Find out how our popular homemade garlic-mint garden insect spray is working in other gardens and answers to your most-asked questions, from measurements to types of bugs it works on.
When I first wrote about the homemade garlic-mint insect spray I created and tested in my garden (that actually worked!) in 2014 (and the follow-up video showing how to make and use it), I was super excited about it because I knew gardeners like me would be happy to learn of an alternative to store-bought products (that also may-or-may not work and often contain questionable ingredients).
And I was right! It's consistently one of our most popular posts (right along with our bench made from 2 old chairs, our paper floors, roasted cabbage to die for, and green beans frozen without blanching) - that also brings in a LOT of comments and questions.
After receiving an email from a reader with amazing before-and-after pictures of her kale plants decimated by bugs that I wanted to share as a follow-up and answering the same questions over and over in both email and comments, I realized a dedicated page was needed as a go-to spot for more information about this DIY garden insect spray.
Both reader experiences and frequently asked questions are here, starting with the testimonials (scroll down to the FAQ if you're only looking for answers). Here are a few of the things you'll find in the testimonials and frequently asked questions:
- how its worked in other's yards
- and how its not worked (or other issues)
- answers to questions about measurements
- what bugs it seems to work with
- ingredient details
I'd like to keep updating this page, so if you've had an experience with the spray that you'd like to share or a question I haven't answered, be sure to drop me an email at jami(at)anoregoncottage(dot)com.
Reader Garden Insect Spray Testimonials
Email & photos from Tracy H.:
"Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. My husband and I tried your recipe last summer (2015) and it worked great. The pictures are from our baby kale plant summer last year which were eating up pretty bad. We are new to gardening so I don't know the names of bugs that caused the problem but something was eating this plant to the point we thought it was not going to bounce back. My husband came across your recipe for the garlic and mint spray on YouTube we gave it a try and was very pleased with the results. So this year we are spraying almost all of our plants with it."
Other emails & comments:
Momo + Frank:
I just wanted to thank you for sharing this absolutely amazing bug spray recipe, it really works like magic!!!
All my plants became so much healthier, stronger and bigger after only one application! It’s a miracle!!! Thank you:)!!!
I tried it out on my bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) and my Moringa trees that had been bug ridden. The effect on the bitter leaf was miraculous, new growth and beautiful leaves in a matter of weeks. The moringa trees loved it too. Thanks for sharing.
Thisguy (response to commenter asking if it worked on aphids on tomatoes and roses):
It will work! I had the same problem and my plants looked dead. they came back like magic.
Lindsay (on Pinterest)- worked against snails, beetles and squirrels:
"I've used this in my pumpkin patch for snails, beetles, and even squirrels. I actually used it specifically to keep the squirrels from scratching my pumpkins. I did have to re-apply after watering but it has kept the critters away so far! Thanks for sharing!"
Jan R. (email):
"Just wanted to let you know that I made a batch of your organic spray to try to kill whatever is eating my silver beet, here in Sydney Australia. It smelt really good (well if you like the smell of garlic!) and, as I had a cold at the time, decided it couldn't hurt to dose myself up on it. Anyway I had about 25ml four or five times a day for several days, and I believe that it knocked over the worst of my cold.
(Yes I divided the batch up - half for the garden + detergent and half for me - no detergent!)
It's been ten days now and the silver beet is looking good and so am I, so thank you so much for posting this information."
Laurie - squash bugs:
"YOU SAVED MY SQUASH!!!
Seriously this stuff is AMAZING. this is literally my very first year going full bore on a garden (seriously I think I have one of everything haha) and my three acorn squash vines I had grown from seed over many weeks, and we’re now a good 5-6′ each and neatly growing up my trellis as planned.
Then three nights ago I stepped outside or check on things (which o do a lot because it is hot as heck during the day here 100F+) and every single female blossom on my vines was absolutely riddled with baby squash bugs. Things had going so well I never even checked my plants for eggs of any kind) and seemingly overnight, bug-megeddeon. I was freaking out, sifting through tons of articles and how-tos until I came upon this one.
I’ve been very diligent about keeping things 99.9% organic in my garden. I didn’t want to douse it with toxins. But I wasn’t going down without a fight. Quick zip over to the store for a few handfuls of mint (had eveything else on hand, so it only cost me $2.50!) and brewed it up. I will say the smell after boiling lingered for ages, but wasn’t overpowering.
The next day I strained it and sprayed it. And crossed all my fingers.
NOT ONE BUG SINCE. None! Zip! Zero! it’s a miracle! And my vines are already rebounding!"
"This stuff works!!! I have been using it for a little over a month and there isn’t anything crawling or destroying my garden! I have a few ants and some pesky slugs..but other than that my basil, tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, green onion, parsley, and some strawberries are going untouched!! Thanks soo much!!"
Ali - to keep ticks out of yard:
"I spray this (+ rosemary and lavender) on my hedges. It keeps the ticks out of my yard and my dogs can lay in the shade in peace. And I can plant my flower beds (along my hedge row) with out getting the heeby jeebies."
Sandra F. - for aphids:
"The Day Lilies, at our newly constructed home, became infested with aphids – so much so, the leaves were dropping and dying at warped speed. I truly felt that they were “done for” and needed to be removed. As a last attempt, and an experiment, I used your spray. HOLY MOSES..after only a couple of days, any and all aphids that came into contact with the spray, died. I couldn’t believe it! This stuff works, and I can’t wait to use it on our up and coming spring veggie garden. Thank you for sharing this recipe!"
Chris - sheild bug/stink bug:
"We have the “Shield bug” here too…I think it’s called “stink bug” in US. Used the spray 4 or 5 days ago, with none seen again until this evening, did a re spray. Must admit, I failed to add the dishwashing liquid so maybe it didn’t “stick” to the leaves etc. will adjust tomorrow, but thought I’d say a big thank you from Melbourne Australia."
And update a month later:
"A quick update on the use of “Mint/garlic” spray. No more sightings of the pests!"
Souper Girl - keeps deer off of roses(!):
"I found this recipe two years ago and cannot go any spring or summer without it. As promised, it works to keep bugs away from my herbs. My most important use, however, is for my roses. Last year I lost 50% or more of my roses to deer. Then I discovered that deer don’t like mint or garlic. I spray this solution on all my new rose buds and and a few of the leaves around them. The buds survive into maturity and beautiful flowers. I didn’t lose a single flower to roses last year and so far this year. In the case of roses, I have to spray regularly particularly after a good rain. It’s worth it! I love that I don’t have to worry about smelling my roses on the plant or in my house because the solution all natural. It does not impact the smell at all. I highly recommend this solution."
Issues with spray
Shannon- didn't work:
"I actually had troubles with the solution on my basil and other plants. Didn’t work like I had thought it would. Tried to follow your directions closely (and of course followed the recipe closely), but for some reason it didn’t seem to help much. The leaves didn’t revive or grow beautifully new like they did in your pictures. And the little bugs/flies survived even after I pretty much drowned them in it! Weird, huh? I even found the strength of it intense for me when I sprayed! Hmm….So I don’t know if it just wasn’t appropriate for my problems, or if I did something wrong?"
Michelle - hurt flowers:
"I sprayed my zinnas and wildflowers with this exact spray. Followed the recipe exactly…and the next day all of my flowers a’re not only eaten they are wilted and shriveled."
Sue - smell:
"I can’t believe after looking through all of these comments that not one person commented on the smell! My whole entire house stinks. I made this yesterday morning and it still smells like garlic and mint. My husband even complained about it. I washed the pans in this dishwasher and they still smell as well as my dishwasher! I certainly hope this works. I just sprayed it on my plants and will see how they do. I guess if it keeps the bugs away it will be worth it!"
Garden Insect Spray Frequently Asked Questions
NOTE: If you are at all wondering how this will affect your plants, please test the spray on a small area of the plant and wait a few days to see if there is any effect on it (it should be applied during the colder part of the day and repeated weekly if needed).
1. Lots of questions about our US measurements and abbreviations in the recipe:
- "c." = cups (8 oz.)
- "tsp." = teaspoon
- approximate metric equivalents for mint: 1 cup measure = 23.66 cl. (or 250ml maybe) but the mint doesn't have to be exact - 3 large handfuls would work, too.
2. Can I use it on other plants or just basil?
- Try it on anything- I’ve used it successfully on herbs, flowers (marigolds, roses, trumpet vine), peppers, and bean plants.
3. Are you using spearmint, or peppermint?
- Either work, I've used both.
4. Can I use a liquid mint extract?
- I think it should work, though I haven't tried it. The measurement should be: 1 drop of peppermint or spearmint oil = 1 Tablespoon, and there are 16 TB. in 1 cup, so 16 drops oil for each cup, or 48 drops total)
- other mint equivalents: 1 cup fresh = 1/4 cup dried leaves; 2 fresh store-bought bunches (60g) = approximately 1 1/2 cups chopped
5. Could I leave out the dish soap?
- This is not an insecticidal soap recipe - meaning it's not meant to kill bugs, just get them to leave (which is why there is so much garlic and pepper in the recipe, versus soap). The tiny amount of soap is to help it stick to plants - it's not enough to kill insects like insecticidal soaps. And I haven't seen dead bugs at all. That said, I can't say it will work just the same without the squirts of biodegradable soap.
6. What type of biodegradable soap do you use?
- I've used Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and Dr. Bronner's castille soap.
- If you want to make sure your plants are not harmed (mine, obviously, haven't been - it's a very small amount), use only the oil-based castille soap, since the others still have degreasers in them.
7. Does it kill ladybugs? Bees?
- Our bees (from 3 hives on our acre) have never been harmed and we have lots of ladybugs that I can always see. I've never seen any dead bugs.
8. Does it work on slugs? ...ants?
- I don't think so - I'd use beer or diatomacous earth for slugs. Ants I don't know…
- It doesn't seem to work on them…
8c. ...bud worms, root weevil, cucumber beetle, squash bugs, whiteflies, etc.?
- I did use it on beans in the garden that were being attacked by cucumber beetles when they were small and it worked great against them. I don't have specifics for the others, though I think it's working on the whiteflies I see on our basil and the few squash bugs we've had. I don't have experience with the other pests.
9. Does this make the plants/veggies taste like garlic? (Even after you’ve rinsed them)
- I typically use it just a few times the whole season and we've never noticed a taste, though I didn’t harvest for a few days after applying. I used it on beans, basil, and flowers. I would wait and then test.
10. Can I use chili powder instead of cayenne powder?
- The chili powder typically sold in markets is a mix of a bunch of different seasonings for making chili, so it would be diluted and may not work as well. If you make sure it's a pure, single chili powder that is a spicy chili (not mild anahiem or ancho, for example), it should work.
11. Is it ok to spray it on my vegetable plants?
- Yep, it’s safe for most things I've found. I've used it successfully on beans as well that I talked about in our video about this spray, too, which you can watch for even more details. Since then I've used it on pepper plants (flea beetles), squash (squash bugs) and a few others with good results.
12. How to/how long to store?
- It seems to lose its potency after 2-4 weeks. I try to use it up in that time frame.
- I store it in our garden shed, though it make keep better when refrigerated, though I haven't tested that yet.
Let me know if you have any more questions or results I can add to this page - I'd love to include them!
Visit the original DIY Garlic-Mint Garden Insect Spray here and watch the video below:
Make This Year's Garden A Success!