In the Philippines, mosquito-borne illnesses are constant threats. So, we always try to find ways to rid our homes of the nasty bugs. On top of following recommendations from the Department of Health (read about their 4S campaign against mosquito-borne diseases here), there are certain plants you can keep at home that can help repel the blood-sucking insects.
But, first, take note: for some of these plants, the best way they can do their job is to crush the leaves and apply the pulp directly on your skin. Test a little first to make sure you don't have a negative skin reaction. For those that emit scents, mosquitoes may stay away from them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stay away from you. 1. Citronella
“Citronella is by far the most popular plant that repels mosquitoes,” Carmen Johnston, a garden lifestyle expert, told Real Simple. It has a very strong, recognizable scent and is used in many commercial bug repellents. In the Philippines, citronella plants are easy to find if you’re looking to buy one. Check out our list of garden centers here.
This plant is not commonly grown in the Philippines, but it is one of the best plants to repel mosquitoes, recommended gardening expert Mike McGrath on a recorded radio show on the NPR website. Lemon balm works best when you “strip off the leaves, crush them up and rub them on your exposed skin,” he said. Mom Glo de Castro has found it easy to grow the plant in her home. Find her quick guide over on her blog, Urban Gardening Mom, here.
If you can find it, lemon thyme is even better than a lemon balm, said McGrath. “Lemon thyme has been shown to be highly effective when the crushed leaves are rubbed on your skin,” he said. However, lemon thyme is a small plant with tiny leaves, so you have to grow a lot of it to use it as a repellent. The upside? It’s an attractive looking plant and will look great in your garden.
In its green leaves, basil makes four kinds of compounds that make it effective at repelling mosquitoes, said Daniel Climent, a professor of nature sciences at the University of Valencia in Spain.
Typically grown in pots, you can leave your basil plant in areas where mosquitos commonly come in and out. For more effect, try rubbing a few leaves together which will release the scent better, said Climent. Then, leave these rubbed leaves around your home. As a bonus, your house will smell lovely too.
Here’s another one that works best if you crush and rub on your skin. “[Mint] is a perennial that repels mosquitoes,” said Peyton Lambton, a lifestyle expert. It's easy to grow and spreads fast. Hence, it might be better to plant mint in a pot instead of the ground where it can take over your whole garden. It also does well indoors where, aside from placing in mosquito-prone areas, you can place it within easy reach for few sprigs in your dishes and desserts.
This herb doesn’t just repel mosquitoes but can do so with flies too, said gardening expert Jim Duthie in an article for USA Today. “It does well in hot, dry weather and thrives in containers, so you can set it in various places around the garden,” he said. Rosemary plants are also fairly easy to get a hold of and go great in dishes. Find mom Glo de Castro’s guide to caring for the herb here.
Again, though these plants are said to be able to repel mosquitoes know that the best way still to keep the potentially disease-carrying insects from biting your family is to take more active measures and precautions. Apply insect repellent and regularly check all areas of your home for stagnant water.