It’s January, so I would imagine you are wondering why I’m writing about mosquitos. I’m already dreading them. We have had a mild winter so far, and rain, rain, rain. Rain is forecast AGAIN this weekend and the high is 68. We need a good cold snap to kill them. Mosquitos are terrible in my yard, and anything I can use in my arsenol of weapons against them I will. I don’t want to spray or fog my yard because I’m afraid it may harm bees and other pollinators. My chickens roam freely, and I have a concern it could also affect them. There may be natural sprays out there, but at this point, I have chosen not pursue that route. We have a huge yard, and I can only imagine how much it would cost. Plus, you would have to do it every year, or maybe more often.
One natural way is to choose plants that are known to repel insects. Lemon balm is one of my favorites. It contains a compound called citronellal that mosquitos and other insects dislike. It has a great lemony smell, so don’t worry about it not smelling good to humans. There is one variety that I have found called Citronella lemon balm that contains about 36% more of the compound so it has a little stronger ability to repel.
You can’t expect just one plant to do the trick, however. You need to use several plants or use a combination of plants such as lavender, marigolds, garlic, pennyroyal, and catnip to name a few. I like to plant several pots and place them in areas where we sit. On the patio, and the deck are great choices. You could also plant them beside the porch or pool. To get the benefit while you are gardening, plant alongside vegetables, tuck a few pots in the flower bed, or place several pots by your favorite chair where you rest. Lemon balm will grow well in partial shade.
Citronella Lemon Balm, like other mints, spreads easily. If planted directly into the garden, you can either let it run, and pull up as necessary, or plant the pot directly into a hole into ground up to the rim. Older lemon balm plants often get tough roots which are difficult to pull up. This lemon balm is planted directly in my garden next to the patio. I have to keep it pulled up and I put it on the compost pile so that it won’t spread all over the yard.
I have several plants in pots. This way I can control the spread, and I like to move my plants around during the year. Since Citronella Lemon Balm is supposed to help repel mosquitoes and biting flies, I have placed one directly at the bottom of the deck steps on the patio. As I start out into the yard, I can grab a few of the leaves and crush them to rub directly on my skin. I rub it on my neck , arms, and around my ankles.
Lemon balm is easy to grow and pretty much maintenance free. I place mine in sunny spots, and it does well in shade. If you plant it in a container, you will need to water more often. You can also pinch it back to keep it bushy, because it will start to get leggy as it attempts to spread out.
As you are planning your garden, consider choosing lemon balm and other insect repelling plants to make your gardening bug free.
Happy Bug Free Gardening!
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