Enjoying your garden or backyard can be difficult when you have to deal with mosquitoes. Mosquito swarms are worse if you live in a humid climate or near a standing body of water. Rather than reaching for that bottle of insect spray or mosquito repellant, consider growing mosquito-repelling plants in your outdoors instead. Many commercial products may contain harmful chemicals, so using plants to protect your family from pests are a safer and more natural alternative. Here are some easy-to-grow plants that will help keep those pesky mosquitoes away.

1. Citronella

Citronella is a type of geranium plant with a strong scent that drives away mosquitoes. It is such an effective mosquito repellant that citronella oil is used to manufacture scented candles and insecticides.

This plant can be grown easily in frost-free climate zones. In cooler areas, it can be grown in a pot or container and moved indoors during winter. Citronella can grow up to 5-6 feet in height, so if you plan to grow some in the garden or near the porch, situate it behind decorative flowers and shrubs. Full grown citronella plants are available at garden shops for about two to three dollars.

Citronella is a low maintenance plant that is best grown in spring. Plant it in well-drained soil, make sure it gets plenty of sun, and fertilize it with nitrogen-rich fertilizer. You can place it in colorful ceramic pots to enhance your outdoor spaces.

2. Lemongrass

Sometimes called mosquito grass, lemongrass has a fresh citrus scent that keeps mosquitoes at bay. It is an edible plant that is used in many Asian dishes. It is also brewed to cure sore throats and stomach aches.

Lemongrass is an ideal potted plant and can be cultivated easily. You can purchase a grown plant from your favorite garden supplier for about two to four dollars. Simply trim the tops of the plants and place them in a glass container on a sunny windowsill. After a few weeks, it will develop roots and can be transplanted into a pot. Place this plant around your patio, deck, by the front or back door, or on top of porch tables.

3. Catnip

Catnip is an ornamental plant related to mint that grows readily in the US and around the world. Research shows that the essential oil in catnip is ten times better at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, the compound found in many insect repellants.

Photo from iStock

Photo from iStockphoto

Catnip is very easy to grow from seeds, which cost about two dollars for 400 seeds. This plant can be quite invasive if not trimmed regularly, but you can control its growth by placing it in containers.

It is totally safe to crush and apply catnip leaves on your skin for better mosquito protection, but keep in mind that cats will be as attracted to you as they are to the plant itself.

4. Rosemary

Commonly grown as an edible plant, rosemary has a woody scent that makes it ideal for cooking and great for repelling mosquitoes.

Photo from iStockphoto

Photo from iStockphoto

Rosemary takes time to germinate, so it is best to grow it from cuttings taken from a mature plant. These are available at garden nurseries for about four to five dollars. Plant the cuttings in spring in containers packed with well-drained soil, as this plant prefers slightly drier soil and lots of sunlight. There is no need to fertilize this herb, but you may add some garden lime to the soil to make the plant more fragrant. You can grow the herb in fancy pots and use them as creative centerpieces when having an outdoor party with friends and family.

With these plants, you can lounge, play, or work outdoors without being constantly bothered or harmed by annoying mosquitoes.

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Featured photo credit: Mosquito repellent. Woman spraying insect repellent on skin outdoor in nature using spray bottle. via Shutterstock

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