Bringing an herb garden into the kitchen is meant to make life easier, but the question of if it can invite other unwanted guests into your kitchen is something that can sometimes turn people off adding an herb garden to their house. When asked whether herb gardens attract insects, my first thought was they wouldn’t as most herbs deter most insects, but I set out to find out how much they really do or don’t attract bugs.
Does growing herbs indoors attract bugs? While most herbs have the added benefit of producing a strong odor that deters most bugs, they are an indoor plant that can be bothered by the same kind of bugs and pests that a normal houseplant could be bothered by.
Realizing that there was a possibility of an indoor herb garden attracting bugs of any kind, I continued my research to find out just what kinds of bugs they could attract, and how I could prevent them.
What Are the Most Common Bugs That Can Affect Indoor Herbs
One of the main reasons that most people grow herbs, indoor or outdoor, is that they often are natural bug repellants. Given the qualities of most of the herbs for naturally repelling most bugs, I sought out to find out just what bugs were the most common with indoor herb gardens. Some of the most common bugs to infest indoor plants, herbs or otherwise, are whiteflies, fungus gnats, aphids, and scale.
- Whiteflies are small moth-like flying insects
that are particularly fond of indoor plants as it shelters them from freezing
outdoor conditions that would otherwise kill them. These nuisance insects are
usually seen as small white specks along with the leaves of your indoor plants.
Because whiteflies feed on the sap of plants, it’s easier to identify plants
that are impacted as they will have yellowing leaves or wilting appearances.
These flies are usually brought into your home from an infected greenhouse.
- Fungus gnats are highly annoying insects that
are drawn to indoor plants because of the consistently warm, moist environment
found in most potted plants. These tiny black insects will often be most
noticeable after the plant is moved, as they prefer to collect around the soil
of the plant. They also can be problematic once infested as they lay their eggs
in the soil of the plant. The adult gnats live for about a week and lay eggs
during that time, which will hatch a week later.
- Aphids are a pest that most gardeners are
familiar with. They appear as small, tear-drop shaped specks that will collect
on plants, usually on the undersides of the leaves. They feed off the sap of
the plants, and will often cause the plant to wilt or yellow, similar to
- Another common nuisance for indoor plants is scale. These appear as bumps on the undersides of leaves and stems of your plants. They can vary in color and texture, but they are often more easily identified by a trail behind them. While these can be a struggle to identify, once spotted, they can be removed with a few simple steps.
How to Avoid Bugs in Indoor Herb Gardens
An ounce of prevention can go a long way to avoiding attracting bugs to your indoor herb garden. One of the easiest ways to make sure that you’re not inviting the little pests into your indoor garden is making sure that any new plants are kept separate from your existing herb garden before you add them to the home.
Keeping new plants in quarantine before you add them to your herb garden will help prevent any infested plants from greenhouses bringing unwanted visitors to your home. Because plants may appear without an infestation but be housing the eggs of any of these pests, it is an easy step to prevent later headaches. Usually, keeping the plants in quarantine for a couple weeks will help make sure that you have outlasted the hatching cycles of most of the common pests we see in house plants or herb gardens.
Be strategic with which herbs you are planting that are natural deterrents for insects, and being sure to include some of them in your indoor herb garden is also a fantastic preventative measure for repelling any types of pests from your plants.
Avoid overwatering your indoor herb garden. While some people are concerned that their garden will remain too dry, keeping a consistently moist top layer of soil will make a perfect breeding ground for most household pests that like to plague plants. Keeping this top layer slightly dryer will help avoid any favorable conditions for insects.
Which Herbs Can be Grown Indoors to Help Deter Bugs
One of the benefits of herbs is that they naturally work as an insect deterrents. To make sure that your herb garden is benefitting from this natural protection from infestations, planning to have a couple of the following herbs included in your garden will put you one step ahead of any unwanted insects:
- Basil is a frequently used herb in most Mediterranean cooking, as well as many other cultural recipes. This fragrant herb is great for repelling most spiders and flies.
- Garlic is a highly used herb both for cooking and its health benefits. Adding Garlic to your herb garden can be highly useful for cooking as well as offer some natural insect repellant, and is frequently used for natural bug sprays.
- Rosemary is one of the most effective herbs for keeping any insects that feed off your herbs at bay, in addition to its fragrant appeal in several recipes.
How to Rid Your Indoor Herb Garden of Bug Infestation
Unfortunately, as prepared as we may try to be when preventing insects from invading our indoor herb garden, sometimes they sneak in despite our best efforts. One of the key things to consider if trying to rid your indoor herb garden of insects is that you still want to keep your plants edible.
There are several options for natural bug sprays that can be made even with the herbs that you have on hand in your herb garden. Making a mixture of Garlic spray can help treat an existing infestation. Puree a few cloves of garlic, mix with water, and strain into a spray bottle. Keeping this on hand will help treat your plants quickly.
Another helpful way of removing pests can be rinsing your plants well under running water. For some infestations like aphids, this can be helpful, as well as wiping down stems and leaves with cotton while doing this to clear away scale if needed. This can be an especially helpful step if your insects are already resisting some of the more natural deterrents that you have from an herb garden.
Additional Ways to Avoid an Infestation
There are several combinations of essential oil blends that are recommended for treating herb gardens, keeping a small glass spray bottle on hand to mix a few drops of cinnamon, black pepper, and rosemary oils along with orange rinds can be an extremely helpful tool for the pests that seem more resistant to the steps mentioned above.
Keep a stockpile of yellow sticky cards on hand as laying a few of these close to your herb garden can be a great way to help catch adult insects who are in and around your herb garden. The yellow cards attract the insects, but the sticky film on them captures the bug so that it is trapped for easy disposal.
Try adding a thin half-inch layer of sand on top of your topsoil in your planters. This layer will not prevent water from seeping down to the roots of your plants but will create a dryer environment at the base of your plants, which is a rougher consistency that is less appealing to most household insects.