With summer comes the good inviting weather. The heat brings about the desire to be outdoors, but this carries with it the fact that you are likely to have to deal with mosquitos. Taking an eco-friendly approach to getting rid of the biting, bumps, and potential health hazards these bloodsuckers bring is important. Mosquito repellent plants are valid alternatives, completely natural compared to the most common chemical repellents on the market.
Most chemical repellents contain amounts of DEET (diethyltoluamide) ranging from 5% to 25% and there are considerable concerns about the potentially toxic effects these substances can have in the long term, especially on children. These plants are not only repellent but also aromatic herbs which can be used in cooking but pay attention to your planting location. A light breeze could disperse the repellent aroma, therefore, drastically reduce its effectiveness and allowing the mosquitoes to feast joyfully on your blood.
1. Geranium (Geranium sylvaticum)
Decorative, fragrant, and particularly colored, the geraniums are a family of herbaceous plants native to the southern part of the African continent. Widespread in temperate and subtropical regions. What you did not know, perhaps, is that their smell is a powerful natural repellent against insects especially mosquitoes and midges, to the point that some have renamed the geraniums “mosquito away”. It is a plant whose flowering is very rich which is simple to grow and the maintenance care to be given is not excessive. In short, this plant is perfect for beginners and can, in fact, reach a meter and a half in height.
A frequent mistake with geraniums is the tendency to water them too much. These plants are very resistant to drought and need to be watered only when the substratum is completely dry. It is important to remember that you must avoid wetting the leaves to avoid inducing rotting and cryptogamic diseases that may ruin this beautiful plant.
2. Lavender (Lavandula Hybrida)
The various species of the genus Lavandula, herbaceous plants or shrub bush typical of the Mediterranean area, is always appreciated by most people for its delicate scent and the beautiful purple hues of its flowers. They are easy to grow both in pots and in the garden and have a strong repellent effect against mosquitoes and flies.
By virtue of the intense scent which has inspired mankind to make soaps and softeners, especially using the flowers and leaves of this highly fragrant plant. Cultivated in the middle of the earth, summer formations and colorful scented bushes, which can also be placed in the garden as a border along the flowerbed. Among the various species, the most fragrant is the Lavandula Hybrida.
In addition to its cultivation in the garden or pot, you can also experiment with the insecticidal properties of the essential oil to put on the skin, or bunches hanging along the walls, as the ancient Romans did, to perfume your home. It is in fact used in aromatherapy as an antidepressant, soothing, balancing of the nervous system, as a decongestant against colds and flu.
3. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Lemongrass is an evergreen perennial herb, native to southern Asia, which is the most used natural ingredient in the formulation of anti-mosquito repellents. Although lemongrass is used in many products such as scented candles, torches, or oils, the plant is certainly more effective because it has a more pronounced odor.
The lemongrass is not only a practical plant but is often used as a fragrancing household ornament. The leaves form long strands of grass giving off a strong aroma, similar to that of lemon and hated by insects.
The characteristic smell of the plant is able to mask the attractive scent produced by your body, making your location more difficult for the mosquito to detect. It can easily be grown in the garden in mild climate areas where the temperature rarely drops below 0°C. If grown in the garden or near the patio, it should be planted behind small flowers and ornamental shrubs.
4. Marigold (Calendula Officinalis)
Commonly cultivated as ornamental plants, because of their beautiful colored flowers. The marigolds are very resistant and give off an intense odor that is very unpleasant to mosquitoes and ironically even to some gardeners. The plant contains pyrethrum, a compound widely used in anti-mosquito repellents.
The marigold plant prefers to be exposed to the full sun rays and extremely fertile soil an exposition in full sun and fairly fertile ground. If grown in pots, it can be placed in strategic areas such as the entrance of the house or window sills.
In addition to repelling mosquitoes, wasps, and hornets and containing pyrethrum, the marigolds also keep away many parasites of the tomato plants. The suggestion is to plant some of them in your vegetable garden. The use of Calendula Officinalis flowers has a calming, healing, emollient, and soothing effect. The decoction produced with about 50g of dried flowers per liter of water is used to both mouth ulcers, sores, blisters, and all skin problems.
5. Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil is one of the widely used aromatic herbs in the kitchen, especially for its various culinary and beneficial virtues. It is also a plant amongst those most hated by mosquitoes. This double utility makes basil a perfect plant to hold in a vase, perhaps near the windows, in order to keep away the mosquitoes.
At the same time, you can enjoy it’s scented and very tasty leaves, the perfect addition to any sauce. The ideal solution is to place the potted plant in a corner of the balcony which is bright enough but not excessively.
Make sure that the seedlings are not directly reached by the sun’s rays or the leaves will burn and remember that the best time to water the basil seedlings is in the morning. It is good to regularly cut the vegetative apexes and the flowers (the tops) to grow the strongest and most luxuriant seedling. Its leaves can also be rubbed on the bites to relieve the annoying itch or as a prevention from the mosquito attack.
6. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
This tree is native to Tasmania, known above all for its healing powers relating to problems of the respiratory tract, for example, a sore throat. The eucalyptus plant is also an excellent ally in the fight against mosquitoes: the scent of its leaves acts as a repellent and keeps away many insects.
Since this plant can grow up to 25 meters in height, it is recommended to use it only in large gardens, devoting a bit of attention along with constant pruning in the spring.
This also allows you to check its size. You may also cultivate it in pots keeping it as a shrub, an excellent solution if you want to keep one on the terrace. Eucalyptus is a plant that loves the sun but does not like frost, so if you have the possibility of winter it would be better to cover it. Being an evergreen tree will give you the beauty in all seasons, scented leaves of lemon, and cream-colored flowers.
7. Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus coleoides)
This is a native of Australia and New Zealand but very common in Sweden. Its leaves produce a very intense smell similar to that of incense, which acts as a repellent for mosquitoes and other insects. It is a perennial that has an upright posture up to 30 cm in height.
It is a very decorative plant due to its very abundant foliage and distributed on climbing creeks or that flow downwards. The plectranthus coleoides has large leaves, broadly bordered by a beautiful white outline, arranged on stems which are initially erect and then eventually droop. This variety of plants lives well with lots of light and even in full sun.
In the summertime, you will have to bring it outside, even if the plant does not suffer from closed spaces. They are fast-growing plants so take care not to let the soil dry out during the growth period (spring-summer).
8. Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa Bignonioides)
The Indian bean tree is a small tree that, if kept thick and healthy, can remove mosquitoes and insects for a radius twice that of its foliage, thanks to the presence of a smell not perceived by humans from its leaves. The catalpa can also be kept in pots on your terrace. Being able to reach a maximum height of about 4-5 meters, the Catalpa is highly recommended for use in the garden, especially if you want to enrich it with the beautiful white flowers that will show from May to August, also the fruits are really particular, very similar to the pods.
The leaves, with a magnificent light green color, are also very ornamental for their size and shape: they are held in high esteem for their ability to provide pleasant shade, that is uniform but not too thick. Staying under its foliage, especially in summer, therefore, becomes very comfortable. To obtain an abundant flowering it is advisable to avoid drastically pruning the plant. In general, they are satisfied with rains and occasional watering, but it is good to provide water in periods of prolonged drought.
9. Catambra (Hybrid)
Catambra is a plant native to Latin America, which has garnered attention in recent years by virtue of studies according to which it has 4 times more catalpol content than the other plants of its species. Making it one of the best plants that can be used against mosquitoes, probably the anti-mosquito plant par excellence. Catambra is a plant with amazing adaptability that does not require great care to be cultivated.
It can be grown on the ground or in a pot and placed in the sun or in the shade. The Catambra does not grow in height, however, swelling stems and fronds, it does not bloom and is odorless.
The range of its repellent effect is twice its hair. Water is very important for catambra. It must be given as needed and more frequently if the plant is potted. When it is planted directly into the soil the need for water will be more contained. Catambra does not flower and does not need pruning because its foliage grows spontaneously and naturally with a rounded shape.
10. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary belongs to the same family as other aromatic herbs (also called officinal herbs), such as mint, sage, and oregano. It is a plant native to the coastal regions of the Mediterranean basin. Thanks to its intense aroma, you will not have any more mosquitoes but you will always have a precious aromatic herb in your kitchen at your fingertips.
It prefers a warm temperate climate and a sunny exposure. However, it can be cultivated without particular problems even in the mountains, up to 1,200 m altitude. It is rather resistant to cold, if it’s grown during the winter, then it should be done in a sheltered place, such as close to a wall and can withstand damage down to -10 ° C.
This plant can manage to reach 2 meters in height. Irrigation must be constant and daily in the first year, taking care not to exceed and cause stagnation of water. Then it will be enough to water the rosemary every two or three days in the spring-summer period. Once grown it becomes resistant to drought. In winter and autumn, especially during rainy periods, do not water the plant.