Most of us know that lighting a citronella candle keeps mosquitos at bay on a warm summer evening, but did you know many other plant tonics also work to repel mosquitos, gnats, no-see-ums (which incidentally is the most appropriately named bug of all time) and other pesky bugs, including, you guessed it, my favorite tonic of all time--Leaf Tonic?! But let’s first dive in and cover a few other wonderfully effective plant oils before going into the benefits of the Leaf Tonic, once again.
Peppermint, rosemary, basil and lavender I like to think of as the grandparent herbs. The elders who just know best, so we should all listen intently to their wisdom. These medicinal herbs can be grown in most climates both indoors and outside, are aromatic, and are gentle and effective oils to keep the bugs away during those lovely summer months when we finally get outside to soak up nature!
Peppermint: I recommend growing this herb in a container as opposed to planting in the ground or a garden bed as the roots will take over! Think of them like grass, their root system grows laterally and spreads rapidly. Use peppermint as a repellent by cutting or tearing the stems and leaves and smashing or rubbing the leaves all over your skin. The scent repels insects and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll go ahead and add a few mint sprigs to your water or cocktail to stay extra refreshed!
Rosemary: Grown in a bright windowsill or outdoors in most climates, rosemary is a hardy shrub with the most delicate purple flowers. I mention in my book how the first time I tasted a flower, it was from a rosemary bush and it was as though I was tasting the essence of the plant itself. Rosemary, just like peppermint, can be rubbed directly on your skin as a repellent and can be placed on the grill, barbecue, or campfire as an aromatic way to keep most insects far from the picnic table or campsite.
Basil: Not just for pizza topping or fantastic pesto, but did you know basil are a natural way to keep flies and mosquitos away? I recommend growing one in your home and during the season, outside around tomato plants as a fantastic companion plant keeping the flies and aphids away. Companion planting is a method of growing plants in proximity to one another for their unique abilities to complement and benefit each other. Corn and beans, onions and carrots, radishes and cucumbers are all great companions.
Yum. Can’t you just smell it from here?
Lavender: I’ve always thought of lavender as the grandmother herb, beautiful, wise, calming and healing. She’s brilliant for repelling mosquitoes, and also deters moths, fleas and flies. Lavender is a medicinal, hardy plant that thrives in most climates and can also be easily grown inside your home in a sunny window. Lavender can be applied by rubbing the leaves of a cut or broken stem directly on the skin to both soothe and repel.
**Mosquito side note: One addition, specifically for mosquitos, is lemon eucalyptus. You can grow this incredibly potent and effective plant indoors in a pot in a sunny window or plant as a tree if you live in zone 9 or higher. The scented oil from the leaves are incredibly effective to repel mosquitoes and can be used on its own or mixed with lavender for best results.
Our Sacred Leaf Tonic contains a beautiful blend of essential oils that repel unwanted pests too! In this aromatherapeutic blend you'll smell hints of lavender, peppermint and rosemary among other highly beneficial scents like cedarwood and frankincense!
If you love a DIY project and want to mix up a batch of your own repellant formula, we highly suggest you find a high quality Neem oil as a base. Neem is an antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial oil with fatty acids and antioxidants that benefit skin in a variety of ways including promoting the healing of wounds and fighting skin infections! Yes please! Adding the tiniest amount of this incredible oil blend, in its most concentrated form, is highly beneficial as both repellent and holistic healer. Here’s a way to make your own repellent at home:
Choose any one or all of these ingredients for herb water:
Make a quick and simple repellent spray by adding 1 cup of dried leaves from the list above to 4 cups of water, boil softly for 20 minutes. Cool covered in the refrigerator for an hour. Pour 4 more cups of cool water into another container (I suggest a large mason jar) then strain the cooled herb water into your container. Add 1 teaspoon Neem oil and 1/4 teaspoon liquid soap (Dr Bronners is great for your skin), or you can use Sacred Leaf Tonic, cover and shake well. Add to a spray bottle and use it as a repellent for body, home and garden (avoid eyes and please test first for sensitivities)! Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Shake well before each use to emulsify.
Wishing you a beautiful summer.
Karina and the Sacred Elements Team