The Q&A Archives: Roach Repellents

Question: What is and where to find hedge apple and catnips to grow and as mature plants? I need to find out what is hedge apples and catnips. They were referred in a news cast as plants that have a roach repellent quality.

Can I grow them? What special conditions are needed? Are they annuals, perenials? Are they available as seeds or are they available from nurseries? Which nurseries or catalogs would have them?

Answer: Hedge apple is a name commonly used for Maclura pomifera which is a tree. Another name for it is Osage-orange. It is an easy to grow tree and runs to about thiry feet although it can be much larger in the wild. It is low branched, rounded, and has spiny branches. Its fruit is grapefruit sized and is yellow-green, ripening and falling in autumn. The fallen fruits are heavy, they also rot and make a mess, so this along with the spines may explain why it is not a recommended tree for home planting and is difficult to locate for sale. In any case, its efficacy as an insect repellent has not be scientifically tested and proven, as mentioned in this article from Iowa State:

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) on the other hand is an easily grown perennial herb plant and can be considered invasive in the garden, unless you have a cat who tears it to bits in a fit of euphoria. It does well in average garden soil in sun or shade and grows about three feet tall. It can be purchased as a started plant or grown from seed. Burpee (800-888-1447) offers both, but to be honest I am not sure its pest repelling qualitites have been tested and proven either.

If you are experiencing roach problems you might wish to contact your Extension office for help in determining the best way to handle it. Their telephone number is 340-2900.

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