DEET. We’ve all heard of it at some point. A few years ago, there was a lot of bad press regarding DEET (the most common active ingredient in insect repellents) and whether it was harmful or not to humans. According to the CDC, “Using insect repellents containing DEET should not be harmful if label directions are followed and the product is used safely.”
While DEET may not be a huge danger according to this CDC information, bug repellents still have a few drawbacks that make me want to look for other options (mainly that most smell AWFUL).
Citronella candles could work, but I’ve tipped plenty of them over, and the wax makes a huge mess. Tiki torches filled with citronella oil look neat and tropical, but the open flame could be dangerous. Open flames and adult alcoholic beverages don’t seem like a good combination….ever.
When I’m outside enjoying the backyard or hosting a party, I’m surrounded by my garden. Which got me wondering if there are any plants that naturally repel mosquitoes.
Mother Nature usually comes through for me, and she sure did this time. Check out some of these mosquito-repellent plants you can grow in your garden and patio area!
Makes sense, right? Why not add some citronella grass to your patio area if it’s one of the main natural ingredients found in tons of mosquito repellents? Garden Design adds that it is a super-easy plant to take care of. Just make sure you keep it in a pot if you live in colder climates. Citronella grass doesn’t like cold weather.
Catnip or Catmint
Last year, I grew a ton of catnip for my kitties. I remember the strong scent the leaves gave off when I tore them up for the cats to eat. My hands smelled like it for hours after no matter how much I washed them.
Now that I think about it, last year I didn’t get any mosquito bites. Maybe it was because I smelled like catnip all the time. In fact, Science Daily reported that catnip is more effective than DEET as a repellent.
Just be careful because catmint grows like crazy. I would keep it in a pot unless you want it to take over your entire yard.
Many homemade mosquito repellents include lavender oil. Apparently, many bugs, including mosquitoes, fleas and moths, can’t stand the scent. Lavender is a pretty hearty plant that’s easy to grow. Much like catnip, it’ll take over any garden space, so just be sure to keep it pruned or in a large pot. I bought some last year, and it didn’t get super big because I kept it in a pot.
As one of the most pungent herbs, I can easily see why basil makes the list as a natural mosquito repellent. It makes sense, because basil is known as the perfect companion plant to tomatoes to help keep bugs away. I planted several basil plants around my tomatoes and had ZERO bug problems last year.
Rosemary and Thyme
Aside from part of the title to an awesome Simon and Garfunkel album, rosemary and thyme are another pair of herbs you can use to combat mosquitoes. Mother Earth News notes, “Researchers at Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea, found that thyme volatiles repelled mosquitoes as well as or better than DEET, and that thyme volatiles lasted as long as DEET.”
Garden Design adds, “Rosemary is an herb that many of us are very familiar with and their woody scent is exactly what keeps mosquitoes as well as cabbage moths and carrot flies away.”
Lastly, rosemary and thyme are easy-to-grow container herbs. Plus, you can use these when you’re cooking at home.
In my garden last year, I grew catnip, basil, lavender and lemon balm. My garden area surrounds most of my outdoor living space, and I don’t remember hoards of mosquitoes hanging around there. However, if you went maybe 10–15 feet away, it got a lot worse. It seems like, in a totally unintentional way, I created a mosquito fortress in my backyard.
There are a few other mosquito-repellent plants, but, from my experience, the ones above are relatively inexpensive, easy-going plants that don’t require much of a green thumb to grow. Give some of these mosquito-repellent plants a try this year!
Do you think you’d grow some of the plants above at home? Let us know in the comments below!