Texas Living

Keep Mosquitos Away With a Citronella Garden

By Leslie Finical Halleck 7.31.13

This time of year we all wish for a garden free from those pesky little mosquitoes. Evenings on the patio would be so nice without them. While prevention is always key to pest control, there are a few gardening tricks — like incorporating Citronella plants — you can use to discourage adult mosquitos if they happen to make an appearance.

Now, I won’t promise that adding mosquito-repelling plants to your garden will solve the problem entirely, but it can certainly help.

There are several plants with known mosquito-repelling properties and all are fairly easy to grow in Texas.

Citronella Plants

The market is overloaded with citronella products; candles, scent sticks, and topical lotions. But have you ever grown real citronella plants? It is a clumping grass that emits a scent that masks mosquito attractants.

Basically, the citronella plants make it harder for the mosquitoes to find you within several feet of the plant. These grasses are great for planting around a sunny patio or in large containers. Look for Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus.

Beebalm and Marigolds Too

Beebalm, or Monarda sp., is a great Texas native herb that also happens to be a decent mosquito repellent. Like citronella, its scent masks that of common mosquito hosts. This colorful sun perennial grows to be 2 to 3 feet tall and tolerates dry soils. You can make tea from the leaves and it’s a good food source for bees and butterflies.

If you like the classic marigold, then you are in luck. Place pots of this colorful annual around your patio or entryways to help repel mosquitoes from your favorite lounging spot. Marigolds have a fragrance that mosquitoes don’t like. Hey, some gardeners don’t even like it!

Catnip? Yes!

A favorite in my garden, Catnip is a perennial herb with powerful repellant properties. This mint relative is easy to grow in a part-sun-part-shade location or in containers. Again, plants emit a fragrance that will repel nearby mosquitoes. You can even crush some of the leaves around your patio. But, you may also invite some visitors of the feline persuasion…

Again, prevention is always best. Put natural anti-mosquito products made of BTI, which kills mosquito larvae, commonly called Mosquito Bits, down around your foundation, plantings, irrigation drains, and other moist areas in your landscape. Mosquito Dunks should be floated in creeks, ponds, or fountains. Combine this preventative strategy with these beautiful garden plants and you’ve got a great mosquito-beating combination.

Now that you’ve guaranteed your garden will be pest-free, make sure it grows with a few watering tips.