Ah, the bane of summertime: mosquitos. These nasty bloodsuckers can ruin a good barbeque with their buzzing and itchy bites.
Commercial bug repellants can work well, but there’s plenty of reasons you may want a more natural route. Many chemical sprays have an unpleasant odor or may leave your skin feeling sticky.
You may also not want to take the chance of inhaling or ingesting the chemicals in these repellants.
Luckily, there’s an alternative to commercial repellants. It’s not only natural but also adds beauty to your home: mosquito repelling plants.
There are many types of plants that naturally repel mosquitos. Most are easy to grow in the average garden, and some can be grown in pots for smaller spaces.
Read on to find out more about these plants and how you can grow them!
12 Plants That Repel Mosquitoes And How To Grow Them
The following list contains plants that can be grown in containers or on the ground in all types of climates.
Use them to bring color and pleasant smells to your garden as well as to repel mosquitoes.
Mint is a fantastic plant to have in your garden for so many different reasons. It smells fantastic, it’s great for cocktails like mint juleps and it fights mosquitoes!
Mint contains a chemical compound called nepetalactone. This compound is a plant’s natural defense against insects that want to eat them. Mosquitoes are among those insects that hate nepetalactone.
This means that having a mint plant in your garden can help keep mosquitoes from ruining your summer. Mint can be grown in containers as well, so even if you have little space, you can have some mint on hand.
Catnip is actually a close cousin of the mint plant. It’s not as versatile as mint when it comes to recipes, but cats do love it.
Mosquitoes, on the other hand, hate catnip. It has the same chemical compound as mint, so it keeps mosquitoes away. Like mint, catnip can be grown both in the ground and in a pot.
Just make sure to keep your cat away from the pot. You might end up with a hyperactive cat and a broken container!
The purple blooms of lavender look great, smell great, and even taste great! They’re also effective mosquito repellants. Lavender is an all-around good plant to have in your garden.
Lavender contains a compound called linalool, which mosquitoes hate. In fact, linalool is often used in commercial bug sprays for this exact reason.
Plant some lavender in the spring where it can get plenty of sun, either in the ground or in a large container. Now you’ll be ready to fight off mosquitoes come summer.
4. Citronella Grass
Another popular ingredient for repelling mosquitoes, citronella grass is easy to grow. It does well in warm climates, but you can also grow it in pots in colder areas.
This low-maintenance grass isn’t very colorful, but it does give off a unique lemony scent. Be careful not to buy geraniums sold as “citronella,” as they are not the same.
Look for a label that says Cymbopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus for the real deal.
Citronella is a large grass that does well in the ground, but it can also be grown in large containers. This is particularly good in colder climates where the ground might be too frosty.
Basil may smell delicious to us, but it’s horrible to mosquitoes. Basil gives off a pungent odor that repels mosquitoes. It also works on flies.
Basil likes damp environments with a lot of sunlight. They’re so easy to care for that many supermarkets now sell windowsill basil in pots. That way you can harvest fresh basil whenever you need it.
By itself, sage doesn’t deter mosquitoes as well as some of the other plants on this list. However, if you plan on barbecuing or having a fire pit in the summer, sage can still be helpful.
If you toss a handful of sage leaves onto a fire, the fragrant smoke will help repel mosquitoes. If you make sure it gets full sun, you can grow sage in the ground or in a pot.
This list may be beginning to sound like a delicious recipe, but we promise this is about mosquito repellants!
Rosemary is another versatile plant for your garden. Not only will it keep the bugs away, but It’s easy to grow in containers and can be used for cooking. Its strong, woody odor can also help keep away flies.
8. Bee Balm
Using natural mosquito repellants rather than synthetic compounds is a great way to help the environment. Bee balm fits that bill of a natural repellant, but it goes one step further. Bee balm, as its name suggests, attracts bees!
Planting flowers that support pollinators like bees is good for the environment, especially since bees are on the decline.
Perennial bee balm can be grown in a garden bed, but it can be invasive if you’re not careful. Luckily, this plant also does well in containers.
These beautiful flowers give off an equally beautiful scent – at least to humans. Mosquitoes find it offensive because the flowers secrete coumarin. This compound smells a little like vanilla but tastes bitter.
It’s a natural chemical defense against predators who might eat the plant. It’s so effective against mosquitoes that it’s used in commercial bug sprays.
Ageratum can grow in containers or garden beds, as long as it gets full sun. Too much shade will yield fewer of its beautiful blossoms.
You may see some people use lemongrass and citronella interchangeably, but they are in fact different plants. However, they are similar, and both can be used to ward off mosquitoes.
Lemongrass has a slightly more mellow smell than citronella, which may appeal to more people. It’s also a delicious cooking ingredient.
If you grow it in a container, make sure you choose a large one. This will give the tall grass and its roots room to grow.
This relative of the mint plant is just as effective at repelling mosquitoes. It gives off a similar scent, and you can rub the leaves on your skin to release the mosquito-repelling oils.
They also have pretty purple blooms that are more prominent than blooms on a mint plant. And just like mint, pennyroyal is perfectly fine in a pot or in the ground.
Lantana flowers are some of the best at fending off mosquitoes. In fact, the extract from these flowers was over 94% effective at protecting against mosquitoes when used in coconut oil.
These plants also attract butterflies and can be grown even in hot, sunny climates. It can be grown in the ground, of course, but it also does extremely well in containers.
How Do Mosquito Repellent Plants Work?
It seems too good to be true that a few plants can keep away mosquitoes. But even commercial bug sprays use the compounds found in these plants as part of their formulas.
So, what makes mosquitoes stay away from these plants? Most of the time it’s the scent. Mosquitoes have a honed sense of smell that is great at targeting human sweat.
But they can also pick up other odorous chemical compounds they like a lot less. Plants like citronella, lavender, and mint, have various compounds that are unpleasant to mosquitoes and other insects.
Others are strong enough to mask the odor of humans if nearby or if the oil is applied to the skin.
Mosquitoes are annoying on so many levels. They buzz loudly around your ears, their bites are itchy and even painful, and they can carry disease. They’re also notoriously hard to deter and love to go after humans.
But don’t let these pesky insects ruin your enjoyment of the outdoors! Instead, try some natural deterrents in the form of mosquito-repelling plants.
Not only will your garden look beautiful, but you’ll be able to enjoy it without getting bitten over and over.