Let's face it - the British summer doesn't necessarily have everything going for it, but up until recently we never needed to worry about mosquito repellent plants. Because, yes, with warmer weather comes more of these biting pests. So if you've been finding itchy bites on your legs after an evening in the garden, you're not alone.
We're not usually ones to have our garden ideas dictated by something so irritating, but Public Health England confirms there are more than 30 species of mosquito native to the British isles. While not all of these bite, it's not worth simply hoping your space doesn't have the ones that do.
Mosquito repellent plants
'There’s nothing better than enjoying balmy summer evenings spent outdoors, but the dreaded mosquito can soon put an end to your enjoyment,' says Daniel Carruthers, Grow Your Own Expert, Cultivar Greenhouses.
'Luckily, there are several types of plants that can help to naturally deter these pests, while also smelling and looking wonderful in your garden.'
So while we've recently found out that citronella candles don't repel mosquitoes - at least, any more than regular candles, the gardening experts still recommend the plant as a natural deterrent.
'Oils from citronella plants are commonly used within store-bought products to deter mosquitoes,' says Steve Chilton, gardening expert for LeisureBench. 'We recommend incorporating multiple citronella grasses around your garden, as not only do they help to deter mosquitoes but they provide a beautiful lemon scent, perfect for summer.'
The citrusy scent of the citronella plant masks other scents that attract mosquitoes, so it doesn't actively repel them, it can certainly help reduce the problem.
Mint does more than just pimp up your Pimms - it's actually one of the most useful mosquito repellent plants to keep in mind for your garden.
'The smell of mint oils can make certain mosquitoes go ‘nose-blind’ because of its potency, making it a great choice for keeping mosquitoes away as they will actively avoid going near it,' says Jamie Shipley, Gardening Expert and Managing Director, Hedges Direct.
Place pots of mint around your garden and not only will you be able to up the flavour of your weekly dinners, you'll be helping keep pesky mosquitoes away. Plus, you can grow mint from cuttings, making this a real budget-friendly hack.
Though many of use lavender to sleep better thanks to its calming and relaxing scent, mosquitoes are not a fan.
'Simply place an array of lavender plants in different spots throughout your garden to help deter the mosquitoes this summer,' says gardening expert Steve.
'Rubbing lavender on bare skin is a proven prevention method for mosquito bites, but if you do happen to get bitten it can also act as a natural remedy by removing the irritating itch.' Looks like learning how to grow lavender could be time well spent!
The fresh smell of eucalyptus is not favourable with mosquitoes, so if you're wanting to keep your arms and legs free of bites and enjoy your garden well into the evening, it's definitely worth getting your hands on this plant. Try this Eucalyptus Gunnii 'Baby Blue' in a 13cm Pot, £19.99 at Amazon, as the hard work has been done for you and simply add the plant to your garden border ideas to keep mozzies at bay.
These bright yellow and orange flowers can do more than add a pop of colour to your garden. Experts recommend planting marigolds sporadically throughout your outdoor space, as they emit a smell that repels mosquitoes.
There's plenty of marigold plants available at Amazon if this flower isn't yet part of your garden plant collection.
The aroma of fresh basil is a pleasant scent associated with Mediterranean summers, but thankfully, mosquitoes are not keen and they're more likely to leave your garden if it's planted there. Learning how to grow basil from shop bought is beginner-friendly too, so there's no excuse not to add this herb to your garden and keep all those tiny flies away.
Rosemary is another of the best plants that deter mosquitoes, and again, it's thanks to the scent. 'A good way to keep mosquitoes away is by sprinkling rosemary seeds around your yard,' says Jordan Foster, Pest Technician, at Fantastic Pest Control. 'Rosemary is a herb we are all familiar with, and its woody scent is exactly what keeps mosquitoes and other flying bugs away.'
You can learn how to propagate rosemary for free, or you can try this Ready to Plant Rosemary Bush, £9.99 at Amazon if you're looking for an easy option.
The strong herby scent of lemongrass is another one that mosquitoes aren't fond of. Along with mint, lavender and rosemary, lemongrass is up there with one of the smells mozzies hate the most. Incorporate pots of lemongrass into your patio ideas, and place them strategically at entrance points to the garden, and the number of mosquitoes in your garden will plunge.
What smells do mosquitoes hate the most?
'Mosquitoes are the most deterred by smells of lavender, citronella, peppermint, basil, eucalyptus, lemongrass and rosemary,' says James Shipley from Hedges Direct. 'This is because they each contain smells that mosquitoes don’t like and don’t respond to well, such as linalool and geraniol.'
The strong scent of these herbs and plants naturally repel mosquitoes and keep them at bay. They're often used in synthetic mosquito repellents. If your mozzie problem is really bad, try using a combination of plants and candles, sprays, and lotions.
The Jungle Formula Maximum Aerosol Repellent, £9.99 at Amazon, is a tried and tested favourite, and coupled with the plants that deter mosquitoes, is sure to keep these pests away.
Does anything actually repel mosquitoes?
Yes, there are measures and methods that will actually repel mosquitoes! The first thing you should do is make sure there isn't any standing water in your garden. Mosquitoes have to have access to water, so they'll fly away quicker if there isn't any around.
'Don't leave pet bowls, furniture, candle holders, or other items where water can collect,' says pest technician Jordan. 'Keep your gutters well-maintained and clean as well.'
Mowing the lawn regularly can also help keep mosquitoes away. 'The full sun can cause mosquitoes to dehydrate, so they prefer tall grass and shrubs where they can hide,' Jordan explains. 'Trim bushes around seating areas so the insects won't have a place to wait for you.'
So keeping a clean and tidy garden, and adding some (or all) of the plants that deter mosquitoes is definitely going to help repel these pests.
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Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.
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