Plants that Naturally Reduce Mosquitoes
Kim Jackson, Horticulture and Forestry Extension Agent
NCSU Cooperative Extension
While you’re out enjoying your beautiful gardens and the long hot days of summer, one summer time pest is also in full swing. Mosquitoes are pesky insects that can put a damper on your outdoor fun. These insects are generally attracted to yellow and blue colors, prefer women and children over men, and are more attracted to individuals that consume lots of sweet things. It is important to protect yourself since they are carriers of many different diseases and cause skin irritations. There are numerous ways to protect yourself and your family such as removing standing water (mosquito breeding grounds) and applying sprays and repellants. Sometimes however, repellants can be worse than the target pest.
There are some natural ways to alleviate some mosquito activity by planting plants that naturally repel these insects. Plants have natural odors that can either attract or detract insects depending on what they need. These odors provide benefits to the plants to reduce injury, but can also provide benefits to the grower.
Basil planted in small table height planters are not only decorative but an excellent repellant. There are several different varieties and colors; therefore it is quite easy to find a basil plant that will fit your theme. These plants grow large leaves and have a very unique smell, which is a favorite in many tomato-based dishes.
Lemongrass is a very cheap grass that looks beautiful as a potted plant to accent around your patio. This grass is a great deterrent for mosquitoes and can be used in many culinary creations including teas, soups and flavorings for many dishes.
Rosemary is a handy herb that has a multitude of uses in the kitchen though flavoring and seasoning your dishes and outside of the kitchen by taking the sting out of mosquitoes ruining your summer fun.
Garlic plants are great companion plants by being a benefit to keep away a wide range of pests as well as helping neighboring plants thrive in the landscape. This plant is a great seasoning to many dishes.
Citronella Plant/Grass are not edible, however they are very effective keeping away mosquitoes. The ever-popular citronella candle is used by many to help with mosquitoes, however why not have a beautiful plant that will do the same thing? There are many varieties of “Mosquito Plants”, so find the one that you like best!
Catnip has been found to be as effective if not more powerful at repelling mosquitoes than popular repellant sprays. Be sure to plant this in and around your patio and pool area to keep these insects away.
To be really effective, plants essential oils may need to be released by crushing the leaves, rubbing the leaves on the skin, brushing up against the plant, burning them (on the barbeque for example) etc. Making personal repellants using these oils are more effective, however having them simply planted in your garden will reduce mosquito amounts.
For more information, please contact your local Cooperative Extension office, Franklin County: 919.496.3344. Be sure to like us on Facebook to stay up to date on all things Cooperative Extension!!