The rich soil in Virginia provides vast opportunities for gardening, but there is a side effect of our climate and region that gardeners must contend with. Yes, we are talking about “mosquitoes” which can cause real hassles when trying to enjoy the outdoors. Gardens can serve as a habitat for mosquitoes so planning is important to combat them. Mosquito season usually starts in March and ends in October, which unfortunately is a majority of the year for us.
Zika Virus and Gardening in Virginia:
The Zika Virus has been declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). It is directly related to plants as it was first discovered in Zika forest when the first case of Zika infection was recorded, and it continued to spread until declared as a PHEIC. This mosquito-borne virus is directly related to serious birth defects and even death. Pregnant woman are particularly at risk, however everyone can potentially be in danger. Although cases in the US have been “relatively” few, the growing concern has caused many people to take notice. Preventive measures and the use repellents will become increasingly necessary.
Preventive Measures for Mosquitoes:
At the very least, wear long pants and long sleeved shirts; in other words, cover any area that might be exposed to mosquitoes. Dark colors have been said to attract mosquitoes and ingesting garlic has been a long-time natural repellent. There are chemical sprays, of course, for personal protection, but what about long term protection?
Mosquito Management Programs:
Since the spread of mosquitoes in the gardens of Virginia is all too common, there have been many mosquito management programs that offer total peace of mind. They aren’t free but they do work effectively. Not only are there monthly treatments during breeding seasons, they also identify the breeding sites to minimize the need for treatments.
Plants that Repel Mosquitoes:
One of the best ways to get rid of mosquitoes in landscapes is the use of plants that repel mosquitoes. Instead of going through the chemical route one shall use nature itself to avoid mosquitoes. There are a number of plants which naturally repel mosquitoes such as Basil, Garlic, Lavender, Lemon Balm and Catmint.
Plants in the Allium family, such as the dramatic Allium giganteum whose flower heads adorn stalks up to 6 feet tall, are regarded as a broad-spectrum natural insecticide. They repel numerous insects that plague vegetable gardens, including slugs, aphids, carrot flies and cabbage worms. Plants that will benefit from the proximity of alliums include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi and carrots. They also will keep aphids off rose bushes. Alliums include small-growing herbs such as chives and garlic chives, leeks and shallots.
Repels moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes. Lavender has been used for centuries to add a pleasantly sweet fragrance to homes and clothes drawers. Although people love the smell of lavender, mosquitoes, flies and other unwanted insects hate it. Place tied bouquets in your home to help keep flies outdoors. Plant it in sunny areas of the garden or near entryways to your house to help keep those areas pest free. You can also use oil extracted from the flowers as a mosquito repellent you can apply to exposed skin when going into the garden or patio. The Everything Lavender website has a guide for extracting the oil and making a lavender-infused body oil. Added benefits are that lavender oil nourishes the skin and has a calming effect that induces sleep.
Repels mosquitoes. You’ve no doubt seen citronella candles in stores during the summer and read how citronella will keep mosquitoes away. Citronella is a natural oil found in lemongrass, an ornamental that can grow up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide in one season. This grass with wonderful culinary uses is hardy only in South Florida (Zone 10), so almost everyone will have to grow it as an annual. It does well in a pot or in the ground in a sunny, well-drained location. Use its fragrant, narrow leaves in chicken and pork dishes and to flavor soups and salad dressing. Many Asian recipes call for lemongrass.
The scent from various types of marigolds repels aphids, mosquitoes and even rabbits. The roots of marigolds are well-known among farmers to repel nematodes, though those qualities require a year to take effect. Grow marigolds as an annual in most parts of the country, mixed in along the border of your flower beds or interspersed throughout your vegetable garden as they can also spur on the growth of certain plants, especially roses. Although marigolds are easy to grow in sunny locations, they can fall victim to gray mold, several types of leaf spot, powdery mildew, damping off and root rot.
Repel whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, many beetles and cabbage loopers. Nasturtiums could be considered the poster child for companion planting, which is growing a variety of plants close to one another for the benefits each brings to the others. Nasturtiums release an airborne chemical that repels predacious insects, protecting not just the nasturtium but other plants in the grouping. Because many of the insects nasturtiums repel favor vegetables — tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, kohlrabi, collards, broccoli, cabbage and radishes — nasturtiums are an idea choice for planting along the edges of vegetable gardens. Fortunately, nasturtiums do not repel the all-important pollinator — the bumblebee.
A number of techniques can be followed to prevent mosquitoes, which can lead to serious and deadly diseases if allowed to propagate. Reliable Landscaping would be happy to discuss your options and recommend a proper mosquito management program.