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Mosquito Repellent Plants
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Mosquito Repellent Plants

PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Bee Balm. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Bee Balm. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

With the snow birds leaving, the temperatures rising and the rains on the way, it is a sure sign summer is fast approaching. This all means the year-round residents of South Florida begin to retake paradise. To help us enjoy the outdoors more, we can plant certain plants that help repel mosquitos from our outdoor living spaces.

Most insect–repelling plants do so with their natural fragrances that come from the oils in the leaves and flowers. Be sure to plant them in containers on patios or by the front and back door. The plants I will list for you will not only repel mosquitos but they will emit wonderful scents throughout your garden and patio areas. Plus, most mosquito-repelling plants also serve a second purpose. Most can be used in cooking like herbs.

Horsemint (Monarda citriodora)

Horsemint (Monarda citriodora)

Some of my favorites are listed below:

• Lemon grass is the No. 1 choice to plant in your landscape and in pots on your patio, deck and other outdoor living areas during the summer to keep mosquitos at bay. Before having an outdoor event, brush lemon grass to release more of its fragrance, thus making it more effect.

• Of course, we all have head that marigolds will keep insects away from our vegetable gardens, and yes, they do work. Another member of the marigold family — tagettes Mexican — repels mosquitos and also is a butterfly larval and nectar plant.

• Rosemary is a great mosquito-repelling plant with benefits. Its wonderful scent will please us year round, and it thrives in hot, dry climates. While keeping pests away, we can enjoy its sent, and use it to make great rosemary chicken on the grill.

• Basil is another herb that doubles as a pest repellent. All these herbs do equally as well in pots as planted in the ground. There are several different varieties.

• Peppermint is not only a mosquito repellent, but it is used in cold and hot teas. It is also a butterfly nectar plant.

• Lavender’s scent comes from the essential oils that are on its leaves. Some say that it not only repels mosquitos but also stops the mosquitos ability to smell. It is drought tolerant and loves full sun.

• Most scented geraniums work as a mosquito repellent, but lemon and pineapple seem to work best. These fast growers do well in gardens and containers, and love sun and dry climates.

• Both horsemint and bee balm are great butterfly and hummingbird nectar plants as well.

Lavendar (lavendula angustifolia)

Lavendar (lavendula angustifolia)

Other tips to keep mosquitos out of your backyard living space are to keep bird baths clean, make sure pots are turned upside down so water does not collect in them, and never use saucers under your planted pots in the rainy season. They hold too much water, and can cause a plant’s death by overwatering.

As in the garden, I really don’t use pesticides so these plants to repel mosquitos are right up my alley. They all can be used in cooking and provide a great number of different scents in your garden. So when you go and get hot dogs and beer for your next outdoor party, you might want to think about picking up some of these plants. If not, just go ahead and wear head netting to keep mosquitos at bay, but remember how hard it is to drink beer through one of those things!

Keep butterflying, and enjoy the outdoors!

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com


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