11 Mosquito Repelling House Plants.
Why do you need natural protection?
You may have probably heard (or read in the spray's inscription) about the most often used insect repellent used today.
It it called DEET (N,N Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide).
Even if it is not present in all repellents (some are natural, read below), this chemical compound is very widely used.
It is easy. Just spray and it works for 12 hours. But it's toxic, irritating and in general terms - it is a strong pesticide created in the Vietnam war for military grade repelling of malaria mosquitoes.
Not really something you want to spray over your skin. That's why I suggest you find natural ways to repel insects. At least inside your house and backyard. And with the best way possible. By house and backyard plants.
First and best:
Chryzanthemum (Chryzanthemum indicum L.)
You may have heard about this plant being a mosquito repellent or never knew. They are often called "mums" or "chryzants" and are widely used as ornamental plants all around the world.
All aromatic subspecies of Chryzantemum are excellent mosquito repellents. Their blossoms have natural compounds named pyrethrins which inhibit female mosquitoes from biting.
Synthetic pyrethroids called permetrins are using the same action as the natural one and are used in over-the-counter insecticides. Regardless its toxicity to some fish, the natural form is easily biodegradable and can be disposed while the synthetic permetrins are better kept away from nature.
Home made topical repellent can be made from mums' flowers. Get a dozen of blossoms, chop them finely and put the mash in a small cotton bag (a sock will do as well). Soak the bag in half glass of olive or sunflower oil in a jar. Lid the jar and keep in dark cool place for 2 weeks.
Filter the resulting oil (press the bag to squeeze the remaining oil inside the mash) and keep in small vial. It is good for about a month before the oil gets rancid smell.
Massage your pulse points with a drop of this oil to get its repelling qualities on you while outside.
Marigolds (Tagetes L.)
We use to call "marigold" both tagetes and calendula species.
Calendulas are not suitable for mosquito repellent. They are simply pretty flowers.
For repelling properties are used Tagettes. Either of:
- Tagetes erecta
- Tagetes lucida
- Tagetes minuta
- Tagetes patula
- Tagetes tenuifolia
There may be others, I am not aware of but those are quite easy to grow and are proven to repel insects. Not just mosquitoes but also some garden pests that can ruin your other plants.
Tagetes lucida can also be used for making aromatic tea for your guests.
Repellent can be made the same way as I described above, but is not suitable for applying to skin, because it leaves strong yellow mark.
You can make some diluted in warm water oil infusion like above and use it to spray around your house. It will keep insects away for days. But I still recommend just planting it in your back yard or balcony and enjoy the rich color of the blossoms.
Lavender (Lavandula spica L.)
This plant has even triple purpose.
- Lavender oil is used for soothing insect bites.
- Lavender aroma is used to repel insects.
- Lavender plant in general cleans the air inside the room and freshens up the whole room.
The plant is easy to grow inside, but needs more sunlight in winter months. You may be willing to gather the seeds when it starts to smell of winter and replant it from seeds in spring.
It will feel okay in south balcony or good southern window in winter days, if there is plenty of sun.
Dried out plants may be used as spice, blend them into black and green tea, aroma therapy, aroma pillows, potpourri, wardrobe aroma for conserving fresh smell of your clothes and many others.
Flowers may be infused in olive oil and used to calm insect bites or additional aroma when cooking sweet pastries.
Catnip (Nepeta Cataria L.)
Nepetalactone extracted by steam distillation from Catnip is claimed to be 10 times stronger than DEET.
It is used in some commercial repellents against
- House flies,
- Cockroaches and
Catnip is easy to grow perennial plant with very pleasant minty aroma. Very good dual use for the plant is also in relaxant tea for evenings. It reduces stress and promotes good sleep.
It is also much fun to make small aroma pillows with dried catnip for your cat.
Unfortunately, steam distillation cannot be easily done at home, so an essential oil must be purchased online if you like to use it for spray bottle.
Garlic (Allium sativum L.)
Although many of you probably enjoy the taste of garlic, the scent and taste are believed to have evolved as a defensive mechanism, deterring animals such as birds, insects, and worms from eating the plant. Actually, an extract from garlic is used for insecticide in European countries with quite good success.
This plant will be a bit too harsh for indoor aroma, but if you like the taste, feel free to plant them in your garden or in a chest hanging onto your balcony's parapet.
When you gather them for drying, hang them outside, above a door or window you use a lot. This way their aroma will help repel some insects.
In old Bulgarian medical books, a sliced garlic clove is pressed over bee or wasp bites to soothe the pain and clean the wound.
Peppermint and horse mint.
Very easy to grow if you have sufficient sun and water. Even from a small piece of root can grow another healthy plant.
They are very often found around rivers and you can get a sprout, soak it in a glass and after 2 weeks, you will have roots, strong enough for planting in a pot.
The plants are very potent air cleaner that can be grown indoors. Both peppermint and horse mint can be used as spices for bean meals and will help you digest food.
Winter herbal teas are also very good when you get the flu or common cold.
The plant itself is not mosquito repellent, but mints natural pollinator is a small wasp which emits a buzz that puzzles and frightens many other insects. It's always good to have a bug working on your side - to pollinate your herbs and scare the pests away.
If you like herbs, those two are a must.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Spreng.)
Lemongrass oil is used as insecticide and repellent. Unfortunately, it attracts bees and may not be usable for your balcony.
Nevertheless, this plant is very useful to plant in your garden or backyard exactly because it attracts bees.
They are useful pollinators and your fruit or vegetable garden will be rich on fruits.
The plant itself is used in Ayurveda as a cough medicine and relieving nasal congestion. Cut some leaves and boil them. Use a neti pot to clean your nose with the warm ointment.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.)
Among the many other uses as a spice or air cleaning house plant, the basil has recently being studied as a possible Mosquito repellent.
The oil is very toxic to mosquitoes, but in the same time is not toxic to lab rats, which leads to the conclusion, it may be used as a natural mosquito repellent.
Extracting the oil on the other hand is not easy at home, so I suggest you find it in online store and buy it.
The oil itself is not good for consumption, so use only the edible leaves. Use the oil for spraying the room against mosquitoes.
Basil is very potent herb with anti inflammatory properties and can help you with
- relieving cough,
- common cold,
- eliminates gas,
- relieves gum pain,
- decreases sweating and
- It is also a very (very) light aphrodisiac.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.)
Rosemary cleans the air when grown inside and recently a study claimed the scent repels mosquitoes.
I am including this herb here, because I recommend having it for many other purposes:
- Strong on antioxidants,
- Improves memory,
- Rich on Calcium, Iron and vitamin B6
- In kitchen, it improves everything. Even a twig put in the oil bottle will keep it from going rancid and will improve the aroma and taste as well.
Regardless if it is true the Rosemary repels bugs, this plant is still worth it to grow in your garden.
Rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens L'Hér.)
Rose geranium is another plant that as of late, claims to have insect repelling properties. The main reason for this is the presence of Geraniol in the plant.
However, the scent from the geraniol inside the plant does attract bees, because it is also used by honey bees to mark plants rich on nectars.
If you keep this plant indoor, it will thrive okay and will have some repelling properties, but you may as well have an occasional visitor bee, when the plant blooms.
Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum Mill.)
This plant is toxic!
Be aware, that you should not consume this plant in no case. It contains a hepato-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which should not enter your system.
It works as a natural insecticide.
Mechanism of action for this plant is to attract insects with his scent, but the chemical compounds inside the blossoms are rendering the insects sterile.
After few insect cycles living near a patch of Ageratums, their population is diminished by the sterile insects who do not leave progeny.
It is a good long term investment if you have a garden with stone pile you want to hide. The plant can thrive in small amount of soil, provided you water it at least once per week.
© 2013 Stoill Barzakov