Do not miss the 7th Nyack Film Festival this weekend! Screening local independent short as well as feature films for four days. For a schedule and to buy tickets in advance, please visit
6 Herbs For Repelling Mosquitoes
The nasty, biting mosquitoes will be back among us before you know it. And I've never been a fan of the commercial bug repellents because of the chemicals (i.e. DEET) they contain. So, for the past few years, I have found myself using these 6 plants that repel biting bugs and am quite happy with the results -- as well as the look and smell your garden will take on.
1. Lemon Balm has a lovely scent and pretty, bushy leaves. It is a member of the mint family but, rather than having a minty fresh scent, it has a strong lemony aroma, similar to lemon verbena and citronella. In addition to repelling bugs, it has been reported to improve digestion, promote relaxation, alleviate stress and anxiety, help blisters and cold sores (by crushing the leaves and applying to the affected area), and it attracts bees and butterflies. How to use it: crush the fresh leaves and rub them directly on your skin, especially around ankles, arms, and other areas most exposed and vulnerable to bug bites. You can use the leaves like a wipe. Grow it in full sun or partial shade, kept in moist, well-drained soil. If you plant it in your garden (instead of in a pot), be aware that it is invasive and will spread like a weed.
2. Citronella is sort of “the original” for bug repelling, with a powerful lemony scent. It’s used in many commercial bug repellents and candles. Planted in your garden, however, it can be a skin irritant. It’s also not quite as portable as lemon balm or the others listed below. It’s a grass-like plant that grows up to 6 feet tall! If you decide to plant citronella, make sure you get the varieties Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus
3. Studies suggest that Catnip may be even more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET (the ingredient used in most commercial bug repellents, which is highly toxic). It also repels cockroaches, an attribute that many of us living in urban areas can certainly appreciate. It can be used similarly to lemon balm; crushed and rubbed onto the skin. A word of caution to cat owners: watch where you plant your catnip! Your cat may want to roll around on it and play with it. Plant catnip apart from the rest of your garden so your cat doesn’t accidentally damage any other plants nearby.
4. Marigolds repel mosquitoes and other garden pests! Marigolds keep bugs away from the vegetables. I used to plant them around my roses to keep the Japanese Beetles at bay (when I lived in an area that had been invaded by Japanese Beetles.) The flowers are edible as well, and add color and flavor to salads or can be a gorgeous garnish when you want to dress up a dish.
5. Lavender can be grown around the house and garden to keep bugs away. It’ll grow inside too, if you keep it next to a sunny window. Lavender has a lovely scent, pretty purple flowers and calming properties as well, so it’s a charming addition to your garden or home for many reasons.
6. Biting bugs don’t like the scent of Peppermint, so you can crush up the leaves and rub it on your skin to ward them off. As an added bonus, peppermint also can also do double-duty as itch relief if you do get bitten!
Enjoy the warm months ahead and get those planters filled up with bug-repelling plants and herbs!
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