By Linda Cole
It’s that time of year when pesky fleas begin popping up in the home and on your pet. Planting certain garden plants around your home and in the areas where your pets wander can help deter and repel those little pests. Now is the time to plan your garden to include some plants that can help control fleas naturally.
Many of the same herbs used in cooking, baking and teas work well to help deter and repel fleas. However, not all plants are safe for use around dogs and cats. Tansy, Wormwood, Eucalyptus, Fleawort, Pennyroyal (also called Fleabane), Rue, Citronella and Sweet Bay are garden plants that can help repel fleas and they are suggested for use as natural flea control, but all of them are toxic to dogs and cats. Since most gardens are visited by neighborhood cats or dogs, it’s best to avoid using these plants in gardens or around the yard.
Mints are one of my favorite garden plants because they can be used in baking, cooking and teas, and they have a wonderful smell. I have chocolate mint growing around my dog pen and the foundation of the house. All varieties of mint work well to repel fleas. One thing I love about my chocolate mint is when one of the dogs wanders through a patch of mint, they have a minty smell that clings to them for awhile and at the same time, it repels some of the fleas on them. And if one of the dogs decides to munch on some of the mint, I know it’s safe and won’t hurt them.
All of the mints are invasive plants, so if you don’t want a yard full of mint, plant them in pots that can be buried in the ground so you can contain this plant in one area. You should plant different varieties away from each other to keep them from cross pollinating. Mints are perennial plants and inexpensive to buy. They’re hardy, easy to grow and can withstand harsh winter snows and cold.
Catnip: anyone who shares their home with a cat can’t go wrong with catnip in their garden. A member of the mint family, this plant is a natural repellent for fleas and safe for both cats and dogs. You might want to carefully choose where you want to plant catnip because it will attract outside cats. Placing this plant alongside your prized flower beds may not be the best choice.
Sage is thick bush that grows up to three feet tall. It’s the largest member in the mint family.
Rosemary is also a member of the mint family. Be careful when planting Rosemary, however. You want to make sure to get the herb plant, which is safe for pets and not Rosemary Pea or Rosemary Bog because they are toxic for dogs and cats.
Chamomile is a good plant to have in gardens because it not only repel fleas, but it’s believed the Chamomile plant can help keep other plants in the garden healthy. I’ve never tried it myself, but it’s been said that if you have a sickly looking plant that’s not growing well, plant a Chamomile next to it. This plant has little daisy like flowers.
Lavender is another member of the mint family. This plant is safe for pets and not only repels fleas, but moths and mosquitoes too. Lavender is a good plant to have in the area of your yard where you like to gather for outside outings with family and friends and where your pets play.
Lemon Grass is a perfect companion to Lavender because it too will repel mosquitoes and fleas. And yes, it does smell like lemon.
When you plant any of the above plants around your home’s foundation and in areas where your pets spend time when outside, these plants can help repel fleas and other pests. You can take dried or fresh leaves and sprinkle them in your pet’s bedding and across entryways into the home to keep fleas from entering through a door. Dried leaves can also be used in sachet packets that can be placed around the home or you can sprinkle dried leaves on carpets, under furniture and around baseboards to help repel fleas.
None of these plants will kill fleas; they only repel them, but by placing the plants in the right areas of your yard, you can use their unique ability to help keep fleas away from your pets and your home. When dealing with fleas, we need to use every weapon we can find. Julia Williams’ article, “Debunking Seven Myths about the Mighty Flea,” gives you an idea what we are up against when it comes to this annoying little pest.
Read more articles by Linda Cole
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