Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mosquito Repellent Container Garden Plants and Plans

Mosquito - Garden pest! (wiki)
Did you know that certain plants naturally repel mosquitoes? I should have put in more of these "Mosquito Repellent" plants into my container garden this year.  If more of these mosquito container gardens were on my porch - maybe I would be out there more too! I just created several container garden plans for a client who's children are allergic to mosquito's. While they also contracted with a spray service to control these pests, they wanted to naturalize the garden, lawn and container garden with some easy to grow plants which will also repel mosquitoes. 

Here are plants to use to reduce mosquitoes nibbling on you and your guests. Below, I've also included a few suggestions for container gardens with these, and crafty ways to use them as party decorations too. 

    Marigold (wiki)
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria). A perennial for an annual depending on your location, catnip is more effective than DEET at controlling mosquitoes. Cats love the plant and will rip into it if it's in an unprotected garden bed. Plus the plant has a tendency to become invasive. Keep a couple of plants in hanging containers to avoid both problems.
  • Marigold (Tagetes spp.). This sun-loving annual also repels other pests and is an excellent border plant for your vegetable garden. Marigolds are easy-to-care-for and you can easily collect seeds for the next year. 
  • Rosemary in Bloom (wiki)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).  I love this herb and keep one in a large container and over winter it in my cold climate garden. The oil is pleasing but disgusting to mosquitoes. It’s attractive for container or herb gardens which requires little water.
  • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus). This annual has a strong lemony scent that repels mosquitoes. I'm told that you can propagate it from stalks which are sold in grocery stores - but that's never worked to well for me.  It prefers full sun and good drainage. 
  • Scented Geraniums. Scented geraniums are a popular mosquito repelling plant. The most impact I've found is the lemon scented, which is similar to citronella grass. In cold climate areas they can be grown in planters with constant pruning. 
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). This plant has silvery foliage and can be grown in full sun. Makes a great border plant and the pungent odor keeps mosquitoes away.  For some people this is a skin sensitizing plant. 
    Wormwood (wiki)

  • Mint (Mentha spp.). The oils are unpleasant to mosquitoes, so keep a container of these hardy and aromatic plants around. Do not let them go to seed.  Take cuttings and place them in vases on your patio table for a little extra pop - and protection :)
  • Peppermint: The plant has a strong scent. It is a hybrid of water mint and spearmint.  Use same as mint above.
  • Garlic.  Great garden herb - adds a very large spike and a bit of drama to a container. The flowers can be very dramatic, however, to get more garlic bulbs, cut down the flowers. Garlic plants in your garden so that you can get rid of mosquitoes naturally. 
  • Lavender (wiki)
  • Lavender. Deer and other plants never touch my lavender plants.  Their lovely fragrance, from its essential oils, are found on the leaves of the plant. I love this plant; it's very tough and drought-resistant. Keep it in full sun and good drainage. Nice flowers that pollinators so enjoy.
  • BasilBasil is another herb that can doubles as a pest repellent. The pungent smell from basil leaves we love and pests hate. All kinds of basil work to keep flies and mosquitoes at bay, so pick a basil to mix for your garden that suits your needs. Basil likes to be kept damp, needs good drainage, and enjoys lots of sun. 
  • Citronella Grass. Wow - a very distinct smell, citronella grass is the most commonly used natural ingredient in mosquito repellents.  So say it is the living plant is the most effective at repelling pests. Plus it's low maintenance plant and does best in large planters.  These plants over winter well. I look for Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus.

Scented Geranium Growing in Container Garden

So what goes with what?  No worries, try experimenting with plants you adore. And those that you can stand the smell of! My client could not bear the citronella smell - so that didn't work for her at all.

Container Garden Plan 1 - Lots of height and nice color combination
- Citronella / Scented Geranium (in back)
- Lemon Grass in the middle of container
- Marigolds along side for color
- Catnip
- Lemon Thyme (cascades off the front)
- Coleus for color (middle front)

Container Garden Plan 2 - Edible Garden
- Thyme (trailing)
- Peppermint
- Garlic
- Lavender
- Chives

Container Garden Plan 3 - Pesto Lovers Garden
- Dark Opal Basil or Purple Ruffles
- Sweet Basil
-  Lemon or Lime Basil
- Coleus for color (must keep pinched back)
- Marigold for color
- Thyme for cascade in front

If you want to consider additional ideas for natural pest control - think about a Bat House! I'm putting one up next year and just starting my research now. I would ideally like to make a bat house out of an old wood pallet :)

Have a great day in your garden!

Teresa Marie

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