You can deal with the occasional ant or ladybug in your indoor garden, but mosquitoes offer no benefits and are literally pests that can spread diseases. Today, I’ll explore the connection between indoor plants and the blood-sucking insects that are mosquitoes.
Do indoor plants attract mosquitoes? Indoor plants can attract mosquitoes. The more waterlogged your plants, the higher the rate of mosquitoes since they thrive in standing water. Plants grown in water as well as some flowering plants may also attract the bug.
Although this is largely good news, please don’t take it to mean that you will never see mosquitoes in your indoor garden, as you certainly could. In this article, I’ll talk about the plant species that may be likelier to attract mosquitoes as well as how to get rid of this pestering insect!
Do Plants Attract Mosquitoes?
The blood-sucking mosquito isn’t attracted to the things that most insects are.
Mosquitoes love skin odors (including sweat), moisturizer lotion, perfume, deodorant, and flowery-smelling soaps.
They also love standing water, as they’ll use it to breed.
Thus, if your indoor garden has a lot of overwatered plants, you may be likely to see mosquitoes. That’s also the case if you grow plants in water.
The more stagnant the water, the greater the number of mosquitoes flitting about.
What if your indoor garden is mostly full of succulents or other plants that you don’t water more than you have to?
Indoor plants on their own are not mosquito attractants. Dry soil won’t be appealing to the bugs.
Okay, but considering that mosquitoes like the smell of floral soap, what if your indoor plants produce flowers?
That’s another scenario in which mosquitoes are likely. The insect likes to go from flower to flower and consume nectar.
According to a 2020 article in ScienceDaily with data from the University of Washington, the insect will use “chemical cues” to determine which flowers to target.
The article goes on to mention that mosquitoes largely like orchids since “the orchid produces a finely balanced bouquet of chemical compounds that stimulate mosquitoes’ sense of smell.”
With Orchidaceae aka the orchid family having roughly 28,000 species.
Do all orchids lure in mosquitoes?
They all have the potential to, but the ScienceDaily article and other research confirm that the orchid species the mosquito goes after the most often is the blunt-leaved orchid.
Indoor Plants That Do Attract Mosquitoes
Being bitten by a mosquito does more than leave you with an itchy, red welt. As I mentioned previously, this particular insect can spread diseases such as West Nile, Zika, dengue virus, and malaria.
Thus, you’ll want to take heed if the following plant species comprise your indoor garden. The plants could contribute to the rate of mosquitoes in your home or office.
The blunt-leaved orchid is the specific orchid species that the ScienceDaily report identified as being a surefire mosquito attractant.
Known also as the small northern bog orchid, the Platanthera obtusata or blunt-leaved orch grows natively in the Northern Hemisphere’s cooler regions.
The blunt-leaf orchid has subspecies. The first is the Platanthera obtusata oligantha, which grows natively in the Russian Far East, Siberia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway.
The second subspecies is the Platanthera obtusata obtusata, which is prevalent in northern New England, the Adirondacks, the Great Lake States, northern New Mexico, the southern Rocky Mountains, 13 territories and provinces in Canada, and Alaska.
With 85 species of Tradescantia or spiderwort, this is a common enough plant in many indoor gardens.
You may worry that it’s the plants appealing flowers that would bring the mosquitoes near, but there’s no scientific evidence of such as of this writing.
More so, it’s that some indoor gardeners choose to grow the spiderwort in water. Stagnant water is what will be irresistible to the mosquito.
The common water hyacinth or Pontederia crassipes is not the same as the regular hyacinth in the Hyacinthus genus.
Rather, the water hyacinth grows natively in the Amazon basin and is sometimes considered an invasive species.
The plant requires a water feature, be that a fountain in your sunroom or an aquarium, and therein lies the problem. Mosquitoes could be very interested in your plant.
The philodendron is one of those indoor plants that need no introduction.
It’s an appealing, popular plant with large, sometimes heart-shaped leaves that lends a tropical feel to an office cubicle, living room or any other indoor area.
Although many indoor gardeners grow their philodendrons in pots or hanging baskets, the ones who choose to care for philodendrons in water must be aware of a potential mosquito risk.
Again, it’s only standing water that brings the mosquitoes near, not the philodendron itself. Growing this plant in dry conditions carries with it no mosquito risks.
Although it’s not a true bamboo, the lucky bamboo is still an indoor plant that many people, including myself, grow. It’s easy to care for and is said to bring luck to the recipient.
Well, for those growing the lucky bamboo in water, the risk of mosquitoes finding their way into your indoor space is very likely.
If you’re using well-draining potting soil for your lucky bamboo rather than a container of water, then mosquitoes shouldn’t have any interest in your indoor plant.
Do Mosquitoes Harm Plants?
You’ve learned to be on the lookout for spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs in your indoor garden since these microscopic insects can be hugely detrimental to the long-term health of your indoor plants.
Do you now have to add mosquitoes to that list of insects to beware of?
Well, you’re not going to want mosquitoes in your indoor garden, but to be perfectly clear: Mosquitos are not inherently harmful to your plants.
If you have blunt-leafed orchids, the mosquito will drink the nectar, but not to excess. Consuming the nectar will help the mosquito pollinate plants, but the orchid shouldn’t die.
The rest of your indoor garden will more or less be okay too.
Well, at least from mosquitoes.
The mosquito is closely related to the fungus gnat.
Fungus gnats will settle on a plant’s soil and lay eggs. The larvae consume organic matter as it decomposes in the soil.
Further, an invasion of fungus gnats increases the risk of an indoor plant developing pythium, a type of oomycete that’s parasitic in nature.
Killing fungus gnats isn’t easy, as some have proven to be able to withstand freezing temperatures.
Fungus gnats can be a huge problem in your indoor garden, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want to understate the significance of mosquitoes.
You can write off one mosquito in your home as a coincidence. However, if they keep coming back and you have an indoor garden in the vicinity, you should attribute the problem to your plants.
How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes in Indoor Plants
An invasion of mosquitoes in your indoor garden is upsetting and potentially very dangerous for your health and the health of your family and four-legged friends.
Without further ado then, here are the removal methods I’d recommend.
Add Mosquito-Repelling Plants to Your Indoor Garden
If you’re wondering how to get rid of mosquitoes in potted plants naturally, why not expand your indoor garden with a collection of plant species that mosquitoes don’t like?
Many of these indoor plants are heavily scented, which explains why the mosquito will stay away. Here’s a list.
- Catnip: If you own a cat, then you’re inanely familiar with dried catnip. When grown as an indoor plant, it’s just as potent. A 2021 article from Science News reports that catnip’s active compound TRPA1 causes pain and itch in humans, which dissuades mosquitoes from wanting to bite a person.
- Marigolds: As I mentioned before, you don’t have to avoid all flowering indoor plants when trying to prevent mosquitoes. Marigolds are pyrethrum-containing plants, with pyrethrum a compound that can ward off mosquitoes as well as ants, moths, flies, and fleas.
- Lemon balm: Rather than light citronella candles, just grow some lemon balm instead. This appealing, fragrant indoor plant has natural citronella compounds that mosquitoes cannot stand.
- Rosemary: How about some herbs? Rosemary produces a natural woodsy scent that people find appealing, but mosquitoes do not.
- Lavender: A lovely indoor plant for those with a lot of stress in their lives, lavender does more than calm you down. The plant will naturally send mosquitoes as well as moths packing.
- Basil: A great garnish that’s easy to grow indoors, especially fragrant basil is usually enough to send mosquitoes away. I’d recommend cinnamon basil, lime basil, and lemon basil.
Stop Growing Plants in Water
Some indoor plants must grow in water, but many more can transition to a soil medium if you give them a chance.
The fewer indoor plants that you grow in water, the lesser risk of your indoor garden becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Even in an indoor garden with plants grown exclusively in soil, if you water your plants too frequently, the standing water can become an attractive breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Usually, the rule of thumb is to allow at least the top inch of a plant’s top layer of soil to dry out. In other plant species, you might want to let the soil to dry 50 percent and sometimes even 70 percent.
I’ve written many ultimate plant care guides for your favorite species of indoor plants. I highly recommend searching this website for your specific indoor plant and reading through those guides, as I’m very detailed about the watering requirements for each unique plant species.
My biggest takeaway is this. Do not water your plants on a schedule.
Instead, use the fingertip test as a gauge for how moist the soil is and then go from there.
Use Insecticidal Soap
Natural methods are best for ridding your indoor garden of mosquitoes, but sometimes you have to use a heavier-duty product.
In that case, insecticidal soap should be effective.
Produced from potassium salts of fatty acids, insecticidal soap can rid your indoor garden of mosquitoes, aphids, mealybugs, and other pests like them.
Insecticidal soap is not supposed to harm your indoor plants. That said, I would recommend watching your plants for signs of distress and then curbing your use of the insecticidal soap as needed.
While you can make your own insecticidal soap, a commercial product will have the right concentration of ingredients to kill off mosquitoes.
The way the insect dies isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done. The insecticidal soap can cause the mosquito to lose any protective outer waxy covering. The insect then dehydrates and later dies.
The cellular membranes of the mosquito can also be interrupted, which will kill the bug.
When applying insecticidal soap, use only the recommended amount as often as the bottle says.
You have to spray insecticidal soap directly on mosquitoes as you see them. If the mosquito lands on insecticidal soap residue or flies through it, then it won’t necessarily die.