Essential Oils for the Garden..and Gardener

Essential oils are used by plants to communicate and defend themselves against pests and disease in nature.  By using these same substances we can mimic nature in a way, and ward off pests and disease without leaving behind any detrimental residues or salt build ups in the soil.

Below are are just a few of the essential oils I have used in my work and garden. As new pests come up I look to nature first, always. Organic gardening doesn’t have to mean losing your garden to the bugs. The benefits of using essential oils is they are healthy for humans.

Not just, not as harmful as other pest control options, …healthy to use.

The ratios differ a little bit from oil to oil, and some people use different surfactants (soaps) to help the oil do it’s job.  I use castille soap with the oil in a solution.  The basic ratio is 1 tablespoon of soap and approximately 12 drops of essential oil per 8oz of warm water.  Shake well to mix everything up and you are good to go.

  • A special note on quality.  Every essential oil company is different and as such the quality and purity of the oils will differ.  I use doTERRA essential oils because the science of the extraction process and the consciousness in their sourcing are sound.
  • click on a picture and a link will open to tell you more about each of the oils and where to get them.
  • Some additional information available HERE.


In the Garden – Okay so not an essential oil to start I realize, but I use vinegar as a herbicide.  For persistent plants like dandelions I pull the plant with as much of the roots attached as possible then I spray a bit of vinegar into the remaining hole in the ground.  It may take a couple of applications but each time the plant will get weaker and soon enough give up all together.  Also, try to find strong vinegar.  Cleaning or horticultural vinegar is stronger (10%) than kitchen vinegar (5%) and therefore is more effective.


In the Garden – Peppermint can be used for a number of pests.  Ants, aphids, white fly, beetles, caterpillars, mice and more.  Peppermint is not an insecticide, it is a smell that most insects just don’t like.  It can be used on flowers and plants, as well it can be used around windows and doors of your house or greenhouse to keep pests away.

For the Gardener – You can use peppermint in a number of ways. Rub it on sore muscles, or an upset stomach. Spritz some in the air for some mental focus and bug repellent. It also has cooling properties after those hot days in the garden.  Can your chemical pesticides do all that?


In the Garden – Neem is an insecticide.  It is a non-selective substance so caution should be used as it will harm beneficial insects as well as the bad ones.  I don’t like harming anything I don’t have too, but sometimes pests will infect the whole neighbourhood if they are not kept in check so I keep this in my arsenal for when it is absolutely needed.

For the Gardener – Neem can be used as a mosquito repellant that is effective and good for your skin. It is used in a variety of natural skin and hair care products for it antioxidant properties.


In the Garden – Lavender is another pest deterant more so than insecticide.  It is good to get rid of fleas, ticks, moths, and mosquitos.

For the Gardener – Lavender can be used as a skin rub to soothe bug bites and small skin irritations. Add it to your bath at the end of the day, or spritz some in the air for a feeling of calm in the middle of a busy day.


In the GardenSlugs and Snails do not like White Fir.  At the first indication of snails I start dosing the effective plant with fir oil and the snails are not long moving on.  It is great to have on hand if you have a damp corner in your garden.

For the Gardener – The smell of white fir is used to reduce stress and bring a feeling of empowerment and energy. On top of getting rid of the slug problem in your garden , it makes you feel so good  as well.


In the Garden – Rosemary will repel flies, fleas, mosquitos, spider mites, lice, cabbage fly, even cats. You can make a foliar spray or place a couple drops on the soil depending on the pests.

For the Gardener – Rosemary is used for indigestion, hair, mouth and skin care, boosting mental alertness, stress and pain relief, and for an immune system boost.  It has been used since the Roman times and probably before.


For the Garden – Tea tree oil is anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial.  Because of these two properties, it is indispensable in the garden.  In the garden, it can be useful in suppressing fungus and kills a lot of different species. Caution should be used though, as it may be indiscriminate, meaning that it will kill the good fungi as well.  Tea tree oil is useful against mites on indoor houseplants, and is also useful as a cleaning spray.  I clean all my tools with a mixture of tea tree oil and Castile soap. Especially important when pruning trees with black knot, which is rampant in the Calgary area.

For the Gardener – I keep a roller bottle of this stuff close by all year long.  The anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties make it ideal for cuts and scrapes.  It should be mixed with a carrier oil like coconut as it can irritate the skin in pure form.


For the Garden – Chiggers, ticks, fleas and the like don’t like lemongrass.  Of course its well documented that lemongrass is effective with mosquitos.  Most natural bug replants contain some quantity of Lemongrass.

For the Gardener – A bug repellant spray made with lemongrass is effective and smells good. Lemongrass is used to relieve stress and inflammation as well so rubbing it on before heading to the garden is beneficial on many levels


For the Garden – There is not a lot of uses for Frankincense actually in the garden, probably because it is one of the more expensive essential oils.  I have heard that in places where the oil originates, Africa and the Middle East, it is diffused as a bug repellent around houses and bedrooms.  Add it to a diffuser blend and set it around patios to keep the mosquitoes away.

For the Gardener – Frankincense really shines here.  It is so good for you! The health benefits are ridiculous for Frankincense but more to the point here, wound care.  I have had some nasty cuts on my hands and with just proper wound care and a drop of Frankincense on the bandaid instead of polysporin for a couple of days, and my recovery time is greatly reduced.  Definitely in my medicine cabinet

Here are some combinations specific to the Gardener from Doterra as well:

Rather than re-inventing the wheel, see the descriptions below.