Mosquitoes are one of the most infuriating insects outdoor gardeners deal with on a daily basis. Fortunately, Mother Nature has the perfect solution. In this guide, we’ll be looking at mosquito repellent plants and natural methods to keep mosquitoes away.
Before we jump right into the best plants to repel mosquitoes, let’s look into some methods to use them successfully.
How To Use Plants To Keep Mosquitoes Away
Can plants be used for mosquito control? Yes! But, it’s more complex than just keeping these plants around your garden.
While most sources say that specific plants can repel pesky mosquitoes just by being planted, the process of repelling mosquitoes involves a bit more than that. The best way to use the plants on this list is not just by planting them but using their essential oil.
Extracting Essential Oils
The key factor in keeping mosquitoes away naturally is through the essential oils that plants produce. The strong fragrance of certain plants can overwhelm bugs like mosquitoes.
But, mosquitoes don’t smell them right away, since the oil is trapped in between the plant’s leaves. A plant can repel mosquitoes best if its essential oils are released into the air for mosquitoes to smell. That means that the most effective method is to extract these oils.
For effective ways to use these plants, here are some methods.
For an effective mosquito repellent, the simplest method is crushing plant leaves and applying the juices to the skin. Mosquito-prone areas of the body include the neck, the knees, and the ankles, so consider applying those parts first.
This method might seem basic, but it’s been used for thousands of years to cure skin burns and skin rashes. It’s also one of the quickest ways to use your plant and takes just a minute of your time.
However, if you want to go a step further, place crushed leaves in an airtight jar. Immediately mix these leaves with oils like coconut, olive, or sunflower oil to spread the essential oils into a larger volume.
If you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, this method may be for you! Don’t let the word distillation scare you off; this method involves just your plant and a pot of water.
To start off, place the leaves of your plant in a pot of water set at low heat. Then, place the pot cover upside-down and keep the stove on for at least 3 hours.
Distilling essential oils is a fairly simple process. The cover will end up catching both steam and the essential oil of the plant so that it lands back in the pot.
After a few hours have passed, wait for the pot to cool and place it in the fridge. In around 24 hours, the essential oils of your plant will have floated to the top of the pot. You can then scoop these oils out and store them for later use.
DIY Mosquito Plant Spray
To maximize your plant’s oils, mix in 4 drops of essential oil for every 3 fl. oz (90mL) of water. Use a medicine dropper for accurate measurement.
This can be applied directly to the skin, but be careful not to spray this on your eyes and other sensitive areas.
Now that you’re aware of how to use these plants, let’s continue to the list of the best ingredients for natural mosquito repellents!
11 Natural Mosquito Repellent Plants List
Citronella Plant (Lemongrass/ Citronella Grass)
No list would be complete without mentioning the Citronella plant: the most popular and natural mosquito repellent.
While many species have been called ‘Citronella plants’ at big box stores, the real Citronella is actually known as Cymbopogon, or quite plainly: Lemongrass! Species of the Citronella grass plant repel mosquitoes extremely effectively because of the high concentrations of this naturally occurring chemical.
According to the Malaria Journal, extracted essential oils from citronella plants are one of the best natural mosquito repellents. The compounds found in this plant species (including Linalool, Camphor, Eucalyptol, and the Citronella chemical) repel mosquito varieties for at least 8 hours.
The best method to use this plant to help keep mosquitoes away? Gently crush it and apply the juices to your skin. This method repels a variety of insects, so keep Citronella plant leaves handy for your next outdoor activity!
Lemon balm plants contain strong concentrations of citronella oil and lemon oil, the perfect combination for repelling mosquitoes!
It’s effective as both a mosquito repellent and a balm for mosquito bites, too. This wonderful herb’s double purpose makes it a favorite natural method for most gardeners.
These plants are quite easy to grow and have multiple benefits. As an herbal medicine, this plant is said to relieve nausea and soothe bouts of sleeplessness through its calm, but strong fragrance.
If your garden receives partial shade, this plant is perfect for you. Lemon balms grow well with 4-6 hours of sun and enjoy moist soil, so water this plant often.
With their perfect pink-white flowers, the Bee Balm plant grows beautifully in the garden and throws mosquitoes off their radars!
The scent this flower produces when crushed is a strong Bergamot smell that mosquitoes absolutely hate. Bergamot, alongside other citrus scents, produce mosquito-repelling properties!
This garden flower works as a mosquito repellent and potpourri addition at the same time. To use Bee Balm flowers effectively, keep dried flowers in a bowl near mosquito-filled areas as both decoration and protection.
Lavender plants are known for many things. Not only are their pink-purple flowers a delight to gardens around the world, but their lovely scent works as a mosquito repellent, too!
The scent of a Lavender plant might be popular in stores, but mosquitos detest it! Lavender flowers produce a specific chemical called Linalool, which has been shown to be more effective than some citronella candles.
Studies have shown that these mosquito repellent plants were able to provide mosquito protection in indoor settings. These flowers have also been effective in standing water; placing a few lavender petals can help keep mosquitoes away and deter eggs from being laid.
The name catnip comes from the fact that cats have an intense love for this flower. You might end up loving this flower, too: It’s a great repellant that grows practically anywhere in the United States.
This perennial grows in the wild and is most likely in your backyard already. It thrives during the spring season, so by this time of year, you’ll be able to find it all over the place.
In a scientific study done by the American Chemical Society, catnip plants were proven to be extremely successful at deterring not only mosquitos but cockroaches too!
These days, catnip is in the process of being patented as a new ingredient for commercial mosquito sprays; that’s just how effective this plant is. Consider adding it to your collection for its powerful effects.
Alongside the beautiful blue flowers of this tassel-shaped plant, it also contains Coumarin, one of the most effective mosquito repellant chemicals!
How effective, exactly? Extracted Coumarin has been researched to cause close to a 100% mortality rate for mosquitoes within 24 hours! As one of the best mosquito repellent plants, floss flowers are definitely something to consider in your outdoor garden.
Historically, the oil of this plant was used to heal wounds and cuts. These days, the Floss Flower plant is put in gardens for its mosquito repellant properties. It smells great, too: the fragrance of the Floss Flower has been described as a black licorice-scented essence, which repels mosquitoes well.
This plant is generally easy to care for: give it a lot of water and sunlight and the Floss flower will grow without any issues.
Instead of just being an ingredient for the best pesto dishes, basil plants are also effective repellants to add to your vegetable garden! Unsurprisingly, their delicious and pungent smell keeps pests away.
The reason that a Basil plant is often kept growing alongside a tomato as a companion is because of its insect repellent properties. So, not only does this plant repel mosquitoes, but it also keeps aphids, mealybugs, and other garden pests out of sight. Win-win! (Related Article: Basil)
Keep this easy-to-grow herb around areas with full sun for a bountiful harvest and full mosquito control, and crush basil leaves around areas with standing water to discourage mosquitos from laying eggs.
The best varieties of basil for mosquito repellent use are the Holy Basil, as well as the Lime Basil. Both have strong scents that can control pests.
You may also like: Grow Herbs at Home
Aside from their beautiful yellow flowers, Marigolds are extremely effective as a mosquito repellent! Marigold plants work through a chemical called Thiophenes, which are extracted and used in store-bought pesticides.
In a scientific study, boiled and processed Marigold plants (Calendula officinalis) were shown to be effective against mosquitos that carry the West Nile virus, Chikungunya, as well as Malaria. How’s that for a garden flower?
While not all of us have the capacity to process Marigolds in a lab setting, this garden beauty can still be crushed and kept around mosquito-ridden areas in the garden for safety and prevention.
Two things about this herb: It loves full sun and hates mosquitoes! Rosemary not only adds flavor to baked dishes but also repels mosquitoes with its strong, woody scent. (Related Article: Grow Herbs In Your Kitchen)
As one of the best bug-repelling plants, Rosemary has been shown to keep even cabbage moths and carrot flies away from the garden.
If you’re a beginner gardener, this plant is perfect for you. Rosemary plants are low-maintenance and extremely easy to grow; water them once every week or two and give them ample sun.
With enough time, the leaves can be harvested and crushed to keep mosquitoes away.
Ah, sage: its fragrance delights kitchens around the world, and its leaves are a wonderful way to keep pesky mosquitos away.
Belonging to the mint family (which we’ll talk about below), sage is a breezy-scented herb that insects steer clear from. The essential oil extracted from sage has been a subject of many scientific studies: It definitely keeps mosquitoes away for hours.
If you want an herb garden and anti-mosquito environment all at once, this plant will work wonders for you. It enjoys full sun and occasional watering; you can check out our full growing guide for more.
The Mint Family is made up of over 3,500 species of plants and flowers that grow all over the world. While you may associate the mint plant with the classic cool-scented herb, there are actually tons of mint-related outdoor species.
Members of this amazing mosquito-repellant family have already been mentioned on this list: Sage, Catnip, Basil, Lemon Balm, and Lavender fall under this category!
Most of the flora from this family can successfully throw mosquitos off and control insect populations with their scented essential oils. While we can’t go into every plant, these are a few of the most effective:
Mix and match members of the mint family to see which ones work best for your garden.
Frequently Asked Questions
What smell do mosquitoes hate the most?
Mosquitoes hate a variety of scents, but the most scientifically researched plants that this pest despises belong to the Mint Family, as well as species belonging to the Citrus genus, too.
Aside from common herbs, mosquitoes can’t stand fruity scents like lemon, orange, grapefruit, and bergamot. So, a fruit garden might just help you keep these pests away!
Do mosquito repellant plants work?
Absolutely! However, just growing them in your garden isn’t the best way to maximize these plants. For the best results, you may want to look into the essential oil extraction methods we’ve outlined at the start of this article.