Do you hear that buzzing in your ears? Not yet? Well, get ready. Yup, mosquitoes will be returning soon and the rain is both wonderful for our gardens and mosquitoes alike. You might be wondering what you can do to cut down on the number of biting invaders you get in your yard. Well, you can use commercial products to help kill mosquito larvae or repel the mosquitos themselves. I will cover products that we carry at Maas Nursery. But, you can also strategically place certain plants in your yard to repel mosquitoes as well. Interested now? Continue reading and find out what plants you can use to keep mosquitoes at bay in the warmer months.
The first thing you need to do is get rid of all the standing water in your yard. If you have a birdbath or two, be sure to change the water daily to keep mosquito larvae from becoming adult mosquitoes. Fountains with moving water are not hospitable to mosquitoes and young. If you have standing water that has to stay, you can treat the water with Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Bits. The active ingredient in both of these products is Bacillus thuringiensis – Israeliensis, also known as Bti. Bti is a bacterium known to eat mosquito, black fly and fungus gnat larvae. It is an organic method of controlling mosquitoes, and can be used safely in birdbaths
and animal watering troughs. We carry mosquito dunks in 2 packs for $9.99. Each dunk covers 100 sq. ft. of water surface and will work for 30 days or more. You can also find Mosquito Bits in two different size shake bottles. There is a 30 oz. bottle that treats 8000 sq. ft. for $21.99 and an 8 oz. bottle that treats 2178 sq. ft. for $14.99. These products kill mosquito larvae, but they don’t repel adult mosquitos.
Ok. So now let’s talk about some plants that can actually work for you in your war against mosquitoes. If you notice, the products above used for repelling mosquitoes all have very distinct odors. It’s the odor that does the trick. So, if you can name a plant that has a distinct odor, it may work to repel mosquitoes. Common plants that we carry at Maas Nursery that will work in some way against mosquitoes are Citronella Geranium, Bee Balm, Marigolds, Ageratum, Catnip, Lemon Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Peppermint, Mexican Mint Marigold, Rosemary, Basil, Lemon Grass (aka Citronella Grass), Garlic, Wormwood and Eucalyptus. The following passages will give you a little more detail on just a few of the plants that will help you take on the dreaded skeeters.
Marigolds are very hardy annuals and their flowers contain pyrethrin. Pyrethrin is an obnoxious smelling natural insect repellant. You can plant these warm season annuals as companions to tomatoes because they will also repel other insects that will feed on your tomatoes too. Marigolds will deter many insects from entering your house if planted near windows and doors, but their bright blooms may attract wasps. Oh well. You can’t have it all. Annuals are available at Maas Nursery in 4″ containers for $1.69 each, $27.00 for a flat of 18 or $29.00 for a flat of 20.
Ageratum is another great annual to have in your arsenal against mosquitoes. This bedding plant has beautiful blooms and secretes coumarin, a common ingredient of commercial insect repellants. Ageratum does well in poor soils and grows 8 to 18 inches tall in full or part sun. The blooms are violet, pink or white and will add great color to your landscape and keep those pesky mosquitoes away too. You can get ageratum here in the spring for the same price as marigolds listed above. I don’t think we have any ageratum in quite yet, but we will soon. These would be great in a border near your front door or in a mass along a walkway. I am planning my spring borders now!
Bee Balm is a perennial herb with a strong incense-like odor. This plant will not only repel mosquitoes from your yard, but the leaves can also be crushed to use as a personal repellant. This is a fast growing, shade tolerant and drought resistant plant. Horsemint is a native variety that is mentioned most frequently in articles about deterring mosquitoes. Herbs are available at Maas Nursery in 4″ containers for $2.99. One very small bee balm in a 4″ container will grow to be 2′-3′ tall and wide in a season. What a deal! They make the most unusual looking and beautiful flowers too.
Lemon Grass, also known as Citronella Grass, is a great perennial herb for cooking and for keeping mosquitoes away. It gives off a strong lemony smell that mosquitoes don’t like. It looks great in a landscape too. This herb is grown best in full sun with well draining soil. Lemon grass forms clumps that can get as tall as 5 to 6 feet. You can get lemon grass at Maas in 4″ containers for $2.99 or 1gallon containers for $10.99. You really can’t beat a plant that works to keep pests away that can also be used in cooking. Bonus!
Catnip is a great herb to keep mosquitoes away. Catnip has been reported to be 10X more effective than DEET. It will grow well in poor soils and full sun. You have to remember that catnip will get rid of mosquitoes, but it will also attract cats to your garden. Hmmmm. To avoid cats tromping around in your beautiful landscape, plant a few pots of catnip and place them around the edges of your garden. Our furry friends will appreciate a spot to roll around in and you will have furry, roving mosquito repellants for your yard too. I think I might be on to something here! All herbs are $2.99 for 4″ containers at Maas Nursery.
There are many herbs like catnip, bee balm and lemon grass with pungent odors that make great additions to your garden and can help to keep mosquitos away too. Lemon verbena, lemon balm, pennyroyal, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, basil, Mexican mint marigold, garlic, wormwood and eucalyptus are just a few that you might find helpful in the war against mosquitoes this year. I wish you all well in your gardens – Keep Calm and Plant On!