Plants that deter pests like ants, mosquitoes and termites

While waiting for our food at The Vegetarian Kitchen two days ago, a woman carrying a huge bag came in. I thought she was also a customer but she was looking for someone and the son of the owner The Vegetarian Kitchen entertained her. I was busy taking photos of the place and I wasn’t really paying attention until I saw bunches of plants change hands. The woman was selling citronella plants. Suddenly, she had my hundred per cent attention.

If you’re a long-time reader, you’d probably know about the long and hard battle we’ve been fighting against mosquitoes that we have tried just about every anti-mosquito gadget in the market — from electric repellers to sprays to lotions to patches to portable sonic devices.

And we’re still willing to try whatever else there is. So, when we encountered this woman selling citronella plants, well… you can imagine the adrenalin rush. And not only was she selling citronella. She had this other plant that she called “racumin” which, according to her, was good for repelling ants and termites. Oh, perfect! I started asking how to take care of the plants, how to propagate them, etcetera. To cut to the chase, we bought what she was selling. Speedy haggled with her to get the best price. how to propagate citronella

When we got home, we put the plants in water. That’s the citronella on the right and the “racumin” on the left. According to the seller, both will survive without planting, just keep in jars of water, and the citronella should always be kept out of the sun. New shoots grow near the roots and it’s easy to propagate them. The “racumin” is not sun-sensitive and may be replanted in the garden. For best results, she recommended planting them around the perimeter of the house.

Of course, the fact that the seller called one of the plants “racumin” intrigued me. The racumin I know is rat poison. I surfed the web searching for references to “racumin plant.” I found none but I did discover more plants that naturally repel common household pests. Mint is one of them.

Mint is an herb that will repel most insects, including termites. The EPA recommends mint as a natural pesticide to use in place of the common environmentally harmful chemicals. [Read more: Plants That Deter Termites] mint plants for sale

We’ve had mint in the garden for years because we use them for cooking and mixing cocktail drinks. We buy mint from the Manila Seedling Bank along with other herbs for cooking. propagating mint

But we’ve never planted the mint directly into the soil because I read a long time ago that its roots grow fast and can kill other plants near it. So, we’ve been replanting the mint in troughs. But, now armed with the information that mint can repel pests, if the “racumin plant” turns out to be a lemon, we can buy lots of mint plants and replant them at intervals around the house where they can grow and spread.

Still another natural ant and termite repeller is the chili. bird's eye chilli

Hot chili pepper plants can deter termites, ants and cutworms, according to The Organic Farmer in Kenya, Africa. You can also make a spray from chilies by soaking 2 cups of very hot chilies in 1 qt. of water for one day; shake the mixture, strain it and add 1 gallon of water and 1tbsp. of dishwashing soap. Spray the wood where you suspect termites exist and repeat your application every other day until you see no further evidence of termite damage. [Read more: What Plants Prevent Termites?]

Our chili plants dont look so healthy these days. But I think I should pay more attention to them and see that they get enough water in this terrible heat. Then, I will start growing more. Chilis are among the easiest plants to grow anyway as they need very little care. When we have enough chilis, mint and “racumin plant” to surround the house, let’s see if they can really keep the darn ants and termites out.


  1. vivien carlos mejia says

    the rosemary that i have here in hongkong goes well,even though it was been totally expose from the summer heat of our rooftop. knowing that hk has a high heat level during summer..isn’t not the soil your using?

  2. Ariz says

    hi I wonder how this girl looks like? Does she says that she’s from UP Los Banos? We just encountered someone who seems to have the lines as the one who offered you citronell plants and racumin. Me and my officemates albought plants from her even our housekeeping department bought all that was left. It just botters me because it seems it is a bogus. She actually gave me a calling card. I tried calling it well ringing but I put the phone dowm. I do not to talk to this girl yet until I’m sure that what she sold were fake. Thank you

    • Ariz says

      Have you found out the name of the alleged citronella and racumin plants she offered? Again thank you

    • Emily says

      Hi Connie,
      I bought a lot of citronella plants and racumin as well recently from the three ladies who said they were from Los Banos but the racumin plant i bought is different from the racumin plant you bought. The plants are dying so i searched the net on how to grow them and i came across your website. I think these plants are fake. It looks different from the images of citronella on the net. I wonder how we can have these ladies caught by authorities. I’m sure they have a lot victims already.

  3. Amanda says

    It’s BOGUS! No such thing as Racumin plant and citronella is some kind of grass resembling Lemon Grass/ Tanglad. Better yet buy Malvar plant or Cosmos to keep off those mosquitos.

  4. Sally Qazi says

    I am happy to see so much information about pest repellants. i live in Tanzania, here in the cashewnut farms there is a waxy plant with pale green leaves bordered with a bit of white. it has small red flowers. i do not know the name, but it is efficient anywhere.
    i also know that geraniums and basil help to keep away mosquitoes.
    there is a local plant which Indians call ‘Ajma’ and use it in bhajias, as it eases stomachache , this plant repels snakes and small insects too.
    thank you for this opp.

  5. Dem says

    Hi Connie, i guess im the latest victim of these people.. But this time only one woman approached me, and used all the tactics mentioned here.. I bought lots of her “indoor citronella” and “racumin” plant and paid 5k coz i intend to share/sell it in our compound.. Para akong nagayuma or nabudol-budol coz the transaction was so brief and smooth.. Lets spread this and report to authorities.

  6. moises says

    hi just bought these plants from a woman claiming citronella plant for 1k
    but the racumin plant in the pic is different from the one i bought ..

  7. Marf says

    so did you actually find out what the real name of the Racumin plant is? did your chili, racumin plants and citronella plants work? What happened? if it worked, where can i buy the plant? thanks!

  8. cora says

    Hi Connie, I am another one of the customers of the citronella lady. /A bundle of three plants was sold to us at 75 pesos. I am familiar with the citronella plant similar to the lemongrass and I mentioned it to her. We googled the plant and one group of picture really showed a similar image of the plant in a vase with water. So, I was partially convinced and bought 1 thou worth. At home I exerted maximum effort to learn more about this plant. Weird! there is a pic on the internet but no other info.

    About the racumin plant, I told the saleslady that it is a brand name. But no matter I also bought some. Negative info also. I am already convinced Id been had.

  9. Carol B. says

    Chili peppers mashed in water not only deters insects, it also drives away rabbits, squirrels and even worms and snails who feast from my plants. Tried and tested ko na ito kaya lang may mga ornamental plants ako na nagyellowish ang dahon. Hindi ko lang alam kung dahil ito sa katas na sili or dahil extra dry ang summer namin that year or dahil kakatransplant ko pa lang ng particular na plant na iyon. I’ll see this year kung alin ang totoong culprit.

  10. Marie says

    I have a black thumb (as opposed to a green one!) so, no matter how much I love the idea of plants, I resort to the regular Off! lotion to deter mossies.

    I actually found something that really works and it doesn’t involve slathering on goopy lotion all over my body: Mossie bracelets/anklets. I’m not sure if they’re available back home now, but, last summer they didn’t have them. If you’d like to try them out, I bought myself an entire box and would be more than happy to mail you some.

  11. Cristy says

    How come your citronella plant is different from my plant. Mine is tall and it looks like grasses. I bought it in Mla. Seedling.

  12. says

    Well, I really wouldn’t know. Maybe mine are just still young and small. Search Google images for “citronella plant” — that might help answer your confusion.

  13. Mie says

    Hi Connie,
    So happy to see your website while browsing for potted herbs. I love herbs; bought several diff. herb pots before but couldn’t grow them for a long time-especially rosemary, so i stopped buying potted herbs. Thanks to you, i’m encouraged to start again. Will definitely get some citronella and follow your tips. Many thanks!

  14. says

    I think you and my aunt was tricked on buying this plant. Someone sold these plants to them at the office and sold them for 3 bundles for 100 php. Later they discovered that there were some kind of oily substance on the plant and they knew that the plant they just bought were just sprayed a fragrance of citronella or or something. They laughed at the thought that they have computers in front of them and they didn’t Google how the plant looked like. Hope nobody else gets tricked by buying more of these “citronella” plants.