9 Plants to Grow that Repel Mosquitoes

Youíve likely experienced the disappointment of having an outdoor party, hike or other event ruined by a swarm of mosquitoes. If youíre looking for a natural way to get rid of these uninvited guests, try adding some mosquito-repelling plants to your garden this year.

Simply having these plants in your yard and outdoor living spaces can be helpful, but youíll get the most benefit by crushing the leaves and flowers to release their pungent, bug-repelling essential oils. You can then rub the oils on your skin, clothing or outdoor furniture to deter mosquitoes. You can also cut and hang fresh cuttings around your home, or dry them to keep on hand for later use.

Basil

1. Basil

Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum

Mosquito larvae are aquatic, living underwater until they mature and emerge as adult mosquitoes. A 2009 study found that basil extract was highly toxic to mosquito larvae. Planting basil near wet areas is unlikely to directly kill mosquito larvae, but the plants may ward off any approaching adults and convince them to lay their eggs elsewhere.

Basil is an easy-to-grow annual herb you can sow directly in the ground after the risk of frost has passed.

Photo of Bay Laurel Plant with a Text Overlay that Reads: 9 Plants that Repel Mosquitoes

2. Bay Laurel

Scientific Name: Laurus nobilis

Bay laurel is the plant bay leaves are taken from. This commonly used herb has been shown to contain compounds that repel various insect pests, including mosquitoes. You can also use bay leaves to ward off ants, cockroaches, flies and wasps.

Bay laurel is hardy in USDA zones 8 and up, or it can be grown as a houseplant in colder climates. You can also easily buy bay leaves and place them around your home to deter mosquitoes and other pests.

Catnip

3. Catnip

Scientific Name: Nepeta cataria

If you want to attract cats to your garden and beat bugs at the same time, catnip is a great choice. Catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone that gives the plant its distinct odor. Cats find the scent irresistible, but mosquitoes hate it. In fact, nepetalactone has been found to be about 10 times more effective than DEET in repelling mosquitoes.

Catnip is perennial in most regions. Just make sure you protect small plants so they can get established before your local cats devour them.

Citronella grass

4. Citronella Grass

Scientific Name: Cymbopogon nardus

Citronella grass is the plant citronella oil is derived from, which is used in a variety of insect repelling products. Citronella oil has been proven to be more effective than DEET when itís first applied to an area, but its mosquito-repelling power slowly decreases after one hour. To maintain citronellaís strength, reapply citronella oil or crush some fresh leaves against your skin or clothing every hour or two when youíre outside.

Citronella grass is native to tropical areas of Asia and is only hardy in USDA zones 10 to 12. It can be grown as an annual in colder regions. The plants are very attractive and can grow up to 6 feet (2 meters) tall.

Garlic

5. Garlic

Scientific Name: Allium sativum

Research is limited so far, but the oil thatís released when you cut up garlic cloves has been reported by many to effectively repel mosquitoes. Garlic is also included in various commercial bug and mosquito repellants. The chemical compound that gives garlic its distinct smell is called allicin, which is likely what wards off bugs. If you eat garlic, the allicin will come through to your skin. This may also help prevent mosquito attacks.

Garlic grows as a perennial in USDA zones 3 to 8. You can simply grow it as an ornamental plant, or you can harvest it in early summer to eat and replant some of the bulbs for next year.

Lavender

6. Lavender

Scientific Name: Lavandula species

Research has shown that lavender essential oil is as effective as the chemical bug repellant DEET for repelling a variety of bugs. This is a good thing, considering that DEET-based repellants have been linked to motor function impairment and nervous system damage in humans.

Lavender is a perennial in USDA zones 7 and up. It can be grown as an annual or indoor herb in colder climates. You can crush the leaves to rub on your skin and clothing to repel mosquitoes, as well as promote relaxation and calmness.

Related: 6 Natural Remedies for Mosquito Bites

Lemon Balm

7. Lemon Balm

Scientific Name: Melissa officinalis

Research has shown that lemon balm has a variety of natural compounds that can repel mosquitoes. In addition, researchers made an extract of basil and lemon balm that was toxic to adult mosquitoes, whether they inhaled it or came in contact with it.

Lemon balm is a hardy perennial, but it can be fairly invasive as itís related to mint. Plant it in a container sunk in the ground to prevent spreading. It also makes a good indoor plant.

Marigold

8. Marigolds

Scientific Name: Tagetes species

Marigolds produce what are known as allelochemicals, which are harmful to a range of insect pests, including mosquitoes. One study extracted these allelochemicals from the roots, leaves and flowers of different species of marigold plants. The researchers found that marigold flowers have the highest amounts of insecticidal allelochemicals. So, it would likely be most effective to use marigold flowers to repel mosquitoes by crushing them and distributing them around your home.

Marigolds are annuals that you can easily grow from seed or buy seedlings at most garden centers or nurseries in the spring. They come in a wide range of stunning colors and can handle a variety of growing conditions.

Peppermint

9. Peppermint

Scientific Name: Mentha x piperita

A study published in Bioresource Technology found that peppermint essential oil was toxic to mosquito larvae. Also, when peppermint oil was rubbed onto human skin, it repelled 92 percent of mosquitoes across a range of species.

Peppermint is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8. The plants can be invasive, so try planting them in an unused corner of your garden or sinking a pot in the ground to contain the roots.

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75 comments

Cindy M. D
Cindy M. Dyesterday

Well the Lavender and Marigolds will kill my allergies but the rest are doable. Thank you for this article. Need all the help I can get with Mosquitoes!!!!

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Richard B
Richard B13 days ago

thanks

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Leo C
Leo Custer20 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan H21 days ago

thanks

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Leo C
Leo Custer24 days ago

Thank you for posting!

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Naomi B
Naomi B25 days ago

Thanks for sharing!

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Lesa D
Lesa D26 days ago

thank you Zoe...

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Leo C
Leo Custer26 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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danii p
danii p27 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p27 days ago

Thank you

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