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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Got Mosquitoes? Get These Plants

As the days get warmer, fireflies come out to play—and mosquitoes come out to feast.  However, there are a few things we can do to interrupt their banquet.   And there are plants that can actually either help to repel mosquitoes or help to hide your scent from them!  That’s the good news.

Lemon Grass—Lemon Grass has pretty lemon-lime colored foliage—and it’s lemony scent is large.  It contains citronella oil, which mosquitoes don’t like.  When buying it, do be sure the tag reads either “Cybopogon” or “Citronella winterianus,” as other varieties of lemon grass do not contain as much citronella oil.  Do not rub into skin as some people may find it irritating.

Lemon Balm—Lemon Balm is fast-growing, drought resistant, and shade tolerant.  It contains as much citronella oil as does lemon grass.  And, unlike Lemon Grass which is not winter-hardy here in zone 7, Lemon Balm is perennial.  And, as a bonus, it makes a delicious and soothing tea—simply pour boiling water over a few sprigs and allow to steep for 15 minutes.

Lemon Thyme—Besides helping to repel mosquitoes, Lemon Thyme is also a good groundcover for low-traffic sunny areas and the pretty flowers are VERY pollinator friendly.  Perennial.

And here are a few other plants that can help you in your dealings with mini-vampires.

Ageratum—Not only does ageratum have pretty fuzzy blue or lavender flowers, but it contains courmarin—an ingredient in many mosquito repellents.

Catnip—Your cats will be thrilled to know that a 2010 study at Iowa State University showed that catnip oil is more effect that DEET at repelling mosquitoes!  And the pollinator friendly flowers are a bonus.  Perennial.

Bee Balm—Another one with pollinator friendly flowers and mosquito-repelling foliage.  Perennial.

Basil—The strong scent of basil is another great deterrent.  Mother Earth News gives a recipe for a homemade insect repellent calling for basil.  Bring 4 ounces water to a boil and pour over 4 to 6 ounces of basil leaves.  Steep several hours until cool, remove leaves (crushing them to squeeze out all the water) and place solution in a spray bottle.  Add 4 ounces of vodka and shake well.  Store in the fridge.

Marigolds—Marigolds have many uses in our gardens.  When planted in our vegetable gardens, they not only help to repel harmful nematodes, but can act as a trap crop for aphids.  When grown in pots around our deck, the spicy fragrance of the flowers can help with mosquitoes.

Rosemary, Lavender, Oregano, all Mints, Sage, regular Thyme, etc.—Any strong smelling herb can help with a mosquito problem  by camouflaging your scent so enjoy pots of rosemary, lavender, and Spearmint etc. on your deck or patio.

Remember, all these plants are most effective when the leaves are crushed or bruised to release the essential oils.  A few sprigs of catnip or lemon balm can be crushed and rubbed directly on the skin, if you’re working out in your garden.

And remember, it’s easier yet to deal with a mosquito problem by checking our yards to make sure we’re not giving them any place to lay their eggs.  Considering they can lay eggs as as little as a tablespoon of water, we have to think small.  While we want to change the water in a bird bath daily, for example, we can’t forget about the little “dip” in the splash guard under the downspout where water can stand for a couple of days after a rain.  And don’t forget about saucers under plants—or the spare pots and/or saucers under the edge of the deck.  Use mosquito “dunks” for larger areas of standing water.

Something else we can do, is to make our yards bird-friendly.  Hang bird feeders and bird houses and plant bird-friendly trees and flowers. They’ll pay us back by hanging around to eat caterpillars and mosquitoes.  And appreciate bats when they flutter overhead.  One bat can eat thousands of mosquitoes in an evening.

Oh, and one fun little fact--most of these same plants can repel fleas--and deer!
Posted: 6/1/2015 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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