There’s nothing quite like a balmy summer evening to sit outside and relax with friends, perhaps dining al fresco or enjoying a cool drink as the sun sets. Unfortunately, that’s exactly when the mosquitoes come out for their evening meal, too. If you’re not careful, you can become their walking snack bar!
Fortunately, there are several plants with insect-repelling properties, and if you add them to your garden, you can keep bugs at bay while enjoying your beautiful new landscaping. Try these five plants near your porch, patio or fire pit to drive pests away from your party.
1. Bay Laurel
This plant does double-duty as a culinary herb and useful insect repellent. Glossy leaves are evergreen in warmer climates, but you may need to bring yours indoors for winter here in Kansas City. Plant this small shrub in a pot for the patio and water regularly until established. Bay laurel needs full sun, and leaves can be dried and used in cooking.
Good for: containers and kitchen gardens
Repels: flies, mice, mosquitoes and roaches
Scientists have found that catnip is more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, and you can grow this relative of mint in your garden in full sun or partial shade — afternoon shade will be welcome during a hot KC summer. Water regularly but allow the soil to dry out between waterings. In places where it’s happy, catnip can become a bit invasive, so try planting it in a container if you’re concerned. If you think catnip looks a bit too weedy, try a decorative catmint instead.
Good for: containers that you can move as needed
Repels: mosquitoes (but attracts cats!)
True citronella is a tall, clumping grass that grows only in locations without freezing temperatures, but it can be moved inside to wait out a Kansas City winter. Try planting it in a large container for maximum impact — just make sure you put it on a little scooter or wheeled tray so you can move it indoors easily so it isn’t killed by freezing weather. Keep the container in full sun and water generously throughout the summer. Note the citronella-scented geraniums smell the same, but won’t actually repel any bloodsuckers.
Good for: large planters on wheels
Tall spikes of purple flowers and its signature scent are both good reasons to plant lavender near your patio. This drought-tolerant Mediterranean staple prefers full sun and can take the heat once it’s established, and it’s perfect for planting in the landscape. Lavender thrives in poor soil, so fertilizer isn’t necessary. Keep watered until established and prune after summer flowering to prevent woodiness.
Good for: forming a very low hedge or in mixed plantings in a perennial border
Repels: moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes
5. Sweet Woodruff
A natural fly repellent, sweet woodruff is a low-growing ground cover for shady areas. This Medieval “strewing herb” has always been valued for its scent, which is similar to vanilla or mown hay as it dries. Sweet woodruff will spread in a shady spot if you provide it plenty of water, and it rewards gardeners with tiny white flowers in mid-spring.
Good for: shady spots under trees and shrubs
Repels: fleas and flies
No matter where your patio is located, you should be able to find a plant that works in your landscape or in containers to help keep away summertime pests. Add few of these plants to your landscape this summer and see if you can enjoy more time outdoors — without any unwanted guests.
But if your pest problem is a little out of hand, or if you’re seeing creepy crawlies inside your home, we recommend you call Six Brothers Pest Control. They’re your best bet for solving the problem once and for all!