Miami Green Homes


Buzz Off: Plants That Naturally Repel Insects

There’s a lot to love about living in South Florida—the weather is excellent year-round, it’s a culturally diverse place, restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world and there’s plenty to do and see. There are a few things that may be not so great—that excellent weather is occasionally interrupted by hurricanes, for instance.

While you can’t do much about those, another occasional South Florida menace can be dealt with easily and beautifully. Insects love our climate as much as we do—there are over 12,500 species here—and everything from flying insects like mosquitoes, bees and wasps to creepy crawlies like beetles, earwigs and mantids can make spending time outdoors less than pleasant. The following plants are all perfect for our climate and excel at repelling the kind of insects we commonly have to deal with here.

Citronella

This plant is so good at repelling insects that its oil is commonly used in candles to give mosquitoes the buzz off. It’s also an attractive planting, growing in tall clumps typically five to six feet in height. It makes an excellent ground cover but also grows well in pots, providing it has full sun and good drainage.

Pitcher Plant

This one doesn’t repel insects so much as do away with them. It has a lot of exotic appeal … at least for anyone who isn’t too squeamish. Pitcher plants are the product of millions of years of evolution and are pretty amazing. They not only attract insects with scents that are irresistible to the little pests, but when the inquisitive bugs come calling, they’re in for a nasty surprise. They fall into the bulbous base, where they’re dissolved and digested by the carnivorous plant.

Marigolds

Many people might already have a pot or two of marigolds already planted on a patio or balcony and may not even be aware that these plants are excellent at repelling mosquitos. If you don’t already have some of these, they’re a gorgeous addition to your outside environment and can even be kept indoors. You’ll want to position these by doors or any windows that you might leave open to keep the biting pests out of your environment—and off your skin.

Lemongrass

This is a fun one—not only is it a beautiful addition to outside landscaping, but it smells lovely and can even make an excellent addition to your spice cabinet. Lemongrass can be used not only in Asian cuisine but is excellent in soup, salads and is perfect with many kinds of fish. It also contains citronella oil, so it has the same insect repelling qualities.

Lavender

This bushy, beautiful plant smells so good that many people will trim it and hang it in bunches near the entry points of their home, so visitors are greeted by the lovely scent. It doesn’t just smell and look good—it repels insects. Everything from mosquitoes to fleas can’t stand the stuff and making sachets of the flowers and leaving them in bureau drawers or hung in closets will keep moths from eating holes in your favorite sweaters.

Living Well Outside

Planting any of these botanical wonders will not only beautify your surroundings but also keep them insect-free. Most of them smell lovely, as well—and what smells good to us smells horrible to many of the insects that can ruin an otherwise pleasant evening outside.

Advertisement