Mosquito Repelling Plants for the Colorado Garden
Summer will soon be upon us again and with it, Mosquito season. With Mosquito season also comes the worry of contracting West Nile Virus. According to Colorado State University Extension, mosquitos most important transmitters are most active at dawn and dusk. Unfortunately for us Gardeners that also happens to be when we are most active in our gardens during the summer months. The good news is we have an arsenal of mosquito fighting weapons available to us in the form of our beloved plants! There are in fact several plant varieties that are known to be natural repellents to the pesky mosquito. We have assembled a list of 11 plants that we grow and know will thrive in the Colorado garden and help you keep the mosquitos at bay. Try planting some today!
Lavender (Perennial) – Not only does it smell amazing and aid in relaxation but Lavender helps keep mosquitos and gnats at bay as it contains the phytochemical Coumarin which appears to work as a pesticide in plants that produce it. Plant it near any seating areas in your garden or plant some into containers and place them on the patio or near your doors to help keep mosquitos from entering your house. Try rubbing lavender flowers directly on your skin to repel insects as well.
Marigolds (Annual) – These beauties are what you might call a Miracle plant as there are so many wonderfully natural uses for Marigolds. Marigold roots emit the chemical called Alpha-terthienyl which is a natural insecticide and anti-viral that repels aphids, cabbage maggots and white flies making them particularly good at protecting tomato plants. The distinctive scent put off by Marigolds is incredibly offensive to mosquitos. Position them near entry points such as doors and windows and the smell is thought to create a barrier that they won’t want to pass through.
Pyrethrum which can also be classified as Chrysanthemum coccineum or Tanacetum cinerarifolium (Perennial) - contain Pyrethrums, a natural pesticide made up of six chemicals with in the plant. Pyrethrums are commonly used to control mosquitoes, fleas, flies, moths, ants, and many other pests. Pyrethrums were used as models to produce the longer lasting, man made chemicals called Pyrethroids.
Ageratum (Annual)– Also known as Flossflower, Ageratum like Lavender contains the phytochemical Coumarin. Unlike Lavender, it is not recommended to rub Ageratum leaves or blooms directly on your skin. Instead, try crushing the leaves to help emit the odor they release and place them nearby. Ageratum makes a great border plant in the garden so try planting them near walkways or in rock gardens.
Basil Ocimum basilicum (Annual) – One of the most pungent herbs, Basil emits a strong scent that mosquitos detest. Cinnamon Basil and Lemon Basil seem to work best. Basil leaves can be rubbed directly onto your skin for a quick repellent. Keep your herb garden on an outdoor patio tab le or plant some basil into your garden containers so that you always have some nearby.
Catnip Nepeta cataria (Perennial) – One of Catnips lesser known traits is its ability to repel mosquitos. In fact, in tests performed by entomologists at Iowa State University, the natural oil within the leaves of Catnip was found to be 10 times more effective than DEET! We recommend planting Catnip (a member of the mint family) with Basil, Lemon Thyme and Peppermint together in Herb garden containers on your patio. Catnip leaves can be rubbed directly on the skin like Basil leaves but keep in mind that you may attract members of the feline family!
Peppermint & Spearmint (Perennial) – Plant mint anywhere in your yard to help keep the mosquitos at bay. Mint can be invasive so you may prefer to plant it in containers (one plant can easily spread to 36 inches). Mint also works great to help keep insects off of your pets. Try crushing some mint leaves to release its oils and rub it directly onto your dog or cats fur. If you do get bitten, mint is also great for relieving the itch. Again, just crush up the leaves and apply the oils directly to your skin!
Rosemary (Annual) – Like Basil, Rosemary is quite pungent and its scent is also known to repel mosquitos. See recipes that we have found below for making your own natural mosquito repellents with Herbs.
Lemon Thyme (Perennial) – A Lemon Thyme plant in the garden will not repel mosquitos on its own accord. However, when you crush the leaves it releases the power of its fragrance to work as a repellent. It can be rubbed directly on the skin but you may want to test your skins tolerance for it in a small area to start.
Nepeta faassenii (Perennial) – Also known as Persian Catmint, Nepeta faassenii is related to Catnip (Nepeta cataria). It too is one of the more effective mosquito repelling plants available. Try cutting the flowers off and boiling them to make a natural repellent spray.
Galium odoratum (Perennial) – Commonly known as Sweet Woodruff, Galium also contains the natural pest repelling phytochemical Coumarin. Growing 4-6” tall, Galium is also great as a border plant and also would work well in a planted perennial container garden.
Try making your own Natural Bug Sprays! Here are a few recipes that we found and think are worth trying:
From www.wellnessmama.com :
Fresh or Dried Herbs Bug Spray Ingredients:
- Distilled water
- witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
- dried herbs: peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, etc. I recommend using at least one herb from the mint family.
How to Make Bug Spray From Fresh or Dried Herbs:
- Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 TBSP of dried herbs total in any combination from the above. I use 1 TBSP each of peppermint, spearmint, catnip and lavender, and also throw in a couple of dried cloves.
- Mix well, cover and let cool (covering is important to keep the volatile oils in!)
- Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. Store in a spray bottle in a cool place (fridge is great because then its nice and cool!)
- Use as needed. Added bonus: it smells great and is very refreshing to the skin!
From www.canadiangardening.com :
Make your own natural repellent
Using some of these plants, especially herbs, you can make your own natural mosquito repellent. Simply crush up the leaves with a mortar and pestle to release the oils and then add it to vodka (which is also proven to repel mosquitoes). Let your concoction sit for 12 hours. Once infused, add your natural repellent to a spray bottle and use as you would any store-bought mosquito repellent.