If there are any insects more annoying and irritating that mosquitoes, it’s hard to think of what they might be.
They can be especially annoying when just trying to enjoy the peace and serenity provided by your own yard and garden.
Luckily, there are a number of plants that naturally repel mosquitoes.
In this article, we have compiled a list of the most effective mosquito repellents plants available to put in your garden or yard.
Read on to learn how these plants repel mosquitoes and the best use for them!
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
What Are Mosquito Repellent Plants?
Mosquito repellent plants are trees, shrubs, or herbs that naturally emit odors that are offensive to mosquitoes. The odors result from the release of essentials oils and sap that the plants use as part of their normal life cycle.
Thousands of years ago, early people soon noticed that insects had a tendency to avoid certain plants. By keeping close track of which one they avoided, people collected a list of plants to use in repelling mosquitoes, flies, and other biting insects.
Read More: Top Mosquito Repellents
How Do Mosquito Repellent Plants Work?
There is no standard “method” by which plants repel insects. Many plants use a combination of sap and essential oils to create offensive scents or irritating fumes that affect the eyes or nostrils. Some cause a burning sensation while some others cause itching and scratching.
Science doesn’t have any explanation for why or how these plants interact with mosquitoes and other biting, stinging insects. The only thing that can be stated with any certainty is that some plants do repel bugs.
Some mosquito repellent plants don’t actually repel the mosquitoes as such. Instead, they mask the CO2 we exhale or cover our body scent with their own scent. The exact mechanism by which they manage this is also a mystery to the scientific community.
Read More: How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes
There is no standard “method” by which plants repel insects.
Many plants use a combination of sap and essential oils to create offensive scents or irritating fumes that affect the eyes or nostrils. Some cause a burning sensation while some others cause itching and scratching.
Find A Local Exterminator
Are Mosquito Repellent Plants Effective?
The only honest answer is yes and no.
Yes, mosquito repellent plants will tend to repel mosquitoes that come into close contact with them or smell the fumes or odors these plants naturally emit. That tendency is best expressed as a percentage.
For example: a particular plant may repel 20-30% of the mosquitoes that approach it. This means that a minimum of 70-80% of the mosquitoes will not be repelled. Instead, they’ll keep on coming.
None of them will repel more than 50% of the mosquitoes or other insects, giving them, at best, a 50/50 chance of working on any particular bug that approaches them. This is the high end of the scale though. Most of these plants don’t repel anything like 50%. It is usually much less.
Read More: How to Keep Mosquitoes Away
How to Use Mosquito Repellent Plants
This is where Pest Strategies is unusual. While most people will advocate using one or two particular plants or essential oils, we realize that the most effective method is to combine multiple plants in a layered defensive system.
Start at the outside of your property with the tallest plants. Some of these plants are quite aggressive and try to spread out over the whole yard so put those in ceramic planters or pots. Post them along your fence or the edge of your property all the way around the house.
Just inside that line, put another row of plants, this time using a smaller plant. They have different colors and flowers as well as various scents. Mix and match the plants until you find a combination that is visually appealing as well as pleasant to smell when you go past them.
Up close to the house, put another double row consisting of plants that are different from the ones you used at the edge of your property. When you’re finished with them you should have four concentric layers of four different repellent plants around your house.
Do the same thing around your vegetable garden as well. Pay close attention to our descriptions below of which one attracts bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. You want those to be the ones closest to your garden.
No two areas of the country are the same. Pay attention to the environmental requirements for the plants you’re using and plant appropriate ones for your section of the country.
Don’t assume that just because you’ve used four or more different repellent plants that the mosquitoes around your home are automatically defeated. They may not be. You may have to test different combinations until you find the one that works best for you.
Keep written records so you know what you used in what combination. Eventually, you’ll find the right combination.
21 Best Mosquito Repellent Plants Reviewed
#1 – Alliums
Alliums (Allium giganteum) are wonderful plants that have the natural ability to repel a number of insects that plague your garden. They’re a favorite for many people due to the beauty of their round puffy heads, on top of stalks that can be up to six feet tall.
Alliums can repel aphids, cabbage worms, carrot flies, mosquitoes, and slugs. Vegetables such as broccoli peppers, cabbage, carrots, kohlrabi, and tomatoes, often gain benefits from growing near them.
Alliums are herbs. Some other members of the allium family are chives, garlic chives, leeks, and shallots. Not only do these herbs keep mosquitoes away, but they also add flavor to your meals and beauty to your garden.
#2 – Basil
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a fragrant plant that repels bugs and insects, including mosquitoes and house flies. It’s also a tasty additive to your food. It works best to repel mosquitoes when it is contained in a planter then located near doors and outside entertainment areas.
It is basil’s pungent smell that acts to repel pests. There are several types of basil, and cinnamon basil and lemon basil appear to work the best at repelling mosquitoes. It is toxic to mosquito larvae. It helps that basil is a low maintenance plant.
Basil is an herb that flourishes in damp soil. It needs lots of sunshine so don’t plant it in the shade. Planting it in your garden beds will repel mosquitoes and give you access to an herb that will add lots of flavor to any dish you put it in.
#3 – Bee Balm
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) is also known as horsemint and wild bergamot. It is a mosquito repellent plant. The essential oils in it emit a strong odor that prevents mosquitoes from staying near it for any length of time. They prefer to stay away from it.
However, it does strong pollinator attractant properties, drawing in bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. This means it does double duty. Planting it in your garden will draw those pollinators to it and other plants in its vicinity as well.
It is a hearty plant that doesn’t require much care. All it requires is to be planted in well-drained soil where it can get lots of sunlight. In addition, it makes a good garnish for salads as well as being used to make jellies and tea.
#4 – Catnip
Catnip (Nepeta cataria), the same stuff that makes cats go crazy also repels mosquitoes, termites, and cockroaches. Researchers have learned that it contains a chemical known as nepetalactone, making it one of the best mosquito repelling plants available.
It appears to be better at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, one of the most well-known insect repellents on the market today. Planting catnip around the edges of your property will keep mosquitoes from entering your property in the first place.
It is a low-maintenance plant that only requires damps soil and full sun, along with some partial shade during the hottest part of the day. Don’t plant it in your flower beds though since it will attract cats to roll around in it, and it is somewhat invasive if mixed with other plants.
#5 – Cedar Tree
Cedar Tree (Cedrus) oil is an excellent bug repellent, one of the best ones available. If you plant a cedar tree in your yard, you’ll have a permanent source of cedar oil around your house 24/7. It will create a natural and low-maintenance mosquito barrier for you.
However, you should also be aware that cedar oil can be harmful to your pets. If you have cats or dogs (or both), planting a cedar tree in the yard probably isn’t the best option for you.
#6 – Citronella Grass
Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon nardus) is a natural mosquito repellent. Citronella is one of the most common natural ingredients for repelling mosquitoes and flies. Essential oils made from citronella plants are used in citronella candles. Citronella oil is also used in Tiki torches because of its repellent properties.
Citronella grass, and related plants such as citrosum, are perennials, which means they’ll grow back year after year. It’s a large plant that does well in planters. It’s quite toxic to pets so planting it in a planter with wire fencing around it will protect your pets at the same time it drives away mosquitoes.
It grows in well-drained soil and requires both sun and shade. It’s a large plant, reaching heights of five to six feet each year.
#7 – Clove
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) essential oils are a natural way to repel flies and mosquitoes. The strong fragrance makes an effective mosquito repellent, driving them away. Although the essential oils made from cloves don’t last very long, having clove plants in your garden will last.
Clove is even useful in general pest control, driving away a wide range of bugs and other critters. Many DIY recipes use clove oil to create a homemade bug spray for repelling all kinds of bugs.
Cloves are also a well-known herb with many uses in the kitchen as a flavorful additive to many different dishes.
#8 – Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) trees constantly emit a strong scent that is quite good at mosquito repelling. There are several species of eucalyptus, none of them any better or any worse than the others at keeping mosquitoes away.
However, eucalyptus is toxic to cats and dogs. If they eat it or get it on them it can be quite toxic to them. If you decide to use it, keep the low-hanging limbs trimmed so they don’t touch the ground and keep the leaves raked up.
Eucalyptus trees don’t require any effort by you to cultivate them. In some parts of the country, they grow whether you want them to or not.
#9 – Floss Flower
Floss Flowers (Ageratum houstonianum) contain a chemical known as coumarin that is often used in natural mosquito repellents. The floss flower also repels flies, rabbits, and deer. Instead of building a fence to keep rabbits and deer out of your garden, a row of floss flowers might do the trick.
Floss flowers are also visually stunning. They come in bright blue, pinkish-white, and purple. They make a nice bouquet for the dinner table for a little bit of indoor pest control as well.
Additionally, if you like butterflies and hummingbirds, plant some of these and you’ll have all the butterflies and hummingbirds in your garden and flower beds that you could ever want.
#10 – Garlic
Garlic (Allium sativum) has long been known as an effective insect repellent, although the scientific data is generally missing. Plant this in your vegetable garden and you’ll have some good mosquito control right there among the rows. It is also known to repel aphids and ants.
It is harmless if you rub it directly on your skin, and of course, you can eat it raw if you want to. That might be going a bit overboard, though. However, eating garlic is often suggested as a way to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s up to you.
#11 – Geraniums
Geraniums (Pelargonium) grow and bloom very quickly so they are bested suited for warm climates. Due to their fast life cycle, they are also very fast-acting mosquito repellents. The citrus-scented geraniums are best for repelling mosquitoes and flies.
Scented geraniums are well suited for general pest control since many pesky bugs detest and actively try to avoid the smell of citrus. People, on the other hand, enjoy the scent and their beautiful flowers make them a favorite for bouquets and general decorating.
Like many other items on our list, geraniums are toxic to cats and dogs. If you have pets, keep these plants safely out of their reach. On a positive note: butterflies are attracted to geraniums so put them in your flower beds and you’ll soon have some lovely butterflies floating around.
#12 – Lavender
Lavender (Lavandula) is a sweet-smelling purple flower that people love but mosquitoes don’t. The oils contained in the lavender plant create strong, pungent odors that repel mosquitoes, as well as moths, fleas, flies, and spiders.
This makes it an ideal plant for your garden or flower bed. It’s not toxic to your pets and it is drought resistant, which makes it a good choice for dry climates. And don’t forget, you can also add lavender to your tea.
It’s a beautiful plant that attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies while repelling the pests you don’t want.
#13 – Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a member of the mint family. It’s an invasive plant that grows well in full sunlight or partial shade and will quickly take over your flower beds if you plant it there. Instead, keep it under control by putting it in a planter.
Once there, the lemon balm plant will begin repelling mosquitoes and fleas as well as most other insects. Insects of all kinds detest anything from the mint family of plants, so this is a good choice of plants to position near your windows and doors.
On the flip side, it is known to attract butterflies and bees, which you want in your garden and flower beds to keep everything pollinated. It is a drought-resistant plant that does well in dry climates.
#14 – Lemongrass
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon) is a tall, tough, and growing grass. It contains citral, an essential oil used in many mosquito repellents and commercial bug sprays. It repels many insects including flies and is highly toxic to mosquito larvae.
Lemongrass is a hardy grass that often reaches three to six feet high. It’s a tough plant that requires full sun for best results but very little maintenance from you other than that.
However, lemongrass has been shown to cause birth defects. Therefore, you should keep it well away from pregnant women and new mothers.
#15 – Lemon Thyme
Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus) is another member of the mint family. It also has a citrus smell to it. This is a combination designed to repel mosquitoes and all kinds of pests, including spiders.
It’s a perennial that grows out across the ground like a mat so you’ll want to leave plenty area aside for it to spread out. And, of course, it’s an excellent herb to add to many different dishes in the kitchen.
It is native to the Mediterranean and needs a similar climate in order to flourish. In the winter you can keep it in a hothouse, then bring it outside during the summer.
#16 – Lemon Verbena
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora) is a native plant from Southeast Asia. If you live in a hot, humid environment, it will flourish, thereby protecting you from mosquitoes and other flying insects of all kinds, including flies.
It can grow very large, however, so you will have to do some trimming to keep it from taking over the flower beds or garden. It has a strong citrus smell to it. This gives it its name and explains its effectiveness against insects.
Most insects detest citrus odors, so any plant like the lemon verbena that has a citrus odor will repel them when they smell it.
#17 – Marigolds
Marigolds (Tagetes) contain a naturally occurring pesticide chemical called pyrethrum. This natural toxin doesn’t just repel mosquitoes, it actually kills them too! These bright yellow and orange flowers are nature’s pest control.
These annuals have a strong fragrance and are often used as edging plants in vegetable gardens. Their odor creates a “wall” that prevents insects from entering the garden to feed on the plants.
Marigolds also taste great in soups or salads, bringing a light citrus flavor with them. Like many other mosquito repellents, they attract bees and butterflies.
#18 – Mint
Mint (Mentha spicata), peppermint (Mentha x Piperita), and pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) are all members of the mint family. Bugs of all kinds, spiders, and rodents too, detest the smell of all members of the mint family, especially peppermint.
Mint oil can kill mosquito larvae where they live in pools of standing water, so it does more than just repel them. Mints properties are found in all parts of the plant; the stem, the flower, and the leaves. All of it can be used to repel mosquitoes and other insects.
Mint is an extremely aggressive plant though. It spreads very quickly and will take over your whole flower bed, garden, or yard if you don’t stay after it. The best way to contain it is to plant it in planters, flower boxes, or similar containers.
Peppermint is also an aggressive, spreading plant that needs to be constrained by planting it in planters or flower boxes. In addition to being an excellent mosquito plant, it helps ease headaches and nausea. It makes a great tea too.
Pennyroyal is a tall variation in the mint family, with soft purple flowers. Planting a row of them along the edges of your garden will bring a splash of color to it in addition to repelling mosquitoes. Additionally, it attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
Be warned, however, pennyroyal is also quite toxic to cats and dogs. Either don’t grow it if you have pets or put some chicken wire around it to keep your pets from coming into contact with it.
#19 – Rosemary
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a popular seasoning for many dishes and is often found in the spice aisle at the grocery store. It also keeps several different kinds of bugs away from you and your vegetable garden.
If you throw some in the fire, the fumes will clear the air of insects that want to bite you. In fact, this is one of the few plants you have to burn in order to receive any pest control benefit from it.
It needs lots of sunshine and does well in arid climates. It grows to about 3-5 feet tall and attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
#20 – Sage
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a well-known herb in the kitchen. As an added bonus, it has all kinds of antioxidants in it too. It’s a drought-resistant plant so it’s a good choice for people who live in dry climates.
It can grow up to 3-1/2 feet tall, so it’s a good border plant to place along the edges of your yard or garden. However, for the best results, just like rosemary, sage should be burned and allowed to smolder, putting off columns of smoke that will drive away mosquitoes.
It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, both of which are known pollinators. One note of caution though; while it isn’t harmful to dogs, it has been shown to be toxic to cats if they eat it. You need to take care they don’t come into contact with it.
#21 – Wormwood
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) has excellent repellent properties regarding mosquitoes, wasps, and fleas. It has a strong scent that repels them when they detect it so it makes a good border plant to keep them from penetrating your garden or yard.
It is a perennial plant with a beautiful silvery-looking foliage composed of grayish-green stems covered with fine hairs. It can be grown in most climates where it can get lots of sunshine and has a bitter, spicy taste. It is mainly used for gastrointestinal complaints.