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July brings so many good things: sun, summer vacation, barbecues with friends and family, and lots of flowers.  Unfortunately, it also brings mosquitoes and other unwelcome bugs that like to stick to sunscreened arms and leave itchy bites!

If you want to keep your garden and yard a little more bug-free for your next outdoor get-together, try planting an herb garden on your deck containing mint, rosemary, and lemongrass.  Or try growing these other great mosquito-repelling plants, and just crush a few leaves right before your guests arrive!

Citronella geranium (Pelargonium citrosum): 2’ flowering annual, part to full sun.  Will not survive Rochester winters outside but can be taken indoors and kept as a houseplant during winter.

Beebalm (Monarda didyma): 2-3’ flowering perennial, part sun, shade tolerant. Will also attract butterflies to your garden!

Marigold (Calendula officinalis): 6-24” flowering, upright annual (may reseed itself), full sun. Don’t put in pots too close to your picnic table as the bright colors will attract bees.

Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum): 8-18” flowering, spreading annual, part to full sun.  Also great for rock gardens.

Catnip (Nepeta cateria): 3’ perennial herb with small lavender flowers, full sun.  Grow in sandy soil for greater aroma, but you’ll want to be careful if you have a large population of neighborhood cats!

Please note that none of these plants will do much if you don’t crush the leaves; it’s the essential oils they release that mosquitoes really hate.  However, they are all beautiful ornamental plants as well, and if you are really motivated, you can make your own organic, home-made repellants from the herbs.  Here are a few recipes that use both essential oils and dried herbs.

Final Tip: If you’ve gone the herb garden route and you’re ripping off a few leaves to get the aroma going before your guests arrive, crush them right into a mojito for whoever’s standing in front of the hot grill!

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