10 Pretty and Powerful Plants That Repel Mosquitoes (You’re Welcome)

repel mosquitoes with plants
iStock/auimeesri

Is there anything that you don’t love about summer? Odd question, I know, because who doesn’t love the sun, long days, and the feeling of bare feet in grass? But, if there is one thing that bugs me about summer it is, you saw the pun coming, bugs. I especially dislike mosquitoes. Learn how you can reclaim your outdoor space from these pests by growing plants that repel mosquitoes.

A reminder of why mosquitoes are so nasty

You know that mosquitoes are annoying and that their bites can leave you itchy for days. However, according to the American Mosquito Control Association, “Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism — over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year.” In the U.S., mosquitoes transmit Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Chikungunya, and Zika viruses; and while rare in the U.S., they can also spread Malaria and West Nile.

Sure, you can cover yourself with repellent, but chemicals that repel mosquitoes such as DEET; Permethrin; and P-menthane-3,8-diol carry their own risks.

So, why not repel the little buggers and beautify your garden at the same time?

10 plants that repel mosquitoes:

1. Basil

There are many wonderful varieties of basil to experiment with, and the great news is that they all repel mosquitoes. This flavorful herb is toxic to mosquito larvae, so growing it allows you to get rid of the pests long before they reach maturity.

Basil grows best in a sunny location where its soil is kept damp.

2. Catnip (a.k.a. catmint)

Catnip attracts, you guessed it, cats. So, if you don’t want every neighborhood cat traipsing through your garden then you may not want to grow it. If, however, you are a friend of felines, this member of the mint family is super simple to grow. It contains the natural chemical nepetalaetone which repels mosquitoes.

3. Citronella grass

You’ve probably seen this on the list of ingredients of your favorite all-natural mosquito repellent. This low maintenance plant will grow well in a large pot, which makes it a great option for your patio or deck. If you live in an area that experiences frost, bring the plant in before the first frost if you want it to survive the colder months.

4. Lavender

This tough, fragrant plant is a welcome addition to any garden because of its purple flowers and welcoming scent. In addition to repelling mosquitoes, lavender will also deter moths and flies. For best results, rub the fragrant leaves on your skin.

5. Lemon balm

This fragrant member of the mint family needs to be grown in a pot to prevent it from spreading and taking over your garden. But, if you do that, you’ll be rewarded with a pretty and utilitarian potted plant.

6. Marigolds

This garden staple was my “gateway drug” into gardening. But when I was planting these as a five year old I never appreciated their mosquito repelling ability. Easy to grow, marigolds will also repel aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and tomato hornworm.

7. Pennyroyal

This is a plant that I’m growing for the first time this year. I like the fact that it repels mosquitoes, and my dog is happy that it also repels fleas and ticks. Be careful that neither you or your dog consumes the plant as it is toxic. I plan to tie a bunch to my backpack the next time I go hiking.

8. Sage

If you’re a cook, there’s a good chance that this kitchen staple is already growing in your garden. Consider burning a bunch of it before your next BBQ to repel mosquitoes.

9. Scented geraniums

Any variety of scented geranium should repel mosquitoes, but the lemon scented variety will be most effective. This beautiful plant will grow best in a warm, sunny location.

10. Rosemary

Mosquitoes can’t stand rosemary‘s woody scent. Grow this herb in a hot, dry location and chances are that it will grow large enough for you to prune into attractive shapes. Want more good news? It also repels cabbage moths and carrot flies.

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Chris Hull

Chris is a gardener living in southern Maine.