Planting natural mosquito repellants helps you enjoy your outdoor space, sans mosquito bites
Mosquito bites can make you crazy with their incessant itchiness, but planting mosquito-repellant plants helps keep these nasty little beasties away naturally, without you having to douse yourself in bug repellant. As well as natural mosquito control, all the plants on this list have other uses, ranging from culinary herbs to pollinator attractants, and they all repel other insect pests, too. Beautify your garden, liven up your cooking, and deter mosquitoes (and other bugs) with these hardworking plants. For the best results, plant several different options from this list.
1. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm, also known as horsemint, has a robust and citrusy scent that mosquitoes (along with many other irritating insects) go out of their way to avoid. It's a popular herbal remedy and makes a refreshing herbal tea. Lemon balm works well in poultry stuffing mixes, fruit sorbets, and herb butters. It’s a member of the mint family, so it spreads rapidly via seeds and rhizomes. To prevent it from overtaking your yard, keep it confined to containers or plant it in a border with plenty of space.
We humans love lavender for its soothing scent and pretty purple flowers, but it's an excellent option for natural mosquito control, too. If you have a dry, sunny spot in your garden, lavender will thrive with minimal attention from you. Like others on this list, it's a pet-friendly plant, keeps pests away, and attracts beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies. It has well-documented relaxing properties so you can dry the flowers, pop them in a drawstring bag, and put it under your pillow for a good night's sleep, too.
Citronella has a pungent, distinctive odor strong enough to cover the scent of mosquito-tempting targets like tasty human or pet skin. Many bugs dislike the strong smell of citronella, so it's a great natural pest deterrent, particularly if you've got fast-draining soil and need a drought-hardy option.
Catnip is a member of the fast-spreading mint family, so remember to plant with care so it doesn't take over your garden. If you have no objection to cats visiting your yard and enjoying a catnip high, this pet-friendly plant is a great choice for repelling mosquitoes. And bonus: The increased visits (and therefore scent) from cats also help deter rodents.
This plant is also recommended to grow in containers to prevent spreading into unwanted areas.
If you're interested in planting for pollinators as much as repelling mosquitoes naturally, go with marigolds. Mosquitoes hate these bright yellow flowers, but pollinators, including bees, hoverflies, and butterflies, adore them. Marigolds are also fantastic companion plants, not only because they attract pollinators to fertilize your other plants, but also because they are irresistible to slugs and snails. They're handy if you grow vegetables that slugs and snails usually devour. Instead, those nasty slime-trailing critters go right past the veggies and feast on the marigold leaves, so you get multiple forms of natural pest control, a pollinator attractant, and pretty bright flowers in one plant.
Basil is more than a vibrant culinary herb; it's a brilliant mosquito-repelling plant. And, if you have tomatoes, growing basil nearby will boost their flavor, vigor, and health. If you have a sunny spot with well-draining soil, basil is a good choice. Remember to remove any buds that appear because if you let basil flower, it stops producing new leaves.
“Newer varieties of basil are on the market now that perform well and produce new leaves without having to deadhead the buds,” says Tara Dudley, Angi Expert Review Board member and owner of Plant Life Designs.
Peppermint is another popular option in the fight against mosquito bites. Like other members of the mint family, it grows quickly and needs to be kept in check. Not only do mosquitoes dislike the aroma, but if you do get bitten before you can swat a mosquito away, you can immediately soothe the itch by crushing a peppermint leaf and rubbing it on the bite. As a bonus, peppermint is toxic to mosquito larvae and also repels spiders. Pop sprigs of fresh peppermint (or pots of peppermint plants) at doorways and on windowsills to keep both spiders and mosquitoes out.
Rosemary is delicious in savory herb mixes for lamb, beef, and chicken and brings pork stuffing to a whole new level of tastiness. But mosquitoes disagree. They'll go out of their way to avoid rosemary plants, making this multi-purpose herb a must-have in any garden where you spend lots of time outdoors. You can use it as a natural bug repellant on your skin, too, as it's easy to find (or make) natural personal care products like deodorants, shampoos, and soaps that contain fresh rosemary.
Pennyroyal is an incredibly effective plant to keep mosquitoes away, along with many other insects and arachnids, including fleas and ticks. However, it's important to note that pennyroyal is incredibly toxic to pets and livestock, including dogs, cats, and chickens, and can result in liver failure and death. So if you do have pets, consider this a poisonous plant to weed out of your garden.
Sage is tasty and has an interesting earthy flavor that humans appreciate in stuffing and herbal teas, but the scent is a repellant to mosquitoes. With minimal care, this easy herb turns into a substantial mosquito-repelling shrub. It's also favored by campers because you can dry the leaves and store them in a paper bag. Then, when sitting around the campfire and a swarm arrives, simply throw the dried leaves into the fire. The pungent scent hangs in the air and wards off mosquitoes looking for a cheap meal of tender camper.