15 Plants That Repel Mosquitoes
Warm weather is prime time for barbecues, enjoying a drink on your patio, splashing in the pool, and just generally being outside. Unfortunately, warm weather also means mosquitoes are out in full force. Fortunately, you don’t have to let those biting bugs ruin your outdoor fun when you place some of these best plants that repel mosquitoes around your yard.
Why Use Plants That Repel Mosquitoes?
I have this spot in my backyard that I absolutely love. It gets plenty of shade thanks to two very tall trees, so it stays noticeably cooler than the rest of the yard.
Unfortunately, this means mosquitoes love it, too. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been chased away from this spot because the mosquitoes started to swarm as soon as I walked over there.
Of course, we want to avoid mosquito bites as much as possible because not only are they annoyingly itchy, but they can also transmit all types of diseases, such as West Nile virus, Zika virus, malaria, Chikungunya virus, and dengue. Mosquitoes are also responsible for transmitting heartworm to our cats and dogs.
But rather than use toxic chemicals that can harm our own health, the health of our family, and the environment, we can turn to natural ways to get rid of mosquitoes!
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Natural Ways to Get Rid of Mosquitoes
First and foremost, you want to make sure you don’t have any stagnant pools of water around your yard. A single female mosquito can lay up to 3,000 eggs in her lifetime, and she needs standing pools of water to do so.
That’s why it’s important to regularly check your yard for standing water and empty it out as soon as possible. If you have places where you can’t empty standing water, such as bird baths, rain barrels, and gutters, be sure to use mosquito dunks.
When we first installed our rain barrels, we almost immediately ended up with mosquito larvae in them. We used these mosquito dunks and all the larvae were dead the very next day. These dunks use a bacteria that’s only toxic to mosquito larvae, which makes them safe for people, pets, fish, and other wildlife and appropriate for organic gardening.
Next, you can use one of these best natural bug sprays to safely repel mosquitoes. These natural bug sprays don’t use DEET, so they’re safe for everyone in the family.
If you have a mosquito infestation in your yard, don’t reach for toxic chemicals. Instead, choose something like this plant-based mosquito spray and repellent.
Since this spray doesn’t use any synthetic pesticides, it’s safe for people, pets, and the planet. Plus, in addition to repelling mosquitoes, it also kills fleas and ticks!
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Finally, you can place a few of these mosquito repellent plants around your yard. Similar to how these natural ways to get rid of ants use scents that ants can’t stand to force them out of your house, these plants that repel mosquitoes have fragrances that the annoying bugs absolutely cannot stand.
Some of these plants have a scent that a light breeze can spread around your yard. Others are more effective when you crush or burn their leaves to release the fragrance and repel mosquitoes.
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1. Citronella Grass
You’re probably familiar with citronella candles because their distinct fragrance is known for repelling mosquitoes. However, what you might not realize is that these candles get their scent from citronella grass, which is also known as lemon grass.
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Now, all of these names can get a little confusing, so let me try to clear things up a little. Don’t mix up citronella grass (botanical name Cymbopogon nardus or Cymbopogon winterianum) with citronella geranium (botanical name Pelargonium ‘Citronella’). They’re two different species, although we’ll talk about citronella geraniums next. Also, keep in mind that although citronella grass has the common name of lemon grass, it’s not the same thing as lemongrass (botanical name Cymbopogon citratus), which we’ll also talk about later.
Citronella grass contains high amounts of citronellol, which it what gives it that very distinct smell. However, it only releases that fragrance when it’s cut up or crushed.
It’s a low maintenance plant, but it can’t survive any frost. If you live in a warmer climate, you can plant it directly in the ground. On the other hand, if you live somewhere that gets frost or snow, you should put it in a large planter so you can move it indoors during the cooler months.
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2. Citronella Geraniums
While most varieties of geraniums are grown for their pretty flowers, citronella geraniums (sometimes also referred to as scented geraniums) are valued for the fragrance of their leaves. These hardy plants grow deeply crinkled and serrated green leaves that release that strong and distinct citronella fragrance when crushed.
They’re also ideal for beginner gardeners because they’re virtually disease free, very drought tolerant, and prefer to have their soil go dry between watering. Also, you can completely skip fertilizing them because they do best in slightly poor soil.
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While we love the scent of lavender because it helps us calm down and naturally go to sleep, mosquitoes absolutely hate it. There are several varieties of this beautiful purple-bloomed plant you can grow.
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They all prefer full sun and well-drained, somewhat dry soil. While lavender can endure different climates, it does best in warmer weather. Also, don’t forget to periodically deadhead the plant to promote even more blooms.
Catnip is a member of the mint family. Like other forms of mint, you need to be careful about where you plant catnip since it can quickly takeover other areas of your garden if you don’t stay on top of it.
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Catnip contains the chemical nepetalactone, which attracts felines. However, it has the opposite effect on mosquitoes. In fact, a study done at Iowa State University found that nepetalactone is 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.
Catnip does best in a spot that gets full sun and prefers to have its soil dry out between watering.
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5. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is another plant in the mint family that repels mosquitoes. It contains high amounts of citronellol, rosmarinic acid, and geraniol.
When you crush the leaves, it releases a pleasant citrusy fragrance that mosquitoes detest. You can also dry the leaves to make an herb tea.
Lemon balm prefers to grow in a partially shaded spot with moist but not soggy soil. However, like other members of the mint family, it can become invasive if you let it spread.
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Marigolds are a great flower for your garden because they make an excellent companion plant. These cheery and colorful flowers contain tagetone and limonene. Not only are these chemicals said to keep away aphids, potato bugs, squash bugs, tomato hornworms, and whiteflies, but they also repel mosquitoes.
Marigolds are incredibly easy to grow and do especially well in containers, so consider keeping a few pots of them around your patio to ward off pesky mosquitoes.
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They do best planted in a sunny spot, and deadheading them will encourage more blooms to grow.
Just like the name suggests, lemongrass looks like a tall grass that has a distinct and strong lemon fragrance and taste. Why you won’t mind using lemongrass in your kitchen, mosquitoes will hate the citrusy scent.
This plant prefers a warm, sunny spot to grow. For best results, fertilize it every few weeks and keep the soil moist.
Not only is rosemary great for cooking, but it’s also wonderful for repelling mosquitoes. This popular herb contains rosmarinic acid, pinene, and borneol. It also has a potent fragrance that mosquitoes can’t stand.
It grows best in areas with a hot, dry climate. However, it also thrives in containers, which is a good option for places with colder winters.
Make sure it gets plenty of sun, and only water it when its soil completely dries out.
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Basil is another herb that pulls double duty as a staple in the kitchen and a plant that repels mosquitoes. Although basil comes in numerous varieties, they all work to repel mosquitoes. Consider planting several different kinds so you can try them out in your recipes.
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This herb needs plenty of sun and prefers damp soil. You’ll also want to pinch off any flower buds that start to develop. As soon as the plant starts to flower, it stops producing leaves.
Do you enjoy gathering around the fire pit at night, but mosquitoes drive you indoors before you’re ready to go in? Then you definitely want to grow some sage.
Sage contains cineole and camphor, which mosquitoes can’t stand. Toss some leaves into your fire and let their earthy scent ward away those pesky bugs.
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Like other members of the mint family, peppermint’s fragrance naturally repels mosquitoes. Plus, this versatile herb has plenty of other uses. You can use fresh leaves in cocktails, dry leaves for tea, or chop leaves to give your recipes a little zing.
Of course, like other mints, peppermint can be invasive. If you want to enjoy its mosquito-repelling properties without having it takeover your garden, your best bet is to keep it in a container. It prefers growing in partial shade and likes regular watering so it doesn’t dry out.
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12. Bee Balm
Want to attract desirable pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your yard while repelling pesky mosquitoes? Then you need to plant some bee balm!
Bee balm, also called monarda, is a lovely perennial that grows colorful flowers in shades of pink, purple, red, and white. Its leaves also contain thymol, which works as a mosquito repellent. You can crush the leaves to release their fragrant oils, but for best results, dry the leaves first and then crush them.
While bee balm prefers full sun, if you live somewhere very warm, it will grow better if it gets some afternoon shade. Keep the soil moist and regularly deadhead to keep the blossoms coming.
More often known by its common name of floss flower, ageratum is an attractive plant that produces clusters of small, fuzzy purple blooms. It releases a chemical called coumarin, which mosquitoes can’t stand.
This low-growing plant does very well in containers. It also prefers partial sun in soil that drains well. Water it regularly so its soil doesn’t dry out.
While eucalyptus is considered an ornamental plant in some areas, it grows so well in warmer climates that it can be considered a weed. If you live in a temperate area and want to grow eucalyptus, you’ll want to keep it in a pot. This plant doesn’t tolerate the cold very well and will need moved inside each winter.
It contains limonene and pinene, which are both well-known mosquito repellents. Plus, if you happen to catch a cold, you can always snip off a few sprigs to hang in your shower and help fight congestion.
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Pennyroyal is yet one more member of the mint family that contains citral and pinene. These chemicals give the plant a strong fragrance that mosquitoes detest.
However, it’s very important to note that this herb can be toxic to humans and animals. If you want to grow it, it’s best to plant it in a container so you can easily keep it under control. You also want to make sure you keep it away from kids and pets.
The Best Plants That Repel Mosquitoes
You don’t have to stay inside to avoid those pesky mosquitoes. Instead, place a few of these plants that repel mosquitoes around your yard and take advantage of their natural mosquito-fighting fragrances!
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