Plants That Repel Mosquitoes in Jacksonville, Florida
Florida is a beautiful place to live with hundreds of miles of lovely beaches, dozens of fun attractions for the whole family, warm winters, rich cultural experiences, and friendly locals ready to welcome new homeowners to the area. Unfortunately, one other group is also ready to welcome new visitors and residents – individuals of the genus Aedes, the ever pesky mosquito. There are currently around 80 different species of mosquito that have been identified in Florida, and while less than half of them bother humans or domestic animals, none of them are a wanted guest around your garden and picnics.
The good news is that mosquito problems, no matter where you live, are manageable with good landscaping maintenance and proper use of repellents or insecticides. In addition to some common sense approaches, like removing any standing water on your property and using safe bug sprays when outside, there are a number of plants your family can grow to deter mosquitoes from coming to your yard. All of these plants are more effective when crushed and rubbed on the skin as a natural repellent, and many of them can be used in recipes to create more effective repellents.
When planning your garden, it is important to remember that Jacksonville, Florida is in agricultural hardiness zones 8b and 9a, depending on where in the city you are. Plan your plantings accordingly, taking into account the number of hours of sun you get in various areas of your yard, the amount of water you can rely upon, and the amount of work you want to put in for annual maintenance.
Another thing to consider is avoiding attracting mosquitoes. Some groundcovers, like ivy, periwinkle, and pachysandra, will encourage mosquitoes to congregate in your yard, since the leaves provide a nice, cool place to rest during the heat of the day.
Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus, Citronella winterianus)
The scent derived from this plant is usually used in mosquito-repellent citronella candles. The strong scent masks desirable smells, confusing mosquitoes. Citronella is best grown in Agricultural Zones 9 to 11, though it can be grown in regions that experience frost during the winter with some care. Citronella, like most plants, works best when crushed and rubbed on the skin or when used to create a repellent, though the pleasantly scented grass will discourage mosquitoes even as landscaping.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is a pleasant-smelling, beautiful member of the mint family. It can grow up to two feet high, or sometimes higher. The leaves contain myrcene, a naturally repellent compound. The plant is unlikely to repel mosquitoes on its own, but if crushed the fragrance is mildly repellent. Lemon balm is a common ingredient in all-natural mosquito repellent recipes. Lemon balm needs mild winters, preferably with no frost, such as found in Agricultural Zones 9 and 10, so it might take some care during colder winters. For a treat, you can also clean the leaves and use them to create lemon balm infused iced tea. Most other mints are at least mildly repellent, too. Lemon balm is best planted in a container, since it’s resilient enough to risk taking over your garden if put in the ground.
Catnip (Nepata cateria)
This easy-to-grow perennial herb is related to the mint family. The strong scent will only deter mosquitoes from nearby the plant, but that can make a difference if planted at strategic points. Plus, the flowers have a lot of ornamental value, and can be harvested as a treat for your indoor feline friends.
In addition to its pleasant smell and mosquito-repellent properties, lavender is beloved by bees. The flowers can be used to create a huge variety of things. Most lavenders do poorly in humid climates. However, French Lavender (Lavandula dentata) and Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) can be helped along by being planted in soil that drains easily, to avoid problems with root rot.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
As well as driving away mosquitoes, rosemary’s woody scent keeps away cabbage moths and carrot flies, making it ideal for companion planting. Rosemary grows well in containers, and is a great herb to use in cooking. Rosemary is slow growing during its first year, but the plants grow quickly starting in their second year. Rosemary prefers full sun and light, but can tolerate partial shade, and grows best in well-drained soil.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil is a warm-weather annual that grows very fast in 80- to 90-degree weather but is very sensitive to frost. Lemon basil and cinnamon basil are considered especially effective varieties for discouraging mosquitoes. Basil can be grown easily in a container, and it doubles as a tasty herb for cooking with. One popular approach is to plant different types of basil together in a large container plant, for a color mix that offers a wide range of flavors for cooking. When growing basil, ensure that your plants get 6 to 8 hours of full Sun daily, and the soil should be moist and well-drained.
Marigolds are often planted as a border plant, since they can also help repel rabbits and tomato bugs. Marigolds are a beautiful addition to any garden but require a good bit of time to get established. If growing from seeds, you’ll want to start them indoors around 50 to 60 days before the last frost date, which typically falls around the end of February for Jacksonville, Florida.