I doubt there are too many people that like to spray themselves and their loved ones with insect repellent, even DEET-free mosquito repellents. I haven’t had too much success with citronella candles and I sure don’t want to wrap myself in mosquito netting. Perhaps being surrounded with mosquito-repelling plants is the solution.
I wasn’t even aware there was such a thing as a mosquito-repelling plant until I received an email from Marbott’s Greenhouse & Nursery announcing they had citronella mosquito plants for sale. Turns out it is a scented geranium (Pelargonium graveolens ‘Citrosa’) that smells similar to Citronella, a tropical grass known to repel mosquitoes. Crushing the leaves of the geranium may discourage the annoying insects. It’s a tender perennial that takes full to part shade and grows up to three feet tall. It does well in a container and is drought tolerant.
There are a few other mosquito repelling plants available:
- Citronella (Cybopogon nardus or C. winterianus), a tender perennial clumping grass that grows to 5-6 feet. Where frost occurs, plant in a container that can be moved indoors to over-winter.
- Horsemint (Monarda citriodora), also known as lemon beebalm, is a fast growing perennial that reaches a height and width of 2-3 feet. It is drought-resistant and tolerates salty conditions. Flowers attract bees and butterflies.
- Marigolds (Tagetes) have a distinctive smell that mosquitoes and some people find too pungent (however, the smell doesn’t seem to deter slugs). The flowers contain pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents. Marigolds need full sun. Besides repelling mosquitoes, marigolds are known to repel insects which prey on tomato plants.
- Ageratum, an annual requiring full or partial sun, secretes coumarin, a substance mosquitoes find offensive. This substance is also used in commercial mosquito repellents; however, it’s not advisable to rub crushed Ageratum leaves directly on the skin.
- Catnip (Nepeta cateria) is reported to be 10 times more effective than DEET, the chemical found in most commercial insect repellents. It’s an easy-to-grow sun perennial related to mint that is beloved by cats.