Easy-to-Grow Plants that Keep Mosquitoes Away
There are a variety of home remedies that may keep stray mosquitoes away, but they aren’t likely to be permanent solutions. If you live in an area that’s buzzing with mosquitoes during the peak pest season then there are some sustainable methods you could try to build a natural barrier against these flying insects.
One such method is to grow mosquito-repelling plants. These plants contain chemicals or release a strong scent that may help repel some of the mosquitoes. Actually, many of the over-the-counter mosquito control products you see in stores today already extract ingredients like essential oils from these mosquito repellent plants.
If you have a backyard or garden then here’s a great opportunity to start building a natural mosquito barrier using plants. You can also grow some of these plants indoors but the repelling effect isn’t going to be as strong if the plants aren’t grown in concentrated sections.
The fragrance from the citronella plant is used in a variety of mosquito control products such as the citronella candle. According to the NPIC, citronella can help repel mosquitoes by masking the scents (e.g. the lactic acid in your sweat) that attract the flying insects in the first place. Masking their favorite scents make it difficult for the mosquitoes to zone in on a target to feed on.
One important thing to note is that the plant itself won’t repel the mosquitoes. It’s the citronella oil from the plant that creates the repelling effects. This means that once you have mature citronella plants, you’ll need to harvest the leaves and extract the oil (easiest way is to crush the leaves) in order for some of the mosquito-repelling effect to take place.
Citronella plants can be purchased as young plants, or you can even grow your own by getting some citronella plant seeds. The best growing conditions for citronella plants is to place them in an area that is slightly shaded, and to place them in well-draining soil that gets watered regularly. Citronella plants can be grown both indoors and outdoors.
Lemon Balms, a perennial herb, have an aromatic scent that may provide temporary relief against wondering mosquitoes. The leaves of the lemon balm can be crushed and rubbed on your body to prevent mosquito bites. For some people, the oil from the lemon balm may cause slight irritations on the skin so be sure to test a small amount first for any side effects.
Like the citronella plants, lemon balms prefer slightly-shaded areas where they can have some protection against the midday sun. A mature lemon balm plant can grow up to about 36 inches tall. They also grow better in cool climates rather than hot, humid climates.
As a cat owner, growing your own catnip plants can kill two birds with one stone. The scent of the catnip plant can give your feline pet a sense of euphoria and calmness due to an oil the plant contains. The same plant oil may also help keep the pests at bay.
One study from the American Chemical Society found that nepetalactone, the essential oil extracted from catnip plants, could be ten times more effective than DEET, a compound found in many topical mosquito repellent products. The same oil may also help repel other insects like cockroaches.
To grow your own Catnip plants, you will want to plant the seeds directly into the soil during Spring, and make sure the plants get plenty of sunlight as they mature. Catnip plants can be grown indoors but they will need to be placed near the window in order to grow as a healthy plant.
This culinary herb may be able to play a small part in getting rid of your mosquito problems at home or in the garden. Like the other herb plants mentioned above, the scent of a basil plant may help mask the smells that mosquitoes are typically attracted to. Any repelling effect the basil plant may provide, however, will be limited so don’t expect all the mosquitoes to disappear after you plant a few herbs around the yard.
Basil is quite easy to grow, but gardeners should be aware of the plant’s invasive tendencies. They’ll start to spread everywhere if they aren’t maintained carefully so we suggest you grow the plants in container pots or in a confined garden bed.
This beautiful flowering plant will make a great addition to your garden regardless of how effective it might be in terms of repelling mosquitoes and other annoying garden pests. Like other strongly-scented plants, lavender may provide you temporary relief from mosquito bites by hiding your scent from incoming mosquitoes.
Lavender contains a compound called linalool, which according to the EPA is often used as an outdoor mosquito inhibitor. An insect that gets exposed to a decent amount of linalool may start to suffer due to the effects the oil can have on the bug’s nervous system.
To grow a bunch of lavender plants, you will need plenty of space as the plants ideally need to be spaced two or three feet apart. They don’t need to be watered daily. In the early stages of the plant’s growth, water the soil once or twice a week. When the plant matures, change the watering schedule to once every two to three weeks.
There are many other mosquito-repelling plants that may help your cause, but we would like to reiterate one thing. Don’t expect magic to happen whichever plant you decide to grow. The plants itself may only repel the mosquitoes that are in close proximity. The actual repelling effect generally comes from the oil extracted from the plant so you might still get a mosquito bite here and there unless you rub the plant leaves onto your skin.
Horsemint (Bee Balm)
Horsemint plants are a great species of plant to have in the garden. These plants serve an important natural function by attracting pollinators like bees and birds. Surprisingly, the same strong odor from the plant may discourage pests like mosquitoes from coming too close.
Bee Balms grow best in partially-shaded sun conditions and tend to grow best in soil that is evenly moist. They will also need to be in a place that has good air circulation. Otherwise, mildew might start to form.
Perennial Plants that Repel Mosquitoes
Here is a list of perennial plants (including plants mentioned above) you could consider for their ability to repel mosquitoes and other annoying insects like roaches and flies.
Citronella, Catnip, Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Lavender, Bee Balm, Peppermint, Pennyroyal, and Thyme
Indoor Plants that Repel Mosquitoes
Here is a list of indoor plants you can grow to provide you some protection against the buzzing insects. The leaves of these plants can be harvested and used for providing temporary protection against mosquito bites.
Lemongrass, Lemon Balm, Sweet Basil, Rosemary, Mint, and Thyme
How to Extract Essential Oils from Plants
What if you want to extract the essential oils instead of just crushing the leaves and rubbing them on your body? Well, it’s definitely possible to make your own essential oil at home with your homegrown plants but you will need some equipment to achieve this.
One of the simpler methods of making essential oils at home is by using steam distillation. The main equipment you will need is a still, which can be found online. A still will have a compartment where distilled water can be boiled and another compartment where you can add the plant material.
The extraction method is pretty straightforward. The steam from the boiling water will first rise up to the plant material, which will help release the aromatic molecules. The vapor will then travel to the condenser where it will turn back to liquid form. The healthier the plant material, the higher the quality of the essential oil.
Once the essential oil is made, you can use it in a number of ways to keep the mosquitoes away. One example could be to dilute the oil and make it into a homemade bug spray. Another method could be to add the essential oil to a diffuser so that the aromatic scent spreads across your whole home.