Essential oils, which have steadily been gaining in popularity in the past decade, are often touted to cure minor ailments from headaches to more serious diseases such as cancer, and to keep away a multitude of pests from bugs to mice. There are conflicting opinions on the safety of using essential oils in your home as they can negatively affect your children and be dangerous to your pets. But have you ever wondered if they affect your plants, too?
When used safely, essential oils can be diffused in your home with great advantage, not only to you, but to your plants, too. They can even be used in your garden with numerous benefits. Essential oils are themselves extracted from the leaves, stems, and flowers of plants so it makes sense that they can help your plants thrive.
More and more people are buying houseplants in lieu of managing a time-consuming garden or even in place of having a pet, which requires constant attention and care.
We often buy houseplants for the beauty they add to home decor and also for the effect they have on the quality of air in the home. What if, on top of these already intriguing reasons for having plants in your home, using essential oils acted like a sidekick to your house plant to increase its effectiveness in your home and on your health?
What Are The Benefits Of Essential Oils To Your Plants?
Aside from making your home smell fresh, fruity, or floral, depending on the oils you’re using, the essential oils have specific benefits for different types of plants.
- Essential oils act as natural pesticides to keep pests away from your plants
- Many oils are naturally antifungal
- Certain essential oils can clean the leaves of your plants and leave them looking shiny and healthy
- Some oils can encourage plant growth
- When used outdoors, many essential oils attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees
- Citrus oils can purify the air and the soil of your plant
Which Essential Oils Can Benefit Your Plants?
There are a number of essential oils that you may even have already lying around your home that can benefit your plants. Some of the top beneficial oils for plants are:
- Cinnamon – Is antifungal, prevents growths of other organisms
- Tea Tree – Controls fungal diseases, repels insects
- Peppermint – Prevents development of fungi, repels insects such as spiders, aphids, slugs, snails, white, flies, etc
- Rosemary – Controls pests such as ants and aphids, effective insecticide, attracts pollinators (better for outdoor plants!), is distasteful to cats and may deter them from chewing (please clear this with your veterinarian first)
- Clove – Antifungal, insecticial, herbicidal, has low levels of toxins making it a good organic choice
- Oregano – Fungicide, Pest repellent for flying pests such as mosquitos and green flies
- Lavender – Insect repellent, attracts bees (again, better for outdoor plants!)
- Orange– Its powerful scent repels ants, attracts pollinators
- Cedarwood – Repels and prevents ants, caterpillars, aphids, fleas, slugs and snails
- Thyme – Keeps pests away, eliminates fungi and some types of bacteria
- Lemongrass– Insect repellent that works especially well for mosquitos
- Basil – Repels spiders, flea, spider aphids
- Lemon – Add to soapy water to wash bugs off of plant leaves
- Thieves – Cleans leaves and leaves them shiny
- Citrus – Purifies soil
Which Combinations Of Oils Do I Use Together?
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to guess that most essential oil newbies have thrown together a mix of oils that were not pleasant to the senses. Some oils are incredibly strong and need to be paired with complimentary scents. It’s always best to use tested recipes of oil blends until you become familiar with the scents and find out what is pleasing to your particular sense of smell. If you’re uncomfortable with blending, begin with one oil at a time until you become more confident.
Plant Growth: To encourage plant growth try a blend of lemongrass, frankincense, and geranium.
Pest Deterrent: If you have a pest problem inside or out, try this recipe:
- 10 drops each Rosemary, Clove, Peppermint, and Orange Oil.
- Add a capful of Thieves Concentrate
- Fill rest of container with water
- 20 drops Thieves
- 20 drops Citrus Fresh
- Water to fill container
Can I Put Essential Oils Directly On Plants If I Don’t Have A Diffuser?
Yes, you can! Not all of us have a diffuser, and the good news is even if you don’t have one there are great ways to get the same benefits. The easiest and most cost effective way is to invest in glass spray bottles.
Why glass? Essential oils can break down plastics over time so it’s always best to use glass. Use the recipes above and fill your spray bottle. Spray the leaves and the roots of the plants to achieve maximum results.
So if you notice that your plant has some unwanted pests, is looking a little dusty, or droopy, experiment with some of the essential oils above to ensure a long and healthy life for your green friend!
Any Dangers I Should Watch Out For?
As with most products, even natural ones, you should always use caution and be mindful of the powerful nature of essential oils. They are highly concentrated and certain oils can burn your skin if undiluted or even your eyes if you accidentally touch your face with oils on your hands. Do your research to find out which oils are safe for children and for your furry friends.
Some oils are safe to diffuse around both people and pets and some oils may be better applied topically to your plant instead of spread throughout the air of your home. Make sure you know which oils may be harmful or even fatal to pets before bringing them into your home.
Here are some guidelines when using oils:
- Check with your pediatrician and/or veterinarian first
- Use high quality oils
- Use distilled water in diffuser, unless directions specify otherwise
- Store oils out of reach of young children and pets
- Keep oils out of direct sunlight
- Always dilute oils with water when diffusing and with carrier oils, such as coconut or jojoba, when applying to skin
- Clean out your diffuser regularly
- Always do your research first!
When using oils around children, always remember to dilute oils before using on skin. Test a small patch of skin to watch for a reaction. Never have children ingest oils.
Can you use a diffuser as a humidifier for plants?
In short, no, it is not the best option. A diffuser will not add a sufficient amount of humidity to the air for your plant and will need to be refilled often.
Can you just use tap water in a diffuser?
Follow the directions of your brand of diffuser as some work best with distilled or filtered water vs tap water.
Can I run a diffuser day and night?
No, it is best to set your diffuser on automatic function so it can turn off after a certain time or just run one to three times a day for up to 30 minutes at a time for safest exposure to oils.
Essential oil diffusers can be a great addition to your home, including your plants! After you’ve done your safety research, play around with some great-smelling and proactive recipes and watch your plants thrive.