The warmer and more humid weather invites beach days, backyard barbecues, and an uninvited guest in the form of a mosquito. These pesky bugs are annoying, persistent, and a health risk, and they can be difficult to get rid of once they appear. Humans attract mosquitoes because they smell the compounds we emit when we sweat and the carbon dioxide we breathe out. They love warm bodies too, and it makes it worse because commercial bug sprays have chemicals in them that can do more harm than good. They can get into the air and harm the environment, and this is why many people like to have mosquito-repellent plants around their yard, porches, and patios.
Mosquito repellent plants come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, and some of them produce pretty flowers. This makes them an attractive and nice addition to any landscape, and you may have a few mosquito repellent plants around your home already and you may not even know it! If you’re ready to add natural defenses to your home that are safe for the environment, take a look at my list of the best mosquito repellent plants available on the market.
The Citronella plant has an ingredient that you’ll commonly find in mosquito repellents and bug repellent candles. This mosquito repellent plant’s stronger scent can mask the smell of carbon dioxide and other attractants. You can plant it in planters, but it also does well in gardens that get no frost. It’s low-maintenance, and it needs full sun or partial shade with a well-draining soil. It can get up to five or six feet tall in zones 10 or 11, and it will also repel flies. The oils from this plant are safe on your skin, and it has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Basil is a surprising mosquito repellent plant, and it can also help spice up a salad or make a delicious pesto sauce. Basil naturally emits a scent, so you don’t have to crush the leaves to get the mosquito-repellent properties associated with it. It’s toxic to mosquito larvae, so you can put it near standing water to deter them from laying their eggs. It needs a well-drained soil with full sun to grow best, and it can get between one and two-feet tall. It’s safe for skin, toxic to flies, and it grows in zones 10 and up without a problem. You can also grow it indoors with little hassle.
Marigolds are very popular for adding as edging in vegetable gardens. This is a bright annual flower that comes in oranges, yellows, reds, and bi-color designs. They have a very strong fragrance associated with them that many people don’t like, but they taste good in herb butter, soup, or salads due to the citrusy, light taste. These mosquito repellent plants have pyrethrum, and this is nature’s insecticide that is used in many commercial-grade repellents. They like well-drained soil with full sun, and they grow best in zones two or one. They can grow up to 1.25-feet high, and they repel rabbits and deer.
4. Lemon Balm
You’ll frequently see people using this mosquito repellent plant to help reduce stress, soothe digestive issues, and more. Lemon balm is a very invasive species, and this means that it’ll take over your garden if you don’t keep it trimmed back. It’s a very nice ornamental plant that works well in soups, and it repels fleas and mosquitoes. It also attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies, and it thrives in well-drained soil under full or partial sun. It does well in zones four to nine, and it can get between two and three feet high at maturity under the correct conditions.
This mosquito repellent plant contains a chemical called nepetalactone, and this attracts felines while repellent mosquitoes. Catnip’s chemical makeup makes it more effective than DEET, and this is a chemical that you’ll find in most insect repellents. Cats like to roll around in it and rub against it, so you want to put it in a cat-friendly area of your yard. It’s very easy to care for, but it’s invasive and will take over if you don’t cut it back. You’ll plant it in well-drained soil under full or partial sun and water it regularly. It can grow between three and five feet high, and it also repels cockroaches and termites.
This is a natural, strong mosquito repellent plant that keeps a host of other flying pests away from your yard like fleas and flies. For the most effective way to use this plant, you can crush it and put it in your pockets or in a bowl on the table. This plant can be toxic to pregnant women and infants, so be careful when you use it. To grow this plant, you’ll want to keep it in damp soil and keep the soil consistently moist, and it should be in full sun or part shade in zones five to nine. Under the correct conditions, this plant can grow to be up to a foot tall. It doesn’t spread.
Peppermint is a very strong mosquito repellent plant that has a very lingering scent. This is a very fast-growing plant that can easily invade your yard if you leave it grow unchecked, but it’s not as invasive as other species of the mint family. The oil from this plant is great at repelling mosquitos, and it can also help relieve the itch that comes with getting bit. It repels spiders, and it grows well in full sun with damp soil that is very rich. It does best in zones 3 to 11, and it can get between one and three feet high at full maturity. It’s safe on your skin, and it’s toxic to any mosquito larvae.
Did you know that Sage is one mosquito repellent plant that people commonly use for cleansing? It’s burned in many different rituals, and this is a great way to ward the mosquitoes away. You can toss a few sage leaves into your firepit when you’re entertaining or in your fireplace to release a refreshing aroma that mosquitoes can’t stand. Sage needs to be in soil that drains very well in full sun, and it does best in zones five to nine. It can grow up to 3.5-feet tall under the correct conditions, and it’ll attract hummingbirds to your yard while repelling ticks. You can dry it and use it too.
9. Lemon Grass
Commonly called Lemon Verbena, this mosquito repellent plant releases a very high level of citral. This is an oil that you’ll find in commercial-grade mosquito repellents. Lemon Grass is an ornamental plant that you can add to dishes and soups to impart a citrusy flavor. New moms who are nursing and pregnant women should stay away from this plant because it’s so strong. You have to plant it in an area that gets full sun for four to six hours a day, and the soil should be rich but drain well. It can grow between three and six feet tall in zones 9 to 11, and it also repels flies from the area.
Lavender is a pleasant-smelling plant that can help calm your mind, and it’s a natural mosquito repellent plant to have in your yard. Lavender is a great ingredient in tea, and it can make other flying pests like moths, fleas, flies, and even spiders stay away. You can get several different varieties of this plant that you can match to grow in your specific zone. Generally speaking, this plant grows best in zones five to nine, and it can grow up to four feet tall with light purple blooms. You’ll want to plant it in an area that has soil that drains very well, and it likes to be in full sun.
The fact that Garlic is a mosquito repellent plant may not surprise you because it has a very strong scent. Eating garlic can repel mosquitos a little bit, and you can also squeeze out the oil from the plant and rub it on your skin. However, this isn’t recommended for enclosed spaces as it is very strong. It grows well in zones three or four in containers or in the ground, and it’ll need soil that drains very well. You’ll want to put it in an area that gets full sunlight for four to six hours every day, and this plant can grow to be two feet high. It’ll repel ants and aphids too.
12. Floss Flower
There is a chemical in this mosquito repellent plant called coumarin, and you’ll find it listed in commercial-grade mosquito repellents. This plant produces fuzzy flowers in light purple from the spring to the fall months that are a great addition to your garden or landscape. They also come in white, pink, or blue shades, and they complement many bouquets. This plant requires well-drained soil that you water regularly, and it likes to be in an area that gets full sun or partial shade in zones 10 or 11. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and it repels rabbits, deer, and flies.
13. Bee Balm
Bee Balm is a mosquito repelling plant that is better known as horsemint or bergamot. This plant will attract several pollinators to your yard like butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. You’ll find this plant used in tea, jellies, and as garnish for other dishes and salads. It’s most effective when you use the oil and put it right on your skin, and it needs to be planted in a well-drained soil. This plant loves full sun for several hours every day, and you should be in zones three to nine to plant it outside. You can dry the leaves out and use them in a tea to fight fungal infections, and the plant grows up to four feet high.
Most geraniums have a very light lemon scent, and this can keep many pests away from your garden or home. This mosquito repellant plant showcases large, beautiful blooms that come in a range of stunning colors from red and purple to white and pink, and this makes them great for decorating purposes. Any scented geranium you have comes with a small amount of citronella oil in them, and this is what repels the mosquitos. Your geranium needs partial shade or full sun in a well-drained soil to grow, and it does best planted in zones 10 or 11. It can get up to three-feet high.
Rosemary is a very popular herb that doubles as a mosquito repellent plant in many homes, and you can grow it inside and outside. This herb works well as seasoning in many dishes, and it keeps the insects away from your other vegetables. You can burn rosemary to create an aromatic insect repellent, and rosemary oil comes with several hair and skin benefits. Rosemary does best when you plant it in a soil that doesn’t retain a lot of moisture, and it likes a lot of sun. It’ll attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees to your area, and it grows outside in zones five to nine.
Up next is Allium, and this is a mosquito repellent plant that releases a very strong smell that mosquitoes tend to avoid. You’ll get slender stems with larger globe-shaped flowers on the top that seem like they float. They produce purple-hued flowers that last from spring until fall, and they thrive in full sun conditions. However, you can grow them in shady areas without worrying about them growing. They need a well-drained soil, and you must let them dry out between watering sessions so they don’t start to rot. They will add height and texture to your space.
Mosquitoes are a common household bug, and Citrosum is marketed as a mosquito repellent plant to help get rid of them. This is a perennial that gives off a strong smell of citronella. This plant will work for minor mosquito infestations, but it’s not strong enough for areas that get swarmed. You can crush the leaves and rub them on your skin to help keep mosquitoes away, and this plant likes well-drained soil with full or partial sun. You can use it in companion planting to help protect your vegetables from common pests, and this can help you have more when it’s time to harvest.
18. Variegated Plectranthus
If you’ve ever grown this mosquito repellent plant, you’ll have a good idea on how smelly it is. All you have to do for this plant to release the scent is get water on the leaves or accidentally brush up against it. The odor will repel mosquitoes, spiders, and other flying insects, and you may have heard of this plant referred to as Swedish ivy, Madagascar Spur flower, and mintleaf. It does very well in full to partial shade, and this makes it a nice groundcover. It likes a well-drained soil with average moisture levels, and it’ll die if you leave it in standing water.
Mums are excellent mosquito repellent plants that can help you transition your garden from summer to fall. They have chemical compounds that naturally repel mosquitoes, and they get processed and sold as pyrethrum. This compound works on ticks, ants, fleas, bed bugs, and silverfish. You can add perennial garden mums in your planting beds to give them daisy-like flowers, and these ones work best to repel mosquitoes. Plant your mums in full sun to get continual blooms, and they’ll bloom sporadically in partial shade. They need soil that drains very well with no standing water.
Thyme is an excellent mosquito repellent plant, especially red creeping thyme. You want to crush the leaves on this plant to release the oils, and you can put the crushed stems on your outdoor seating areas or rub the leaves into your clothing and skin. Burning the leaves of this plant can repel mosquitoes too. Thyme can grow well both indoors and out, and they need a soil that drains very well with a pH of around 6.0. You’ll want to add an organic fertilizer in the spring, and plant your thyme in an area that gets plenty of sun. If you grow it indoors, put it by a window.
Eucalyptus oil makes this an excellent mosquito repellent plant. It has a silvery coloring that is very popular in cut flower bouquets, and it’s very fragrant and low-maintenance. You can wam the leaves by planting it in full sun to release the scent, or you can burn the leaves. This is a very nice container plant that will grow up to 36-inches tall and 16-inches wide. It works well in zones 9 and 10, and it can work as an annual in other zones. You’ll want to put it in an area where the soil drains very well, and you want to set up a routine watering system to keep the soil lightly moist.
For this mosquito repellent plant, all you have to do is gently brush against it to see why mosquitoes avoid it. The leaves on this plant contain a strong aromatic compound that releases when the sunlight starts to warm the plant. It gives you 27% to 42% protection, and it’ll open to beautiful blooms in the spring and summer months that attract butterflies. You’ll need to put it in a well-draining soil that you keep consistently moist, and it should be in full sun. This plant is hardy, and it can withstand heat, drought, and poor soil to continue to thrive, and this makes it great for beginners.
Lantana by Peter Miller / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
23. Hummingbird Mint
Add some hummingbird mint next to your hummingbird feeders to attract them to your yard while repelling mosquitoes at the same time. This mosquito repellent plant will also attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects to your yard. It comes in several colors, including purple, and it smells strongly of licorice. You can rub the leaves on your skin to keep the mosquitoes away, and it grows best in zones five to nine. You can dry out the leaves and flowers to add to cookies, cakes, or tea. It likes partial shade to full sun with a well-drained soil.
Wormwood will give your landscape a silvery-colored backdrop that will brighten up the other flower colors in your garden or landscape design. This mosquito repellent plant releases a strong smell that reminds a lot of people of an antiseptic. Insects and some animals like rabbits will stay far away from it due to this strong scent, and you should plant it in an area that has a rich soil that drains well. It’ll need partial shade to full sun, and you can easily harvest and dry the stems and leaves of this plant to use in pretty dried flower arrangements. It has a feathery look that adds texture to your space.
25. Society Garlic
If you’re looking for something to add to your forest garden, try this mosquito repellant plant. This is a tropical pick that can keep mosquitoes up to 20-feet away, and it needs dappled shade, but it can also do well in full sun. It likes a well-drained soil that is very rich, and you can mix it into your perennial plant borders. Some varieties of this plant have variegated leaves, and they produce flowers that come in shades of lavender or pink. It grows best in zones 7 to 10, and you can overwinter it in a cool room if you live in a colder climate in a container.
Ways Other Than Mosquito Repellent Plants to Keep Pests Away
Along with growing the mosquito repellent plants on the list, you want to work on practicing good mosquito control throughout your yard and garden so that you don’t find yourself overwhelmed. One of the biggest things you can do is stop water from collecting and standing uncovered. So, if you harvest rainwater, make sure you can cover it. Mosquitoes can lay hundreds of eggs in a spoonful of water. You can get mosquito rings to put around your bird baths, rain barrels, water gardens, or ponds that will help ward them away.
You can also choose to use other natural products like citronella candles and torches or essential oils. I invite you to take a look at these 25 mosquito repellent plants and see which ones will work best for your home, garden, or yard. They’re natural, safe, and they can add needed spots of color all spring and summer long.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.