Unless you live someplace very cold, there’s one thing you can always count on to ruin your time outdoors, whether you are working or relaxing: mosquitoes.
These biting little scumbags will cover you with red, itchy welts, and worst of all they can spread disease. If you live anywhere it’s warm, and especially near water, you’ll be covered in a cloud of the things the moment you step outside.
And yes, we do have plenty of bug sprays and things to keep them away, but I’m tired of using that smelly stuff and I worry about what the chemicals are doing to my body.
Luckily, you don’t have to resort to man-made concoctions to keep bloodsuckers at bay. Below is a list of 21 plants that have proven mosquito-repelling power.
Whether you want to line your patio with them or grow them in your garden to give you a little relief, there’s bound to be at least a few plants that your mosquitoes will probably hate. Keep reading and we’ll get right to it.
Ageratum (aka Floss Flower)
You may know this plant as the Floss Flower, but its real name is Ageratum. While it is a feast for the eyes with its feathery, delicate blue flowers, it’s also a natural mosquito repeller. Not a bad combo!
The secret lies in a chemical the plant secretes, called coumarin. Mosquitoes can’t stand the stuff. Just remember to handle this one with care, as some people are known to suffer from mild skin irritation from the same chemical. Not too bad, just something to be aware of.
Allium spp. (aka Ornamental Onion)
You probably only think of onions as an indispensable kitchen veggie, but many varieties such as this one have impressive flowers! Not only do most feature large, round blooms, but they are a great way to keep mosquitoes at bay, too, thanks to their natural repellent compounds.
They’re also known to repel other garden pests like slugs and aphids so, if you’re looking for an all-rounder to add to your garden, these are definitely it.
Next is the American Beautyberry. A North American native plant that’s as effective against mosquitoes as it is beautiful.
The dense clusters of bright, oil-paint purple berries are genuinely a sight to behold, and they also serve a very practical purpose as an ingredient in jams, wines, and other products after processing.
This plant has been proven to repel mosquitoes, so, if you want a gorgeous addition to your garden or patio, it’s a win-win!
Arguably the most indispensable kitchen herb, basil is not just for your pasta sauce. Its powerful natural defenses can keep those pesky mosquitoes away. Plus, basil is easy to grow and maintain, making it perfect even for beginner green thumbs.
You can plant it in a pot near your outdoor seating area or create a border around your garden or patio. Any which way, you’ll enjoy mosquito-free evenings and also enjoy plucking fresh basil for your meals. One of my favorites.
Bee balm is another plant that’s a must-have in any mosquito-repelling arsenal. As the name suggests, it’s loved by pollinators like bees and butterflies, but mosquitoes won’t come near it.
Its strong, bracing fragrance helps to conceal the scents that attract mosquitoes in the first place, making it much less likely for them to invade your space as a rule. Plus, bee balm is a beautiful plant that can add a pop of color and texture to any setting. An inspired choice all around.
Yes, the same plant that drives cats wild also repels mosquitoes. Some folks allege that it is naturally even more effective at the job than some commercial bug sprays.
Just do keep in mind that while you’re enjoying a mosquito-free outing, you are likely to end up attracting a few new feline friends! Jokes aside, this is a perfect choice if you have cats of your own, or if you want to further incentivize a barn cat to stick around.
The citronella plant: you won’t go wrong with this well-known classic. You’ve probably heard of it as a mosquito-repelling superstar, but here’s what you need to know.
While the oil extracted from citronella is truly a proven mosquito deterrent, the plant itself isn’t as potent when in situ, though it has an effect on them.
You’ll need multiple citronella plants to add up to comprehensive repellent against the buggers. However, don’t write it off just yet! It still smells great and makes a lovely addition to your garden. Pro tip: Brush against it and shake it gently, releasing and wafting its scent when you are near it.
Eucalyptus plants are not only beautiful with their alluring, silvery leaves, but they also have mosquito-repelling properties. That scent of Eucalyptus that is so strong, turns out, mosquitoes truly can’t stand it.
So, planting a few of these beauties around your yard can be a great way to deter those pesky critters and spruce up the landscape at the same time. Just remember, Eucalyptus trees can get quite large in time, so make sure you have enough space!
Fennel might be more familiar to you as a culinary herb, but it’s also a natural and effective mosquito repellent like many other herbs. The strong aroma of fennel is something mosquitoes find quite intolerable.
In fact, most of those distinctive aromatic compounds we associate with the aroma of various herbs are in truth toxins designed to protect the plant from most animals, especially insects. Neat, huh?
Plus, fennel is an easy-to-grow perennial that can thrive in a variety of climates. So why not add some to your garden?
Garlic isn’t just for warding off vampires and making all dishes taste 10x better than they would otherwise: it can help keep mosquitoes well away too! While eating garlic might not repel mosquitoes- that’s an urban legend- having garlic plants in your garden can.
The strong smell of the plants can also mask your own aroma which attracts blood-suckers, making it harder for them to find you in the first place. Add some to your garden, as it’s a hardy plant that’s easy to grow and can offer you many benefits in and out of the home.
Lavender is beloved for its beautiful rows of purple flowers and intoxicating, calming scent, but this is another that mosquitoes detest. They find the smell of lavender repugnant and will steer clear.
Planting some lavender in your garden will help deter these pesky insects while providing you with a lovely display of blooms and a wonderful fragrance. But placement is everything: lavender demands a sunny spot with well-drained soil.
Lantana camara is another trough plant that’s a powerhouse when it comes to repelling biting bugs. Its vibrant flowers are magnets for butterflies which will help your garden, but mosquitoes give them a wide berth.
That pungent aroma that is so associated with the plant is what does it, acting as a lure or a warning to bugs depending on the species. So, if you’re looking for a colorful and effective mosquito-repellent, lantana camara is a great choice.
Lemongrass is another plant that’s as fragrant as it is beneficial. This easy-to-grow herb not only repels mosquitoes but offers a host of other perks too. It can be used for skin care, cooking, and a host of other uses.
Plus, its antibacterial properties make it a perfect ingredient for homemade natural household cleaners. And let’s not forget a soothing cup of lemongrass tea you can brew, too. Another one of my favorites, and a supremely beneficial one.
Not to be confused with lemongrass, lemon balm is a plant that’s a must-have in any mosquito-repelling plan.
This aromatic herb has a lovely, grassy, lemony scent that is fresh and appealing. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, aren’t fans as you might expect; this is another plant that has built-in bug defenses.
You can easily grow it in pots, plant it around a border or porch, or even use it as ground cover in some cases. It is a persistent and vigorous grower, so give it plenty of room to spread.
These beloved and vibrant flowers not only add a pop of color to any landscape or garden, but their distinct fragrance also deters mosquitoes. Marigolds are fun to grow and require very little maintenance compared to other showy flowers, making them perfect for both novice and experienced gardeners.
Yet another herb, yet another mosquito deterrent, and one to have in your garden for more reasons than that.
First off, mint’s strong aroma is a natural mosquito repellent, but that’s not all. Mint is also a versatile culinary herb like so many others on our list here, and one that you can use to add a bracing, cool twist to sweet and savory dishes alike.
Just a heads up: some varieties tend to spread quite aggressively, and close contact can be harmful to other plants, so consider planting it in containers or keeping it in check some other way.
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Have you heard of pennyroyal? You might call it a mosquito’s most hated plant! This member of the mint family has a strong scent that mosquitoes find downright intolerable.
But remember, while it’s great at repelling mosquitoes and has an appealing scent, unlike other mint varieties, pennyroyal should be handled with caution as it can be toxic if ingested in large amounts.
Rosemary is one of the most versatile kitchen herbs, and one that belongs in any garden whether you have mosquito issues or not.
And while it’s indeed a culinary powerhouse, it’s also an all-natural and highly effective mosquito repellent. That distinct aroma is a warning to mosquitoes and other insects that it is dangerous to them!
Plus, rosemary is a perennial plant, so it’ll keep your garden looking lovely year-round. And like lavender, discussed elsewhere on our list, it loves well-drained soil and plenty of sun.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Next up is another indispensable herb, sage. Note that we’re talking about true sage, Salvia officinalis, not other plants that just happen to have sage in the name or look like it.
This hardy herb is an excellent choice if you’re looking to keep mosquitoes at bay. Its robust aroma repels mosquitoes while adding a unique flavor to savory dishes.
And here’s another pro tip: burning sage leaves can enhance its mosquito-repelling power! If you have a fire going or care to burn a small bowl of dried herbs, pop sage in there to ward away those mosquitoes with ease.
The scented geranium is a plant that’s as fragrant as it is beautiful. Its lovely aroma is a real pleasure for people but a real turn-off for mosquitoes who find it irritating.
Planting some around your garden can definitely liven it up while keeping those biters well away from you. And a big, beautiful display of those magnificent blooms is sure to brighten up your day. Whether you plant them in the ground, in beds, or in containers, make sure they get plenty of sun!
And last but never least, let’s talk about thyme, another legendary kitchen staple. This humble herb is another in a long line that readily repels mosquitoes.
That strong, earthy scent is something that adds distinction to dishes with just a pinch, but one that mosquitoes can’t wait to get away from.
Plus, it’s a plant that’s easy to grow and maintain no matter how you have it planted. In a box by the window, containers on the patio, anywhere!
This makes it easy to use for establishing a “safe zone” and also for keeping handy for cooking. A mosquito-free patio and a supply of fresh thyme for your cooking: what’s not to love?
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.