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Keep Those Mosquitoes at Bay!

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Your garden can help eliminate the pests that keep you indoors

 It’s been a relatively mild year as far as mosquitoes are concerned, but that doesn’t mean a big hatch isn’t coming. Did you know there are a variety of plants you can add to your landscape that not only offer beauty and scent to your outdoor surroundings, but that also repel mosquitoes?

Citronella, for example, is not just an additive to candles and oil torches: this wonderfully aromatic disguise, which can help keep mosquitos from smelling your presence, comes from a gorgeous, clumping grass that can grow five to six feet in height.

In our area, citronella grass is a container plant, as it won’t survive the cold winter weather. Find a spot in full sun for a large pot or two, and don’t forget to bring the plant inside before frost hits in the fall.

Catnip will not only keep your felines happy around the house, it’s also been found to be up to ten times more effective than DEET for repelling mosquitos. Catnip, part of the mint family,  is a relatively easy plant to grow if you can keep cats away long enough for the plant to establish itself. It’s a perennial herb related to the mint family, and likes full sun, though it can stand a little shade. You can crush catnip leaves and apply directly to your body for an added repellent boost but beware: cats are as attracted to the scent on you as they are to the plant when it’s growing.

Basil will not only provide you fresh goodness in your kitchen, it also works as a mosquito repellent, particularly some of the varieties with a stronger aroma, like cinnamon and lemon. Basil likes well drained soil, so if you’re planting it in pots, make sure you have plenty of drainage. And like roses, the more you prune it, the faster it will grow. Prune frequently and you’ll find yourself with some monster plants to boost your spaghetti sauce and keep the critters away from your tender skin.

Lavender is another multi-purpose plant that keeps mosquitoes away. Growing up to four feet high, this is an excellent planting for around seating areas, and in the fall, dried flowers can be used for many purposes.

Marigolds offer so many benefits to the gardener that you might not know their smell also repels mosquitoes. Marigolds are readily available and easy to grow so it’s worth sticking them around in every spot you can find for them. 

Marigolds contain pyrethrum, but did you know you can also grow pyrethrum itself? This is a well-known mosquito repellent that offers a beautiful flower as a bonus. (It looks like a daisy—in fact, a common name for it is the painted daisy.) Pyrethrum can also tolerate a little (not a lot) shade, and is a hardy perennial that comes in several colors.

Mosquitoes are not only annoying, but carry viruses (like West Nile) that can cause serious illness. Putting out a few plants can not only beautify your yard and garden, but offer important protection against these critters.

Nancy Hastings grew up on a 300+ acre farm and now is co-owner of All Seasons Garden & Floral in Sandpoint,  She and her husband John have been cultivating community gardens and growing for 16 years in North Idaho.  You can reach them with garden questions or sign up for classes at allseasonsgardenandfloral@gmail.com.

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Nancy Hastings Nancy Hastings grew up on a 300+ acre farm and is co-owner of All Seasons Garden and Floral in Sandpoint, She and her husband John have been cultivating community gardens and growing for 15 years in North Idaho. You can reach them with garden questions or sign up for classes atllseasonsgardenandfloral(at)gmail.com.

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Get Growing, mosquitoes, basil, catnip, citronella, lavendar, marigolds

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