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Imagine this – the sun’s setting, you are sitting in your favorite armchair in the garden and having a nice cup of tea watching the sun go down, seeing the birds return to their nests…and someone buzzzzzzzes in your ear before delivering a sharp sting – Ouch! You run around or holler for some mosquito repellent, quick sprays ensue some of which lands in your tea. You summon all your courage and continue to sit outside but soon beat a hasty retreat cursing at those monstrous mosquitoes. Well, how much can a mosquito repellent help in an open space?
Sitting in your garden in the evenings can be a harrowing experience with mosquitoes and flies having their fill of you. Dousing the surroundings or slathering yourself with chemical mosquito repellents is not an healthy or effective option. Won’t it be great if there weren’t any mosquitoes around in your garden – naturally? Thankfully there are some plants which are very effective at keeping the mosquitoes and flies at bay – 24/7. Let’s look at some of these:
Plants that’ll drive mosquitoes and flies away:
- Citronella: Citronella is a very strong smelling perennial grass, growing up to an average height of 2-3 feet. It is the most common naturally occurring mosquito repellent and it is used in numerous mosquito repellent creams, scented oils etc.
Citronella has a very distinctive smell not offensive to humans but the smell overpowers the scent of all other attractants to the mosquito and it becomes difficult for the mosquito to find you. Many varieties of Citronella are available but make sure you buy only the Cymbopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. Other plants do not have the mosquito repelling qualities of true citronella. Citronella grows freely and wildly and it would be a good idea to separate clumps of Citronella and re-plant them in other places in your garden. Give it a trim often to keep the growth in check.
2. Catnip (Nepeta cataria):
Nepeta cataria is more commonly known as ‘Catnip’ – because cats for some reason like the plant so much that they roll in it. Catnip like Citronella has a very distinctive smell that mosquitoes and flies find offensive. Though it is not as effective as Citronella, planting Catnip at the sides of the patio or seating area or on the steps etc will reduce the extent of mosquitoes in your garden. Catnip is very easy to grow and is related to the “mint” family. Catnip is also said to have a calming effect and is used against insomnia (sleeplessness), headaches like migraine etc. The plant also has little showy white flowers with pink strains for some time of the year.
3. Lemon Grass
Similar to Citronella in the way it looks, lemongrass or Cymbopogon Citratus/ Cymbopogon Citriodora is a citrus smelling grass. It is an insect repellent and it is planted similar to Citronella in the garden to keep the mosquitoes away. Lemongrass is used as a flavoring in food and beverages – particularly in Asian cuisines. It is also used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics.
Lemongrass grows unbridled so buying just one plant would do. It grows fast and spreads easily. You can then separate the clumps and plant them in a different place.
Lavender or Lavandula is grown widely for its flowers, the essential oil of which is distilled and used for making perfumes, creams and various other cosmetic products. The smell also has a calming effect. The Lavender plant is an annual with flowers only blooming for a short time in a year. The plant needs medium shade to full sun and can also be grown in a wide container in a sunny balcony. Lavender keeps bugs and flies away and you can crush the flowers and apply it on your skin for added effect.
Marigolds are Annuals with pretty and strong smelling flowers which act as an insect repellent as well as a pest controller. In companion gardening, Marigolds are often planted alongside Tomato plants as they repel the pests that usually attack the tomato plants. Marigolds should be planted at the entrance of the house or near the gates to ward off insects and pests. They prefer full sunlight and are annual. Once dry the flowers need de-heading to encourage new flower growth. New plants grow easily through the seeds in the dry flowers – and the seeds can be stored for new germination.