agree?
Bees are also necessary for pollination to continue the propagation of your plants. And we all know how essential to the ecosystem bees are.
They’re the most significant insect pollinators on the planet and have evolved to do their job very well. Flowering plants have evolved just for this purpose and develop those mesmerizing colors to attract them.
That’s why it’s hard to find a flowering plant that repels bees. Many gardeners have the same dilemma- they want the pretty plants but don’t want to deal with the bees.
Perhaps they don’t want to get stung or just hate having a ton of bees buzzing around. Others want to protect their pets, livestock, or kids. Or they’re highly allergic to stings.
Whatever the case, there are some plants that can be used to keep bees away. I’ve written about this topic before, but that was just a small list of bee-repelling plants. This list is more complete and will give you a few additional options.
Pennyroyal is an unpopular plant in my opinion that could use more recognition.
The plant has a unique look and does very well in planted containers. It’s also a very small, yet effective plant to keep bees away.
Plant it in small containers and place them around areas where bees are present. Cover areas such as your window sills, patio, BBQ, deck, outdoor furniture, or around your yard.
Pennyroyal does need well-draining soil with decent sun and plenty of water to keep it in tip-top shape. This plant grows through zones 6 through 9.
Geraniums should be planted in the red variety to be effective against bees. They can’t see the color red as they’re colorblind to it, so it’ll be a perfect plant to “distract” the bees.
The way geranium works is that bees will be attracted to the flowering plant and try to extract pollen from it. Since they can’t see the red, they’ll be clueless and think it’s just another source of food.
However, the flowers actually have no pollen (or very little) and will actually repel the bees with a powerful scent as soon as they get close. This is a flower that bees aren’t attracted to- once they find out that the flower is a trap!
These plants are easy to grow outdoors and like full sun for at least 6H a day.
They don’t tolerate cold temperatures well, so check your hardiness zones before you buy. They also need to be moved to a warmer location during the winter until frost is over. Geraniums do well through zones 8-12.
Cucumber slices are technically a plant, so I thought I’d include that here.
You just take any cucumber and slice it up. Then throw the slices in various places around your yard. Bees seem to hate cucumber and will keep away from it.
They don’t like the bitterness of the cucumber slices. You can also plant fresh cucumber as a repelling plant and also have some cucumber to add to your salad when it matures.
The veggie requires warm weather and plenty of water, so make sure you’re in the right hardiness zone before planting.
Otherwise, you’re better off just buying cucumber from the store and slicing it like a bee repellent. Cucumber does well in zones 4-12.
They’re spicy and strong, and they tend to avoid clove plants. You can buy clove and plant them around your yard to keep them at bay.
Cloves are easy to grow and do well in zones 2-10 after the first autumn frost.
As pointed out by a reader, there are garlic cloves (“cloves of garlic”) and there are actual CLOVES- which are a unique plant that have a spicy taste. Both garlic and cloves can be used as natural pest repellents. However, they’re not interchangeable.
In this case, the actual CLOVE plant makes an excellent pest repellent. You can even combine it to create a powerful combo (stick some cloves directly into lemon or lime slices).
13. Pitcher plants
Pitcher plants are the cousin to venus flytraps. These plants are basically pear-shaped funnels which trap their prey- bees and wasps included.
As they land on the sweet-smelling plant, they slip and fall into the pitcher where they’re trapped by a sticky substance. So it’s actually like a 100% natural bee and wasp trap.
These plants are carnivorous and will eat up and digest many different pests.
Pitcher plants are difficult to grow, as they need perfect soil conditions and only rainwater or distilled water. You can’t use any other type of water- even bottled.
The water must be 100% pure to avoid mineral buildup as these plants won’t utilize the excess minerals provided by the water. They actually just get their minerals from the bugs they catch, so adding more minerals from the water is detrimental.
Pitcher plants do well in zones 7-9.
Marigolds are one plant that flowers and bees avoid. For those who really want a flower that repels bees, this would be the “one.”
The strong odor marigold plants release is a natural repellent for bees and many other bugs. Note that nectar honeybees will still land on marigold and feed.
However, wasps and other bee species will be repelled.
This plant also needs no care. You literally just plant it, water it, and forget about it. Marigold is very hardy and will do well in direct sunlight with regular watering.
Don’t plant marigold in a pot.
Plant it directly into the soil. It’s a quick-growing plant and needs a lot of space so pots don’t work. Get the orange or red varieties of marigold for best results. Marigold does well from zones 9+.
Plants to avoid
For bees, you can do two things for your plant selection to keep them out.
Avoid brightly-colored plants
Bees are attracted to colors that are bright, namely primary colors. This means avoid colors like red, blue, violet, purple, green, red, etc.
Any color that stands out and is bright will be a bee attractant. Sadly, the most attractive plants have dazzling flowers that utilize these colors, so it’s either one or the other.
You can either have an amazing garden with beautiful flowering plants with bees. Or you can have a less-colorful garden without bees.
Avoid flowering plants
This is the other method that we discussed earlier.
Bees are only attracted to flowering plants, so if you avoid flowers, you won’t have a bee problem.
Of course, there’s a tradeoff of not being able to plant what you like. And some of the most amazing flowers are just too mesmerizing to give up. So you need to decide. There’s always a tradeoff.
Other methods to repel bees
You can also try combining some bee-repellent plants alongside your flowering plants.
The two in combination could be enough to keep them out, but that’s largely dependent on the plants used.
Other than plants, you can use a bunch of other natural ways to keep bees out that I wrote about.
Perhaps pair some of those methods with the plants you want to grow. Maybe it’ll be enough to stop them in their tracks.
Did you get rid of your pest problem?
That’s all I have for you.
By now, you should have a good idea of what plants you can use to repel bees and wasps from your yard. Naturally.
If you have any other suggestions, leave a comment below and help out the community! Or if you have a question, you can also ask me directly.
Or if you found this helpful, let me know. Consider telling a friend =]!
Thanks for reading!
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.