The best plants to grow in France to deter mosquitoes

As summer temperatures soar across France mosquitoes can become a major issue. But what if you could plant flowers that keep the insects away naturally? You can. We explore the best plants to grow now.

30 July 2020
A lavender field. The best plants to grow in France to deter mosquitoes including mint lavender rosemaryPlants such as lavender, mint, rosemary and others can help deter mosquitoes naturally - and give off a beautiful scent
By Connexion journalist

It is not too late to plant herbs and flowers in your garden, balcony or outside space that can help deter mosquitoes - as long as you water the plants several times a week to ensure that they thrive in the heat.

Mosquitoes live on average for seven days, but do not stray more than around 200 metres from where they first hatch. This means that if they hatch near your window or home, they will likely stay there.

Deterring them from hatching is therefore the first port of call. As standing water can encourage them, one way to deter them is to ensure that all pots and other receptacles of water or rainfall in the garden or outdoor space are emptied regularly.

But while most insect or mosquito deterrents are made with industrial chemicals based on citronella, menthol or pyrethrin, there are in fact several plants that offer similar levels of deterrent naturally.

News service France 3 has detailed a comprehensive list. We summarise and translate.

Sweet scented leaf geraniums

These are different to the usual, highly-colourful geraniums that are usually seen on balconies or in window boxes. Instead, these geraniums are prized for the scent they give off, and can be found in many varieties, including bergamot, mint, lemon or orange.

Zonal geraniums

These also give off a strong scent against mosquitoes. They grow tall and large, and are strong enough to withstand most winters, to come back even stronger next spring.

Pelargonium

This often-overlooked plant is strong and fragrant, with serrated foliage and flowers.

(Photo: DeFacto / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Lavender

Already well-known for its scent, lavender grows best in southern, warmer regions; while lavandin (or lavandula) is another similar plant variety, which gives off less scent but does better in more northerly climates.

Citronella

As the name suggests, this plant gives off a scent similar to lemon. It can easily be grown in a pot, and should be taken inside in winter.

These can be grown from citronella stalks; cut the ends off, and then place in a glass of water. After a few days, roots will appear. You can then plant in large pots, in a shady space first to allow them to grow, then moving them to a summer area to allow their scent to diffuse.

Marigolds or calendula

These contain natural pyrethrin, which is used as an insect repellent. They can be very floral and grow easily. A single sachet of calendula seed can plant 5-6m2 of flowers - and calendula-based cream can also help ease minor cuts and bruises.

(Photo: D. Gordon E. Robertson / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Nepeta Mussinii or Nepeta Cataria

This plant (Nepeta Cataria, above) is often called “catnip” or “catmint” as it gives off pheromones that are very attractive to cats. It can sometimes attract cats from all over, who love to lie and roll around in it.

Originally nepeta plants were considered to be medicinal, they contain a menthol-style oil that deters insects.

Mint

There are many different kinds of mint, with scents and styles ranging from sweet and green, to pepper, bergamot, lemon and orange.

It grows easily in a pot or in the soil, whether in the shade or sun - but it can quickly spread. To contain its growth you may wish to put it in a smaller pot. Keep it close to the window or balcony.

Lemon balm

This is a very strong plant that can withstand most weather, although its leaves may disappear for a while in times of high heat or intense cold.

These will come back strongly afterwards though, and its scent can be very attractive to humans, but deter unwanted insects. You can cut up the leaves and sprinkle it on your table or outside area to deter mosquitoes, and even rub the leaves on your skin to avoid getting bitten.

(Photo: Margalob / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Rosemary

A fast-growing, robust plant with scented "spindle" leaves, and flowers. Not only is it delicious to cook with, but you can also rub the spindles on your skin or clothes to take on the scent.

You can also place it on a barbecue to spread the scent further. It should keep mosquitoes at least a few metres away.

Garlic

Whether wild garlic or garlic grown specifically for cooking, this plant can give off a strong scent. The most effective kind is a type of wild garlic known as “bear’s garlic”.

You can plant it in pots or in the ground and it can help to deter mosquitoes as well as a wide range of other garden pests.

Basil

There are several dozen types, most of which will deter mosquitoes. While they only last for a short season, they can also be delicious in fresh food, with a variety of scents and tastes.

As well as deterring mosquitoes, most of these plants can also help with irritation if you are unlucky enough to still be bitten. Rub a bit of leaf on your skin where you were bitten or stung to soothe the pain and itchiness.

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