Pyrethrum, also known as the Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium, is a natural insecticide derived from the dried flower heads of the pyrethrum daisy. It has been used for centuries as an effective and safe pest control method in agriculture and households.
To grow pyrethrum, it is best to start with seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in spring. Once the seedlings have sprouted, they can be transplanted outdoors in a location with full sun and well-draining soil. Pyrethrum is a hardy plant and can withstand temperatures down to -5°C, but it prefers a moderate temperature range of 15-24°C.
Pyrethrum is an excellent companion plant as it repels a wide variety of pests, including mosquitoes, aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. To use pyrethrum as an insecticide, the dried flower heads are ground into a fine powder and mixed with water to create a spray solution. This solution can be sprayed directly onto plants or used to treat indoor spaces.
It is important to note that while pyrethrum is considered safe for humans and pets, it can also harm beneficial insects such as bees and ladybugs. Therefore, it should be used sparingly and only when necessary.
Here are some tips to maximize their mosquito repellent properties:
Plant them in sunny locations: Pyrethrum flowers need full sun to grow well. By planting them in a sunny location, you can help maximize the potency of the mosquito-repelling compounds.
Plant them in groups: Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, which is produced when we exhale. By planting Pyrethrum flowers in groups, you create a larger area of carbon dioxide production, which can help repel mosquitoes more effectively.
Use the flowers: Once the flowers have bloomed, you can harvest them and use them to make a natural mosquito repellent spray. To do this, boil the flowers in water for several minutes, strain the liquid, and then add a few drops of essential oil (such as lavender or citronella) to enhance the effectiveness. Transfer the liquid to a spray bottle and use it to spray around your home or on your skin.
Maintain the plants: Keep the Pyrethrum plants healthy by watering them regularly and fertilizing them every few weeks. Healthy plants are more likely to produce effective mosquito-repelling compounds.