34 Home Remedies for Gardening Pests

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home remedies for pests in the garden

The joy of planting your own flowers, fruits, and vegetables is an activity that millions of people across the United States participate in. The process is one that takes time and requires routine maintenance. However, insects, fungal diseases and weather conditions can threaten the success of a garden. To increase your chances of plentiful growth, consider the following home remedies for gardening.

garden lady bugs and slug

Common Garden Threats

From fungus and mildew to furry pests, gardens must survive the attack of several different kinds of insects and plant diseases. Some of the most common threats to a garden include:

Insect threats for gardens include Japanese beetles that attack between late June to early October. These 1/2-inch long, metallic green and copper brown bugs attack trees, shrubs, and the flowers, buds and leaves of roses. Spider mites often appear during dry, hot weather, sucking the sap out of leaves. When left untreated, the leaves turn yellow and eventually curl up and fall off.

Weevils are dark, oval-shaped insects with a blunt-looking snout and elbowed antennae. Crawling up plants, the weevil feeds at night and can cause extensive damage in a garden because they attack plant roots. Weevils target young plants that are vulnerable to their destruction and have more than 200 plant species on their dinner list, including azaleas, rhododendrons, and yew. Sucking vital juices from roses and other garden plants, aphids are green or brown in color, and are known for forming colonies.

Fungal diseases threatening gardens include the water-borne disease called black spot (which causes dark spots on foliage under humid weather conditions), canker (brings black or brown discoloration), downy mildew (appears in cooler, wet weather causing purple spots with yellow edges), and rust (small orange spots that collect on the undersides of leaves).

Rodents and other animals, such as mice, moles, voles, deer and gophers searching for food, will not hesitant to munch on your garden. For example, hungry rabbits cannot resist a vegetable garden brimming full of cabbage, lettuce, and carrots. They don’t discriminate and will also eat ornamental grasses, leaves, and flowers. It is not uncommon to find a rabbit becoming the primary destroyer of a new garden. Luckily, there are ways to prevent rabbit destruction, including remedies made with common household ingredients (such as garlic, Tabasco sauce, and hot peppers) that possess tastes and smells undesirable to rabbits.

Gardening Home Remedies

If you want luscious tomato plants and pest-free flowers, perhaps you’d enjoy skimming the following home remedies for gardens:

a) Baking Soda and Soap:

To control an attack of powdery mildew on plants, use baking soda as a natural fungicide and preventative. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda, ½ teaspoon of liquid soap, and one gallon of water. Spray susceptible plants during humid or damp weather on a weekly basis to greatly reduce powdery mildew in your garden. While any plant can become a victim of powdery mildew, keep in mind that lilacs, roses, grapes, squash and cucumbers are most vulnerable.

b) Baking Soda and Oil:

Protect tomato and potato plants from fungal infections by spraying a mixture of one teaspoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of mineral (or canola oil), and one gallon of water. Spray early in the growing season to gain the best results.

c) Milk:

Spray plants with a mixture comprised of 10% milk and 90% water to rid plants of mildew. It is suggested to follow this home remedy two times per week.

d) Club Soda:

Put leftover club soda to good use when watering your garden plants. The minerals found in the beverage helps green plants grow. If you can, use this home remedy about once per week.

e) Watering Habits:

It is important to water your garden often, which will also attract natural pest killers, such as ladybugs. The best time to water your garden is early in the morning or late in the evening when there is less risk of losing moisture due to hot weather conditions of the day.

f) Listerine [1]:

Create an undesirable environment for aphids by spraying plants with a mixture made from one part Listerine and one part water.

g) Chili Powder:

Sprinkling chili powder around the base of plants can deter rabbits from damaging your vegetable garden. Don’t forget this home remedy needs reapplication after any rainfall.

h) Flashlight:

When weevils come out to feed on your plants in the evening, use a flashlight to find the little invaders and manually remove.

i) Scrap Carpet:

Keep weeds from attacking your garden by placing carpet scraps upside down and then covering them with bark mulch or straw.

j) Old Ladder:

If you’re interested in decorating your garden with a trellis, use an old wooden ladder to train vines and trailing plants to climb. Attach hooks into the wood to make hanging plants easier to arrange.

k) Chicken Eggs:

Some people claim that spraying a solution comprised of one beaten egg and 1 1/3 cups of water on plants will repel deer, elk, and in some cases, rabbits.

l) Coffee Grounds:

Recycle old coffee grounds to use as an effective fertilizer for rose bushes, azaleas, rhododendrons, evergreens, and camellias. The nutrients and nitrogen found in the coffee grounds satisfies plants that require acid.

m) Hair Clippings and Dog Fur:

If deer pose a threat to your garden, pack human hair clippings and dog fur into nylon satchels made out of old pantyhose. The scent of humans and other animals helps deter deer activity. Keep in mind that after awhile, the hair loses its scent and needs replacing after every four to five days.

n) Salt:

Eliminate an invasion of slugs in your garden by sprinkling salt on the pests.

o) Tobacco Leaves:

Soaking one to two dried tobacco leaves overnight in one liter of water creates the base for a home remedy to repel aphids and red ants in gardens. Strain the liquid and add two teaspoons of soap powder to the mix. Directly spray the solution on the offending pests. To use on insects with a hard body, add about 20 to 30 pieces of powdered hot pepper.

p) Oven Racks:

Discourage rabbit activity in your garden by placing wire or metal oven racks around your garden plants. It is said that the rabbits do not like stepping on the racks and will look for food in other places.
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q) Corn Cobs:

Soak corn cob halves in vinegar for 24 hours to create a natural rabbit deterrent that works wonders in a flower bed. Replace this gardening home remedy every two weeks. It is the smell of the vinegar that drives rabbits away.

r) Red Hot Pepper:

To keep cucumber beetles and leafhoppers from destroying your cabbage, broccoli, and related vegetables, spray plants with a solution comprised of a mixture of two tablespoons hot red pepper powder, six drops of liquid soap, and one gallon of water. Spray weekly for the best results.

s) Garden Hose:

Use a garden hose to spray the underside of plant leaves every two to three days to manage spider mites. This gardening home remedy works by interrupting their life cycle [2].

t) Rubbing Alcohol:

Apply rubbing alcohol to affected leaves to treat a spider mite problem.

u) Rose Plant Clippings:

Prevent rabbits from entering your flowerbed by spreading rose bush clippings around your plants, which creates an uncomfortable environment for their feet.

v) Beer:

Fill a shallow pan with beer to attract slugs and snails, which then crawl into the pans and drown.

w) Vegetable Oil:

If you find that the leaves of your plants are curling and looking deformed, take a peek at their undersides and you may discover a colony of aphids. To rid your garden of these pests, combine one cup of vegetable oil and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Take one tablespoon of this home remedy and mix with one cup of water to create a formula that treats an aphid problem in your garden.

x) Vinegar:

Spray weeds displaying broad leaves with white or apple cider vinegar. Make sure to cover nearby plants so that the spray does not affect your garden. It is best to spray the weeds during the hottest part of the day.

y) Aluminum Foil:

When transplanting pepper, tomato, and eggplant seedlings into your garden, wrap plants with an aluminum foil strip measuring 4×4 inches to prevent cutworm damage and blight organisms found in the soil. Make sure to wrap the stem area between the roots and leaves with the foil. There should be two inches of foil-wrapped stems found above and below the soil.

z) Cayenne Pepper:

When vegetable leaves are moist, apply finely ground cayenne peppers to make them undesirable to rabbits.

aa) Ex-Lax:

Some people have used chocolate flavored Ex-lax to keep chipmunks and moles from destroying their gardens.

bb) Repellent Plants:

Sometimes, the kinds of flowers you choose to plant can help avoid infestations of pests. Plant beans to protect potatoes from the Colorado Potato Beetle. Chives are known to protect apples from scabs. Asparagus protects tomatoes from insects living in the soil. The Cucumber Beetle tends to avoid vine crops when radish is planted nearby. The Carrot Fly typically steers clear of carrots when onions are in the vicinity. Marigolds will protect potatoes, tomatoes, and roses from nematodes – tiny, eel-like roundworms.

cc) Adhesive Tape:

Try wrapping your hand with adhesive tape (the sticky side out) to easily remove pests from the leaves of your plants.

dd) Garlic:

When dogs and cats in the neighborhood pay visits to your garden, drive them away by spraying the leaves of plants with a blend of one chopped garlic bulb and one tablespoon of cayenne pepper steeped in one quart of water. Add one teaspoon of liquid dish soap to make sure the spicy home remedy sticks to the plants.

ee) Irish Spring Soap:

According to some gardeners, deer cannot stand the smell of Irish Spring soap. Hang chopped up pieces in nearby bushes and trees. Others have used the small bars of soap offered in hotel bathrooms as a way to repel deer. Drill holes into the centers of the soap and hang in trees.

ff) Early Weeding:

It’s important to make weeding a priority early in the growing season. When weeds are young, they are much easier to pull and remove.

gg) Tomato Plant Protection:

Cutworms, the larvae or caterpillars of some moths, are notorious for attacking tomato plants. Luckily, there are a few home remedies for gardening that can lessen or avoid damage. Place a nail spike alongside a tomato plant to repel cutworms. Some people cover young tomato plants with a milk carton to prevent the destruction of cutworms. Spread cornmeal around tomato plants to control cutworms.

hh) Soy Sauce:

Add equal parts of canola oil and soy sauce to an empty sardine can to lure destructive bugs, such as earwigs. Place the traps out at night and toss out early in the morning, making sure to beat the presence of butterflies and other helpful daytime insects.

Resources

[1] http://www.rosemagazine.com/pages/pests.asp
[2] http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/roses/disease-insect.html

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  • Bill Z

    For earwigs – crumple newspaper and place around plants. Earwigs will feed during the night then look for shelter in the AM. They will go into the crumpled newspaper. Pick up newspaper and burn. Or drop in insecticide laced water.

  • Lynn

    Cayenne pepper is a problem for animals that get it on their fur – rabbits and squirrels have been known to scratch their eyes out to stop the burning after grooming.

  • Sancho

    Lynn–You must be a Midwesterner. No Mexican from the Southwest would believe such a thing. Animals have higher thresholds for pain than humans. I’ve never seen an Iowan pull her tongue out after eating some good green chile…plenty of whining though.

  • Nolan

    Place ammonia sulphate grannules in mole holes and water, replenish every second week.When planting bulbs place two handfull ammonia sulphate grannules at the bootom of the hole and cover slightly with soil.

  • ga perkins

    how do you keep horn worms off tomato plants