Mosquitoes certainly aren’t our friends here! We all want to steer clear of those blood-sucking pests when we’re out and about, especially as they’re a genuine cause for health concern. They buzz around searching for people or animals to bite (with their proboscis that has 47 sharp edges/teeth, 47!!) carrying with them all sorts of diseases and viruses, like Zika, Malaria, and west Nile virus. So it’s understandable why many of us spritz ourselves with mosquito repellent sprays. However, by doing so, you may be covering yourself and your family with harsh chemicals that are prone to causing other health problems.
Mosquitoes, along with many other insects that bite, are attracted to certain odours in human skin. They are especially attracted to body odour, meaning that if you’re spending a lot of time running around getting hot and bothered, or working up a sweat in your garden, those mozzies will be giving you all the love and attention that actually, you really don’t want!
So, what’s a gardener to do in order to repel those troublesome insects, whilst keeping your health in check? The answer is, use the power of scent!
Mosquitoes are attracted to things like sweat and body odour, but certain smells that many of us find pleasant, repel them. There are various sweet scented plants that contain powerful mosquito repellent properties. Here are a few that you may want to plant in your garden…
The Citronella plant, also known as Citrosum, is nature’s answer to chemical loaded mosquito repellents and citronella candles. This plant carries the fragrance of citronella in its foliage, and when a leaf is rubbed onto the skin, the aroma is very pleasant, thus helping to repel mosquitoes. While we cannot claim that this plant is as effective as commercial repellents, it is cheap to grow and doesn’t come with potentially hazardous chemicals. Once in your garden you’ll always have it on hand.
The Citronella is a perennial grass that grows up to six foot and can be planted either in the ground or in a large pot. This plant usually grows best in an area that has good drainage and full sunlight. If you live in a drought-prone area, you can still plant citronella; it’s relatively tolerant of summer stress.
Many of us love the smell of lavender, not only does it produce a beautiful scent that helps relaxation, but it also keeps those tiny invaders from ruining your summer alfresco dining. The perfumed aroma of lavender is outright disgusting to mosquitoes, so it’s a good idea to have this plant within your garden. You could even have lavender in pots positioned next to windows, doors and around your outdoor dining area. The best thing is, lavender is very pretty, so not only will it do good, it will also look good in your garden.
For an even higher level of protection, rub the flower onto your skin to release its oils; alternatively you could use natural skincare products that contain lavender.
Lemon balm, a member of the mint family, has white flowers and a gentle lemony scent. Not only does it offer healing properties, it’s also known for warding off mosquitoes, whilst attracting important pollinators like butterflies and bees. For a quick fix mosquito repellent, simply crush a handful of the leaves in your hand and rub onto exposed skin. It’s good to keep in mind that lemon balm is an invasive plant, but you can avoid a takeover by planting in pots rather than directly in your garden.
Basil makes for an amazing natural mosquito repellent, releasing an extremely pungent aroma without the leaves having to be touched. This herb is also very handy to keep, as you can use it in a variety of dishes, taking advantage of its tasty flavour. Basil releases its scent naturally from the leaves, so you can grow it in pots, or place them in your garden to control mosquitoes. To keep mosquitoes away fro your skin, rub a handful of the leaves directly onto exposed areas.
Scented geraniums are another popular plant that flower from spring to summer, and are a repellent to mosquitoes. The lemon scented type of geranium is most effective, as the scent is similar to citronella. Geraniums are perennial plants that produce colourful blooms, making them a very attractive garden showstopper.
Marigold contains Pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents. This plant has strongly aromatic leaves, and a scent that mosquitoes repel against. It is yet another perennial plant that will sit prettily in your summer garden with its daisy-like flowers. Position potted marigolds near the entrance to your home, or anywhere you want to create a mosquito-repelling barrier.
Rosemary is commonly known for its culinary use within the kitchen, but little did you know, it also serves as an outstanding natural mosquito repellent, both in the live plant, and off cuttings! Rosemary is an extremely easy plant to look after, just make sure it get’s full sunlight and is watered often. If you want a mosquito free barbecue, a simple tip is to burn some rosemary in the barbecue and the aromatic smoke will deter them.
Not only is peppermint’s minty fresh scent significantly better than the unpleasant chemical smell in commercial repellents and sprays, it also serves as a natural insecticide to repel mosquitoes. It offers repellent action when applied to exposed skin, and the natural plant oils repel the adult mosquitoes, also killing the larvae and eggs of several species. For direct protection, crush a few peppermint leaves to release the scent and oils, rub over exposed skin.
By including these 8 plants in your garden or home, you can give up chemical ridden mosquito repelling products, and instead enjoy a much more relaxing (and pleasantly smelling) garden, reducing your fear of getting bitten alive.