Ah, summer: the warmth of the sun, the smell of the flowers—and the whine of the mosquitoes. Short of coating yourself with bug spray, how do you enjoy the fair weather without having to share your space with hordes of pesky bloodsuckers? Try strategically placing a few mosquito-repelling plants around your deck or patio. While they won’t guarantee an insect-free area, each produces a substance (and often a scent) that mosquitoes would much rather avoid. Here are a few of our favorites.
One way in which mosquitoes figure out where you are is by detecting the smells given off by your skin. Lemon citronella, a natural ingredient sometimes used in bug sprays, has a strong scent that gets in the way, making it harder for them to track down their next meal (in other words, you).
With its feathery blue flowers, ageratum may look lovely to your eyes, but mosquitoes have a different view. Also known as floss flowers, these annuals secrete a compound called coumarin (commonly used in commercial mosquito repellents), which has an odor that mosquitoes find offensive.
Horsemint (Bee Balm)
A perennial plant that looks gorgeous in the garden, horsemint (aka bee balm) offers two useful characteristics: It attracts pollinators (like bees) but repels mosquitoes. It gives off a strong, incense-like odor that confuses the pests by masking the smells given off by humans.
Who doesn’t love the simple beauty of a marigold? Mosquitoes, that’s who! Commonly grown as ornamental border plants, these hardy annuals help deter mosquitoes by giving off several compounds that act as natural insect repellents.
While your kitty may want nothing more than to spend lots of time rolling in catnip, mosquitoes are much less enthusiastic about this plant. A perennial herb, catnip contains an essential oil that some scientists believe is even more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, the chemical found in many commercial bug sprays. The oil must be released to be effective, though, so you’ll want to crush the leaves.
How to Care for Mosquito Repelling Plants
Make the most of your natural mosquito-repelling efforts by growing plants as big and beautiful as possible. After all, the bigger your plants grow, the more fragrance and essential oils they’ll produce to ward off mosquitoes.
- Start with good soil. Give your plants a light, fluffy, nutrient-rich environment to grow in by filling your containers with Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix. For in-ground gardens, improve soil nutrition and drainage by mixing 3 inches of Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil into the top 6 inches of your soil.
- Check soil moisture often and water when the top inch of soil is dry.
- As plants grow, they need more nutrients. A month after planting, begin feeding regularly with Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food so they have all the nutrition they need to grow abundant blooms and foliage. Be sure to follow all label instructions.
Bonus: In addition to warding off mosquitoes, these hard-working plants add natural beauty to your décor, so you can get even more enjoyment out of your outdoor time.