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Does the mosquito plant repel mosquitoes?

Mosquito plants
Mosquito plants
wikipedia/public domain image

You’ve probably seen these delightful little plants offered for sale and advertised as mosquito plants. According to garden and seed catalogs, the mosquito plant (Pelargonium Citrosum) chases away mosquitoes keeping your yard or patio mosquito free. It is marketed under the name of mosquito plant, citrosa plant and Skeeter Skeedaddler. You are probably wondering if they really work to repel mosquitoes.

As a natural mosquito repellent, the mosquito plant really isn’t very effective, unless you crush the leaves and rub them over your skin, says the Iowa State University Extension. A plant setting on the windowsill or on the patio won’t repel mosquitoes on its own. In fact, research conducted by Arthur Tucker, Ph.D., plant fragrance specialist at Delaware State College in Dover has shown that other herbs, like lemon balm and lemon thyme, are more effective than the mosquito plant in repelling mosquitoes.

The mosquito plant is really a scented geranium. It may be sold as a citronella plant, but that is deceiving, too. This scented geranium releases a burst of citrusy scent when the leaves are disturbed and smells like citronella, but it does not contain citronella oils.

As a natural mosquito repellent, the mosquito plant misses the mark – but it is a delightful plant to grow. This scented geranium thrives in full to partial sun – although my experience has been that growing it in bright morning light and afternoon shade is ideal.

This tender perennial does not tolerate the frost and must be overwintered inside in areas, like Maine, with cold winters. It is winter hardy only in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11.