What is the #1 plant you should grow in your garden and in pots on your patio or deck to keep the mosquitoes at bay all summer?
Answer: Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus).
Lemongrass contains citronella, a natural oil that repels mosquitoes. It is an ornamental grass that reaches 2 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide in one growing season. Typically grown as an annual. Hardy to Zone 10, where it is a perennial. It has fragrant narrow green leaves. Grow in average, well-drained soil and full sun. It tolerates some light shade. Makes a good container plant. Lemongrass is often used in Southeast Asian cuisine for its lemony flavor.
Other safe, eco-friendly ways to keep mosquitoes at bay:
- Plant catnip, rosemary and pennyroyal. These herbs contain other oils that repel mosquitoes. Pennyroyal is also disliked by fleas and ticks.
- Plant marigolds, which stave off a number of flying insects.
- Create environments for mosquito predators, such as frogs, dragonflies, bats and birds (especially purple martins).
- Mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant water. Dump out the water that collects in the saucers of outdoor containers.
- Replace water in birdbaths at least twice a week.
- Fix outdoor water faucets that drip or leak.
- If you keep your wheelbarrow and/or empty pots outside, place them upside down so that water doesn’t collect in them.
- Mow the lawn regularly and keep weeds pulled or cut short.
Want more organic alternatives to chemical sprays? Check out: Natural Alternatives for You and Your Home, The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control, and Organic Pest Control for Home & Garden