Using Essential Oils in the Garden

Years ago, I was new to this "hippy" lifestyle and had to try my hand at everything I could possibly learn; this led me to build my very first garden. I was so excited to see each of the little buds pop up from the dirt; but then, just as my beautiful baby buds were springing up from the ground, I began having problems with each of my plants. Feeling very overwhelmed by not having any real knowledge of what I was doing, I just gave up for that year. I wish I hadn't given up. I don't like to be one to give up, or even admit to it.  

By the time I got around to my second year of gardening, I had already been  using essential oils to clean our house, heal our wounds, and help my family through all sorts of ill times. No matter what I used essential oils for, they seemed to always do the trick. I became addicted, and couldn't understand how everyone in the world didn't know about the awesome ancient powers of these oils! Once again, my second go at gardening brought me more problems, but this time I decided to try and look up these problems and get some answers.  

With so little space of my own, I am only able to garden in containers, but that doesn't stop me from trying to have my own farm; even if it is all in containers. One of my plant's containers became infested with fire ants the first day I put that darn plant in the back yard. Down here in the state of Texas, bugs come in large amounts...and they're all meaner too. Having used peppermint essential oil all over my house to keep these hellion ants away, I wondered why couldn't I use it in the garden too? I was suddenly in scientific mode and needed to try it out. I decided the best method to rid the entire container and plant of these ants, was to use the essential oil in the watering can, 6-8 drops per gallon of water. Being the hater of fire ants that I am, I didn't really want to stop there; so, knowing that orange oil kills nearly all bugs by dissolving their waxy coating on their exoskeleton, causing dehydration and asphyxiation, I added 1 oz. (1/8 cup or 2 Tbsp.) of orange oil per gallon, and then watered the plant, soaking it thoroughly with the concoction. I came back the next day and all the ants had left the container!

You can repel many different bugs in your garden by picking the essential oils that repel the corresponding problem you are having and use them in the watering can (6-8 drops per gallon) or to spray upon the foliage.

Essential Oils That Repel Creepy Crawlies

  • Ants: Peppermint, Spearmint (add a line of drops to window and door seals), Pennyroyal, Garlic, Citronella, Orange
  • Aphids: Cedarwood, Hyssop, Peppermint, Spearmint, Orange
  • Beetles: Peppermint, Thyme, Garlic
  • Caterpillars: Peppermint, Spearmint, Pennyroyal
  • Chiggers: Lavender, Lemongrass, Sage, Thyme
  • Cutworm: Thyme, Sage
  • Fleas: Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Texas Cedarwood, Citronella, Pennyroyal, Tansy, Orange
  • Flies: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Citronella, Tansy
  • Gnats: Patchouli, Spearmint, Citronella, Tagetes
  • Mosquitoes: Lavender, Lemongrass, Pennyroyal, Sassafras, Citronella, Tansy
  • Head Lice: Lavender, Tea Tree Oil, Geranium, Spearmint, Peppermint, Pine (This is the oldest used remedy in the book), Thyme, Orange, Rosemary
  • Plant Lice: Peppermint, Spearmint, Cedarwood, Pennyroyal, Orange
  • Moths: Cedarwood, Hyssop, Lavender, Peppermint, Spearmint, Citronella
  • Roaches: Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Cinnamon, Thyme (proven to be most effective against cockroaches)
  • Slugs: Cedarwood, Hyssop, Pine, Garlic, Sassafras 
  • Snails: Cedarwood, Pine, Patchouli, Sassafras, Garlic
  • Spiders: Peppermint, Spearmint, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Citrus, Lavender, Citronella
  • Ticks: Lavender, Lemongrass, Sage, Thyme, Citronella, Pennyroyal, Tea Tree     
  • Weevils: Cedarwood, Patchouli, Sandalwood 

This experience led me to experiment more with essential oils in the garden. I figured, if tea tree oil (10 drops per gallon) is so awesome for fungus and bacteria, it should be able to help with blight and fungus/bacteria problems for the plants as well. Thieves oil also works extremely well in the garden to protect and defend against bacteria and fungus growth. Oregano oil is also said to be very effective against bacteria and fungus problems. Cinnamon oil not only deters bugs extremely well, but it too has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.  

Tomato and basil are a culinary combination that rocks in a salad and you can enhance that combination before the tomatoes ever leaves the vine; to achieve this, put (6-8 drops per gallon) basil essential oils into your watering can. This will make your tomatoes absolutely delicious, especially if you can your own tomato sauce. You can use other essential oils to change the fragrance or flavor of flowers, fruits, and vegetables!

If you know something to be a companion plant to an ailing plant, and you happen have the essential oil on hand, you can just add it to the watering can and spray the foliage as well as water around the plant. Lavender and Thyme are both great at protecting vegetables in the garden!


Companion Essential Oils in the Garden


  • Asparagus: Basil, Parsley
  • Dwarf Green Beans: Lavender, Basil, Savory, Strawberries
  • Broad Beans: Lavender, Basil, Savory
  • Runner Beans: Lavender, Basil, Savory
  • Beetroot: Celery, Marjoram
  • Broccoli: Basil, Thyme
  • Cabbage: Peppermint, Sage, Thyme, Clary-Sage, Chamomile
  • Carrots: Sage
  • Cauliflower: Celery, Thyme
  • Celery: Gerranium, Yarrow
  • Cucumber: Sage, Yarrow
  • Leeks: Celery, Hyssop
  • Lettuce: Carrot, Tagetes
  • Onion: Chamomile, Savory
  • Peas: Gerranium, Carrot
  • Potatoes: Basil, Sage
  • Radishes: Parsley, Savory
  • Sweetcorn: Savory, Tagetes,
  • Tomatoes: Tagetes, Basil


  • Apples: Lavender, Artemisia
  • Grapes: Hyssop, Lavender


  • Roses: Basil, Hyssop


  • Rye & Wheat: Chamomile


What other ways do you use essential oils in your garden?



*Guest post contributed by Christina of The Hippy Homemaker, where she shares her journey to a healthier and more conscious lifestyle for her family, through vegan and vegetarian recipes, healthier and greener ways to clean, non-toxic beauty products that you can make in your own home, and non-toxic cheaper diy kids crafts.

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Great article. I am confused about one thing though. I have read that cucumbers should never be planted with aromatic herbs particularly sage. Apparently it stunts their growth and can alter their flavor. Your article lists sage essential oil and yarrow to protect cucumbers. Would love to know more . Thank you!


Do you think it would be safe o use Dr. Teals Epsom salts with Activated Charcoal and Hawaiian Black Lava Salt in my tomato plants instead of regular epsom salts (I don’t have any plain), this also has juniper and grapefruit oil, so I’m not sure if it would harm my plants…

Cyndi Berger

Thank you so much! I like you turned hippie @50! My kids left the house for college and I was a stay at home mom. I decided to jump into EO in Winter time to give me something to do. I soon realized how beneficial it was.. Spring approached and my hubby built me a box garden- I grew broccoli, Brussels, squash and much more! I never realized how much space these things need! Lol.. I also didn’t know I’d have to deal with moths, worms, caterpillars, fungus… ugh like you I was disgusted and gave up.. until the next year where I learned to plant certain herbs w/veggies to deter the bugs! I never even thought to use EO in the garden! I took your advice and made a spray bottle w/peppermint oil & water. I sprayed it on my strawberries because I noticed I had a few spider mites and they were laying eggs . 24 hrs later I saw nothing! These are only the 2nd year for them so I’m so glad they didn’t get infested with them.. can it harm the plant if there’s too much oil ? (Sometimes extra drops happen.. lol) BTW: when you’re done spraying your plants (peppermint oil/water) Give yourself a spray! It’s supposed to cool you off and works great when having a hot flashes!! Haha


I use a cinnamon blend natural soap to kill tent caterpillars on my persimmon trees here in Oklahoma. They get bad in the summer, and I’m glad I have something natural to use that won’t affect my soils.


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