Just when the weather turns warmer and you want to spend more time outside, that's when mosquitoes start to plague your backyard barbeques. These frustrating bugs are annoying, but they also pose serious health risks. Humans have an aroma that attracts mosquitoes, so if you want to avoid them, you need a few mosquito repellent plants in your backyard.
I never understood why mosquitoes followed me whenever I spent time outside in my garden and my patio. It turns out, these insects love the smell of carbon dioxide, which we happen to emit from our breath each time we breathe. That's convenient!
That scent, along with compounds in our sweat, attracts mosquitoes to us. Thanks to our biology, humans are a tasty snack. Mosquitoes don’t only target humans; they like any warm bodies, but humans are their prime choice when available.
Instead of covering yourself with insect repellent sprays that are full of harmful chemicals, try planting several mosquito repellent plants near where your family spends time. Many of these plants grow well in pots, so they can sit beside your swing or on your picnic table. Incorporating one or several of these plants into your landscaping will make any mosquito fly away fast.
14 Mosquito Repellent Plants
Many of these plants are aromatic. For example, lavender emits a delicious scent to humans that evokes a sense of relaxation, but mosquitoes find the smell repulsive.
It’s hard not to love basil; it gives us delicious pesto sauce and tomato basil salads. While being a top culinary herb, basil also keeps mosquitoes away like a boss.
As you already know, basil is highly aromatic, and its aroma drives the mosquitoes away. You don't need to crush up the leaves or prepare them in any way. The scent alone is all that is required. Also, basil is toxic to mosquito larvae, so put one or two plants near areas that typically have standing water to stop mosquitoes from laying eggs.
Lavender is a beloved herb due to its pleasant scent. You might love to smell lotion or candles that contain lavender after a long day at work. Lavender plants also drive mosquitoes far away at the same time. It also keeps other flying pests, such as moths, fleas, flies, and spiders at bay.
Lavender attracts butterflies and bees to your garden. You can apply lavender directly to your skin. Try using lavender oil on your body before you go to sleep because it not only helps mosquitos away, but it can deter bed bugs as well.
3. Bee Balm
You might recognize this plant by the name of wild bergamot and horsemint. It's a natural mosquito-repelling plant that attracts all of the bees and butterflies to your yard, along with hummingbirds. Bee balm is typically used in jellies, teas, and garnishments for salads.
Planting bee balm also adds some pretty color to your yard. Medicinally, it's safe for your skin, and it's useful as an oil. You also can dry the leaves to make tea to fight off fungal infections.
4. Lemon Balm
Instead of bee balm, you can plant lemon balm in your garden beds. This member of the mint family is often used to help reduce stress, alleviate stomach trouble, and more. Not only does this ornamental herb taste great, but it also helps to fight off mosquitoes as well as fleas.
Be sure to keep lemon balm contained because it’s an invasive species that, like mint, can take over your garden bed when planted. Plant lemon balm in containers so that you can reap the benefits without it taking over your entire garden.
Lemongrass has a high level of citral, which is an oil that is used in mosquito repellents. You can use it to repel flies while being toxic to mosquito larvae. Of course, lemongrass is also delicious in a range of dishes – from tom kha gai soup to lemongrass tea.
Most people know about citronella plants. It’s most commonly found in commercial insect repellents and citronella candles. Citronella has a strong scent that masks the smell of other attractants, such as the smell of carbon dioxide coming from your body.
This plant is rather large, but it can still do well in containers. It’s low maintenance, so you don’t have to do too much work to keep away the mosquitoes. Watch out for frost because this plant will die if the temperatures drop too low.
Mint is known to overtake a garden bed quickly, so it's best if you keep peppermint in a separate container rather than the ground itself. Peppermint oil is excellent for repelling mosquitoes, but it also can help relieve discomfort from itchy mosquito bites during the summer. This herb also helps to repel spiders.
This herb is a popular culinary seasoning that is most commonly used in chicken dishes. While it tastes great, rosemary also helps keep several different types of insects away from your family. You can burn rosemary in a fire for an aromatic insect repellent, but be careful not to get too close to the smoke. Another choice is to use rosemary oil on your skin.
You might recognize sage for its culinary purposes or its uses as a spiritual cleanser in different cultures. Bundles of sage are often burned in certain rituals to get rid of spirits.
Another use for sage is to burn it to keep the mosquitoes away from you. Throw some sage leaves on your backyard fire pit or in your fireplace. Not only will it fill your home with a lovely aroma as well as repelling mosquitoes from the area.
You might also want to try sage because it can repel ticks. Ticks are a danger to you and your pet's health, so keeping them away from your family is a top priority. At the same time, sage can attract hummingbirds. You can use it as an oil on your skin if you prefer.
Chances are you recognize this plant because it makes cats go crazy, but it does more than that. Catnip contains a chemical called nepetalactone, which is a mosquito repellent. It’s also the same chemical that makes our cats act like an addict looking for a quick fix.
Many people claim that catnip is more effective than DEET, which is a chemical in most insect repellents. Evidence shows us that DEET is terrible for our health, so why not use a natural alternative that works as well?
Because of its potent chemical compounds, placing a few catnip plants in your garden will keep mosquitoes away for a long time. Cats also like to rub and roll in it, so make sure you plant this plant in a cat-friendly area. Cats have no moral objections to destroying your garden beds to reach their catnip.
If garlic can keep vampires away, then surely it can keep mosquitoes away as well. Their pungent smell deters most insects. You can consume garlic to create a mild effect that is reported to help repel mosquitoes.
Another choice is to squeeze or rub the juice from the garlic bulbs directly onto your skin. That might keep mosquitoes away, but it also might keep your friends and family away as well.
12. Floss Flower
Floss flowers – also known as Mexican paintbrush or blueweed – are often overlooked, but they contain a chemical called coumarin, which is used in mosquito repellents. They’re fantastic additions to your garden bed because of the funky fuzzy flowers. It adds a unique addition to your flower bed or as an edging plant. You can find floss flowers in blue, pink, white, and purple.
These flowers also deter flies, rabbits, and deers, which all can cause severe damage in your garden beds. At the same time, floss flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds; both beneficial pollinators. However, the chemical isn't safe for your skin, so don't try to rub them on your arms.
Most garden beds contain some marigolds because they’re a popular edging plant for landscaping and vegetable gardens. Marigolds are an annual flower with a strong fragrance that tastes great in salads, herb butters, and soups because of their light and citrusy taste.
The reason why marigolds work to deter mosquitoes is that they contain pyrethrum. That is a compound used in many repellents, sometimes referred to as nature’s insecticide. Pyrethrum repels deer and rabbis while also attracting butterflies and bees. Marigolds are also safe for the skin.
Geraniums are another flower that has a slight lemon scent, and it can be used to keep many different pests away from your home and garden. They are a mosquito repellent plant and they also repel flies. Geraniums have beautiful, large blooms in many different vibrant colors that make them perfect for decorating and landscaping.
Scented geraniums contain small amounts of citronella, so that helps deter mosquitos even more. At the same time, the scent can attract butterflies to your garden, which are helpful pollinators for other flowers and plants.
Selecting Mosquito Repellent Plants
Keeping mosquitoes away from you and your family can be as simple as planting some of these mosquito repellent plants in your garden. Most of these plants you might already have in your garden, or you might use them in your culinary recipes regularly. Try planting a few of these in your garden beds or containers around your patio for the best effects.