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For The Garden

Natural Mosquito Repellents

Author: Lori A. Johnson
Issue: August, 2017, Page 110
TEXAS HUMMINGBIRD MINT
(Agastache cana)

Type: Perennial

Blooms: Pink; late summer to fall

Size: 24-36"H by 12-18"W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low to moderate

Maintenance: Water regularly during the plant’s first growing season, then reduce to infrequent but deep water when established.

Attracts: Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds

Note: Also known as the mosquito plant. Several other species and hybrids share the common name of hummingbird mint.

Why we like it: This wildflower contains a chemical compound that serves as a natural mosquito repellent when crushed or rubbed onto surfaces, including the skin. Its dried petals and leaves can also be used in tea.



CITRONELLA GRASS
(Cymbopogon nardus)


Type: Perennial

Blooms: Rarely flowers

Size: 4-6'H by 2-3'W

Soil: Well-drained loam

Light: Full to partial sun

Water needs: Moderate

Maintenance: Since this fast grower requires more water than other xeriscape plants and is not cold-tolerant, it may be best in containers so it can be moved indoors if temperatures fall below 32 degrees.

Attracts: Not applicable

Note: This fragrant grass is one of two species in the Cymbopogon genus that produces the essential oil citronella, a natural mosquito repellent. Clumps can do well in containers or as an accent along walkways.

Why we like it: When crushed and rubbed directly onto the skin, citronella leaves will repel insects for up to two hours.



MOUNTAIN MARIGOLD
(Tagetes palmeri)


Type: Perennial

Blooms: Yellow; fall to spring

Size: 2-4'H by 2-6'W

Soil: Well-drained

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water needs: Moderate

Maintenance: Prune in late winter or early summer, depending on desired growth habit. Requires more water in the first year; watering can be reduced to weekly once established.

Attracts: Bees, butterflies

Note: Mountain marigold can be kept in containers or planted alongside other moderate-water-use plants.

Why we like it: Marigolds contain a compound called Pyrethrin that is used in insect repellents. Parts of marigold plants also emit a chemical that deters nematodes, making them excellent companion plants near tomatoes.



english LAVENDER
(Lavandula angustifolia)

Type: Perennial

Blooms: Lavender; spring

Size: 12-48"H by 24-36"W

Soil: Well-drained 

Elevation: Any

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Deadhead spent flowers to encourage additional blooms. Water only occasionally once established.

Attracts: Bees, birds, butterflies

Note: Lavender's essential oils can be applied directly to the skin, while the fragrance from the plants themselves is said to be strong enough to deter mosquitos by masking the odors of nearby humans.

Why we like it: Dried flowers and buds are commonly used in potpourri and other scented products. Flower spikes create a lovely focal point in any garden and can also be used in cut flower arrangements.


Other Favorites: Mexican giant hyssop (Agastache mexicana), Sonoran giant hyssop (A. wrightii), Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida), lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora), whitebrush (A. gratissima), Rio Grande beebrush (A. macrostachya), lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), cinnamon basil (Ocimum basilicum), lemon basil (O. x citriodorum)
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