10 Plants To Grow In Brisbane That Repel Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes in Brisbane are a problem especially if you live near water or you are surrounded by trees. Our Brisbane family has been literally bitten through clothing which has made the wearing of insect repellent just a small part of our family plan to try and protect our children from mozzies and the ever increasing rate of Ross River Fever in Brisbane.
A few things you should do to protect yourself from mosquitoes
Remember that some days will be worse than others but as a minimum we always use insect repellent on our children when they are playing outdoors. The overkill might be better explained by the fact we live surrounded by trees so if they aren’t as bad at your Brisbane home then lucky you! We have the hardcore tropical repellent for the really bad days but we have been using the MooGoo Tail Spray which is DEET free, skin friendly and seems to work if the mozzies aren’t too bad. We also make an effort to rid our property of puddles. Equally important (while it won’t prevent Ross River Fever) we keep an eye on mosquito bites to make sure the kids don’t scratch them with their dirty hands and treat them straight away with some garden grown aloe vera or antiseptic cream depending on what they look like.
This post is being written as the beginning of a massive green change for our family so I hope you enjoy the trickle of garden posts. Note that I am not a professional gardener and that this is more about collating the research, trials and errors and hopefully many successes of planting out a 2 acre garden in Brisbane.
10 plants to grow in Brisbane to stop mosquitoes
Lets be clear before we explore the plants that might help you deter mosquitoes. There is no plant on earth that I have found via research that will stop mosquitoes from being in your garden. Instead there are plants that simply don’t smell good, or perhaps hide your scent and make it less likely for mozzies to find you! Also note- that just because plants are natural does not make them safe and do some research and use some common sense before concocting any DIY insect repellents. Further I have attempted to actually research this, so where I can link to actual data I have but the majority is anecdotal but equally overwhelming in their mentions across the interwebs.
Long considered a cat associated plant, catnip is also gaining a reputation for being an expert mosquito repellent. Infact there are suggestions from researchers that the essential oil in Catnip may be more effective than DEET which is the main ingredient found in the hardcore commercial mozzie sprays. Interestingly the research also found catnip oil to be an excellent coackroach repellent. While the research was conducted with the oil itself, catnip by its nature omits the smell (which is why it stimulates cats) and is well worth planting in your mosquito barrier garden.
2. Lemon Eucalyptus/Spotted Gum/Corymbia citriodora
The main oil extracted from this tree is citronellal which is the unrefined version of Citronella. Interestingly in my research there is more anecdotal support for the use of citronella as a personal repellent than scientific and even less so for potted plants. What I mean is that – sure it works- BUT all the research shows that unless it is applied consistently (hourly) it is not very effective. But how about plants- if the effect is constant? Maybe it can work? I am pretty focused on the plant side of things and while I did find some supporting research here for this particular species of plant, it is limited to the burning and thermal release of the leaves. Now, this might have made me rule out Citronella based plants entirely so let me explain why I have included it. Firstly we live in QLD so is it possible there will be some thermal release? Maybe? And secondly I can grow this plant and then burn the leaves or oil it down as a cheap repellent while entertaining outside, so it is on the list! Also keep in mind these are BIG trees so while not suitable for all gardens, may be an ideal tree choice is you are wanting to plant some natives.
This tree warrants a second paragraph because the other oil extracted from the spotted gum is pure oil of lemon eucaplytus which shows far more promise than it’s poorer sister Citronella. Infact from reading various bits of information on insect repellents it would appear Lemon Eucalyptus in its pure form is an awesome repellent for around 6 hours but due to its risk of eye damage (aka don’t spray it in your eyes), it hasnt been approved for safe use as an actual insect repellent. Still- wouldn’t you agree this tree seems like a great candidate for inclusion on a planting list?
3. Lemongrass AKA Cymbopogon
Lemongrass is also a contender due to the presence of citronella (once again( and to its credit it is a lovely plant that my mum used to make into a tea. It has many uses and despite the above discouraging info about citronella this one is IN. It also smells really lovely and by lovely I mean lemony and there is some scientific basis to the lemony scent blocking the senses that the mosquitoes use to track us down (I know so scientific!).
Again as above. Similar looking plant to lemongrass. Really confusing- they are cousins- worthy of differentiation but all seem to contain an oil call citronella somewhere.
The writing on this wonderful old world plant is clear, its scent being the key to its success. Infact the further you delve into the world of mosquitoes the more you realise it is about strong smelling plants and masking the smell of the delicious human. Infact lavender is known to be unpleasant to a number of insects.
According to Nurseries Online the scent of basil is great for repelling insects including mosquitoes. It is also one of the few herbs that actually excretes it’s scent without any rubbing of the actual leaf being required. Go smell your basil if you don’t believe me!
Rosemary is a mosquito repelling plant for similar reasons, its scent masking that of the human. I say this with suspicion because my rosemary only smells upon rubbing- but anecdotally this plant is up there. The great thing about Lavender and Rosemary is their many other uses and the fact they actually look quite pretty in the garden. According to Bulleen Art and Garden > Placement of plants in areas such as doorways, pathways, near outdoor eating areas, dog kennels and chook pens will increase their effectiveness. Lavender and rosemary borders, wormwood as an accent plant, geraniums for foliage and year round colour, colour in pots and along vegetable garden borders, ageratum, cleome and cosmos in cottage gardens. Herbs have lovely vibrant foliage, like basil (try columnar basil!).
I don’t really need to say why do I? The lovely smell of peppermint will be a wonderful addition to your garden and your tea and will annoy mosquitoes and other insects.
8. The Lemon Teatree Leptospermum liversidgei
This is a lovely pretty native tree well known for its lemon scent. Not surprisingly it also contains Citronellal which as mentioned is manufactured into Citronella.
The jury is still out on this one but they are mentioned A LOT on nursery and gardening site and they remind me of my nannas garden so are they are going to be included too.
10. Pitcher Plant
ok- this one is more for a bit of fun- but this insect eating plant will take the mosquitoes away never to be seen again
From spending several hours pouring over old school research and stories of Indigenous Australians and even folklore there is a common thread. Despite the lack of verifiable research there is plenty of anecdotal support for the planting of any lemon scented plants in your garden. Infact I could have continued to offer about 5-10 other plants all linked by their lemony properties mostly because they contain citronellal. Planting mosquito repelling plants won’t rid your garden of mosquitoes completely but it will give you access to some wonderful herbs and plants and according to many gardeners it will have an impact. A curious mind does wonder what would happen if every garden planted the above plants but you can only do what you can do and this is a great start. The most promising plant is by far catnip followed closely by its lemony friends.
Continue your vigilance in clearing any water storage places around your home but also consider the addition of some well known mosquito repelling plants so you can enjoy Brisbane all year round. Feel free to add what has worked for you in comments below.