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Plant Natural Insect Repellents


In many places, mid-May signals the beginning of planting season. The scent of lilacs and honeysuckle perfume the air and seedlings eagerly push through the soil, reaching toward the sun.

One thing not typically on the minds of gardeners this time of year is pesky summertime pests such as mosquitoes and flies. But, with some simple advance planning, you can create a therapeutic garden that becomes a boon for your older adults, while a hindrance to insects that not only annoy, but can cause skin irritation and carry disease.

Three plants you should consider adding to your garden this May include:

  1. Lemon balm. A perennial that is part of the mint family, lemon balm adds a delightful, light fragrance to your garden. The plant contains high levels of citronellal, a compound that bugs will naturally shy away from. One note of caution: this plant loves to spread, so consider planting it in containers.
  2. Marigolds. These bright, hardy annuals contain pyrethrum, a natural insect repellent. Marigolds will thrive both in the ground and in containers. Consider planting near doorways and windows, to discourage mosquitoes from coming indoors. Helpful hint: collect the dead flower heads and store in a dry place, for an early spring, do-it-yourself window box planting project with older adults next year.
  3. Lavender. Another perennial, lavender thrives in warmer climates and is well-known for its distinctive scent. In addition to repelling insects, the burst of color that the flowers provide can serve as a guide for older adults who are living with diminished visual acuity.

Thinking ahead now, while still early in the season, will allow you to reap the natural rewards of a garden that is more pleasant to spend time in this summer.

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