Add a Citronella Plant to Combat Mosquitoes in Your Outdoor Living Space
Combat Mosquitoes the Natural Way With a Citronella Plant
An outdoor living space is a great place to spend time with family and friends. Unfortunately, pesky mosquitoes can put a damper on the fun and send the festivities indoors. To combat mosquitoes during the summer months, many people will often burn citronella candles, torches with citronella oil, or use bug sprays containing the DEET chemical in an effort to repel these unwelcome guests.
Mosquitoes create more cause for concern than just the itchy, red bites they leave behind. There are a number of diseases that mosquitoes can carry, including the West Nile Virus which has been on the rise in recent years. From 2011 to 2012, there was an 800% increase in the number of confirmed cases (more details on this below).
Did you know that there are citronella plants that you can use around your patio or garden to combat mosquitoes the natural way? There are also several other varieties of plants that will naturally repel mosquitoes and other undesirable insects. So put away those insect sprays and avoid the potentially toxic DEET chemicals. Consider adorning your patio or garden with some of these plants that mosquitoes will naturally avoid.
(Image Credit to Gina Pina - Licensed via Creative Commons with Attribution)
My Recommended List
There are a number of plants that you can choose for your outdoor living space that have natural, mosquito-repelling qualities.
The Citronella plant is a well-known repellent since its oils are used in candles and lotions. If you choose a Citronella plant, make sure it is a true variety (Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus). Some plants are sold for their "citronella smell" but don't have the mosquito repelling effects.
- The Citronella Mosquito plant (shown below) is a genetically engineered geranium that makes for an attractive, potted plant. It has an attractive leaf and nice lemony scent.
- Horsemint (also known as Bee Balm) is a fast growing, shade-tolerant and drought-resistant plant which reaches a height and width of 2 - 3 feet. It gives off a strong incense-like odor, and will attract bees and butterflies to your garden. It is an adaptable perennial plant which repels mosquitoes much the same as citronella. Horsemint has a beautiful bloom, which you can see pictured to the right.
- Marigolds are often used as ornamental border plants and are hardy annuals which have a distinctive smell that mosquitoes find particularly offensive. They contain Pyrethrum, which is a compound used in many insect repellents. Although it is considered an annual, marigolds will often reseed themselves in favorable conditions.
- Ageratum is also commonly referred to as Flossflowers. It is an ornamental plant that will grow to a height of 8" to 18". It is well known for its blue flower, and will grow well in soil that is not very rich. Ageratum emits a scent that mosquitoes do not particularly care for. It secretes coumarin, which is substance that is frequently used in commercial mosquito repellents.
- Catnip is known by the scientific name Nepeta cateria, and it is a natural mosquito repellent. I was amazed to learn that entomologists at Iowa State University reported that catnip is ten times more effective than DEET (the chemical found in most commercial insect repellents). You might have to deal with a few cats in your garden, but hey... if it keeps the mosquitoes away I'm all for using it.
(Image Credit to goldenecho - Licensed via Creative Commons with Attribution)
Selection of Mosquito Repelling Plants
Here are some quick links where you can find potted plants or seeds for each of the varieties that I have mentioned above. While most people think about the citronella plant because of the use of its oils in candles, there are many other options. Consider planting a variety of these species in your flower garden, around your deck or patio, and around your home to combat mosquitoes.
It is called "The Mosquito Plant", and was genetically engineered to repel mosquitoes. This geranium hybrid comes in a 4 inch pot or 6 inch pot. You will love its attractive foliage and sweet lemony scent. You can grow these plants outdoors during the warmer months, and move them indoors during the Winter. You will want to bring these plants indoors before the first frost, and not place them outside until the last frost of the season.
Use several of these plants around your patio or deck. They are a cost effective option to keep the mosquitoes away the natural way.
Bee Balm is also known as Horsemint, and they produce a beautiful flower. For a very inexpensive price, you can get 200 of these Monarda Fistulosa seeds that can be planted in pots or in a flower bed. After approximately 1 month, you can expect these flowers to grow to a height of 8 to 12 inches. They should ultimately grow to a height of 30 to 60 inches and are recommended for USDA zones 3 - 10 (which encompasses the continental US).
Here is a great deal on a package of 500 marigold seeds that you can plant around your home. Marigolds do well in all of North America's climates. They are easy to grow, and offer the added benefits of attracting butterflies and repelling mosquitoes. They can be planted after the last frost and will germinate in 7 to 10 days.
While marigolds can be planted as border plants around your patio, it is recommended that you not place them on your patio or tables because the bright blooms may attract wasps. Here is a good tip for you... Marigolds also repel insects that feed on tomato plants, so you can plant a few marigolds in your tomato garden to help protect these plants.
This package of 250 Ageratum seeds will produce a wonderful flower that attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. It also can repel mosquitoes thanks to the coumarin that it secretes.
You can expect blooms in pink, white, purple and orange from this seed mix. These floss flowers are not recommended for northern and north eastern US states, but will do well in all other parts of the country. You can expect them to grow to a height of 24" - 36".
This package contains 200 catnip herb seeds, which is reported to be 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the chemical DEET.
Catnip grows to a height of about 24" - 48" tall, and prefers full sunlight. There are many uses for catnip from medicinal uses, herbal teas, and cat toys. You will love the gray-green leaves and white flowers that this plant produces.
USGS Statistics for West Nile Virus
Cases are on the rise - Why you should be concerned
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a scientific agency of the United States government. It specializes in the study of the landscape, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it.
You can review the alarming statistics that they have gathered about the number of annual cases of the West Nile Virus (WNV) by clicking here.
In 2011, there were 712 confirmed human cases of WNV in 43 of the U.S. States (plus cases in the District of Columbia). In 2012, this number increased to 5,674 confirmed human cases in 48 of the U.S. States (plus cases in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico). Alaska and Hawaii were the only states without reported cases in 2012.
The government has been taking steps to spray for mosquitoes, remove standing water where they breed, and increase public awareness. West Nile virus is not just a problem in America. The virus is commonly found in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and West Asia as well.
(Image Credit to John Tann - Licensed via Creative Commons with Attribution)
Use Natural or Chemical Mosquito Repellents?
We are exposed to so many different chemicals these days. I am personally in favor of trying to use natural products instead of chemical-based products when ever possible. There is no doubt that many of the chemical products work well, but there are substitutes and alternatives available for many of the chemicals we use on a daily basis.
Would you prefer to use natural or chemical-based mosquito repellents around your home?
Other Plants to Consider for Repelling Mosquitoes
A wet Spring is great for the health our lawns, trees and flower gardens. Unfortunately, a wet Spring usually results in an increase in the amount of mosquitoes we have to deal with during the Summer months.
It can be such a bummer to try to spend a pleasant evening outdoors, only to get eaten alive by those pesky mosquitoes. You can spray yourself and your kids head-to-toe with chemical repellents, or opt to try some natural repellents around your patio and garden.
I have listed some of the more common plants that are known for deterring mosquitoes above, but there are also some other options that you may want to consider. These plants seem to have natural oils and scents that these bugs want to avoid, which is a bonus for us.
Here is an additional list of the plants that people have had luck with when trying to create a mosquito-free environment.
- Citronella Grass
- Lemon Balm
Make sure you consult with your local garden center to ensure that these plants will grow well in your local area. Best of luck to you in creating your own mosquito-free, back yard paradise!
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Garden Show Video About Mosquito-Repelling Plants
So, are you not convinced that mosquito-repelling plants work? Check out this great, short video from Garden Time TV where they discuss the benefits of using several varieties of plants around your home or garden. One that they mentioned that I was not aware of was Basil.
These professionals even recommend checking with your local gardening center, where you can get additional advice about the types of plants that you can use in your region.
How Do You Combat Mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are a problem around the world, so unfortunately we all have to deal with them Which of the following methods do you use to combat mosquitoes when outdoors?
How do you prevent mosquito bites around your deck, patio, or yard?
I hope you found the information about plants that repel mosquitoes naturally helpful.
I would love to hear where you think about this lens.
Please let me know if you know of any other plants that can naturally repel mosquitoes.
Have any questions? Feel free to ask and I'll try to get you an answer!