June 1, 2016

DIY Natural Mosquito-Repelling Planters

As the weather warms up, the biting, annoying mosquitoes start swarming around. Nipping any skin they find, flying in faces, being a general pain in the butt. I'm being proactive this year to keep the little buggers (no pun intended) from eating us all up alive. I put together natural mosquito-repelling planters. As a bonus, they repel other bugs as well. One for the deck, one for by our front door, another for the porch table and the last one for the deck table. Along with being extremely simple to make, they look nice and smell good. Decorating the porch and deck with these are part of our landscaping redesign project.

I've never realized, though I guess I should have, that the citronella in candles to keep mosquitoes away is actually also a plant. Citronella plants have rough, big leaves and -- you guessed it -- smell like citronella and keep mosquitoes away from their dinner. Actual citronella has a fresher, cleaner, more lemon-like, less chemical smell. Surprisingly, they're easy to find at the big-box home improvement stores. Cat mint, peppermint and lavender also discourage mosquitoes and other bugs from coming around, so I chose those to go in my planters. Lavender is one of my absolute favorite scents, plus I love the way it looks, so I liked having an excuse to get a couple. Any type of mint works for these, so if you're not a fan of cat mint or peppermint, there are many others to choose from.

We've had an old wash tub sitting on our porch, empty, for awhile now. I've never quite known what to do with it. It's too neat to throw out, yet nothing ever really worked to put in it. With a few holes drilled in the bottom for drainage, it became the perfect planter for one of the larger bug-repellent planters I put together. M2 picked the other large, purple planter. Two smalls ones I got matching, picking cream, floral patterned to give them a country look. Not all planters have drainage built in, which drives me nuts. The smaller planters I picked are ceramic, so I made sure they have drainage already. The plastic planter didn't, but plastic is easy to drill drainage holes into.

The lovely lavender, since it is my favorite and the prettiest of the bunch, I put in the two smaller planters. I got plants that come with biodegradable wrappers. That makes them super easy to plant -- rip off the bottoms, stick them into the pots, add a bit of potting soil to the bottom of each planter, stick in the plants in their containers, put more dirt around, water well, and then set them out on the tables. In all, I spent maybe 5 minutes each to put them together. The planters look pretty on the tables as decorations, plus the lavender smells so good every time I walk past. A failure moment did occur with this project when my first lavender plant died. I have no clue what happened to it. Two weeks after I got it,  a wilted, dead mess was greeting me. It'd been a more expensive one, too.

For the larger planters, I pair a citronella with cat mint for one and citronella and peppermint for the other. In each of the large planters, I figure out how much dirt is needed in the bottom for the plants to be at the right height, without the stalks being too far above or below the sides. It's not an exact science. Dirt is easily added or dumped out, though, so I adjust as needed, sticking the plants in now and then to check until the levels are right. I put the citronella in first, leaving plenty of room for the mint, get them secure in the dirt by packing it in around them, then add in the mint and fill in with the rest of the potting soil. The last step is to water them well. The washtub planter I have set out on our porch, since we can see it from the front door and I want something  that looks a bit nicer. The purple planter is out on the deck with a bunch of other matching planters of different sizes as part of my veggie and herb garden. A post about the veggies garden and those planters is in the works, keep an eye out.

I strategically put the planters by doors to (hopefully) prevent mosquitoes from getting into the house. Plus, that's where the seating it outside. Any time I go in or out, the lemony citronella smell is in the air. It's not that chemical smell from the candles, it's clean, fresh and actually nice. Any time it rains, I move the ones from the covered porch onto the steps to get them watered. There's only been a few days where I've had to remember to go out and water them when I do the house plants because it's been rainy here lately. Here's hoping the planters work well this summer, I plan to spend plenty of time outside with the kids so we'll be needing them!

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  1. What a fantastic idea to use plants as a natural mosquito repellent. It's a bonus that the plants also smell heavenly.

  2. Such a cool concept. We could really use these on our front porch where we have spiders making webs daily.

  3. This is a great post! I just moved out to the country and am a little worried about the bugs this summer. Going to try these!

  4. Omg now these planters I definitely need to make!!!! My backyard already has a million mosquitos and it's not even officially summer yet -_-

  5. I had no idea that mint and lavender had mosquito-repelling properties. I like the idea of repelling mosquitoes naturally, and lavender is one of my favorite scents so I will have to try this out. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I think I may need to ask my husband( I don't have a green thumb) to plant some of these for our backyard and front porch. The mosquitoes in Florida are too much!!


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