For years, consumers never questioned the ingredients in the products they bought each year. That’s all changed now. As more people have become aware of the potentially dangerous chemicals in foods, beauty supplies, and lawn care products, consumers have turned to natural, safer alternatives. One such alternative currently gaining popularity is essential oils.
Essential oils are all the rage right now, and it’s not hard to understand why. One small bottle of rose or lavender essential oil can be used for a variety of purposes – from lowering stress to replacing perfumes with harmful ingredients. Essential oils are most often used as natural solutions for beauty and health. What some people don’t know is that these powerful oils can be used in the garden as well.
If you prefer using only natural and organic products in the garden, consider essential oils as a way to help your plants grow. This helpful guide explains what essential oils are, how they can be used in the garden and the best way to apply oils to your plants. Let’s dive in.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids distilled from the stems, leaves, and roots of plants. They’re called “essential,” because these oils contain the true essence of the plant.
There’s a long list of essential oils you can buy today, including peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass, and basil. Because they are a plant-derived oil, you can feel good knowing exactly where the liquid came from and that it contains no synthetic ingredients.
How can I use essential oils in the garden?
Essential oils are a popular garden solution because they can be used to prevent and solve a variety of plant issues. Here are just a handful of ways to reap the benefits of essential oils in your garden this growing season.
1. Use essential oils as an insect repellent:
To keep your garden both pest- and chemical-free, use essential oils like peppermint and clove oil to repel insects. These strong fragrances keep bothersome pests away and help your plants continue to thrive. Try mixing rosemary, peppermint, and clove oils to create a more effective repellent.
2. Discourage pets and vermin:
Sometimes pests aren’t the problem — it’s your pets that are damaging your crop. Fortunately, the same oils you can use to repel insects also work well to discourage pets and vermin, too. Peppermint, for example, keeps small animals like mice and squirrels from eating your plants. If you have cats, use rosemary to discourage them from eating leaves. Cats dislike the smell of rosemary, and will assume your plants taste bad because of their unappetizing smell. Dogs, on the other hand, hate the smell of pepper; apply any kind of pepper oil to your plants to prevent your pups from digging into your plants.
3. Treat fungus:
Garden fungus causes the majority of plant diseases, and it easily spreads when left untreated. Treat fungus to reduce the risk of disease, and continue to use only natural solutions with essential oils. Tea tree oil is extremely effective for preventing and killing fungus. Other oils that you can try include neem oil (which only works to treat infections), citronella oil, rosemary, and peppermint.
4. Attract pollinators:
You can use essential oils strategically to repel the pests you don’t want near your garden, as well as attract the animals you do want. Sweet fragrances like orange blossom, lavender, and sage can be used to draw in both bees and butterflies, which will then pollinate your garden and help it grow.
5. Create a calm environment to enhance your gardening experience:
Essential oils are used in aromatherapy to help people feel less stressed and more at ease. Bring aromatherapy into the garden by choosing essential oils that deter insects, prevent diseases, and also smell amazing to you.
Maybe you like the soothing smell of lavender or the energizing scent of peppermint; consider which fragrances are most appealing to you when choosing oils to use in the garden. You can even create a nook in the garden, complete with outdoor furniture, to relax when you’re ready to unwind.
6. Treat gardening ailments, such as sore muscles or bug bites:
You find gardening relaxing and fun, but sometimes spending the afternoon planting takes a toll on your body. Use essential oils to treat a variety of ailments and feel better.
Salve blends, which often have a mixture of different healing oils, are great to use on sore muscles. Lavender, which you’ve already seen mentioned numerous times above, again works well to soothe the skin.
How do I apply the oil to plants?
Pure essential oils are very powerful, so it’s important to watch how much oil you’re using and to dilute the oil by mixing it with water. The Paleo Mama explains exactly how much oil to mix with water (it depends on the oil type and what you’re using the mixture for).
Oftentimes you need just a few drops of oil to get results. After making your oil and water solution, be sure to keep shaking the spray bottle, as essential oils tend not to mix well with water.
Along with the spray-bottle method, you can incorporate essential oils into your garden by applying a couple of drops of oil onto cloth strips to hang between plants. This is a good method to try if fruit and veggies are starting to show and you don’t want to spray the crop with oil.
Remember to buy organic
Essential oils are derived from plants, which means they can be contaminated by harmful pesticides if not labeled as being “organic.” When browsing oils to try at your local health store, be sure to look closely at the label and only buy oils distilled from organically grown plants.
The powers of essential oils are still being discovered, but we’ve learned enough about these incredibly potent liquids to know that they can be an effective gardening solution. Many people find these plant-derived liquids helpful in the home as well.