It's happened to me countless times: I invite some friends over, we're sitting on the patio, and the mosquitoes are just swarming! Some might suggest that I pick up some bug spray, but did you know that bug spray has some potentially harmful chemicals in them? They're especially bad for kids. I've taken a more natural approach to repelling those pesky 'skeeters, and one part of that is planting mosquito-repelling plants.
1. Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Image credit: Amanda Slater, Flickr
For me, summer isn't complete without a few big, beautiful basil bushes producing beautiful flowers the bees love as well as the perfect herb for a variety of dishes. It's not just good in the kitchen though. When placed near doors, this aromatic herb deters both mosquitoes and flies.
2. Lemon thyme (Thymus X citriodorus)
Image credit: John Vonderlin, Flickr
This is another summertime favorite of mine. This aromatic herb loves dry, sunny conditions and fits well as a ground cover along walkways. As you walk among it, you bruise the leaves causing it to release an aroma that mosquitoes just hate!
3. Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Image credit: Julia Wolf, Flickr
This one's perfect if you have cats at home. This perennial herb blooms throughout the summer and deters mosquitoes quite well. It's especially effective if your cats get into it. They'll get the scent of the herb all over themselves and then probably all over you too. But it's not a particularly potent smell, so don't worry about that.
4. Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon nardus)
Image credit: Ahmad Fuad Morad, Flickr
Citronella grass is a clumping grass native to Asia that blooms in full sun. The plant is used to make citronella oil, commonly used as a pest repellent and found in most mosquito candles. It is not edible. It can also cause dermatitis for people with sensitive skin.
5. Mint (Mentha spp.)
Any type of mint will do, really. This herb is very easy to grow but should be planted in pots, not in the ground. When planted in the ground, the mint will spread and take over everything. You can rub the leaves on your skin for a fragrant mosquito repellent.
6. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Image credit: Strata Chalup, Flickr
Also a member of the mint family, lemon balm is said to naturally repel mosquitoes with its lemony aroma. This herb, however, doesn't spread like mint does so it's safer in the ground. it often re-seeds every year, which can be nice if you want it to come back, but can also cause it to become rather prolific.
There is something of a debate over whether or not plants are actually effective at repelling mosquitoes and other insects. Some experts think that these plants only release their mosquito repelling oils when they're crushed. Other suggest that their presence is enough to keep mosquitoes away. In either case, I love all of these six plants and there's no harm in keeping a few around, right?