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Essential oils can be used in the garden for many plants; an alternative to chemical-based pesticides, essential oils are the natural defensive mechanism of a plant.
Plants contain natural aromas for a number of reasons; plant aromas found in the bark, leaf or root of a plant protect a plant from potential harm. Plants with aromas in fruits or flowers attract insects for plant pollination. Plant aromas found within the leaves of a plant contain the chemical component terpenes; potential predators eating these leaves risk sickness or death.
Companion Garden Plants for Protection
Many plants prefer the company of certain plant species because they form a line of natural defense against potential harm. For example, basil and thyme naturally protect the rose species against potential threats; vegetable gardens are protected by the presence of lavender and thyme.
Many pests and insects are deterred by the presence of certain plants, for example:
- Ants – natural plant repellents are peppermint, spearmint and tansy
- Caterpillars – natural plant repellents are celery and tomatoes
- Mosquitoes – natural plant repellents are rosemary, sage, lavender and mint
- Snails – a natural plant repellents is garlic
- Slugs – natural plant repellents are chives and garlic
- Flies – natural plant repellents are rue, tomatoes and tansy.
Extraction of Essential Oils from Plants
Essential oils are found in the veins, glands and sacs of a plant and extracted from various parts of the plant, such as leaves, flowers and roots. Essential oils are used in aromatherapy in the treatment of a number of potential health problems in humans and animals. However, once extracted from the plant, essential oils can also be used as a form of preventive medicine for many plants in the garden. A lot of essential oils have antiviral and antibacterial properties; therefore it follows that a plant can be protected from viruses and bacteria and diseases present in the garden.
Natural Insect and Pest Repellents in the Garden
Essential oils can be used as an alternative to growing compatible garden plants for protection against disease. Essential oils can be used by dilution in a watering can or a watering system for garden plants. The use of essential oils can increase plant yield and enhance the flavor or fragrance of a plant; this is true of natural plant partners too. For example, growing basil near a tomato plant, or using basil essential oil, enhances a tomato's flavor.
The following essential oils can be used as natural insect repellents:
- Ants – use essential oil of peppermint, citronella or spearmint
- Caterpillars – use essential oil of peppermint or spearmint
- Mosquitoes- use essential oil of lavender, lemongrass,citronella or tansy
- Snails- use essential oil of patchouli, pine or cedarwood
- Slugs – use essential oil of pine, cedarwood or hyssop
- Flies – use essential oil of lavender, citronella, peppermint or tansy.
Rose, Jeanne 1999 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols USA: Publishers Group West
Worwood, Valerie 1991 The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy UK: MacMillan London Limited
This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as How to Use Essential Oils in the Garden
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