If you discover infected plants in your garden, you might be wondering why and how to use a homemade insecticide at home to control insects and keep your plants healthy and happy. We’re sharing where to find natural pesticides or how to make your own at home that work on many insects and pest varieties. 

What Are Pesticides?

what are pesticides

Pesticides are designed to keep harmful insects off of and away from your plants. These insects can bring diseases to plants that are harmful or even deadly. Many insecticides treat insects like aphids, snails, and slugs, among other crawling insects on your plants.  

Gardening areas of your local stores will have many different pesticide options that are chemical based. While these are usually effective, they can also be harmful to your plant foliage, soil, animals, and those who come in contact with the plants, chemicals, or soil where the pesticides were used. 

Choosing a natural insecticide option allows you to not only specifically target the insects you’d like to remove from your garden but also is a much safer option for the environment and living things in your yard. 

Why Should I Use Natural Pesticides?

To keep your garden and plants healthy, pest control is necessary. You don’t want to kill off every insect – just deter the ones that are harmful to your plants. Using a natural pesticide option can help keep the harmful pests away from your plants without bothering the beneficial insects. 

Chemical pesticides are made to kill any types of insects or pests in your garden – even the good ones. Your garden needs pollinating insects and bugs like bees and butterflies and natural predators like ladybugs to keep it healthy and to grow strong. 

They can also be harsh on the plants and can be harmful if your plant produces a fruit that you’d want to eat. If you want to grow organic fruit, chemical pesticides won’t be an option for your pest control needs. 

Natural pesticides are also a safer choice if you’ve got children or pets that spend time in your yard. Contact with a natural alternative is much less harmful than a chemical option for pest control. 

What you put onto your plants will eventually wind up in your soil. Choosing a more natural option is better for the environment. A more natural pest control option can also be better for the fruits and vegetables your plants are producing.

Natural options are usually just as effective as a chemical option, and many are made in a spray bottle, so the application is just as easy as purchasing a chemical option from your store. They may need to be applied more frequently because they don’t have the harsh chemicals, but you probably have many of the things needed to make your own on hand whenever you need more.

When you’re choosing the right insecticide for your affected plants, keep in mind that “natural” does not mean “safe.” For example, tobacco is great at keeping pests away but isn’t a safe option to use in your garden for a variety of reasons. 

Where Do I Get Natural Pesticides?

You have a couple of options when it comes to getting natural pest control options. There are many different options for natural insecticides available in your local garden center and home stores as well as online. 

Look for things that take care of your specific pest problem. These pesticides aren’t meant to be used unless you actually have a problem with pests like:

  • Aphids
  • Cabbage maggot
  • Caterpillars
  • Cutworms
  • Colorado potato beetle
  • Mexican bean beetle
  • Flea beetle
  • Tarnished plant bug
  • Japanese beetles
  • Scales
  • Squash bugs
  • Stink bugs
  • Flying insects
  • Spider mites

Soft-bodied insects and pests are most affected by pesticides. Many insecticides work by coating the bodies of the insects, making them unable to breathe. Some of these pesticides create a coating on the leaves that makes it hard for crawling animals to move along the leaves or on the stem of the plant. 

Purchase Them

Just like when you’re purchasing a chemical pesticide, you’ll find natural options for different specific types of insects you’re looking to get rid of in your garden. If you’re not sure exactly what type of insect is causing damage to your plants, talk with a garden specialist at the store or a local lawn care company. 

Many natural options can also be made at home with things you might already have on hand. 

Make Your Own

Making your own homemade insecticides to use in your garden and on your plants is pretty easy and can be made with things you’ve probably already got around your house. Add the ingredients to a simple spray bottle, and you’re all ready to use all-natural pesticides.

These will all work well to prevent insect infestations. If you have infested plants, they may need to be treated more heavily or even removed to keep from infecting your other plants. 

You’ll notice that many of these call for mild liquid soap to be added to the mixture. Adding soap to the mixture helps the insecticide stick to the leaves of the plant and makes them more effective. 

Vegetable Oil

vegetable oil

Use vegetable oil and mild dish soap to make a base. 

  1. Mix a cup of vegetable oil with a tablespoon of mild dish soap together in a small jar. 
  2. When you’re ready to treat your plants, mix two teaspoons of the vegetable oil mixed with a quart of water in your spray bottle. 
  3. Shake to be sure everything is mixed well before using. 

Liquid Dish Soap

dish liquid soap

Similar to the vegetable oil spray, this mixture uses just dish soap. 

  1. Add a teaspoon and a half of mild liquid soap to a spray bottle. 
  2. Fill with a quart of water. 
  3. Shake to mix thoroughly without creating a ton of suds within the bottle. 

Salt Spray

Salt Spray

A simple mixture of salt and water in a spray bottle can work as a deterrent to harmful pests. This can be sprayed directly onto plants and needs to be reapplied each week. 


vinegar Spray

Use one part of household vinegar with three parts of water in a spray bottle. Mix in a few drops of liquid soap. Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar will work for this natural pest control spray. Using three parts vinegar and one part water will naturally treat weeds in your garden. 

Baking Soda

baking soda

If you have rabbits eating your plants, sprinkle some baking soda directly on the ground around your plants to deter those rabbits. When slugs are causing problems for your plants, put a light coating of baking soda right onto the leaves of the plant. This will cause the snails and slugs to dry out. 


beer dish

Snails and slugs like a nice drink every now and then. Adding enough beer to cover the bottom of a small, shallow dish acts as a “trap” to catch pests like snails and slugs. You may need to dig a small hole so that your dish is level with the ground. The scent of the beer will draw the slugs and snails, and they’ll drown in the beer when they get into the dish filled with beer. Because this method draws snails and slugs, you want to put it at the edge of your garden to attract the snails and slugs before they make it into your garden.

Neem Seed Oil

neem seed moil

The neem seed oil may have directions for the ratio to mix. If it doesn’t, you can mix two teaspoons of neem oil with one teaspoon of mild dish soap with a quart of water before putting the mixture on your plants to keep the harmful pests away. This neem oil treatment lasts about three weeks and works well in deterring pests that chew on leaves.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth

SprocketRocket, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This powdery substance can be used on its own by sprinkling it right on the ground or plants in your yard to help with pest control. This works best on crawling insects like snails and slugs. Diatomaceous Earth can be used both inside and outside.


garlic mixture

The pungent aroma of garlic helps to keep pests away, and it’s easy to make. 

  1. Add two whole bulbs of garlic to your blender or food processor with a little bit of water and let it sit overnight. 
  2. The next morning, strain the blended garlic into a quart-sized jar. 
  3. Add half a cup of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of mild dish soap. 
  4. Fill the jar the rest of the way with water and shake to mix everything. 

Chile Pepper

chile pepper spray

To make chile pepper spray:

  1. Mix a tablespoon of chile powder with a quart of water.
  2. Add in a few drops of mild liquid soap and mix well to combine everything, and spray on your plants.
  3. Remember that hot chili peppers can be dangerous, so wear gloves and use care with this pesticide option. 

DIY Natural Insecticide 

garlic onion

This spray is a combination of different natural options that work well for a variety of different insects. 

  1. Blend a head of garlic and small onion in your blender or food processor. 
  2. Once it’s pureed, add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder and let everything sit for an hour. 
  3. Strain that mixture and add a tablespoon of dish soap. 
  4. Mix everything and apply it to the leaves of your plants. 

This mixture needs to be stored in the refrigerator and will be good for up to a week. 

Tomato Leaf Spray

Tomato Leaf

To make this natural spray:

  1. Pick two cups of fresh tomato leaves.
  2. Chop the leaves and let them soak in a quart of water overnight.
  3. Strain the mixture and pour it into a spray bottle to use on your plants. 

Copper Strips

Copper strips

Adding copper strips around your garden will attract insects around your garden. Using this method won’t kill the pests, but the copper will give them a shock when they touch it. This can help deter them from entering your garden if you place them around the perimeter of your garden.

Use Plants

In addition to using natural insecticides to control the pests in your garden, you can also plant different types of plants in your garden. To pick the best plants to use, you’ll need to know what zone you’re in for planting. 

Here are some of the plants that work well to help control pests in your garden: 

  • Sunflowers
  • Garlic plants
  • Marigolds
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Catnip

Tips for Using Natural Insecticides

There are a few things you can do to help make your natural pest control options more effective: 

  • Think about your planting schedule. Plant your garden when pests are less likely to be active instead of during a peak time for pest activity.
  • Make sure there’s good coverage. When you’re applying pesticides, make sure you’re covering the tops and bottoms of the leaves as well as the stems (and soil when directed) and not just the entire plant.
  • Mix your treatment well. Before applying it, make sure that everything is mixed well, so you’re getting an even application. 
  • Test it on a few leaves first. Before spraying something over all of your plants, try it on a few leaves to make sure it’s not harmful to your plants.
  • Bleach is harmful. When mixing your ingredients with a mild soap like castile soap, make sure whatever you’re using is bleach free. 
  • Apply treatments in the evening. If you apply your pesticide to your plants during the sunny part of the day, the plants and leaves will burn in the sunshine.
  • Only apply to affected plants. These treatments should only be applied to the leaves, stems, or plants affected by the pests in your garden.
  • Remove diseased leaves. Before you apply an insecticide to your plant, remove any dead or diseased areas to give the plant the best chance of recovery. 
  • Be safe. Wear gloves and a mask while applying your insecticide treatments to your plants.

Call for a Free Estimate

Want to use natural products on your plants and lawn but don’t have time to do it yourself? Look for a local expert who uses natural insecticides as part of their lawn care routine and services. 

Using a local professional service can save you both time and money. You don’t need to find time in your busy schedule to treat your plants. Buying the supplies to make natural insecticides won’t be something you need to do when hiring someone to cake for your lawn and plants.

When calling to get estimates, ask what type of pesticides are used for lawn and plant care. If you’re not sure what kinds of pests may be affecting your plants, you can also reach out to a local professional who’s familiar with the different types of plants that grow in your area. They may be able to help you identify the pest as well as the best natural insecticides to use to treat the affected plants. 

David Tree Service offers various services to our customers in the Manassas, VA area, including tree trimming, emergency tree services, and stump removal, in addition to lawn care services. Contact us today for a free quote and to get more information about our tree removal services. 

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