If You Plant It, They Won’t Come: Plants to Keep Mosquitoes Away

Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of Summer, which truly begins with the Solstice on June 21st. Summer makes me think of watermelon, corn-on-the-cob, sand in my shoes, and evenings on the patio after the sun gives us a break from the day’s heat. Summer also makes me think of mosquitoes and they certainly don’t make my Summer plans for sitting in the patio after dark seem so sweet. Luckily, there are some effective natural mosquito repellents that we plan to use again this year.

One of the prettiest is the scented geranium, leaf pictured. Yes, that is a geranium, or pelargonium, though it looks quite different than the big showy flowers we love so much! Sometimes, this geranium is referred to as ‘mosquito plant’. The leaves smell like citronella and when they are brushed or rubbed the scent is released. I love the fragrance and have crushed it and rubbed it on my clothing before an evening walk to help keep the pests away. Adding it to your Summer garden is a great idea- not only will it create a fragrant, mosquito-unfriendly environment, but it also looks pretty as a border to a garden bed, planted in containers on the patio, or layered with other texturally-interesting plants. We have been carrying these in the shop for many years now, Marvin grows them, and they are in high-demand this time of year because they really help!

Lemongrass is another plant that can be used for controlling mosquitoes.  The lemon fragrance is very pleasant- but not to the buzzing, biting mosquitoes. They hate it!

Rosemary, mint, and catnip are a few herbs that mosquitoes are offended by. It’s always great when a plant can pull double-duty! You can plant these herbs in your dooryard garden or in containers on the patio where you want to hang out at night. Snip your Rosemary for adding to dinners and your Mint for enjoying in an evening cocktail– and enjoy all the more knowing the aroma is going to help you have a more relaxing night! Any of these herbs can be crushed up and rubbed on your clothing, shoes, or your skin (if you don’t have allergies) as a repellent. A word about catnip, which is easy to grow and can be added to your container gardens- if you are a cat owner, you might elect not to rub catnip on yourself- it drives cats wild and you might find a clingy cat on a Summer night is just as aggravating as a few buzzing mosquitoes.

If you know of any successful repellents you want to share, we’d love to hear.