I’ve seen articles and social media posts about outdoor potted plants that can repel mosquitoes.
If you just plant these by your patio, you won’t be bothered by blood sucking visitors.
If only that were true.
Because there’s no evidence that certain plants can keep insects from biting you.
It is true that certain plant based essential oils may help repel mosquitoes. Possibly rubbing leaves from these plants may do the same.
But there’s no evidence that potted plants themselves can keep bugs away.
Still, the notion persists that putting certain plants outdoors or indoors protects you from mosquitoes.
I can’t even tell you how many social media posts I’ve seen, pushing the idea that certain plants in your backyard can keep you bug free.
Unfortunately, these posts had a lot of shares. Some of them were from me. (Because I didn’t do my research before sharing a nice looking graphic, created by someone else.)
So I’m guilty as charged.
Can Outdoor Plants Repel Mosquitoes?
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But I want to set the record straight. Now, I’ve done the research.
There is no evidence that aromatic plants can keep mosquitoes from sucking your blood.
So go ahead and plant them if you like these plants. If you think they look pretty.
Citronella is an attractive plant that looks hardy.
But don’t expect garden plants to keep you mosquito free.
However, it is true that plants contain compounds that can repel insects.
This is something that’s proven by science.
But, in this case, it’s highly concentrated plant extracts, or essential oils.
Essential oils are the power behind all natural plant based mosquito sprays.
They are also what make DIY mosquito repellents work.
Because plants themselves contain natural insecticides. (Otherwise, they would be eaten alive.)
One of the more popular aromatics used in natural mosquito formulas is citronella essential oil.
A study published in the Tropical Medicine and International Health journal found that citronella oil did protect against the species of mosquito that carries the Zika virus.
However, alone, it wasn’t as effective as DEET. Adding vanillin extract to the citronella made it more effective. But more research is needed.
Outdoor Plants To Repel Mosquitoes?
Bottom line with citronella. Talk to your doctor about mosquito protection if you are pregnant, live in a high risk area, will travel to one or if you have any concerns about mosquito-born illness.
Otherwise, you can use citronella as an essential oil to keep the backyard bugs away.
Here’s an earlier post on how to make your own Citronella Essential Oil Bug Spray, with vanilla essential oil added.
(Citronella candles are often burned for the same purpose. But I’d rather either put diluted citronella oil on my skin or put it in a cold air diffuser. Most modern candle are made from paraffin, a petroleum by product.)
Lemon eucalyptus essential oil is another plant based ingredient often used in natural mosquito products. This essential oil contains no lemon. Instead, it’s derived from the Australian Corymbia citriodora tree.
Like citronella oil, lemon eucalyptus oil is also registered by the Environmental Protection Agency as a mosquito repellent, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Entomology.
The UWM noted that eucalyptus lemon showed the longest lasting results of any plant-based repellent.
For More Reading
Citronella Essential Oil and Mosquito Bites
UWM Article On Mosquito Products
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Pregnant women should not use natural remedies unless under medical direction.