Here are just a few:
Citronella Grass: It’s no coincidence that Citronella is also a common natural ingredient found in mosquito repellents, including candles and torches. The plant’s intense scent masks the odor that attracts mosquitoes. When purchasing, look for Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus. Don’t confuse this plant with citronella-scented Geranium, which is often sold as a “Citronella” plant. Otherwise, you will end up with a less effective, although pretty, imitator.
Bee Balm: Also known as Horsemint, this is a great option for Midwest and Eastern growing zones. This perennial is easy to grow because it’s shade-tolerant and drought-resistant. While its fragrant flowers attract bees and butterflies to your garden, its strong incense-like odor may keep mosquitoes away by masking the smell of its usual hosts.
Ageratum: This beautiful low-lying plant has eye-catching blooms that come in pink, white, violet or blue, depending on the variety you choose. Its sweet smell is pleasant for people but offensive for mosquitoes. In fact, it secretes Coumarin, commonly found in commercial mosquito repellents.
Marigolds: The secret to this annual’s mosquito-repelling success is Pyrethrum, a compound that’s also used in many bug sprays. Their distinctive smell isn’t particularly pleasant, even for people, but they are inexpensive, readily available and quite hardy. Potted marigolds can flank your front door, screen door or even an open window, to deter mosquitoes. But keep in mind, their bright blooms may attract wasps, so they’re not recommended on your patio or anywhere you’d want to linger.
Catnip: One study found this perennial herb to be ten times more effective in repelling mosquitoes than DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide), the chemical found in most commonly used insect repellents. To increase its effectiveness even more, some people rub the crushed leaves or catnip oil directly on their skin. Take care though. While mosquitoes may keep their distance, cats will be particularly attracted to you.
Herbs: Rosemary, basil, lemongrass, lemon thyme and garlic will naturally keep mosquitoes away. Plus, these edible plants can make a delicious addition to many of your favorite summertime grilling marinades.
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