How to control aphids organically

Use lemon juice as an organic way of killing and repelling aphids from the plants in your garden.

I hate aphids. I really, really hate them. But I also hate pesticides, partly because I love bees and other beneficial insects which can be harmed by chemical sprays. So what to do when those nasty green blighters set up camp on my favourite plants?

aphids on a lily plant

Fortunately I have my own organic secret weapon that seems to work far better than any shop-bought chemical arsenal anyway. And that weapon is simply lemon juice.

I’ve got a recipe here involving chillis and garlic, but all you really need to do is grate the peel from five lemons then cut them in half and juice them.

repelling aphids with lemon juice

Throw the peel into 300ml of boiling water and leave to simmer for half an hour or so. Meanwhile, pour the lemon juice into a spray can or a watering can with a rose (a rose diffuser, that is, like this, not a lovely pretty rose) and spray the affected leaves and stems on your plants. Aphids hate citrus, and will either die or disappear, leaving your plants to recover beautifully.

repelling aphids with lemon juice

You can then water the boiled peel and its water over the soil around the plants to give off an especially offputting lemony aroma to ward off any determined aphids who might fancy returning. Where your plants are under serious attack, you’ll need to repeat this every three or four weeks.

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21 Responses

    • Linda McIntyre

      One tablespoon of soda to one gallon of water will do the same thing and is so much easier

  1. Lauren

    I too share your hate for aphids, and spend half of my time in the garden making sure the numbers are kept down! Thank you so much for the post, I can not wait to try it out 😀 My only concern is whether it will make the soil slightly acidic over time?
    Wouldn’t worms hate that?

  2. sovereignjohn

    There are lemon scented herbs and plants. Add these lemon fragrant plants around the garden might also help without adding citrus acid to the soil. Great article. If the infestation gets too bad this is a great idea to come to the aid of plants.

  3. Diana

    what time of day should you spray the plants? is there a risk of burning the plants that are in full sun? i live in southern california and today it was 110 degrees…would an evening spray be ok?

      • greer

        I love in South Africa. Sub tropical area. The worst aphids I need to deal with are on my lemon tree itself! Obviously on the leaves. Would this spray work because it’s the fruit peels that they don’t like?

  4. Caitlyn

    I would love an easy way to get rid if the aphids on my butterfly milkweed, but does anyone know how the lemon juice will affect my caterpillars?

    • F&F

      Hi Shelby, Sorry I missed your reply at the time. The rose is the diffuser on the end of the watering can, not any reference to rose petals. Louisa.

  5. ZynWoof

    I’m not 100% sure if the author means this or not, but typically a “watering can with a rose” means that there is diffuser at the end of the watering can spout that causes the water to be showered or sprinkled rather than pouring out of the spout in a stream. It doesn’t literally mean you add a flower “rose or any part thereof” to the lemon water.

  6. Pam McCarty

    It says spray the roses with the juice of 5 lemons. That is not much. I have several rose bushes and probably 5 lemons would do one or two plants. Does the recipe mean PURE LEMON JUICE or do we mix the juice with the water that had been steeping the peels?

    • F&F

      Hi Pam,

      The more concentrated the mix, the better. It depends how bad the aphid attack is. I would use one lemon per rose bush.

  7. just another gardener named Gena

    Or you can always encourage the prominent aphid eaters in your garden! I, for one, had issues with the little fellows and when things got out of control I planted bushy plants and – oh happy day! – spiderwebs started appearing on them. Spiders eat aphids.
    Another solution – building a pond. Just make sure it’s accessible(for creatures, not you, haha) and soon enough it will most likely attract a toad or two. When this happens hell will open gates for the aphids. I saw change in literally 1 week! That’s the thing with nature – it has its own ways to enforce balance!

    Best Regards to you F&F Gena Lorainne, gardening expert for a local gardening company.

    • fennelandfern

      Hi Gena

      Thanks for this: biodiversity is really important in a garden, but given this is an organic method, it’s also a good way of getting on top of infestations, which can fatally weaken plants. We too practice wildlife-friendly gardening as outlined in the methods you put in your comment. Hope that this method helps you in some way and thanks for reading.


  8. Tam

    Thank you heaps, your answer & recipe were concise & easy to follow, here’s to hating aphids! Tam


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