If those flying needles are sucking the fun out of your back yard or patio, try planting these 10 beautiful plants that naturally repel mosquitoes.
I hate mosquitoes. I hate them a lot. It’s not just the idea of hundreds of tiny flying needles. It’s not just the incessant buzzing that lets you know they are around even if they are far outside of swatting range. And it’s not just the fact that after they bite, they leave a tiny little present behind that swells up and make you itch for days later.
I hate them because they quite literally suck the fun out of being outdoors.
You see, I’ve worked hard to create a backyard that is comfortable and inviting. A place to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or a summer cocktail.
But these efforts can be ruined by these tiny creatures that insist on buzzing around me, trying to feed on me.
And I don’t understand them as a breed. You’d think they’d have some way of communicating to each other… “Beware, hundreds have died over there – STAY AWAY!!” But, instead, it seems like the more you smack down, the more of their brothers and sisters arrive, almost as if they are on a mission to avenge their fallen comrades.
I understand the science behind it. Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale. Therefore, the simple act of breathing is like ringing the dinner bell for them. Body heat can also be a factor. Although, once they are close enough, they can even detect your blood type – making some folks more susceptible to mosquito bites than others.
And if you DARE to have a conversation with someone else… well, that’s like handing out coupons for a free all-you-can-eat buffet.
How to Deal with Mosquitoes in Your Yard
But enough about my dislike of mosquitoes, the question is what can be done about them??
There are limited options when it comes to reclaiming one’s back yard from the flying ninja needles.
You can lather yourself with mosquito repellent all summer long, but that doesn’t feel or smell good.
You can screen in your back deck, creating a physical and visual barrier between you and nature.
You can burn mosquito coils, coffee grounds, egg cartons or other things that smolder and create enough smoke to distract their sensors.
You can try one of the many mosquito killing or repelling gadgets that come and go, each providing limited relief.
Or you can turn to nature.
Mosquitoes have a very acute sense of smell. So much so that they can smell your “dinner bell” from over 100 feet away.
But nature offers some simple – and attractive – ways to naturally disrupt that sense of smell, letting you hide behind a variety of beautiful plants.
That doesn’t mean that not a single mosquito will ever find its way your deliciousness. But it can help significantly reduce the number of the pesky little buzzers.
Here are 10 garden plants that naturally repel mosquitoes.
While I’ve seen larger lists, many of those contain plants that can be crushed or split to use as a topical insect repellent. For this list, I’ve focused primarily on those that do their mosquito repelling duties while still being firmly planted in the ground (although some ALSO work through other applications).
So here they are, our Top 10 plants that repel mosquitoes:
Vegetable growers have long known that marigolds make a great companion plan to keep bugs away from tomatoes and other vegetables.
That’s because marigolds contain Pyrethrum, which is an ingredient found in many commercial insect repellents. This gives them their characteristic aroma which mosquitoes find truly repulsive. Marigolds are not the only flower to contain Pyrethrum, it is commonly found in daisies and chrysanthemums. However, the Pyrethrum in those flowers often needs to be processed (dried and then crushed) in order to release the insecticidal qualities, whereas marigolds work while live in the garden.
Plus, they are a super-cute flower that makes a great border plant.
I love the smell of lavender. What makes it even better is that the essential oils in lavender create a aromatic barrier that help keep mosquitoes at bay.
Lavender needs a lot of light and well drained soil to grow well, so plant in an area that gets full sun.
Most bugs – including mosquitoes – hat the taste and smell of mint, so planting it around your home can help keep the mosquitoes at bay. But use caution with mint, as it is an invasive plant that quickly and easily spreads. Keep it contained in a raised garden bed or planter to keep it from taking over the rest of your garden.
For the occasion bite you still get, rub the mint leaves on the bite for a natural after-bite remedy.
Rosemary works in two ways to prevent mosquitoes as well as flies from wreaking havoc on your outdoor life. As a plant, mosquitoes are not found of its unique scent.
And, you can dry sprigs of rosemary that you can burn in a shallow dish to create aromatic smoke will help drive the mosquitoes away.
5. Lemon Balm (aka Beebalm)
Lemon Balm is part of the mint family of plants and is an easy-to-grow perennial flower which has similar mosquito-repelling qualities as citronella. Also known as Beebalm, Lemon Balm emits a strong odor that is similar to incense, strong enough to masking the carbon dioxide odor and confuse mosquitoes.
6. Citronella Grass
Citronella is one of the most common ingredients in mosquito repellents, including sprays, candles, oils, and more. This perennial clumping grass can be planted to emit the same strong odor that is extracted and added to commercial products, giving you a (literally) green alternative to burning candles.
Cats love Catnip. Mosquitoes hate it. This might not be the best choice if you have cats around, because they can go a little bit nippy for the cat nip.
Catnip also makes a great topical insect repellent, with research showing that Nepetalactone – the essential oil in catnip and what gives the plant its unique odor – was measured to be ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the chemical-laden DEET.
Although eating garlic does not repel mosquitoes, having garlic in your garden does. Garlic has a very distinct smell that can be overpowering for some.
But keep in mind that a mosquitoes sense of smell is far stronger than that of a human’s, so you do not need to be able to smell the garlic for it to do it’s work repelling mosquitoes.
Plus, you have a ready supply of fresh garlic cloves for cooking!
Although basic basil does a nice job repelling mosquitoes, flavored basil – such as cinnamon or lemon basil – have a double-whammy of scents that really help deter the little buzzers.
Basil grows best in lots of sunlight, and it prefers well-drained, moist soil with a neutral pH.
10. Lemon-Scented Geraniums
Combine the beauty of geraniums with the lemon-scented mosquito-repelling qualities of Citronella and you have Lemon-Scented Geraniums. These plants that repel mosquitoes may be a bit harder to find, but your specialty garden store should have a variety in stock and be available for immediate planting.
Repel Mosquitoes, Attract Dragonflies
Another great way to reduce the nuisance of mosquitoes is by attracting dragonflies to your yard.
Dragonflies love snacking on mosquitoes and can eat hundreds of them per day… each.
COLOR BLOCK: Combine these mosquito repelling plants with these 5 plants that attract mosquito-eating dragonflies and you can drastically reduce the mosquito population in your own back yard.