Lots of rain translates to heavy insect populations, and we have had plenty of rain. To sum this up, watch out for the mosquitoes this year!
Lemon-scented plants contain citronella and are believed to be natural mosquito repellents. Grow these plants in the ground or in pots around your deck, entrance, and other outside living areas.
However, the efficacy of these plants is only when the foliage is brushed or rubbed, releasing the scent into the air. There is also some speculation on whether it really works, but they are pleasant smelling and attractive additions to the garden and patio.
Hardy Perennials –
Lemon Thyme is a small plant with small leaves. Growing about 12 x 12″, it contains the highest concentration of citronella. The variegated form of Lemon Thyme is a favorite of ours to use in mixed containers. LLL
Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family. It spreads by seed, unlike it’s aggressive cousin (peppermint) which spreads by roots. Popping up throughout the garden, it is easy to pull if unwanted. Lemon balm grows up to 18″ tall and 2-3 feet wide. Use as an insect repellent on your skin instead of DEET. LLL
Non-Hardy Lemony Herbs –
Lemon Grass is commonly used in Thai cooking. It adds a nice texture to the summer landscape. Grow in the ground (but it won’t be back next year) or in pots on the patio. This attractive grass gets about 3′ tall by summer’s end. LL
Citronella Plant is actually a scented geranium. Other scented geraniums offer other scents (rose, lime, nutmeg) which also offer some insect-repelling qualities, but the one most lemon-y is labeled Citronella or Citrosa Plant. These plants have beautiful leaves and occasionally flower. Best grown in a 6 or 8″ pot on the deck. Easy to keep over the winter and move back outside in the spring. L
Lemon Eucalyptus leaves remind one of harsher climates, like Texas or Australia. Growing about 24-30″ in just one summer, it has the highest citronella concentration of all the non-hardy repellent plants. LLL
Lemon Verbena is a tender perennial (may come through a very mild winter) with panicles of small white flowers and lemon-scented foliage. It grows upright to about 18-24″ tall. L
Level of Citronella in the leaves when crushed or rubbed:
LLL – the highest level
LL – moderate level
L – low level
Don’t forget that other herbs repel many types of insects:
Mint, Oregano, Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, and Thyme are commonly used to repel many types of insects in the garden.