Nothing ruins a summer evening like swatting away mosquitos. From the constant buzzing to itchy bites, mosquitos are a nuisance we all want to avoid. But did you know there are more than repellent sprays and citronella candles out there? Certain plants can act as natural mosquito repellents, offering relief if you prefer to avoid synthetic solutions.
Mosquitos hate certain herbs and flowers; planting them can keep your outdoor area mosquito-free. The strong scents of these plants help to deter mosquitos, while the essential oils and extracts can keep them away for hours.
The best thing about the plants on this list is that they’re not just helpful for keeping away pests – many of them are also beautiful ornamental plants.
You can create a gorgeous, fragrant garden space with these plants while protecting your outdoor area from mosquitos. Plus, some are even edible plants that can be used for cooking! So while helping repel those pesky mosquitos, you can even harvest some herbs for delicious summer dishes.
The 12 Best Plants For Mosquitos
You’ll notice a common theme among the plants on this list: many have a strong, spicy scent. Mosquitos hate potent smells and will stay away from these plants. This is because the strong fragrance masks the smells humans emit – such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide.
So to keep the mosquitos away, plant some of these mosquito-repelling plants in your garden:
- Citronella Grass
Citronella Grass, or Cymbopogon nardus, is a beautiful grassy plant with a strong citrus scent. It’s been used for centuries as an insect repellent and is the main ingredient in many mosquito repellents. Citronella plants are often confused with Lemongrass, but the blades of Citronella Grass are much wider.
You’ll want to use Citronella oil or extract from the plant for the best natural mosquito repellent. Crush some leaves and rub them on your skin before going outside. That said, having Citronella Grass in your garden can still offer some relief.
Citronella loves full sun, so plant it somewhere with plenty of sunlight. It’s a great addition to your garden, and the distinctive smell is a mild but effective mosquito repellent.
Marigolds, or Tagetes, are bright and cheerful flowers that keep away many pests, including mosquitos! The plant produces a chemical called Pyrethrum, which is used in many commercial insect repellents. Marigolds are hardy annuals and can tolerate a wide range of soil types.
While the scent of marigolds can be off-putting to humans, the same can be said for mosquitos. Plant marigolds near doorways or windows to help keep the mosquitos away from your home.
Marigolds are also excellent plants for container gardens and can be used as an accent in flower beds or borders. Just be sure any pots you use allow for good drainage!
Lavender is a beautiful herb that is highly fragrant and has been used for centuries in many different forms. The strong scent of lavender helps deter mosquitos and other pests like flies and moths. Lavender is easy to care for and can thrive in sunny, well-drained locations.
With its mounding shape and purple flowers – lavender is the perfect flower for adding both visual interest and perfume to your garden. There are many varieties of lavender plants, but English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a good fragrant option.
Not only is it a brilliant mosquito repellent, but the buds of lavender can be used for aromatherapy and have many culinary uses. Lavender is a useful all-around plant to have in your garden!
Ageratum, or Ageratum houstonianum, is a beautiful annual plant with soft, furry leaves and small blooms. It has a sweet scent that humans enjoy but is a highly effective mosquito repellent. Also known as ‘floss flower,’ Ageratum is a pretty plant for containers and flower beds.
Ageratum loves full sun but can tolerate some shade. It doesn’t need much maintenance either – just occasional watering and trimming will do the trick! This plant is a great choice to keep your garden looking beautiful while still deterring annoying mosquitoes.
Do keep in mind that Ageratum is toxic to humans and animals, so it’s best to keep the plant’s leaves and blooms away from children and pets.
Mint has to be one of the strongest-smelling herbs of all time. And its strong scent is enough to repel many animals, including mosquitos! Mint prefers moist, well-drained soil in a sunny or partially-shaded spot.
You can easily keep mint in containers, but be warned – this is one herb that will take over if given a chance. Planting mint in a pot is the best way to keep it from spreading. The plant will need regular watering and trimming to keep it at a manageable size.
Besides repelling mosquitoes, the leaves of mint can be used in teas, added to salads, and even used in cooking. It’s a great all-around plant to have in your herb garden.
- Lemon Balm
Citrus has to be one of the best and most effective natural insect repellents, so lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an excellent plant to have in your garden. This perennial herb has a strong lemony scent that deters mosquitos and other pests like gnats.
Lemon balm grows best in full sun and can tolerate light shade. It’s a nice option for container gardening, as it grows quickly and needs only occasional maintenance.
If you want to plant lemon balm directly into your garden, give it plenty of room – it can spread pretty far! You must also water it regularly, as lemon balm prefers moist soil. Lemon balm not only helps keep mosquitos away but it can also be brewed into tea or used in cooking.
Also known as bee balm or horsemint, Monarda is a fragrant perennial plant that deters mosquitos with its strong smell. It produces beautiful blooms in shades of pink, purple, and white, making it an attractive addition to any garden.
The great thing about Monarda is how it attracts bees and butterflies to your garden while deterring mosquitos – so it’s a win-win! Monarda prefers full sun and evenly moist soil through the growing season (spring to summer).
You must water your Monarda regularly and trim it to keep the blooms coming. It can spread very quickly, but dividing the plant in fall can help keep your Monarda plant under control.
Catmint (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb that grows quickly and produces beautiful lavender-blue flowers. It is a member of the mint family, and the leaves have a minty, sweet but spicy scent – which can also be used in cooking.
Plant catmint around your garden, patio seating area, or deck to keep mosquitos away. It prefers full sun and is fairly easy to care for. Just be sure to deadhead the blooms to keep it looking tidy.
Similar to catmint, catnip is a perennial herb related to mint. It has large grey-green leaves, small white flowers, and a very slight minty scent. Catnip produces nepetalactone, a chemical that is extremely effective in repelling mosquitos.
Catnip grows wild across most of Canada and the United States, but you can also easily cultivate it in your garden. It prefers full sun and needs regular watering to keep it looking its best.
And don’t worry if you have a cat. Catnip is not harmful to cats in small doses, and it won’t actually attract more of them!
- Lemon Thyme
It’s no surprise how many lemon-scented plants there are on this list! Along with mint, lemon-citrus is one of the best mosquito repellents. Lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus) is a fragrant perennial shrub with lemon-scented leaves.
Planting this in your garden is a great way to keep the mosquitos away while having beautiful plants all season long. Lemon thyme prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It also needs regular watering for best results.
Garlic (Allium sativa) is a common kitchen ingredient but can also be used to repel mosquitos. Garlic has a strong odor that mosquitos can’t stand, and it’s actually very easy to grow. Plant garlic cloves in your garden in fall or early spring for the best results.
Garlic thrives in full sun and needs regular watering, though it’s not too picky about soil conditions. After the garlic has grown, you can also use the leaves and flowers in cooking – just like regular store-bought garlic.
In fact, adding garlic to your diet is another good option for keeping mosquitos away!
Alliums are any plant in the onion family, including onions, garlic, chives, and leeks. Alliums contain sulfur compounds that repel mosquitos, making them a pretty yet effective mosquito repellent.
The pom-pom-shaped flowers of alliums are also attractive and fragrant. With purple, blue, red, and pink flowers – they can add a lot of color to your garden. Alliums usually prefer full sun and are draught-resistant, making them easy plants to care for.
Plant alliums in your garden this season to repel mosquitos and enjoy the colorful blooms all summer!
These are just a few of the many plants that can be used to keep mosquitos away. If you don’t want to use commercial insect repellents, why not try planting some of these in your garden instead? Just be sure to research the best ways to use each plant and if they are suitable for topical use or best left in the soil.
Combined with other pest control methods, these plants will help keep your outdoor space mosquito-free all summer!