Chemical insect repellants are so 2009. They can be smelly, harmful and ineffective. You can do less harm to yourself, the environment and your garden by repelling biting, stinging insects the old-fashioned way – with plants.
Cats are the only ones who like catnip – this tried-and-true plant is also great for repelling mosquitoes. Scientists from Iowa State University discovered catnip’s repellant properties don’t know why catnip affects mosquitoes the way that it does, but they say that the plant “is ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes as DEET, which is used in most commercial insect repellants,” according to sciencedaily.com.
But before you plant catnip, here’s a caveat - catnip can self-seed, meaning it can take over an area if not maintained. It can also grow to about 4 feet tall and drives neighborhood cats crazy, so plant it where you can control it.
Gomestic.com recommends adding a splash of warm tones of yellow and orange to your garden by planting marigold. Not only are marigolds delightful to the eye, the scent is known to repel mosquitoes. The marigold is also useful when planted as a companion to crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, says ehow.com, because they also repel parasitic aphids and nematodes.
Another favorite of gardeners is lavender, which is among the most versatile and useful of all garden plants. Not only does it discourage fleas and mosquitoes, it protects your clothing from moths. Lavender flowers beautifully and smells divine, but it takes a little bit more dedication to get it established, says gardenguides.com. A good lavender plant takes about three years to root, but once it does, it’s virtually drought resistant.
There are many more plants that help deter stinging, biting bugs. Basil is a good companion to plant with tomatoes. It improves the flavor of the tomatoes with the added benefit of repelling both flies and mosquitoes, according to www.homeandgardensite.com.
From the mint family is lemon balm. Sprinkle lemon balm around squash plants to deter squash bugs, and you can also rub the leaves on your skin for a natural mosquito repellant.
By planting any of these you will be taking huge steps to make your time spent outdoors this year much more enjoyable. And before you know it your home will become the cool place where friends and family will want to come hang out and smell the…lavender.