Mosquitos and flies can be a real nuisance, especially on warm summer evenings. Here you can find out how you can drive the annoying insects off the balcony with pretty flowers. These will not only keep mosquitos away, but also attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.
With flowers against mosquitoes on the balcony
Some groups of plants attract different insects through certain mechanisms, e.g. B. by the special appearance of the flowers or their scent. Sometimes nature works the other way around to repel certain insects. This can be used successfully to keep mosquitoes away from the seating area in the garden, on the balcony or terrace.
Sometimes garden owners hear about mosquito-repellent plants and imagine that they can create effective protection in their large garden with 2-3 specimens from this group. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. We are technically and financially unable to create plant-based barriers against mosquitoes that would work on a large area. On a smaller area, e.g. For example, on a balcony, terrace or pavilion, it is possible, although here too you have to plant a large number – a dozen or even several dozen – flowers. This will greatly reduce the arrival of unwanted insects, although there is still no guarantee that they will be completely deterred.
How do plants repel mosquitoes and flies?
Plants from the above group release certain active substances (mostly essential oils), the smell of which mosquitoes and flies do not like. If you run your hand over the plants, you can already enjoy the mild scent. A chemical “shell” is formed that surrounds the plant. Their strength (and the intensity of the smell) decreases the greater the distance from the plant. Therefore, plants should be planted as densely as possible, preferably on several levels. When the air humidity is high, the scent is more intense.
Flowers that drive away mosquitoes and flies
The group of anti-mosquito plants includes many herbs and popular permanent bloomers that are very undemanding and easy to care for. The most popular bee-friendly balcony flowers against mosquitoes are:
Catnip keeps mosquitoes off the balcony
Botanical name: Nepeta cataria
Cats feel off the sheet- & The flower scent of the catnip is magically attracted, but the perennial shrub is effective at driving away insects such as flies, mosquitoes and cockroaches. It grows bushy, takes up little space and is therefore a nice decoration for pots, flower boxes and even hanging baskets. It loves sunny locations and slightly moist, but well-drained soil.
There are different varieties of catnip that have blue, pink, or white flowers all summer. The best strains to keep in pots include:
- Nepeta faassenii – hybrid catnip
- Nepeta nervosa – veined catnip
- Nepeta cataria ssp. citriodora – White balm with a strong citrus aroma
If you have cats, you can place the plant out of their reach, e.g. B. in a hanging pot, as shown in the picture. The height makes the cat unlikely to jump and the sticks will create a barrier should it try. The sticks can also help prevent the cat from lying down on standing pots. So if you don’t want to hang them up, you can try this first.
Botanical name: Geranium macrorrhizum
The Balkan cranesbill gives off a spicy, aromatic smell that keeps mosquitoes and flies away. The undemanding perennial grows up to 30 cm high, forms a cushion and is a real eye-catcher in boxes and pots. The flowers appear between May and July and invite bees and butterflies to linger. In autumn the leaves turn red to yellow.
The cranesbill delights with its beautiful foliage in autumn and winter
A 2018 study examined the effects of Geranium macrorrhizum essential oil against several insect pests, including the African cotton worm (Spodoptera littorali), green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), and bird cherry louse (Rhopalosiphum padi) and the tick Hyalomma lusitanicum. The results suggest that the main components of the oil, β-elemenon, thymol and germacron, have an insect repellent and ixodicidal effect.
A large number of Geranium macrorrhizum varieties are commercially available. The most popular include:
- ‘Spessart’ – white-flowering
- ‘Ginger’ – delicate pink
- ‘Czakor’ – purple-pink
Geranium macrorrhizum Spessart
Lavender in the bucket
The lavender is not only an eye-catcher in the bee-friendly garden bed. You can also plant it in the tub and place it on the balcony against mosquitos. It is only important that you choose a sufficiently large container (regardless of whether it is a box or a tub) so that the plant feels comfortable. Lavender needs a warm, sunny and relatively dry location and a well drained, calcium-rich substrate. Place the tub on the balcony so that the plant gets at least eight hours of sun a day. Water sparingly and allow the soil to dry out between waterings, but not so dry that the plant withers.
There are different types of lavender in Germany, the most famous of which are
- Crested Lavender – Lavandula stoechas;
- Real Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis;
- Lavandula angustifolia ‘Early Hidcote’;
- Lavandula angustifolia ‘Imperial Gem’;
- ‘Nana Alba’ – white-flowered and
- Provence lavender ‘Edelweiss’ – Lavandula x intermedia ‘Edelweiss’ are.
Lavender can also be combined with other Mediterranean herbs in the tub. For example, you can make a composition of lavender and thyme, rosemary, sage or mint.
When and how far do you cut lavender? The first pruning takes place in spring between March and April, so that woody or winter-damaged shoots are removed. The shrub is cut back heavily so that it can then grow faster and thicker. After flowering, around the end of August or beginning of September, is the best time for the second pruning. This time you should only cut off the withered inflorescences and not the lignified stems.
Botanical name: Heliotropium arborescens
The vanilla flower is a popular container plant for sunny patios or balconies. In Germany it is cultivated as an annual plant. The subshrub grows up to 50 cm high and is therefore also wonderfully suitable for planting flower boxes. It needs plenty of sun and fertile, well-drained soil.
Its special feature are the small, sweet-smelling flowers that appear from June to September and after which the flower is named. Exactly this scent should keep mosquitoes away from the balcony.
Ordinary liver balm
Botanical name: Ageratum houstonianum
The liver balm is a beautiful, annual flower that prefers to thrive in a sunny to partially shaded location, e.g. on a south or west-facing balcony. It forms dense cushions and reaches a height of 30 cm. Therefore, the liver balm can be used both in window boxes and as part of a summer planting for pots. The fine, nectar and pollen-rich flowers appear from May to October and are blue to purple in color.
The liver balm contains the pleasant smelling plant ingredient coumarin, which can also be found in cinnamon and woodruff. The typical odor is most intense when the plants are wilting. In 2015, two US scientists reported that coumarin and phytol are just as effective as the widely used active ingredient from the group of repellents DEET. While the two natural flavorings are not specifically used as insect repellants in cosmetics and medicinal products, there is compelling evidence of their effectiveness. For example, coumarin was an ingredient in Avon’s Skin So Soft products that were later shown to have some insect repellent properties.
Botanical name: Salvia nemorosa
The genus Salvia is huge and includes around 900 species. Most varieties bloom from midsummer to fall and are attractive to both bees and butterflies. All Salvias thrive in full sun – a south-facing balcony would be the ideal location for them. Their scent often only really comes into its own when you touch or rub parts of the plant.
These Salvia varieties are characterized by their compact growth and thrive excellently in pots on the terrace and balcony:
- ‘May Night’
- ‘Adrian’ / ‘Snow Hill