Planting Mosquito Repellent Lemon Grass


I recently did an outdoor planter facelift on two of my larger planters and my mother passed on some of her gardening knowledge to me during the process.  Instead of filling them with soil, use some filler... free filler, such as plastic soda bottles and/or water bottles.  I have always used rocks at the bottom and sometimes styrofoam, but I never thought to use the empty bottles.   My mother, she is such a smart one and frugal.   I wonder where I got that from?

My main reason for this post was not to talk about filling planters, I have been really wanting to try out one of my pins that I posted about a year ago.  My husband is a mosquito's dream and he seems to be constantly eaten by them.  Now that we live right on the water, I knew that they would be more prevalent.  I pinned that lemon grass was a natural repellant and always wanted to get huge planters for it to grow.  In VA we didn't have the outdoor space, but in our new place we do.

With pots as large as the ones I currently own and my recently purchased Huson planters from IKEA, it would require loads of soil and that can be costly.  By filling the bottom with rocks and then empty plastic bottles, much of the planter is filled with the “filler” and less of the costly soil.  They also cut down on tons of weight so the planters/pots can be moved easier. 

See the dent in the bottom, that was my way of trying to make a hole.
My two new planters didn't have holes at the bottom for drainage, so I had Jeff drill some holes before I filled them up.  I actually tried to make the holes myself, but that was not happening.  See above.

This is the way to make real holes with an actual drill.
Jeff used a smaller drill bit first to start and then gradually worked up to a large drill bit. He discovered that the metal was thin enough to use the larger one without any pilot holes, but the whole process took a total of a few minutes anyway.

Next, I put some rocks that I picked up from my property.  If you don't have rocks lying around, you can also purchase them from your local home improvement store pretty inexpensively in bags.  Bricks are also another alternative.   Use these rocks for drainage, but also to put some weight on the bottom since my planters are pretty tall and could be easily toppled by wind. 

Then add in filler bottles.  I used a mix of smaller bottles with a few larger bottles, like the those from the post about using vinegar for weed killer.  Be sure to rinse them out first!  I didn't want to go too high up because I still needed enough room for the plant to have enough soil.

Next, I put in the potting soil, making sure that it filled in the gaps down to the bottom of the planter.   Finally, I planted the lemongrass and am currently waiting (patiently) for it to fill in.  I hope they will look like my inspiration (above) soon.  I bought the plants at the local farmers market for a few bucks. The vendor said that it would fill in a lot from the small plant that we purchased so we only bought two plants for each of my planters.  I haven't seen these plants on sale at any home improvement store, but I am sure if you go to a specialty garden store you can pick some up.

As mentioned earlier, my mother suggested using styrofoam peanuts as filler that you might get when ordering something online.  She suggested using them if you have them, but to put coffee filters on top of them and then layer your soil.  This way the styrofoam will stay in place and not mix with the dirt.  This was a great suggestion, but I didn't have any styrofoam laying around.  Make sure the peanuts are the non-biodegradable type as some will dissolve in water.  Test one by running it under a faucet first.

Time will tell if the plants fill in as predicted or if they will prevent mosquitos from biting my husband. I do know that the filler bottles used saved me money on soil for each of the planters and anytime I save money, I'm a happy girl. 

<3 mk

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