The idea of using citrus peels to deter pests has gained popularity on social media platforms like TikTok. But does this viral gardening hack really work? According to an article by Alexandra Jones from The Spruce, who consulted with experts to uncover the truth about whether citrus peels can keep your garden pest-free.

Expert insights on citrus peels and pest control

Justin Hancock, a horticultural expert with 25 years of experience and currently at Costa Farms, shares his knowledge on the subject. According to Hancock, citrus peels’ pest-repelling potential lies in their volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which give citrus its distinctive scent.

However, these compounds are only effective when they’re actively being released into the air. Once the peels dry out, they lose their effectiveness.

John Tooker, a professor and extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at Penn State University, echoes Hancock’s sentiments.

Tooker explains that for citrus peels to be effective, they would need to be abundant and in close proximity to the plants. Even then, their efficacy would diminish as the peels dry out.


The drawbacks of using citrus peels

Using citrus peels in your garden may do more harm than good. Instead of deterring pests, you might attract unwanted visitors like snails, slugs, or even baboons.

Hancock advises against using citrus peels in the garden, except for composting purposes.


Effective natural pest control alternatives

If you’re looking for reliable natural pest control methods, here are some expert-approved techniques:

Use water: A strong stream of water can dislodge pests like aphids and spider mites. Regularly spraying your plants with water can help keep these pests at bay.

Plant native species: Growing a diverse range of native plants encourages beneficial insects that can naturally control pest populations. This approach supports a balanced ecosystem in your garden.

Cover new plantings: Protect vulnerable plants with floating row covers or fine mesh netting to prevent pests from reaching them. This method is particularly effective for vegetables like eggplants and kale.

Use insecticides as a last resort: If you must use insecticides, opt for organic options like neem oil-based products or horticultural oils. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Trust commercial products over D.I.Y recipes: Commercially produced pest control products are generally safer and more effective than homemade solutions. Hancock warns that DIY recipes found online can sometimes harm plants due to varying sensitivities.