Mosquitoes Out of Control? Plant Some Defense.
Personally, I’m not a big family of the summer months and I never have been. I most definitely am a fall and spring girl as that is when gardening is most abundant and there is work to be done, and that quite frankly gets me excited about the new season and the new year. However, summer maintenance is unavoidable and for those of you who prefer the hot months and enjoy being out in your space, mosquitoes are a real pain in the ass to put it bluntly. Particularly in Texas where we like to grow them big and hungry. I have had my share of experience in the Central Texas landscape and apparently, I am delicious.
Garlic chives, evergreen and perennial
Garlic Chives are an excellent Culinary plant to use as both a repellent and an edible. They produce a beautiful purple spiked flower and long green leaves that stay evergreen all year. The garlic and onion smell they produce are a real turn off for mosquitoes and planted around your seating area can be a great deterrent as well as others in the Allium family.
The leaves can be cut all the way down to the base of the plant and used for mosquito repellent in your pocket or person, and it will probably repel vampires as well. Maybe even other people if they don’t like the smell of garlic.
Assorted thyme is not only a great edible perennial for Central Texas but it’s a great mosquito deterrent as well. Placed on your person, and a taste while you’re at it. Crush it into your palm and spread all over your clothes or skin.
Basil is so nice I’m covering it twice, and I could list 5 different kinds that will grow in zone eight alone, but the Sweet and Thai basil are for sure my favorites, and they are powerful mosquito repellent’s as well as digestive champions.
Cilantro is a cool weather plant for Austin Texas. It may actually start to come back late fall and early winter, and they produce all the way until it starts to get into about the 80s. This makes an excellent potted plant as well, so if you don’t have room in your beds to throw some seed in the fall, you can always buy the plants and stick them in some pots for fresh Cilantro and a convenient mosquito repellent. As you see above when they do go to seed they produce beautiful white flowers that are a huge butterfly attraction and if you collect the seeds you can have them for years to come and sometimes you’re really lucky and it reseeds itself and free money grows in your soil.
Spearmint is a power house herb but it can also take over your space. Mints are best planted in contained beds or container gardens. Full to part sun and very low water once established. Must be crushed to deter pests but who doesn’t enjoy the fresh smell of mint? Oh yeah, Mosquitoes.
A culinary delight amongst other things, the upright or trailing rosemary is deer resistant (as are most herbaceous plants) low water and very low maintenance. It produces lavender flowers in spring and summer and makes a great evergreen hedge that doesn’t require trimming.
Citronella (above) is a fickle plant in Central Texas landscape because it really doesn’t tolerate a hard winter. By keeping it in a pot or in a protected area we can sure make it to the next season, but it’s one of those plants that’s worth re-buying every year because it’s not only beautiful but incredibly fragrant and an excellent mosquito deterrent. I keep them by the doors so when my doggies go out and in they rub against it as well. It’s a must have for me.
Having been raised in a predominately Italian family, then marrying into a Mexican one, Oregano is a culinary given in our family. But most people don’t realize what an excellent groundcover herbs like oregano can be. Spicy Greek oregano outstanding room cover that can take full sun all day and minimal water. Each variety presents its flowers and unique ways delicious, medicinal and mosquito repellent.
Pungent plants in the mint family all have mosquito repellent properties and should be used throughout the space as well as I pots where you spend the most time.
Basil isn’t only delicious, it’s also an excellent deterrent to pests and the oil is toxic to mosquito larvae, so even planting it around your bird bath or pond can be a deterrent from laying eggs. Basil is also effective as a mosquito repellent by crushing the leaves and rubbing them on your skin, putting them in your pockets, or just by chewing them for that matter. By chewing them not only is it good for digestion and refreshing your breath, it also hides the CO2 mosquitoes used to find you from as far as 75 feet away.
Below is an article I wrote several years back for “First for Women” magazine, it demonstrates quite beautifully how you can use potted plants in clever ways around your patio and seating areas to create not only a beautiful visual, but chemical free mosquito solutions that are safe for our families and pets.
No matter what part of the country you live in this is a problem and clearly chemicals are just making it worse. We could be growing mosquito repellent plants, but this is only the beginning. We have to keep water from sitting in stagnet birdbaths, kiddie pools and plant saucers to name a few. A mosquito needs only a spoonful of water to lay eggs. Wildlife safe mosquito dunks and water management are essential
Lemon grass and Lemon Balm (above), both work beautifully as well. Lemon Balm is one of my favorite plants to design with in the sun to shade garden, lemon balm has the most beautiful bright green leaves all year long, and the fragrance is exquisite. A lemonade, almost astringent quality that is very calming and effective.
Having raised two boys with autism, we had a lot of sensory issues including smell. Having an herb that could serve as a calming mechanism as well as a mosquito repellent is a win-win in my book. We need to go back to nature for answers. That being said, plants are still plants and some people will be allergic to the oils, so use sparingly at first until you see that your skin does not react to any of these plant remedies. The best way to test an herb or leaf is to rub it onto the inside of your wrist. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes without issue and you should be good to go, but on the safe side you can always just or stick them in your pocket, handbag, or anywhere on your clothing to prevent exposure to skin.
Below is the Beloved Bee balm, touted for its medicinal value, it is also a valuable tool in the mosquito repelling arsenal. The theme here is form and function.
If you’re as tasty as I am, you will want to create a setting of Clay pots filled with mosquito repelling plants, plants these in beds around your patio or seating areas, create a raised bed specifically for this use and start a new tradition and how you use your space.
You can see clearly that not only will you get beautiful flowers from these various herbs, But many of them are medicinal and edible as well. So if you’re sensitive to chemicals like I am, this can be a great tool for your next outing. Don’t get discouraged, it may take a few tries to see what really work best on you and for you. I find that I really love the citronella leaves, Because not only do they work well for me but I get compliments on what fragrance I am wearing. Anyone who knows me knows I am no fan of perfume, but that is a compliment I will take.
Now go get your mosquito repelling garden on,
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”