Categories: Plants and Design

Three perennial plants to fight mosquitoes

Mosquitos: we all hate them. They can turn a perfect relaxing evening in your garden into a night of constantly slapping at your arms and legs before you give up and retreat into your home. Here are three perennial plants that act as natural mosquito repellant so that you can enjoy your organic garden without the harmful chemicals found in commercial bug sprays.

Citronella grass
Citronella grass is the obvious solution for naturally repelling mosquitoes since there are a wide range of citronella products, including candles and tiki torch fuels. Citronella works best, though, as a living plant than it does as an extract in artificial products. This is because its scent is strongest while it is alive and can more effectively mask smells that attract mosquitoes. This grassy plant can grow to be five to six feet tall, so it is best to plant it behind other plants in the garden. In climates where there is no frost, citronella grass can be planted as a perennial plant directly in the ground, otherwise it will need to be planted in a container and taken inside for the winter.

This perennial plant is a member of the mint family and is most notably known for its effect on cats. A recent study, however, has shown that felines aren’t the only creatures to have a strong reaction to catnip.  According to Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture, catnip was found to be 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than most commercial bug repellents, including diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET).

Plant this herb in strategic locations based on where you plan to spend the most time outdoors during the evening. For added potency, you can even crush up dried catnip leaves and sprinkle them around the area you are in. Hopefully you don’t mind the occasional cat in your yard, though, if you decide to plant this herb in your garden.

Horsemint, or beebalm as it is commonly referred to, is very similar to citronella in how it repels mosquitoes. The strong lemony scent makes detecting prey difficult for mosquitoes, which may be surprising given the blooms come in lavender or pink. Horsemint is fast-growing, shade tolerant and prefers dry soil. It is also does well with very little water, making it especially attractive as a mosquito-repelling option in areas that are prone to drought. This perennial flower grows to be one to three feet tall and does well in Midwestern and Eastern climates.