Growing dual-purpose edible plants that keep away mosquitoes is beneficial and practical. From the annoyance of buzzing in your ears to the threat of Zika and West Nile, mosquitos are troublesome. I believe the same principles apply to kitchen appliances as they do in the garden: stick with multi-taskers. Plants that keep away mosquitoes and provide food, for both wildlife and humans, are ideal for homesteading today. In addition to tasting great and reducing the mosquito population, they provide us with the viable option of not using harmful chemicals to repel those bloodsuckers.
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Plants That Keep Away Mosquitoes
By growing catnip you will simultaneously attract kitties and repel biting insects. Ingredients derived from catnip, which contain nepetalactone, were first used commercially in 2009 as an insect repellent bio-pesticide. The researchers at the time said that the refined oil repels a broad range of biting insects with similar effects of the synthetic ingredients found in DEET. Another plus is that catnip is an undemanding plant that does well in arid and harsh conditions.
Eating garlic may not rid your homestead of vampire-esque insects, but growing garlic around your property might. Garlic sprays and teas can also help with other pests such as nematodes, Japanese beetles and mites.
Having a lavender plant on your porch or a sea of purple in your backyard will repel mosquitoes as well as flies and moths. The attractive scent may reduce the overall population of mosquitoes but is most effective when rubbed on the skin, like many of the plants on the list. Lavender plants do best in warm areas with full sun and well-draining soil.
Thyme plant, especially lemon varieties, can repel mosquitoes when applied directly on the skin. Lemon thyme is a perennial in Zones 7 to 9 and does best in dryer, well-drained soil. Although it looks like English thyme, it tastes like lemons and its small leaves form vigorously.
It’s easy to tell that with its strong aroma lemon balm can help deter mosquitoes. I thought I was truly adept at growing this plant until I read that it can grow so aggressively that it is considered an invasive in some gardens. A member of the mint family, another group of plants that keep away mosquitoes, lemon balm can be dried and used as an herbal tea.
Growing basil is not only a great companion plant for tomatoes, its subtle peppery, slightly sweet aroma can also be used to deter pests. By pouring a half a cup of boiling water over a generous cup of fresh leaves you can create your own mosquito repellent. Once steeped for three to four hours, add a half a cup of vodka. Pour the strained liquid into a spray bottle for easy application.
Citronella oil is extracted from several species of edible lemon grass, another family of plants that keep away mosquitoes. Lemon grass can be planted along walkways to be easily bumped into to release its fragrance. Growing lemongrass in your yard may not be enough to deter mosquitoes. Make a spray similar to the basil brew and applying it several times throughout your outdoor excursion is recommended.
Peppermint repels mosquitoes, and if you are bitten, a popular peppermint plant use is a natural bite relief. By crushing the leaves over the bite, the minty oils overload the pain and itching.
Tansy, with its golden yellow button flowers, can be used for mosquitoes and fleas. Grabbing a handful of leaves and rubbing them on your exposed arms and legs can help deter the biting pests. Used in the middle ages as a scent to disguise nasty odors, tansy is easy to grow from seed. My germination rate was very high this year and now the plants are towering over the other herbs in my garden.
The leaves of wild bergamot are edible and can be used fresh in salads or prepared with cooked food. The tea, which is often sweetened, is used as a natural remedy for colds and the flu. When using it as an insect repellent, dilute the solution to reduce the chance of skin irritation.
A common companion plant, borage can also help fight mosquitoes. Borage tea, made out of dried leaves, can be used as a stimulant. Borage in addition to deterring pests, attracts beneficial insects such as bees and predatory insects. Borage grows quickly and self-seeds.
The rosemary plant can be smudged or used in a spray application to repel mosquitoes. Rosemary’s roots, stalks, and leaves can be used in smudges. To really deter the bloodsuckers you will have to stay close to the smoke. To create a spray, boil one cup of dried leaves for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain into a half gallon container and top of with cold water. This repellent can be used directly on the skin and is safe for pets.
What edible plants that keep away mosquitoes have you had success with?