Mosquitoes and insects have been a huge problem all around the world whenever the spring and summer seasons arrive. Animals and humans cannot find a resort from mosquitoes when air temperature rises to the higher end of the thermometer. Luckily, there are numerous methods and products which are designed to help us fight these obnoxious creatures, but most of these products contain many different chemicals, which are designed in laboratories using toxic and artificial substances. Although they have a great ability to deter insects, they also can cause harm not only to humans and animals but also to nature. The most common side effect, when using chemical mosquito repellents are different allergies, skin burns and rash. But it can also lead to more serious and dangerous reactions. You can never know, which chemical will be the one your body is not going to like, therefore it is very hard to avoid such reactions. The only solution is using natural insect repellents, which do not cause any side effects and don’t contain any chemicals and toxins. Therefore I will be discussing some of the most popular natural plants that deter mosquitoes like the citronella grass and lemongrass plant, which are great insect repellents and also are great decorative plants for your garden.
Lemon grass plant
Cymbopogon or better known as the lemon grass plant is a genus of plant from the grass family. In nature lemon grass plant is found in tropical and subtropical climates like Asia, Africa and Australia, but it also can be grown and kept all around the world in households. This plant has a specific citrusy aroma similar to citrus fruits or lemons, hence its name – lemon grass. It grows with linear leaves, similar to ordinary grass, only much taller and bulkier as it can grow as long as three meters in height. Because of its beneficial qualities, distinctive flavor and citrusy aroma lemon grass herb is widely used for different purposes, for example in medicine and culinary and in fighting mosquitoes and insects.
Lemon grass plant is widely used in medicine as it has a significant and strong, citrusy smell and is very beneficial with its antibacterial, anti-fungal and antimicrobial qualities. Lemon grass plant helps with medical problems such as keeping cholesterol levels in your body low and heart healthy, preventing various cardiac issues and diseases. Also, lemon grass is beneficial in treating various types of cancers, without affecting healthy cells of your body as chemotherapy does. Therefore, if this plant can help even cancer patients, then it must contain extremely beneficial components because cancer researchers have been trying to find cures for decades. Also, lemon grass is helpful with various stomach disorders and infections, as it does contain antibacterial substances. However, lemon grass is not only useful for different physical illnesses but also for emotional ones. For example insomnia, disease, which means that person has difficulty sleeping. Because lemon grass has a therapeutic and soothing smell. All together researchers have shown that lemongrass can help many different illnesses and disorders, including, fever, respiratory disorder, different infections, and aches. You may ask, if it is so full of antibiotics and can heal even cancerous cells, then why people still lean towards antibiotics rather than more natural option as lemon grass. Field of lemon grass in medicine has not been researched to such extent that it could be used to its full abilities as an only source. But for now, it is definitely a great component to medicine.
As lemongrass has a very specific aroma, it is used in various different insect repellents. It not only deters insects and mosquitoes but also helps to prevent different illnesses transferred by insects, for example, Lyme disease. Lemongrass can be planted near walkways or in backyards, preventing mosquitoes with its strong aroma. Although this scent is not harmful to humans and animals, for mosquitoes and insects, lemongrass scent is extremely unpleasant and will keep them away. Also, oil can be squeezed out of lemongrass, which is called citronella, and when it is combined with other components, it creates natural insect repellent. Although similar artificial insect repellents already exist, by using plants, such as lemongrass, we can obtain the same product but with a lot more natural structure.
Although lemongrass oil is natural and considered safer and healthier, than chemicals with similar effect, it still has to be used and handled with caution. Lemongrass mosquito repellent can cause an allergic reaction for some people, causing rash, itching and even asthmatic symptoms. Lemongrass oil is strong and concentrated substance, and if applied to the skin in its raw form can cause a harmful reaction. Therefore lemongrass is only a component of products, oil is not used on its own. However, if used cautiously, lemongrass mosquito repellent oil as a component can be extremely beneficial and helpful whether it is in culinary, medicine or in fighting insects.
Citronella grass is a species of genus lemon grass. There are different types of citronella grass in Latin called Cymbopogon nardus. It is a tropical plant which in nature is found in East Asia and South East Asia. However, it can be grown in other parts of the world manually by humans. It is easy to cultivate any of lemongrass plants, including citronella grass. Therefore can be easily grown in backyards and gardens. Citronella grass has proven its effectiveness and is the most used natural ingredient for mosquito repellents. Two most popular types of citronella grass are citronella geranium and citronella winterianus.
As already mentioned, citronella grass can be grown along pavements and in backyards. It will emit very specific citrusy smell and keep mosquitos and insects away. However, also oil can be subtracted from citronella grass, and further used in insect repellents. Citronella has a specific ability to masks smells and scents which attract insects, carbon dioxide and acid of humans. And not only it helps humans to fight mosquitos, citronella also can be helpful to animals when treating fleas. Citronella oil is widely used in insect repellent candles. These candles are a must in almost every garden party. They emit the same strong citrusy smell as the plant, but a lot more concentrated, therefore ensuring effectiveness.
Citronella mosquito plant is not only an effective insect repellent, but it also is very beneficial in other spheres too. It is used in medicine as it has an ability to relieve migraines, tension and even works as an anti-depressant. Citronella is also in medicines which reduce fevers and flu. Also, oil abstracted from citronella grass is used in household cleaning supplies. We can see that these natural oils have very wide variety of uses.
The only downfall to this specific kind of citronella mosquito plant is that it cannot withstand frosts and cold weather. But, it can be planted in direct sunlight, therefore for warmer and desert climates, it will be perfect.
Very similar plant to citronella is pelargonium citrosum, which is also known as a mosquito plant. Citrosa is advertised for its benefits and ability to protect against mosquitos, but in reality, it only has a specific aroma, similar to citronella, and it looks very similar. But this plant does not work great as a mosquito plant or mosquito repellent plant.
The geranium plant is a genus of plants, combining 422 different species of flowering plants. These plants differ in color, they can be found in white, blue, purple and pink colors. In nature, they are found in Mediterranean region and in mountains of tropic climates. This plant will grow in any soils as long as it is not waterlogged. They do prefer dry, sunny and warm weather. However, even if you are living in northern regions, you can still plant this flower inside. As long as the plant is not faced with frosts and cold weather, it will be easily cultivated and grown.
The geranium plant is also very popular among gardeners as an insect repelling plant due to its specific smell. It has a very specific lemon like smell, very similar to citronella, mentioned above. But in addition to its specific smell, geranium plants have beautiful bloom, which makes them not only efficient but also beautiful and decorative addition to your garden. This plant repels leafhoppers, the corn earworm and the Small White. Therefore geranium plant is not an anti-mosquito plant if you are concerned about getting rid of specific mosquitoes. But it is perfect if you are wanting to deter insects mentioned above.
Coleus plant is a flowering plant, popular for being brightly colored. Coleus plant is very sensitive and as most of the plants mentioned in this article, cannot withstand the cold and freezing weather. It is advised to place them outside in the garden for warm seasons and indoors for the winter seasons. Even if the night frosts have ended, you should still be careful, as coleus plant do prefer very warm weather, as it naturally grows in tropical parts of the world. Even smallest frosts can damage coleus. This flower-like plant is considered to like shade, however, some sunlight during the day is also necessary for it to be blooming. Therefore choose wisely, when considering placement of coleus plant. As long as you don’t let your plants dry out, it should adapt and be fine wherever you plant it. Just remember, avoid frosts and water regularly.
What is interesting, not only insects and pests are deterred by coleus plant, but also it works as cat repellent plant. It is advised to plant coleus in a garden so that cats don’t ruin flower beds and other plants. Coleus plant has a very specific smell, which is a bit unpleasant, for humans, it does not seem so harsh, but cats don’t like it, and will not go near this plant. Although coleus plant is one of natural mosquito repellent plants, it has gained its popular among gardeners because of its ability to deter cats from gardens.
Horsemint plant is not only beneficial and efficient but also a beautiful addition to everyone’s garden. They have beautiful blooms which come in expressive and bright colors, red, pink and purple. As many of the natural mosquito repelling plants, horsemint is also used in medicine. It is used for skin infections and to treat minor wounds, stomach, and bronchial illnesses. Horsemint plant is also known as bee balm, which is a natural component of many types of mouthwash, lip balms, and even in medicine which treats fever and headache. In addition, horsemint plants also are very beneficial to bees and butterflies.
The way how oil is subtracted from the plant is by crushing leaves and squeezing oil out of them. Oil obtained is very fragrant and spicy, with a very specific aroma. If you would taste it, it tastes somewhere in between peppermint, spearmint, and oregano. Unlike other plants that deter mosquitoes, which all have specific lemony scent and taste. This scent is unpleasant to many insects, therefore horsemint is one of the anti-mosquito plants which is used to ensure that your backyard is free of biting insects and you can enjoy your time outside.
It is not hard to grow horsemint plant, it is very fast-growing, and it can withstand shade and does not mind droughts. Therefore, if you have difficulty keeping your plants alive, but you still do want to have some in your garden, horsemint plant will be the right choice. It reaches the height and width of two to three feet. As it is naturally found in coastal and beach areas, horsemint plant will do well in saltier soils. And, moreover, horsemint plants can also be dried and used as an herbal tea, as it has a nice peppermint taste and has health beneficial qualities.
There are several grass-like plants, which are all decorative and used in landscaping, but they also do have some ability to deter insects. Therefore further I will be discussing some decorative plants, which also work as insect repellents.
Pampas grass has gained its popularity as a decorative piece in landscaping and architecture business. They are long, grass-like plants with blooms at the end, which vary in colors. They are so popular because, just like horsemint plants, they are extremely easy grown. However, before planting pampas grass, it should be noted that this plant reaches up to ten feet in height and grows extremely fast, invading your whole garden. It’s so fast growing, that in many places, pampas grass is even considered to be a weed, which is removed from gardens and flower beds. Therefore it can withstand even extreme weather conditions. Although its native habitat is Australia, nowadays pampas grass has spread all over the world and can be found in most regions of the world.
Pampas grass does not have specific spicy or very lemony smell as other plants that deter mosquitoes do and are mentioned in this article have. In addition, it does not deter mosquitoes and flying pests. It is not highly advertised that pampas grass is fighting insects and that insects do not like this plant, but it should be noted that insects do not enjoy this plant also. Even if it does not frighten off pests, pampas grass will ensure that they are not living in your garden, because pampas grass does not attract insects.
Tiger grass is very popular in Asia and in many parts of Nepal, India, Bhutan and Philippines. There this plant is used as a broom, which comes from long history and tradition. Also in many parts, if Asia tiger grass is used in culinary where its large leaves are used to wrap food in. This plant has been a part of Asian culture for centuries.
Firstly, tiger grass is a landscaping peace. It is used as a decorative element in order to create Thai and Balinese style gardens or tropical gardens. They also look great in large pots indoors. Nevertheless, these plants have beautiful flowers. Although tiger grass is very similar to pampas grass, it serves more as decorative element, rather than insect repellent plant.
Also, very similar grass-like plant to tiger grass is mondo grass. Mondo grass is a grass-like plant, with flowers in lilac color. This plant is extremely easy grown, as it is durable for various conditions. But, mondo grass does enjoy shade better that direct sunlight. It is also used as a decorative piece in your garden, for landscaping specialists, and it is considered to be one of the mosquito deterring plants, but their popularity is due to landscaping, and for a more efficient results, lemon grass or citronella would be the better option.
All of these plants are advised to be grown near walkways or outside sitting areas as a fence. Because, insects do not die from these plants, but also don’t tend to go near them. Such planting will create “grass plant fence” which will guard you from insects. However, this method will not be efficient for flying insects, as they can just fly over your fence.
As we have reached spring season when we start cultivating our gardens and planning layout of our landscapes. We should consider including some of the above-mentioned natural mosquito repellent plants like citronella grass and lemon grass plant in order to achieve insect free backyard. Instead of using chemical insect repellents, we can choose less toxic and eco-friendlier ways on how to deter mosquitoes from our gardens.
All plants discussed in this article will help you to keep mosquitoes away. Some of them are more efficient than other, but all of them have some ability to repel insects. But in order to get the best results, here are some tips on enhancing their natural repelling abilities.
Plant them near your patio, deck and any living space you spend a lot of time at, and next to entrances so that insects do not approach areas where you are spending a lot of time, or so that they do not enter your home. Lemon grass is the most popular plant to be used. But it is not only used as an outdoor insect repellent plant, because it can also be used for cooking, as some other of the plants also can be used as herbs in culinary. Also, many of these plants have beneficial qualities and are used in medicine for numerous illnesses. Some of them more serious and others not no much, for example, headache. Not to mention the use of lemon grass and citronella in beauty, as a part of aromatherapy or as a compound to beauty products.
But if you want to reach the maximum effectiveness, and make sure that insects will not be ruining your leisure time in a garden, here are some extra tips on how to ensure your garden is insect free. Firstly you should get rid of any still water standing around your garden, because insects and mosquitoes enjoy humid environment and breed in water. Getting rid of any water also implements that all outdoor faucets that are dripping should be fixed. Also if you have any birdbaths, you should clean them regularly to ensure that water is clean, because mosquitoes do not like clean water. In addition, whenever you have empty pots or containers, turn them upside down to ensure that water isn’t accumulating in them.
As we can sense that all insects and pests are very sensitive to certain smells and specific aromas. For example, citrusy aroma and very spicy scents. Therefore all these insects repelling plants have that in common. So if you do not want to spend a lot of time gardening, but still do prefer the natural insect repellent options, you can use products manufactured from these plants. You can also purchase garden candles that have citronella in them. These candles have gained extreme popularity as they are natural and do deter insects from your garden. Additionally, more and more natural sprays are available, without chemicals in them, manufactured from above mentioned insect deterring plants.
All in all, if you want to enjoy summer weather outside, but don’t want to be using chemicals to protect yourself from insects, there is a solutions. Explore the world of natural insect repellents, and you will be surprised of their large variety and efficiency.