Do Mosquito-fighting Plants Exist?
June 26, 2011 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Perhaps this is the Holy Grail of pest control but: does anyone have first-hand experience of plants that really, truly repel mosquitoes?

I am a member of a lovely community garden in Brooklyn, NY that has a hateful, horrible mosquito problem. I am looking for plants we could incorporate into our garden that have natural mosquito-repelling properties. I've researched citronella, geranium grass, and a few others but the consensus seems to be that the plant must be crushed and applied to the skin to be effective. Louise Riotte suggested castor beans; has anyone tried that? I'm looking for first-hand anecdota about these plants and any other info about mosquito-repelling plants that may exist. (I've looked through the other pest threads here, and we are working already on bathouses and the standing water issue.)

My fellow gardeners and my bitten-to-pieces feet thank you!
posted by sideofwry to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Citronella plants do help a little bit, in my experience. Growing castor beans is a bad bad bad idea in my opinion - it's incredibly toxic and is used to make ricin.
posted by deadmessenger at 1:45 PM on June 26, 2011

Have you tried marigolds? I planted marigolds last week and haven't been bitten since. I'm kind of excited about this "discovery" ;) I looked online last week and researched any and all natural ways to keep mosquitoes from biting you. Keeping gutters clean, getting rid of standing water, lighting citronella, burning wood, and marigolds were the suggestions I kept seeing over and over. I use a citronella spray on my clothes but was also looking for things to plant.

So last weekend I scored 72 well established Marigolds for 15.00, and I planted them all around my patio in pots and in the ground. Supposedly they hate the smell. It's been working like a charm so far. It really is. And you can collect the seeds at the end of the fall and plant from seed every year.

Also, try a bat house.
posted by iconomy at 1:47 PM on June 26, 2011

How to Use Mosquito Plants.

though used for topical purposes, most of these plants help.
Rosemary and catnip i am told work ok
posted by clavdivs at 1:55 PM on June 26, 2011

As I understand it the best thing you can do is eliminate standing water (no pools or puddles that last longer than a couple of days). The mosquito larvae need to spend a week or so in still water.

Encouraging mosquito-predators like bats and dragonflies, or keeping carnivorous plants like sundews or Venus' flytraps, ought to help, but from what I've read they're not going to eliminate a mosquito problem— they might put a dent in it though.

You can also use mosquito larvicides like Bt.
posted by hattifattener at 2:41 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Correction: This! is the holy grail of Pest Control.

I don't think it is available at the retail level though. :-(
posted by Homo economicus at 3:43 PM on June 26, 2011

Merrigolds are good at reducing pests in your garden in general, they are also pretty capable in small spaces, so you can put them in between plants that will yield actual produce.

But reiterating what others have said, make sure there isn't any standing water around in the immediate vicinity and you will do a lot of to make sure that you get bitten less frequently, mosquitoes do not travel much.
posted by BobbyDigital at 6:45 AM on June 27, 2011

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