Nothing disturbs the enjoyment of your backyard faster than a pesky mosquito buzzing around your head. You can always cover up with long sleeves and a hat or apply insect repellent, but there may be another way. Have you ever thought of adding some mosquito-repelling plants to your garden?
Oils found in certain types of plants, especially herbs, are natural mosquito deterrents—lemon balm, peppermint, catnip, rosemary, garlic and thyme—all of these will help keep your garden mosquito-free. Here are a few popular plants that have been proven to repel mosquitoes.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Also known as horsemint, this hardy perennial repels mosquitoes by giving off a strong, incense-like odour, similar to citronella grass. The smell, however, does not deter bees and butterflies. Lemon balmis extremely aggressive—it’s fast growing, drought resistant and reseeds itself easily. Try containing it in a planter that can be moved to a seating area when you want some relief from pesky mosquitoes.
Marigolds (Tagetes spp.)
As a popular annual, marigolds are always found in flower beds and containers during the summer months, but their mosquito-repelling ability hasn’t been widely advertised. Many gardeners use them in the veggie garden to deter other insects, but as a mosquito repellent, marigolds are powerful. It’s not surprising since their distinct smell is unbearable to insects—and even some people.
Plant marigolds in containers as you normally would, but then place the containers anywhere in the garden where you want a mosquito-free zone.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
We all know that cats love catnip, but this perennial also has a quite a reputable history as a medicinal herb. One trait that this plant is less known for is its mosquito-repelling ability. The natural oil within the leaves has been proven to be ten times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes. Plant catnip around your patio and deck, but remember while you’re repelling mosquitoes, you may be attracting a few of your feline neighbours.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil is one of the few herbs that give off a scent without the leaves having to be crushed or physically disturbed. There are many varieties of basil, but the ones with the most mosquito-repelling powers include lemon basil and cinnamon basil.
For a quick, natural insect repellent in the garden, take a few basil leaves and rub them on your skin. The oils will deter any nearby mosquito from bugging you while you work.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Mosquitoes and many other insects don’t like the smell of lavender. This trait makes lavender a welcome addition to any garden, especially considering how attractive this plant is when it blooms. Aside from planting lavender around seating areas to deter pests, try making your own natural insect repellent with lavender leaves
Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus)
Many natural insect repellents found on the market contain citronella oil, which of course is derived from a natural plant source—citronella grass. When candles and lanterns containing citronella oil are burned, the fumes repel mosquitoes.
This tropical perennial, native to Asia, is a member of the Poaceae grass family and can grow up to six feet tall. Handling citronella can cause skin irritations or allergic reactions when the grass blades are broken, so make sure you wear gloves. In addition to its mosquito-repelling abilities, it’s also quite an attractive ornamental grass. Plant it along walkways and seating areas to allow its strong fragrance to deter mosquitoes.
Other plants that deter mosquitoes:
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Garlic (Allium sativum)
- Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
- Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.)
- Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Make your own natural repellent
Using some of these plants, especially herbs, you can make your own natural mosquito repellent. Simply crush up the leaves with a mortar and pestle to release the oils and then add it to vodka (which is also proven to repel mosquitoes). Let your concoction sit for 12 hours. Once infused, add your natural repellent to a spray bottle and use as you would any store-bought mosquito repellent.