mosquito plant

Anti-Mosquito Plant and Keeping Your Birdbaths Clean

No one likes those pesky mosquitos.  There’s nothing worse than sitting outside on your deck or patio on a breezy summer night and getting chewed to pieces like something from a low budget Sci-Fi movie!

If you have a small deck, patio or balcony, consider buying a Citronella plant, also known as an anti-mosquito plant.  Citronella plants are lemony scented geraniums.  And yes, those Citronella candles that you may have used to repel mosquitos are made from this plant.

I have a very small deck (large enough for a small bistro table for two).  Every spring I grow a Citronella plant in a large container on the deck.  For a larger deck or patio consider putting a large container in every corner.  I noticed this plant will not keep all the mosquitos away, but it did deter them enough where I noticed the positive difference on my small deck.

You can find this plant online and in most garden centers.  Here are the facts on this easy, low maintenance mosquito buster:

  • Average height 18” to 24”
  • Leafy light green leaves, will get short lived pinkish flowers when mature (pinch them back for fuller plant).
  • Drought tolerant
  • Partial shade (full sun is ok in cooler areas)
  • Perennial: but NOT frost-tolerant
  • Thrives in containers (can also be planted in the ground)
  • Fast growing

Mosquitos don’t like “fresh” water, so be sure to get rid of any standing water in your yard and keep your birdbaths clean.  Dump out old birdbath water and refill it with fresh, clean water.  You’ll be doing your backyard birds a big favor — dirty water can spread disease and encourage gnat and mosquitos.

CLEANING BIRDBATHS:  Don a pair of gloves.  If the birdbath isn’t overly dirty, use blue Dawn® dishwashing liquid to clean them.  Be sure to thoroughly rinse out the birdbath and Dawn residue.

For dirtier birdbaths, mix 1 part distilled white vinegar with 9 parts vinegar to help clean and disinfect.  Rinse thoroughly.

When positioning your birdbath, pick an area that has some shade to discourage algae growth and evaporation.  Also try to keep the birdbath away from shedding trees or bushes that will dump a lot of daily debris in the birdbath.   Keep water at a one inch depth so as not to drown young birds.  Also a reminder to be sure to place some stones or a rock at the bottom of your birdbath so birds can clearly see the water’s depth.

If you have a high off the ground birdbath and deer keeping knocking it down, I solved that problem by giving the deer their own bird bath saucer placed on ground level. It’s surrounded by high grasses and reeds so any birds visiting this one have some camouflage from predators.  By having one on ground level, the deer no longer bother knocking over the higher birdbath.

HEAVY RAINS:  Be sure to keep your empty containers upside down or on their side so no little critter or bird can drown in them.  I was very disheartened to see that with our heavy rain, one of my large empty pots filled with water.  Even though it had a drainage hole, it got clogged with debris.  Some poor little chipmunk fell in and drowned.  I was horrified – don’t let this happen to you!

WATERING CANS:  Same rule applies to watering cans.  Don’t keep them filled with water when not in use.  If a little critter or bird falls in, they won’t be able to get out.  I keep my watering cans laying sideways on the ground – looks weird, but so what!

In my backyard, birds have themselves a daytime party in my birdbaths.  At dusk, it becomes a free happy hour bar for thirsty deer.  One evening I found Sid (my local raccoon) using my ground level birdbath as his personal spa!  All living creatures need water, so help them out this summer.  Now is the time to enjoy the great outdoors.  Plant yourself some natural mosquito repellant, keep your birdbaths filled with fresh clean water – then enjoy nature’s show!