It’s that time of year again – mosquito time. Chances are, you have heard of many of the plants that naturally repel mosquitoes and many pests. And, best of all, they can be found at your local nursery. Using plants to deter pesky insects is an easy, safe and natural alternative to store-bought sprays and chemicals.
Citronella should be planted outside after your last frost. If you are planting in pots, you can move it outdoors to your porch so it can repel pesky mosquitoes in the springtime. This plant loves a little afternoon shade and rich, most soil. Citronella is known as the mosquito plant because the citronella scent is infused into many candles and sprays. Keep this one near your doorway to keep flying insects outside.
Lavender is a perennial plant that requires full sun; however, it prefers to live in pots with rich soil that isn’t kept too moist. It makes a beautiful companion for any porch with is beautiful light purple, pink or white flowers. Both the leaves and the flowers are not appreciated by insects or unwanted foragers.
Marigolds offer a distinctive smell which mosquitoes, and some gardeners, find particularly offensive. Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents. These beautiful plants prefer full sun and fertile soil. Although you can plant them from seeds, they are much easier to purchase at your local garden center. Position potted marigolds near entrances or windows to deter mosquitoes. Besides repelling mosquitoes, marigolds can be planted near your garden as they repel insects that prey on young tomato plants.
Pennyroyal leaves and stems can be carried with you to deter insects. An added bonus to pennyroyals is that they also deter fleas and ticks from your pets. Be careful, you might find your animals digging them up or rolling around in your protected areas as pets seem to know how beneficial this plant can be. Be sure you don’t consume the oils from pennyroyal plants as it can be toxic to humans.
From pests to vampires, garlic is known for keeping unwanted prey away. Garlic’s ability to deter unwanted insects has been scientifically proven, although the exact component is unknown. This pungent herb may keep more than just the insect away if you aren’t careful so be sure you keep too much around.
Mints in general have a distinct aroma that naturally repels insects. Mint is a very hardy and prolific plant that grows well in a potted environment. You can pick the mint leaves and rub them on your skin for added protection. Let’s face it – you’d probably rather smell like mint than garlic, both have additional health benefits. Mint comes in many varieties including chocolate mint, peppermint, apple mint, lemon mint and many others.
Lemongrass has a sweet lemony aroma that insects detest. It can also calm nerves, promote restful sleep, and reduce digestive distress, but keeping biting bugs at bay is enough of a benefit. You can plant this in pots around your porch and keep it near your home entrances. For a quick relief from insects (if you venture off the porch), crush up a handful of leaves and keep them in your pocket or rub them on your skin.
Most cat lovers know this herb, but the pungent smell is also offensive for mosquitoes. Start catnip by sowing seeds in pots or your garden. This herb of the mint family will grow in almost any soil in full sun. Catnip can grow 3-5′ tall so don’t plant this one where you have limited space.
Basil can be grown in an herb garden or in pots on your porch. To keep insects away from your body, crush a handful of leaves and put them in your pocket or rub them on your skin. For best results, try lemon basil or cinnamon basil. These emit a stronger scent. The added bonus, like garlic and rosemary, you can use the basil in your favorite recipes.
If you have an overabundance of mosquitoes, don’t underestimate them. Using natural plants is a safe and effective way to ward off the insects, but sometimes additional protection of sprays may be necessary. Use caution especially in areas where West Nile and other diseases are found.