8 Great Mosquito Repellant Plants

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plants that repel mosquitos

How many times does your plan of a relaxing, enjoyable evening on the patio get ruined by mosquitoes?

Instead of lathering yourself up in chemicals, or lighting a dozen citronella candles that may or may not be effective (not to mention costly,) try planting some tried-and-true plants that naturally repel mosquitoes.

When choosing plants to repel mosquitoes, it is important to consider the climate in your area. Some plants, such as citronella grass, are not cold-hardy and will not survive in cold climates. Other plants, such as marigolds, are annuals and will need to be replanted each year.

It is also important to plant mosquito-repellant plants in strategic locations around your yard. For example, you might plant citronella grass near your patio or deck, where you will be spending time outdoors. You might also plant marigolds around your garden to help protect your plants from pests.

Caution

The effectiveness of some of these natural mosquito repellant plants increases significantly if their fresh leaves are rubbed into your skin. Some people might be allergic to these plants, so take this into consideration.

Mosquito Repellant Plants – Flowers

Marigolds

marigolds are good for repelling mosquitos
Easy-growing, bright and cheery marigolds repel mosquitos. Image, Leonora Enking, flickr

This is a very popular, widely available annual plant that is very affordable. Even grocery stores sell marigolds at their entrances. Not many people are fond of the way marigold flowers make their hands smell after handling them. And, guess what? Mosquitos don’t like that smell either! Marigolds are terrific flying insect repellant flowers. They are very hardy plants and if you keep on top of deadheading them, they’ll bloom constantly, profusely all through the summer months.

marigolds are good plants for repelling mosquitos
Image Serres Fortier, flickr

If you watch gardening videos online, like on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, you might spot growing vegetables sharing the garden bed with an array of marigolds. Why? Because it works! Marigolds lessen the mosquito level in the yard.

Lavender

Lavender is a popular choice for gardens and for aromatherapy. It’s a terrific pollinator attracting plant: bees swarm around my lavender blooms all day long in the summer time. It also has mosquito-repelling properties. Also, deer are repelled by lavender.

English lavender is a great mosquito repellant plants
English Lavender grows with little human assistance. Image by author

Lavender is a slow-growing evergreen shrub. You will get more from your lavender shrub if you cut it down one-third mid-summer. It will rebloom. Pollinators will be attracted to the trimmed flowers for weeks, so leave them on the ground for them! Of course, the flowers and leaves are terrifically aromatic for humans, too. They can be used in sachets or make your own oil.

Lavenders do well planted along a border. Give about 4′ horizontal spacing for each shrub. They flower from early or mid-summer to late summer.

spanish lavender to repel mosquitos in your backyard
Note the bloom of the Spanish Lavender is a little different than the English species. Image by author

Additionally, lavenders need zero input from you besides an annual haircut. They prefer drier soils over moist. And my lavenders grow and bloom all summer long, despite being in some pretty poor, clayey soil! Lavender is a terrific Return On Investment perennial to have in your garden. They also made my list of plants for a low-maintenance backyard.

Mosquito Repellant Plants – Herbaceous

Herbaceous plants are those that do not have any permanent part growing above ground all year. Mostly, herbaceous plants come up through the soil’s surface during the warmer months. When cooler months approach, their seasonal life is used up. Their growth above ground decays. But the rhizome beneath the surface is still there, saving up for next spring.

Lemon Balm

consider planting fragrant lemon balm as a mosquito repellant
Lemon balm is a very fragrant plant, and useful in keeping mosquitos away. Image Andrea_44, flickr

Lemon balm is a good mosquito repelling plant because it contains high levels of a compound called citronellal. This compound gives it its lemony aroma and flavor that bugs find so unpleasant. Citronellal is also the main ingredient in commercial mosquito repellents.

Lemon balm also contains linalool and geraniol. These compounds disrupt the mosquito’s sense of smell.

lemon balm repelling mosquitos
When you crush the leaves of the lemon balm in your hands, you get a wonderful lemon smell. Image Quinn Dombrowski, flickr

Citronella Grass

citronella grass is a great mosquito repellant plant
Citronella grass is used successfully to repel mosquitos. Image by author

Citronella grass contains citronella oil, which is a natural mosquito repellent. Citronella mosquito-repelling candles are widely available if you wish, however, wouldn’t it be better to have a few of these beautiful grasses that will permanently repel buzzing mosquitos? Year after year, without having to light anything, or buying new candles? You can plant citronella grass in your yard.

As an herbaceous plant, citronella grass will benefit from being completely trimmed down during the cooler dormant months.

citronella grass repels mosquitos
Image by author

Catmint

catmint aka catnip is proven effective in repelling mosquitos
Image Jim the Photographer, flickr

Also known as catnip, the active ingredient in catmint that repels mosquitoes is nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is released from the plant’s leaves when they are crushed or rubbed. When mosquitoes come into contact with nepetalactone, it triggers a sensory receptor called TRPA1, which causes them to become agitated and avoid the area.

As well as growing catmint, which will release nepetalactone into the air, rubbing some catmint into your skin will help you avoid mosquito bites. Fresh catnip leaves, plucked from the growing plant, are best. Also, some people may have an allergic reaction to catmint.

In one study (1), catnip was found to be ten times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes.

catmint is a good herbaceous mosquito repelling plant
Image RD Richards, flickr

(1) Peterson, M. J., et al. (2001). Effects of the essential oil of Nepeta cataria on mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) attraction and repellency. Journal of Medical Entomology, 38(4), 577-582.

Mosquito Repelling Plants – Herbs

Herbs are wonderful to grow. Not only do they provide excellent flavor components to food, but some have proven mosquito-repelling qualities. Like most plants, the repellant factor is present just by having these plants around, and the effect can be multiplied by rubbing the leaves of these mosquito repellant plants onto your skin. (It’s important to test for allergic reaction to these plants first before applying.)

Rosemary

rosemary as a good plant to keep mosquitos away outside
Image Derek Bridges, flickr

You’ll see that all the plants and flowers on my list that repel mosquitos also serve other benefits. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a fantastically hardy, drought tolerant plant. It’s a perennial that doesn’t die as long as it’s planted in well-draining soil.


The plant rosemary contains essential oils that have insect-repelling properties. These oils include geraniol, linalool, and camphor. When these oils are released into the air, they can interfere with the way that mosquitoes detect their prey. Mosquitoes use their sense of smell to find their targets, and the essential oils in rosemary can mask the scent of humans, making it difficult for mosquitoes to find them.

rosemary can help deter mosquitos because of the oils in their leaves
Smaller starts of Rosemary, ready to be put into containers. Image Samantha Chapnick, flickr

Relatives had a vacation house in Las Vegas for a few years. Lining the front walkway was a jumbo hedgerow of rosemary. It was about 15 feet long, easily 5 feet tall and 3 feet deep. This is Las Vegas, where summer heat is usually over 100 degrees for months. That rosemary hedge thrived in the heat, and was wonderful to smell.

Peppermint

peppermint leaves can repel mosquitos
Peppermint is another good choice to control mosquitos in your yard.
Image sayo_ts, flickr

Resembling Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), Peppermint (Mentha) also belongs to the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Indeed, peppermint flavor is naturally extracted from the mentha plant. Like rosemary, the essential oil in peppermint contains menthol, which has insect-repelling properties. When mosquitoes come into contact with menthol, it irritates their olfactory receptors, making it difficult for them to detect their prey.

the menthol in peppermint plants has insect-repelling properties
Image by Serres Fortier, flickr

I remember having a peppermint plant growing along the side of a parking lot near my apartment when I was 7 years old, and just delighting in the fact that candy could be made using leaves of this scraggly little plant.

Another reason to grow mint is so you can make Mojitos (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) any time you wish.

Basil

consider growing basil to eat and cook with as well as keep mosquitos away outside
Image MoneyCoach, flickr

One of the greatest herbs to grow and plant in your garden. Think of this: you’ll have a never ending surplus of fresh basil leaves with which to add to any recipe you wish, and you’ll be naturally repelling mosquitoes at the same time. Basil is another plant that produces more when it is regularly harvested of its leaves.

basil is a mosquito repelling plant
Excellent to grow for eating, and to control mosquitos outside. Image airfm, flickr

Basil leaves contain four volatile compounds that can help deter mosquitoes: citronella, estragole, limonene, and nerolidol. These compounds interfere with mosquito’s sense of smell, masking the smell of humans, and won’t be able to locate human targets.

What To Do Next?

Thank you for reading our article on mosquito repellant plants! If I’ve missed a good plant that has worked well for you, please let us know in the comments below!

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Author

After years of denying it, Donald finally admits one passion in life is gardening. More specifically: growing seeds, plants, flowers and edibles and helping them to be the best possible. Neighbors call him a Green Thumb. He lives in Western Washington with his wife of 24+ years and three cats.

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