Mosquito Repellent Plants: 18 Plants (Annual & Perennial) & 2 Trees

Considering mosquitos are so tiny, they sure can make their unwelcome presence felt! However, once winter is over and rainy spring is giving way to the summer, it’s a treat to be able to enjoy the great outdoors again.

However, if relaxing in the sunshine includes mosquito bites, that is sure to put a dampener on things, and a lot of people will look for the best ways to keep those pesky bugs well away.

Mosquito repellent oils and sprays can be helpful, but to fend them little critters off, you might also like to consider some mosquito repellent plants for your yard to enjoy the nice weather in peace.

Not only can these plants help repel mosquitos, but many also smell wonderful and will fill your yard with natural fragrances. You can choose from various plants, including flowers, herbs, bushes, and trees, depending on your available yard space and budget.

So if you don’t want to use chemical bug spray on your skin or garden, why not grow some bug-repellent plants. Which will naturally deter mosquitos from feasting on you; put them near doorways and seating areas to keep yourself, family members, and guests free from bugs.

These plants help get rid of bugs just by being there, but for the best benefits, you should take some leaves, rub them between your fingers and rub the scent on your arms and legs. You can also make homemade mosquito repellent with the oils.

If you have sensitive skin or skin allergies, this might not be something you want to do. Also, if you’re someone who is especially attractive to mosquitos, you might still need to supplement this with some bug spray or similar. 

So if you are on the lookout for a natural remedy for mosquitos and don’t have skin allergies, you should find these plants leave you, and the yard smelling good and work as a bug deterrent.

So Which Plants Naturally Repel Mosquitos?

1.) Lavender

lavender

Lavender plants are not sought out by bugs, rabbits, or other creatures because of their unique fragrance due to the essential oils on their leaves.

In addition, the lavender smell helps to repel mosquitoes, and research shows this repellent effect can last for up to 8 hours! Some think the aroma of lavender oil might even stop a mosquito’s sense of smell temporarily.

Growing lavender around your house can also attract pollinators which help to create plenty of pretty purple blooms.

Once properly established, lavender is hardy and drought-resistant and does well as long as it has good drainage and full sunlight. Lavender grows in various climates but especially likes warm areas.

Plant lavender 2 or 3 feet apart so they can enjoy full sun and have enough space to grow. Depending on how dry the soil is, once or twice per week should be sufficient for watering.

Every lavender variety likes dry soil, full sun, and occasional deadheading to keep them healthy and aromatic. Oh, lavender keeps flies and moths away too!

2.) Marigolds

flowering marigolds in garden to repel mosquitoes

These simple-to-grow blooms also deter mosquitos. Marigolds are rich in insecticidal constituents, which are insect-repelling compounds. This is one reason gardeners and landscapers love them.

Marigold scent can help repel bugs, and these flowers don’t take up a lot of space either. In addition, they’re low-maintenance and offer colorful, gorgeous flowers throughout the summer.

Marigolds can be grown in pots and set near your home entrance or patio to help eliminate bugs. They also look good in vegetable gardens and can be a feature of borders. 

The scent is not only disliked by mosquitos but also by thrips, aphids, squash bugs, tomato hornworms, Mexican bean beetles, and whiteflies.

3.) Citronella Grass and Lemongrass 

lemongrass can work as a mosquito repellent

You probably already know that citronella is a common ingredient in products like patio candles and natural mosquito repellents. But did you know you could also plant it in your yard? Most products that contain citronella are made using the oil from the plant.

However, research shows that products with topical citronella don’t last much beyond 2 hours or so because the oils are fast to evaporate. For this reason, planting citronella grass can be a better idea to keep the bugs away for longer. 

Citronella plants need to be well-spaced since they can grow up to 6 feet wide and 6 feet high. Also, the grass prefers filtered, rather than direct, sunlight. It also likes to be watered regularly.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden recommends lemon-scented plants such as citronella grass and lemongrass to repel mosquitos, and the live plant is the best way to keep those bugs at bay. Citronella is grassy looking and is pretty drought-resistant. It prefers a fast-draining soil and afternoon shade.

It’s a low-maintenance plant that prefers big planters and is typically considered an annual because it can’t withstand frost. However, it can go directly into the ground in warm areas with sunny climates.

4.) Rosemary 

rosemary plants to deter mosquito

PlantShed and the New York Botanical Garden recommend rosemary for its bug-repelling properties. Most people are already familiar with this plant and know its woody aroma. This scent can keep not only mosquitos at bay but also carrot flies and cabbage moths. In addition, Rosemary leaf oils are a good mosquito repellent.

Rosemary grows incredibly well in dry, hot places and likes to be grown in containers. If you live in a cold-climate, you should use containers since you can bring them indoors when the temperatures drop. 

It’s an easy herb to grow and can thrive in a window box, container, landscaping borders, or garden. You can prune it into different shapes and sizes to create attractive decorations and borders.

Full sun is fine for rosemary as long as it is planted in quick-draining, sandy soil. It will grow as an annual everywhere except in chilly regions. Then, you only have to give it water when the soil has dried out. As well as repelling mosquitos, you can add rosemary to your food. It goes exceptionally well with roasted salmon or lamb chops – yum!

5.) Basil

basil herb plant give off a scent that mosquitoes don't like

Another herb that works as a bug repellent, basil, has a distinctive aroma that keeps mosquitos away. In addition, the basil plant leaves contain mosquito larvae-killing compounds that can reduce your local mosquito population by eliminating the larvae before hatching.

Basil comes in several varieties, and the good news is they all have bug-repelling properties, so you can try out different types to see which you like best.

Keep the basil damp and pot it somewhere with good drainage. This herb enjoys the sun, and you can grow it in the garden or in containers, either by itself or with other plants, so long as they share the exact requirements.

Another reason to choose basil is it attracts beneficial pollinators to your garden to help it thrive. It’s a simple herb to grow and has plenty of culinary uses, including homemade basil and mixed green salads.

6.) Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums draws mosquitoes away from other plants

These vining edible flowers boast colorful petals and appealing circular leaves. Nasturtium doesn’t repel mosquitos like other plants but draws them away from you and other plants.

This makes them valuable to your garden to protect crops such as squash, tomatoes, and cucumber from common garden pests like beetles, flies, and aphids.

Planting them to help other plants is known as companion planting.

Nasturtiums should be spaced at least 10 inches apart, more if possible, because they will trail through open space. This plant thrives in direct sunlight. And as a bonus, you can eat the flowers in salads.

7.) Catnip

catnip plants are know to deter bugs

Also known as catmint, catnip is easy to grow. If you have a cat or three, you might already have some! A chemical in the leaves called nepetalactone might attract cats, but it repels mosquitos. It’s more effective than DEET (a commercial chemical bug repellent).

Catnip is easy to grow; it can be too easy to grow and invade other parts of your garden unless you keep a close eye on it.

Spread a few catnip clippings around the patio (and pool if you have one) to deter bugs. It is an excellent bug repellent if you don’t mind your catnip spreading voraciously, or your cat helps keep it under control.

Catnip, or catmint, was discovered to be ten times as effective as DEET at keeping mosquitos away by a study at Iowa State University.

This plant has attractive purple or white spikes of flowers in bloom from spring until fall. The ‘Walker’s Low’ cultivar tolerates dry soil and will bloom from spring until midsummer. Catmint is a perennial which will come back every year.

8.) Bee Balm (Monarda)

bee balm will help repel bugs and attract bees and butterflies

Bee balm, or monarda or horsemint as it’s also known, not only repels the bugs you don’t want but will attract good ones like butterflies and bees. This flowering perennial is attractive to pollinators like bees and hummingbirds but deters mosquitos at the same time with its mint-like aroma. It has colorful flowers in pink, lavender, purple, white, or red throughout the summer.

Bee balm likes to be in full sun, but it enjoys afternoon shade in a very hot region. The soil should be kept damp, and the bee balm should be regularly deadheaded. This way, it should keep flowering until the fall.

To release the oils crush the leaves between your fingers. 

9.) Scented Geraniums

Another mosquito-repelling plant is scented geraniums, and BBG, NYBG, and PlantShed recommend these. They smell a bit like citronella grass with a lemon fragrance.

Mosquitos hate this aroma, and these quick-growing plants prefer dry, sunny, and warm conditions. You can also grow them in planters in a cooler climate, though, as long as you prune them often.

Most geraniums are grown for bright-colored flowers, but the scented variety is famous for its fragrance. The best ones to choose to repel bugs are orange, peppermint, lemon, and lime, although there are many different varieties of this annual plant.

Let the soil dry out before watering, and make sure you put them somewhere sunny. Don’t worry about fertilizing because scented geraniums seem to like moderately poor soil.

10.) Mint

mint is a fast grower and repels bugs

Another aromatic herb to use in the fight against bugs is mint, and this is a lovely, non-toxic option that repels ants, flies, and mosquitos.

The more mint you have, or the more potent the smell, the better this plant will do at repelling the unwanted critters. The insect-fighting ingredient in this herb is menthol which has biocidal properties that repel bugs.

Mint can be grown in pots and probably should since it grows very fast like a weed and can take over your yard unless you’re careful!

Mint is very easy to grow, so it’s a good choice for beginner gardeners. Not only can you enjoy its bug-repelling properties, but you can also use it to make tea, mint chutney, or even mint desserts. 

Peppermint and spearmint have slightly different flavors, so you might like to try both. Chocolate mint is another variety that tastes like mint chocolate chip ice cream but without the calories!

11.) Pennyroyal

pennyroyal is a bug repellent plant

This plant is also in the mint family and has a strong smell which mosquitos hate. Some folks crush the leaves of this plant and put them in their pockets to repel bugs.

Do bear in mind pennyroyal can be toxic to both people and animals, so it’s best to grow it in a container away from pets and children. It likes moist (not soggy) soil and enjoys the sun.

12.) Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm has a citrus smell

Lemon balm smells citrusy and is in the mint family. The leaves can be dried and then brewed into a tea which aids relaxation and sleep. Lemon balm prefers a semi-shady area, and it’s best to keep the soil moist but not saturated to maximize healthy growth.

13.) Floss Flower (Ageratum)

floss flowers have coumarin which is a natural bug repellent

Floss flower, or ageratum, has little fuzzy purple flowers in clusters. It’s pretty enough to grow as a container plant or bedding plant. The chemical in floss flower which repels bugs is called coumarin but keep in mind it can be toxic to humans and pets. 

Ageratum is a low-growing annual plant that does well in containers in a partially sunny place. But, make sure you keep it watered so the soil never completely dries out.

14.) Sage

garden sage can be used in smoke to keep away mosquitoes
Garden Sage

Sage is an excellent choice if you like to sit around the campfire in the backyard enjoying a cookout. Tossing sage leaves into the fire releases an earthy smell you will like, but bugs hate. If you don’t have a fire pit, another option is to light one end of a bunch of sage and smolder it on a fireproof tray.

Sage can edge planting beds or be grown in pots. It likes well-drained soil and full sun. It can also be dried and used to cook or make homemade mosquito spray. Crust the leaves of your sage plant and rub them on your clothes or skin to fend off annoying bugs.

15.) Allium

allium globemaster

Allium bulbs include onions and garlic. We might like their fragrance, but mosquitos don’t! Allium flowers are spherical and sit on top of long, slim stems.

Garlic is also an allium on the list of perennial plants that repel mosquitoes.

16.) American Beautyberry

American beautyberry has an oil that is a bug-repellent

The little white flowers of the American beautyberry, or callicarpa Americana, might not look impressive, but the bright pink clusters of berries are stunning on this small shrub. The beautyberry is closely related to mint, as it is a member of the Lamiaceae family.

Not only do the oils repel undesirables such as mosquitos, but the berries stay fresh during the winter to nourish small mammals as well as songbirds.

You can make some delicious wine or jellies from the berries, but the leaves do the bug-repelling. According to scientific studies, callicarpa is an effective bug-repellent, and this plant has been used for years as a folk remedy.

Beautyberry is a fantastic tick repellent as well. Just crush the leaves, then rub them over your skin to deter mosquitos (and try it on the dog too!) There are also different bug sprays on the market that have beautyberry. You can also try making your own.

17.) Lantana

Lantana Camara offers 94.5% protection against mosquitoes

It might interest you that the lantana (Lantana Camara) plant is so good at mosquito-repelling.

An article published in the Journal of American Mosquito Control reveals that the extract from their flowers in coconut oil offered an impressive 94.5% protection against several mosquito varieties! 

The oil, which could be prepared from lantana, protected users for up to 2 hours. Lantana is also easy to grow if you live somewhere warm, and it attracts butterflies.

18.) Fennel

Fennel, or Foeniculum vulgare, isn’t a typical herb garden contender since it isn’t the most compact option. However, these plants have various uses, including their ability to repel bugs and mosquitos. 

Fennel can be described as a feathery plant with many delicate, grass-like fronds. It’s ornamental, and the chopped leaves can boost the flavor profile of soups and salads. Fennel leaves host swallowtail butterfly caterpillars too. 

One of the most excellent varieties is bronze fennel which will self-seed itself to create a nice colony of butterflies for the next season.

Trees That Repel Mosquitos

1.) Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a tree that acts as a mosquito repellant

The eucalyptus tree, or eucalyptus cinerea, is native to Australia. These trees can grow to 60 feet tall. However, since the eucalyptus is sensitive and won’t survive freezing weather, it’s probably better to grow it as a potted plant until you live in the tropics. 

Pick something fast-growing like E globulus subsp bicostata that will offer a lot of aromatic leaves for your mosquito-repelling harvest. There is another option called E vernicosa, which grows slowly and makes a great pot plant. They like rich soil and full sun.

2.) Camphor Tree

This quick-growing tree is resistant to cold weather and hot weather, and it has a pleasant smell. The camphor aroma attracts butterflies and repels mosquitos. You can use this evergreen tree as part of a privacy barrier.

Camphor works best when it’s very hot, and this is when you get the most mosquitos. The camphor oil that comes out of the tree emits a camphor aroma that mosquitos despise. 

For more protection crush a few leaves and rub them onto your skin to repel the bugs. Camphor trees are native to China’s and Japan’s humid, warm hilly regions. Growing best in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11.

Other Ways to Keep Mozzies at Bay

Any of the plants described above can be used to deter mosquitos and other bugs from your yard. You can pick one or two or go with a selection, depending on the size of your patio or yard, your budget, and how much you hate mosquitos!

There are other ways to deter these nasty bugs too.

Standing water that becomes stagnant attracts mosquitos like crazy, so it’s crucial to ensure you don’t have standing water. Mosquitos will lay hundreds of eggs in even a tiny bit of standing water.

Suppose you have standing water, such as a birdbath, water garden, animal watering trough, rain barrel, or pond. In that case, you might like to invest in some mosquito rings: these feature bt israelensis, a naturally occurring bacteria, which will kill mosquito larvae.

Other natural products to help you eliminate mosquitos from the premises include citronella candles, torches, and essential oils from any of the plants listed above.

Why Mosquito Control Matters

Mosquitos can transmit dengue, yellow fever, malaria, Zika and West Nile viruses, and encephalitis. In addition, Climate Central is warning that mosquito-related sickness is increasing across many countries as temperatures go up. This means there is an ever-larger risk of mosquito-borne diseases.

Mosquitos can even cause heartworm in dogs. So it’s not only about being irritating with that awful high-pitched noise or the itchy bites mosquitos can cause but also a genuine health concern for every member of your family and your beloved pets.

The good news is you can get the better of these bothersome bugs by planting some mosquito repellent plants in your yard. Then, you will be able to wave goodbye to bugs and avoid that terrible mosquito itching we all know and hate!

References

The Repellent Activity Test of Rosemary Leaf (Rosmarinus officinalis l) Essential Oil Gel Preparations Influence on Aedes aegypti Mosquito: www.ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2021JPhCS1788a2016A/abstract