Keep outdoor flowers healthy to prevent pests and problems.

Homemade Bug Repellent for Outdoor Flowers

by Marylee Gowans

Before you purchase expensive and chemically filled commercial insecticides, consider creating your own homemade bug repellent for outdoor flowers. These homemade sprays contain inexpensive household ingredients and control various soft-bodied pests without filling your yard with harmful chemicals that can pose a risk to your family and your pets.

Oil Insecticide

Cooking oil is a cheap yet effective ingredient in various homemade bug sprays. Oil insecticides work by smothering whitefies, aphids, mealybugs, spidermites, scales, thrips and other soft-bodied pests. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of dish soap that doesn’t contain bleach or fragrances with 1 cup of cooking oil in a glass jar. This concentrate can be stored in a dark, cool place until ready to use. To create the ready-to-use mixture, combine 4 teaspoons of the concentrate solution with 1 pint of water and spray the infested flowers liberally. Don’t forget to treat the undersides of leaves where pests can hide. If needed, repeat the treatment at seven-day intervals.

Soap Insecticide

Baby shampoo contains little to no additives, which makes it the ideal ingredient in homemade soap sprays. However, this homemade pesticide should never be used on plants with waxy or hairy leaves. The solution can be made by mixing 2 tablespoons of baby shampoo with 1 gallon of water. Cover the foliage of the plant with the solution. After a few hours, gently rinse the homemade soap spray off the plant.

Herbal Insecticide

Lavender, basil, rosemary, sage and mint are a few of the fragrant herbs that can control common garden pests including mites and aphids. However, this homemade herbal insecticide will take several days before it is ready to use and will need to be made ahead of time. Gather fresh herbs and slightly crush them before putting them in a mesh sack. This herb-filled mesh sack needs to be brewed in 1/2 gallon of water and allowed to sit covered in the sun for four to six days. When ready, remove the mesh sack and transfer the liquid into a garden sprayer, adding 1/8 teaspoon of dish soap. Shake the sprayer for several seconds to mix the liquid with the soap, and liberally coat the outdoor flowers with the solution.


Improper use of homemade insecticidal sprays can damage your outdoor flowers. You should always perform a trial run by spraying a small amount of the insecticide on an inconspicuous area of the plant. If no damage occurs after two days, treat the plant accordingly. Also, never apply homemade sprays to water-stressed plants, or when temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above. This can lead to burning of the plant.

About the Author

Marylee Gowans has written about gardening for both online and print publications. She attended the University of Akron, graduating with a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. In 2009, she received master gardener certification from the Master Gardeners of Summit County, Ohio.

Photo Credits

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