Life in France: 5 plants that (allegedly) repel mosquitoes

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Life in France: 5 plants that (allegedly) repel mosquitoes
Some plants may have mosquito-repelling properties. Photo: The Local

Summer in France brings lots of good stuff and some deeply annoying things, like mosquitoes. But did you know that there are plants that you can add to your garden or balcony that will repel these deeply unwelcome visitors?


If you're one of these people who are attractive to mosquitoes then you'll know the misery of spending the summer covered in itchy red lumps - and the bad news is that the rising global temperatures mean that 'mosquito season' in France now lasts longer.

The tiger mosquito - originally from Asia but spreading rapidly through Europe - has now colonised most of France and is active both day and night.

READ ALSO How to prevent the spread of tiger mosquitoes this summer

In the summer French florists and garden centres often sell 'anti-moustique' plants. We're not promising a 100 percent repellent rate, but these are some plants that apparently help.


In good news, most of them are small enough so that you can grow them on your balcony or in a window box if you don't have a garden.  


Mint (menthe)

A common herb that many people might already have in their gardens, but mosquitoes apparently hate the lovely, fresh scent of mint.

And even if it fails to ward off the bugs, at least you can use the leaves to garnish food or make a nice big jug of Pimms (which might distract you from your horrible, itchy bites).

READ MORE: France’s most toxic plants and berries to watch out for

Marigolds (Rose d'inde, sometimes known as Souci)

These are a popular choice to add a touch of colour to a window box or balcony, as well as to a garden, and have the added benefit of warding off mosquitoes.

Gardeners like them because can boost the growth of other plants when planted together.

Rosemary (romarain)

Another aromatic herb that humans love and mosquitoes apparently hate.

If you're planting it in the garden use a container because it has a tendency to spread and take over your garden. If you don't want to grow it, or don't have the space, you can always add a couple of sprigs to your grill when barbecuing to help keep the mosquitoes away as you dine outdoors.

Lemongrass (citronelle)

You'll certainly be aware of citronella scent from various mosquito-repelling products including oils and candles, but you can also grow it in the your garden.

It grows quite big so might not be suitable for small gardens or window boxes.

Even if it doesn't succeed in keeping insets away, you can use it in cooking to add a lemony flavour.


Wormwood (absinthe)

The final one on the list is usually said to be the most effective, but should be used with caution as it is toxic if eaten.

You can grow it in your garden or in a window box, but take great care that it doesn't end up with your edible herbs as it will make you sick - if you have a garden when children or animals are present then it's probably best to avoid this one altogether, but on the plus side its pungent scent will keep mosquitoes away.

As the French name suggests, wormwood is one of the main ingredients in the drink Absinthe and is what gives it the distinctive green colour.

Legend has it that wormwood is the active ingredient that makes people hallucinate after drinking absinthe, but in fact the drink is not hallucinogenic and never was. It is extremely strong though, which might explain some of those 'visions'.

Other tips

Mosquitoes like to hang out and to breed in water or long grass, so you can help keep them away by eliminating their favourite spots. For example;

  • Keep lawns trimmed
  • Eliminate sources of stagnant water eg old plant pots that collect rainwater
  • Keep your gutters clear
  • If you have a pond consider installing a small fountain or pump, as mosquitoes usually won't lay eggs in moving water


Comments (1)

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Anonymous 2022/08/09 17:37
Thanks for the basic idea but sorry to disagree with the trimmed lawns bit, because if you have grass plus a drought you know what happens... Brown. Leave it longer and it will help protect its own roots from the heat & drought. Let it grow & maybe just cut a path at the edge/ through the middle & you'll be helping biodiversity through a range of insects (& I don't find mozzies in my grass!), the insects will be food for invertebrates and birds, the ground will be cooler under longer grass & that all helps, rather than having the heat of baked clay. Of course it depends how long the hot weather lasts, but that's the general principle, and the drifts of long grass still safe in my garden haven't been cut for months & have seeded and fed the sparrows. Then you may get some wild flowers too, so more insects etc. including bees & butterflies. Personally I use the spirales anti-moustiques outside, or just incense, so I'll be pleased to try the herbs suggested as I do have a lot of lemon balm but I could move it to a sensible place.

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