Have you found yourself constantly slapping mosquitoes while sitting outside this year, or having to spray yourself repeatedly with insect repellent? Avoid using sprays with chemicals like DEET by growing plants that are not only helpful in controlling these pests naturally, but are beautiful and easy to manage. The plants below can be grown in your home or garden.
1. Citronella – This plant has a strong smell, which helps mask you from mosquitoes. It is a common substance in repellents. The plant itself is more effective than candles or torches because its smell is stronger.
This helpful flora is a perennial and can grow into a grassy, bush-like plant up to five or six feet. It does better in pots if you live in an area where you get frost. It may need to come inside for the winter. Citronella is a low-maintenance plant and does well in full sun with well-draining soil.
2. Horsemint – Here is another plant with a strong smell. It is also known as bee balm or lemon balm. It is a fast-growing perennial with a tolerance for shade and is resistant to drought.
Horsemint grows up to two or three feet high and wide. It does well in sandy soil. Horsemint can be divided in spring and fall to be transplanted to other locations. It also attracts bees and butterflies, so it also serves to attract pollinators to your garden.
3. Marigolds – This hardy and colorful flower is more than ornamental garden stock. Mosquitoes find the smell very unpleasant. These flowers have pyrethrum, which is found in repellents. Marigolds are annual plants but will reseed themselves, so you may have to thin the flowers at times.
They enjoy full sun and healthy, but not over-fertilized, soil. You can start them by seed or go to a garden center and purchase seedlings.
Marigolds also deter tomato-loving insects, so by planting them near your vegetable garden you will help to control more than just mosquitoes.
4. Ageratum – Ageratum is also known as floss flower and it is another plant that has a strong smell mosquitoes tend to avoid. This flower secretes a natural chemical used in repellents, called coumarin. Ageratum is an annual which has distinctive blue flowers. It is an ornamental type flower, reaching heights of eight to 18 inches.
It likes partial or full sun and even does well in rock gardens. Crushing the leaves will increase the odor, but do not rub the crushed leaves on your skin, as it can lead to irritation.
5. Catnip – Here is a natural repellent for mosquitoes. Iowa State University entomologists reported in 2010 that catnip is TEN times more effective than DEET. Catnip contains nepetalactone and is an easy-to-grow perennial. Catnip will always repel mosquitoes in close proximity to the plant. It is a relative of mint (another plant-repeller.)
You can rub it on your skin, but cats will react to you the same way they react to the plant, so cat owners may want to try another type of plant!
6. Lavender – There are many varieties of lavender. It is beautiful to look at, lovely to smell and easy to grow. It is a fragrant herb that flowers. Lavender is another plant that repels mosquitoes by its smell. The smell actually masks our body’s smell and other ones the mosquitoes find yummy. Lavender can be dried and used in bouquets and sachets. It also has a calming effect. Lavender, especially its oil, repels mosquitoes and nourishes the skin at the same time. It also can be grown in pots or in a garden.
7. Basil – This lovely herb gives off a scent the mosquitoes don’t like, but people love. It is an easy-to-grow herb. All basil will work, but there are two varieties that seem to work best. They are lemon basil and cinnamon basil. You can find them at a garden center, or can grow them from seeds.
You can rub basil on your skin. It also can be used in cooking, so it’s an all-around useful plant.
There are many more plants that can be used for repelling mosquitoes. Try rosemary, garlic, peppermint, cloves, eucalyptus, tea tree, neem, vanilla sagebrush and thyme.
You can make your own repellent by using herbs like rosemary, garlic and peppermint. Start by crushing the leaves and adding them to vodka. Let the mixture sit for 12 hours. Put the mix in a spray bottle and use as you would with any mosquito repellent. You can also substitute witch hazel for the vodka.
Keep in mind: The plants will work naturally, but if it is raining or there is a strong wind, the effectiveness of the plants will diminish for a while.
By grouping these plants around your garden and decks, you can enjoy their beauty while having mosquito interruptions kept to a minimum. After all, it’s that time of year where we want to enjoy the outdoors.
What plants do you use to chase mosquitoes away? Share your tips in the section below: