xrayspex27
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Lemon grass or lemon balm for mosquito repellent

Which one works better? I did lemon balm last year and it worked pretty well, I know lemon grass also has the citronella scent and I was wondering if anyone had a preferenece or reason they grow one or the other!

Thanks

Katie

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Lemon grass or lemon balm for mosquito repellent

I don't know the answer to your question, because I haven't grown lemon grass. It is not cold hardy/ frost tolerant, so you or I would have to winter it over indoors. Lemon balm is exceptionally hardy and spreads like a weed -- it is becoming seriously invasive in my yard. I rip more of it out every year than I can possibly use.

So that one reason for a preference, but maybe not what you were looking for.
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shadylane
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Re: Lemon grass or lemon balm for mosquito repellent

There is a plant a hardy perennial, Vincetoxicum-'cynanchum ascyrifolium' which is often called the mosquito trap plant due to their white flowers that trap small insects. It is easily grown in a variety of soils.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Lemon grass or lemon balm for mosquito repellent

Interesting. Hadn't heard of that one, shady, so I looked it up. AKA mosquito trap plant, cruel plant. Looks pretty, with flowers similar to star jasmine.

But if X-ray is looking for something to rub on the skin for mosquito repelling, a trap plant that attracts them would not be the thing. We call things trap plants, like velvetleaf is a trap plant for leaf miners and wild grape is a trap plant for japanese beetles, when the insect in question prefers that plant to anything else in the garden. It doesn't mean the plant kills the insect, just gathers them up and keeps them away from other things.

For repelling, there is also lemon verbena, another tropical that needs to be overwintered indoors. Or you can get away from the citronella theme and use aromatics - yarrow, tansy, pennyroyal. Pennyroyal is a very intense mint and works well as a repellant.
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applestar
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Re: Lemon grass or lemon balm for mosquito repellent

How are you using it?

I grow both lemon balm and lemongrass (and lemon verbena and lemon basil too but they don't grow enough to use as bug repellent :wink: ) The lemon balm I'm growing has the most citronella-like scent when fresh. Lemon verbena has the most lemon-like scent when fresh, and lemongrass has the most lemon-like scent when dried.

Rainbowgardener, lemongrass isn't hard to overwinter inside -- they are pretty persistent like all grass -- and they grow into huge 3-4 ft clumps when planted in the ground during the summer in relatively moist semi-sun location. WAY more than I know what to do with and I actually use the damaged and "icky" leaves as strewing herb on the brick patio just outside the kitchen door.

I'm not sure which works best as mosquito repellent since I try all kinds of things mostly at once...
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xrayspex27
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Re: Lemon grass or lemon balm for mosquito repellent

I would like something I can put in a few pots around my yard to keep them away. So I don't mind having to bring it in over the winter. I do have a decent sized yard, but I don't have too much precious gardening space.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Lemon grass or lemon balm for mosquito repellent

Sorry, I know they advertise things that way, including mosquito shoo geranium. But I think it is mostly a myth that there is anything you can grow "in a few pots" that will keep mosquitos away just by being there. Mosquitos fly and they will happily fly over your repellant plants, even though they would not land on them.

I used to have a little thing (a smaller cheaper version of this:

mosquito repeller

I can't find the smaller, cheaper version any more)

It is a fan, blowing across a cake of geranium oil, which is one of the best mosquito repellants. If you bring it out half an hour before you come out so the scent can build up, it does a good job of keeping mosquitos away from a deck sized area.

You could do the same kind of thing by suspending some crushed lemon balm or whatever over a candle or incandescent light bulb far enough so it won't burn, but close enough so it gets warmed and diffuses. Better would be to infuse oil with it and soak a pad in that. Or you can just buy geranium essential oil and use that.

But the essential oils are very concentrated. In the plant they are not concentrated like that and are locked up inside the plant. It isn't going to keep mosquitos away just sitting there. One thing I do is rub the deck railings with my crushed repellant leaves. I think it helps, but has to be renewed every time you go out and it is not real good for the wood finish.

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ElizabethB
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Re: Lemon grass or lemon balm for mosquito repellent

The problem is that the mosquitoes avoid the plant not you :( unless you rub your skin on pulse points with the foliage. I have friends who grow citronella winterianus for that purpose. I use lemon scented geraniums. I have a couple in pots on the patio close to the seating so the leaves can be pinched easily.
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