Warmer weather brings backyard barbecues, beach days and our most famous uninvited guest: the mosquito. These pesky bugs are definitely annoying, but they also pose a big health risk.
Humans have a lot of delicious aromas that attract mosquitoes. These bugs like the smell of the carbon dioxide emitted from our breath and the compounds emitted in our sweat. Mosquitoes are also attracted to warm bodies, making humans the prime choice for this little critters dinner, especially in the summertime!
The chemicals in commercial bug sprays can be harmful to you and your family. These sprays are also harmful to the environment because they easily get into the air. For a more natural alternative, you can try adding few plants that repel mosquitoes in and around your house.
Some plants listed below, like lavender and mint, emit a soothing scent for us, but a repulsive scent for mosquitoes. If you want to find a natural way to avoid getting bit this season, take a look at the top 15 plants that repel mosquitoes to help you avoid these blood-sucking critters.
These plants work best if placed closest to the area you want to deter mosquitoes. Areas to keep in mind include windows, doors, walkways, seating areas and dining areas. Some plants work better when leaves are rubbed directly on the skin, but this is not advisable for all plants! We’ve noted which plants are safe to do this with below. Consult with a doctor or dermatologist to confirm what’s best for you and your skin.
Some of these plants work best in pots and planters since this allows you to easily move the plants around your home. On the other hand, other plants work better in the garden since they repel multiple types of insects (and therefore they work as a natural insecticide for your garden bed). If you notice that one of your potted plants is outgrowing its current pot, you should take a look at our guide to repotting a plant to keep your mosquito-repelling plant happy and healthy.
Basil brings us delicious pesto sauce and tasty salads, but it can also keep away mosquitoes. This plant naturally emits its aroma, so there’s no need to crush the leaves or prepare it in any way. Basil is toxic to mosquito larvae so you can put it near standing water to deter mosquitoes from laying eggs.
This mosquito-repelling plant is commonly known as wild bergamot and horsemint. Bee balm will bring many pollinators to your garden like bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. This plant is commonly used in jellies, tea and as a delicious garnish for salads and other dishes.
Catnip contains the chemical nepetalactone, which is a strong mosquito repellent and feline attractant. This and other chemicals make it more effective than DEET, a chemical found in most insect repellants. This makes it a top choice among the list of plants that repel mosquitoes. Cats also like to rub and roll around in it, so place your plant in a cat-friendly area if possible. Another thing to note is that catnip is easy to care for, but invasive if planted in a garden bed.
Citronella is commonly found in mosquito repellents and candles. The strong scent from citronella masks the smell of other attractants (like the smell of carbon dioxide). This large plant is normally found in planters but can also thrive in gardens in areas with no frost. Citronella is a low maintenance plant, meaning you’ll be able to repel mosquitoes with little work at all. Variations of this plant name and plants in the same family include citronella grass and citrosum.
Floss flowers contain a chemical called coumarin that is used in common mosquito repellants. These fuzzy flowers are a great visual addition to your flower bed or as an edging plant. Floss flowers come in blue, pink white and purple and also easily complement any bouquet.
Garlic’s pungent smell is a deterrent for mosquitoes. Consuming garlic can mildly repel mosquitoes. Squeezing and rubbing the juice directly on your skin can also keep mosquitoes at bay, but it’ll also keep everyone else away!
This pleasant-smelling plant can calm your mind after a long day and drive mosquitoes far away. In addition to being a great tea ingredient, lavender can also keep away other flying pests. There are many varieties of lavender, and one may grow better in your climate area than another.
Lemon balm is frequently used to help reduce stress, alleviate stomach trouble and more. Keep in mind that lemon balm is an invasive species and can take over your garden bed if planted there. This ornamental plant tastes great in soups and other dishes in addition to fighting off pesky mosquitos!
This plant is also known as lemon verbena. Lemongrass has a high level of citral, an oil used in mosquito repellants. This ornamental plant tastes great in soups and other dishes. Pregnant women and new moms should stay away from lemongrass because it has been shown to cause birth defects.
Marigolds are popular edging plants for vegetable gardens. These annual flowers have a strong fragrance and taste great in any salad, soup or herb butter due to their light and citrusy taste. Marigolds contain pyrethrum, a compound used in many repellants and sometimes referred to as “nature’s insecticide.”
This fast-grower can easily invade your garden if left unchecked, but it’s not as invasive as other plants in the mint family. Peppermint oil is not only great for repelling mosquitoes but can also help with relieving discomfort from itchy mosquito bites.
This herb is a popular seasoning for many dishes and helps keep several insects away from you and your vegetables. You can also toss some rosemary in a fire for an aromatic insect repellent (just keep close to the smoke). Rosemary oil has great benefits for skin and hair, too.
Sage is commonly used for spiritual cleansing in different cultures and is often burned in certain rituals. Burning sage is also a great way to keep mosquitoes away! Throw some sage leaves in a backyard fire pit or in your fireplace to fill your home with refreshing aromas and a natural mosquito-repelling scent.
Geraniums are slightly lemon scented and can keep a handful of pests away from your home and garden. These mosquito-repelling flowers have beautiful blooms and come in vibrant colors that make them great for decorating. Scented geraniums have a small portion of citronella oil that contributes to their mosquito-repelling capacity.
Pennyroyal is a strong natural mosquito repellant that also keeps other flying pests away like flies and fleas. It’s most effective to crush pennyroyal and keep in your pockets, but keep in mind that pennyroyal has been found to be toxic for infants and pregnant women.
Another major way to keep mosquitoes away is to avoid keeping standing water outside. Standing water is a breeding ground for many insects, so try your best to keep stagnant water away from your house. If you must (for example, if you have a birdbath), be sure to empty and clean your container at least once a week. Make sure to take care of all of your plants that repel mosquitoes so you can have a pest-free home!
Since you know how to successfully deter party-crashing mosquitoes, you can now focus on making your backyard parties and summer getaways the best they can be! Consider having a fun garden party filled with fresh and beautiful flowers and some of your favorite mosquito repelling plants.
About Jessica Santos:
Jessica loves visiting dessert shops and is a self-proclaimed dessert connoisseur. If she’s not trying out the latest Instagram trend or writing about florals, you can find her attending community street fairs and festivals in various cities.