Banish mosquitoes with plant repellants

Wednesday June 3 2020

L-R: Rosemary, Catnip and Scented  geraniums

L-R: Rosemary, Catnip and Scented geraniums 


Mosquitoes are the bane of garden lovers. Sometimes one has to choose between their beautiful luscious garden and cutting it down thus denying mosquitoes breeding ground.
Jamillah Namulindwa had been contemplating whether to cut down her vibrant rose bush because of mosquitoes when she was advised to plant several other plants that repel mosquitoes. Many of these plants contain the substance citronellal, which does indeed have insect-repellent properties.
Experts however, warn that some of these plants do not just repel mosquitoes by growing in our gardens, they would either have to be burned or their leaves crushed and rubbed on skin to give off the whiff that repels them. Here are the leading plants as recommended by various gardening experts.

Citronella, catnip, horsemint
Plants such as citronella, catnip and horsemint are popular for their natural mosquito repelling abilities. According to online biomedical the Malaria Journal, citronella is one of the most widely used natural repellents on the market. Citronella, which contains citronellal, citronellol, geraniol, citral, α pinene, and limonene, is as effective a dose as DEET (ingredient in insect repellents), but the oils rapidly evaporate causing loss of efficacy and leaving the user unprotected.
To get the most of their repellant abilities, it is advisable to crush their leaves so as to make these compounds active. You can either hang the crushed leaves or rub a little of it on your skin. However, be careful as some of these plants might be sensitive to the skin.

Cinnamon, lavender, basil
Other plants such as cinnamon, lavender and basil produce essential oils that cannot only kill mosquito eggs but acts as repellant too.
The essential oils contained in these plants emit a powerful scent that is irritating to mosquitoes. These are useful plants to add to your garden for an unlimited supply for homemade sprays from its essential oils.
After extracting oil from the plant, mix it with water and spray the fluid onto your skin or clothing, around your home, and onto upholstery or plants.

Rosemary, sage, sweet fern
Herbs such as rosemary, sage and sweet fern work best when dried and burned to give off a fragrant smoke that is highly repellent to mosquitoes and a variety of other insects.
Place a few sprigs of rosemary on pot shard and place on your verandah to keep mosquitoes away as the scent wafts through the yard. Or simply bundle tightly sage leaves with thread after drying and place on a non-flammable surface. Once lit, it should burn slowly, releasing a fragrant and steady stream of smoke.

Catnip, peppermint, spearmint
Plants from the mint family such as catnip, peppermint and spearmint contain the fragrant compound nepetalactone, which research established as a very effective repellant. Unlike other mosquito-repelling plants, these are just as effective even when they are in the garden. You can also crush and rub their fragrant leaves on your skin. Their beautiful leaves make beautiful additions to the container arrangements around your verandah too.

Marigolds said to contain pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents. Gardendesign website says they prefer full sunlight and reasonably fertile soil.
The site advises that marigolds should be planted near entrances the home and any common mosquito entry points such as open windows. The smell may deter mosquitoes from going past this barrier.
Besides, repelling mosquitoes, marigolds also repel insects, which prey on tomato plants. Marigolds are said to keep off aphids, thrips, whiteflies, Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs, and tomato hornworms.


Allium such as garlic
Plants that are members of the allium family such as garlic, onions, leeks, chives, allium gigantism are all great mosquito repellents. These can also be used to fight off aphids in your vegetable garden. To repel mosquitoes, garlic, for instance, can even be rubbed on the skin, in addition to being planted in the mosquito-infested areas of the house.

This tall tree works well as a border plant and is also a mosquito repellent.
According to a report by, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, approved eucalyptus oil as an effective ingredient in mosquito repellent.
Other repellents include petunias, Chrysanthemum, cloves, vanilla, bee balm, lemon grass, scented geraniums, lemon thyme, floss flower.
All these plants can be bought from nurseries, and florists around the city and other parts of the country.

Most of these repellents are easy to grow plants that can be either planted directly in the garden or potted. The good news is that these plants are colourful and their scent makes them perfect for combination growing.
According to gardening expert Ekkehard Spiegel, if you want to create a block of colour in your landscape, pair plants with similar shapes and colours. Plants with flowers or leaves that are all very similar in colour or all in one colour family create a calming, harmonious feeling in the landscape; while bright, contrasting colours of flowers and/or leaves add excitement and draw the eye.

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