Our weather has finally turned around and decided to be the spring we are waiting for! And that means we are all finalizing our plant shopping lists and heading out to the greenhouses. The smell of dirt as you walk into the greenhouse for the first time of the season is the best cure for the winter blahs!
After doing some research, my plant shopping list is going to be a bit different this year. My aim this is to buy plants that repel or discourage insects in our yards and gardens as I am a human magnet for mosquitos and if I can plant something to help with that I am all in!
Lavender is one of my favorites and little did I realize that the smell is offensive to mosquitoes. Plant it in pots or in the garden near doors, windows and patio areas. Peppermint, research has shown, offers repellent action when applied to exposed skin. Mosquito larvae were killed within 24 hours after exposure to a solution of peppermint oil and water. Garlic is another aromatic plant that will keep those rascals away and you will have your own supply of garlic to add to your cooking. Rosemary is not only a great flowering plant that you can keep indoors or outdoors, the piney scent of rosemary will run the mosquitos away. When you want to gather around your fire pit, toss some of the leaves into the fire and the aromatic smoke it gives off adds a nice aroma for us, but it is strong and unpleasant to the insects. Scented geraniums are also a good one to grow near your patio area. The lemon scented variety is most effective and is similar to citronella. Catnip is another good one to grow and your cat will love it. It contains an odorous essential oil called nepetalactone that attracts cats but is more powerful than the insect repellant, Deet, in warding off mosquitos. Lemon Balm is another perennial that has a fragrant lemon scent and also has a hint of mint. It has white flowers in the summer and attracts pollinators and drives away insects. An old flowering staple in the garden, marigolds have a smell that we all can relate to. The smell comes from the substance called pyrethrum and is unappealing, especially to mosquitos. Basil is another herb that has a pungent smell that deters pests. You think of growing basil for use in pesto and tomato-based dishes, but it has another purpose of helping to ward off those pesky flying insects. Lastly, we are all aware of citronella that is widely advertised in mosquito repelling products. Citronella is a beautiful perennial grass that grows in clumps 5 to 6 feet tall and gives off a strong odor. It is easy to grow in your yard and the scent is more powerful than the repellents that you can buy.
I hope this will add some new plants to your shopping list, as if gardeners need a reason to buy more plants!