Summer means tick and flea season. Not only are these insects irritating for your dogs, but they spread disease. It is essential to protect pets and your family from these critters outdoors, but you don’t have to rely on harsh chemicals or medications. There are plenty of plants, maybe right in your garden, or that you can grow that repel fleas and ticks. These plants act like natural tick repellent and also deter fleas. Some you can use in your natural flea and tick powder. Just check with your veterinarian first to make sure you aren’t using anything toxic to animals. Also, use these as plantings around the garden to keep ticks and fleas at bay where your dog walks and plays.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is often referred to as the king of herbs. Basil plants are certainly one of the most popular herbs grown in the home garden. Growing basil outdoors or in a container is very easy to do if you follow these simple steps for how to grow basil. Choose a location with great drainage. Whether you’re growing basil outdoors in the ground or in a container, the drainage needs to be excellent. Choose a location with good sun. Another important thing to remember for basil plant care is to choose a spot where the basil plants will get plenty of good sunlight. Choose growing basil seeds or plants. Will you start by growing basil seeds or basil plants? Either option is very easy to do when growing basil outdoors.
Many people swear by homegrown chamomile tea to calm their nerves. This cheery herb can add beauty to a garden and may have sedative qualities. Chamomile growing in the garden is both useful and visually pleasing. There are two kinds of chamomile. The first is Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and the other is German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). The Roman variety is the true chamomile but German chamomile is used herbally for nearly the same things. The steps for growing Roman chamomile and growing German chamomile are also nearly identical. Roman chamomile is also known as Russian chamomile and English chamomile. It is a creeping ground cover that grows like a mat. It has small daisy like flowers with yellow centers and white petals. The leaves are feathery. It is a perennial. German chamomile looks similar to Roman chamomile with the differences being that German chamomile grows upright to the height of about 1 to 2 feet and is a reseeding annual.
Eucalyptus is marked by distinctive, fragrant oil in the leathery leaves, bark and roots, although the oil may be stronger in some species. The aromatic oil provides a number of herbal eucalyptus benefits. There are more than 500 species of eucalyptus, all native to Australia and Tasmania, ranging from small, shrubby plants that grow in containers to others that grow to great heights of 400 feet or more. Most are easy to grow in the mild climate of USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. You’re probably familiar with the aroma of eucalyptus oil, which is an important component in many common products such as cough drops, throat lozenges, ointments, liniments and chest rubs. Eucalyptus oil is also an effective insect repellent and is often used to treat minor cuts and wounds.
Pennyroyal plant is a perennial herb that was once widely used but is not as common today. It has applications as an herbal remedy, culinary uses and as a decorative touch. Growing pennyroyal in the herb or perennial garden will add color with its reddish purple to lilac blooms. There are two plants called pennyroyal. One is the European pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), which is a member of the mint family. The other is the American pennyroyal from an unrelated genus, Hedeoma pulegoides. Pennyroyal can be propagated from seed, cuttings or spring division. The seed needs light to germinate but grows quickly once it sprouts. Plant them in prepared seed beds outside after all danger of frost. Sow the seed on the surface of the soil and mist the bed to moisten it. Keep it moist and germination should occur in two weeks. Divide established plants every three years in early spring for the best form and production.
The rue herb (Ruta graveolens) is considered to be an old fashioned herb garden plant. Once grown for medicinal reasons (which studies have shown to be mostly ineffective and even dangerous), these days rue plants are rarely grown in the garden. But just because an herb has fallen out of favor for its original intent does not mean that it can’t have a place in the garden for other reasons. Rue herb does well in a variety of soil but does best in well drained soil. In fact, it will do well in the rocky, dry soil that many other plants have a difficult time surviving. It needs full sun to grow well. It is drought tolerant and rarely, if ever needs to be watered.
Tansy is an herbaceous perennial plant, often deemed as a weed. Tansy plants are common in the United States, particularly temperate regions. The scientific name for common tansy, Tanacetum vulgare, may be an assertion to its toxic properties and invasive nature. Tansy plants are found growing wild in meadows, roadsides, ditches and other natural areas. The weedy herb is also an attractive flowering addition to a cottage or wildflower garden, but watch out or the plant will spread to unwanted areas. Keep an eye on the plant and learn methods on how to keep tansy from taking over the garden. Tansy plants need little supplemental care, other than the occasional watering. Their hardiness means they thrive in most areas of the country but they can become a nuisance if not managed carefully.
The yarrow plant (Achillea millefolium) is an herbaceous flowering perennial. Whether you decide to grow yarrow in your flower beds or in your herb garden, it’s still a lovely addition to your yard. Yarrow care is so easy that the plant is virtually care-free. Yarrow is most often propagated by division, so chances are you’ll buy your yarrow as a plant. Space your plants 12 to 24 inches apart if you’re planting more than one yarrow plant. You can also start your yarrow herb from seed. Start seeds indoors about six to eight weeks before your last frost date. Sow the seeds in moist, normal potting soil. The seeds should just barely be covered by the potting soil. Place the pot with the yarrow seeds in a sunny and warm location.