Growing Fruit Trees: How to Repel Borers Naturally

Updated: Aug. 12, 2020

Want to keep borers away from your fruit tree without using pesticides? Learn how garlic and nasturtiums can keep borers away from your fruit garden.


Do you have fruit trees?  If you do, then you have probably heard of borers and shudder at the possibility of them affecting your fruit trees.

If aren’t familiar with borers or the damage they cause here is why you don’t want them in your garden.

Adult borer beetles lay eggs in the crevices of the bark of fruit trees toward the bottom of the trunk. After the eggs hatch, the larvae tunnel their way into the trunk. Borers make small holes and you can sometimes see sawdust around the holes or sap running down the trunk.

Plant garlic around fruit trees to repel borersNoelle Johnson

Plant Garlic Around Fruit Trees

So what can you do to help prevent borers from coming to your fruit garden? A natural deterrent for borers is garlic. Simply plant cloves of garlic around your fruit trees, which will help prevent visits from the adult borer beetles.


Repel Borers with Nasturtiums

Another plant that is said to help repel borers are nasturtiums, which are well-known for their ability to keep damaging insects away from vegetable gardens.  Growing nasturtiums is very easy.  Just plant some seeds underneath your fruit trees and they will begin to grow in spring. Because nasturtiums are annuals, they will die, but will leave seeds behind that will come up again the following year.

I have apple and peach trees growing in my fruit garden and I have garlic planted around all of these trees. So far, I have not seen any signs of borers.  I may add some nasturtiums alongside the garlic for a double layer of protection. A bonus is that they will add a pretty touch underneath the trees.

Be aware that while garlic and nasturtiums can help deter borers, it is not a guarantee. So, keep an eye on your fruit trees for possible signs of borers.


Watch Out for Suckers

Another potential problem to lookout for on your fruit trees are ‘suckers’. Fruit trees are often grafted onto rootstock.  The point where they are grafted is called the ‘bud union’ and is a slightly bulging area toward the bottom of the tree trunk. Occasionally, shoots will start to grow from below the bud union, which steal nutrients. These are called ‘suckers’ because they literally ‘suck’ up the nutrients from the tree.

I recently had some suckers appear on my peach tree, pictured above. To remove them, I used a sharp hand shovel to cut them off at the base. Suckers are easy to remove, but they grow quickly, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

Growing fruit in the garden is fun and rewarding, but keep an eye out for potential problems like borers and suckers.  In the meantime, grab some garlic cloves and nasturtium seeds and start planting!