Gardening: The garden plants which can tackle a moth problem

The common moth, Tineola bisselliella.
The common moth, Tineola bisselliella.

Is your home suffering a moth infestation? If so, you’re not alone – moth numbers have soared this year, thanks to a combination of a mild winter and warm spring.

Also, our housekeeping habits aren’t what they were – in the past, we had few clothes made from natural fibres and we looked after them properly.



Now, we buy a vast quantity of clothes and stuff them into wardrobes – dark, warm places where clothes moths can breed merrily undisturbed.

English Heritage claims that clothes moths numbers have doubled in the past five years.

Moths can cost a fortune – the larvae eat carpets, wool, cashmere, cotton, etc – so how to get rid of them without calling in pest control?

Luckily, there are some garden plants you can grow to ward off these most destructive of insects. You’ll probably find them being sold off in garden centres now.

Golden thyme.

Golden thyme.

Once again, herbs to the rescue – they really are a vital part of any garden. You probably wondered why your gran had lavender bags in drawers – they repel moths, so get drying this easiest of herbs.

Rosemary, thyme, mint, and bay leaves also do the trick – placed dried herbs into a cloth bag and place in wardrobes and drawers.

The essential oil form of these herbs, sprayed on contaminated areas, works too. Cloves and cedar wood work too, if you want to stay away from the toxic chemicals in some anti-moth formulations.


Rosemary flowers.

Rosemary flowers.

There are four types of indoor moths which eat natural fibres. They like dark, warm, undisturbed area near their food source.

They are attracted to human sweat, hair and body oil on clothing made from wool, feathers, fur and silk. Always wash clothes before you store them, in airtight bags or plastic containers.

Vacuum regularly, under furniture and in dark corners.

Keep wardrobes ventilated.

Save bronze fennel seeds now.

Save bronze fennel seeds now.

Turn off radiators and open windows to allow air to circulate.


Wash clothing above 48C for more than half an hour or put them in the freezer for a few days to kill eggs. Clean cupboards and wardrobes with a vinegar and water solution.

Beware eBay or charity shop bargains – larvae are recognisable as inch-long, silvery threads.

Shake out your clothing once or twice a month, to dislodge any larvae.

Rugs, curtains and cushions can harbour eggs, so give them a good beating and brushing outside to remove them.

Remove dust from vacuum cleaners immediately.

The Moth Box (£6 from, stops the breeding cycle by attracting male moths onto an adhesive strip impregnated with female moth pheromones.

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On a dry sunny day, collect seeds of herbs such as dill, fennel, caraway and chervil and dry in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Chervil must be sown immediately.

Pinks and carnations can be propagated by layering. Propagate irises by dividing the rhizomes if not done last month.

Rock garden plants, such as Helianthemum, Aubrieta and Dianthus can be propagated from cuttings now.

Keep picking flowers from the cutting garden to encourage more flower buds to form and open.

Mid to late August is a good time of the year to apply biological controls for vine weevil. Grubs will be starting to hatch and soil temperatures are now suitable for the nematodes to be effective. Target vulnerable plants such as Rhododendron, Camellia and containerised plants including fuchsias.

Black spot on roses is common at this time of year, and spraying will no longer be effective. Clear fallen leaves and burn them to prevent spread.

Mow lightly and frequently so that short grass clippings can remain on the lawn during hot summers to act as a moisture-retentive mulch. Excess thatch can be scarified out during autumn maintenance next month. Mulching mowers cut the clippings even finer than normal rotary blades, making the mulch less visible.

Start harvesting your maincrop potatoes as the leaves yellow and die back. Try storing your potatoes in hessian sacks which exclude light but allow adequate ventilation.

Sweetcorn is ready when you can pop a corn with your thumbnail and the juices are milky.

Keep an eye out for potato and tomato blight and remove and destroy any affected plants immediately to prevent its spread.