Woman watering basil plant.

The Best Mosquito Repellent Plants For Your Yard

Emma Tomsich3 minute read
UPDATED: June 14, 2022


Even the most perfect evenings can be ruined by mosquitoes. To protect against this potential summertime threat, it’s important to take necessary precautions to keep away mosquitoes and other little garden pests. However, many of us prefer not to douse ourselves in bug spray that contains DEET. Luckily, there are plants that we can grow in our gardens to help keep the mosquitoes away.

The Plants That Keep Mosquitoes Away

Now is the time to protect your outdoor patio from mosquitoes and bugs so you can enjoy the rest of your evenings outside. Including the following plants in a home garden can provide homeowners with some important weapons in the war against mosquitoes. 

1. Citronella Plants

You may already be familiar with citronella plants, as they are known for emitting a strong smell that mosquitoes find objectionable. This group of plants contain citronellal, the active ingredient commonly found in mosquito repellents like citronella patio candles or sprays. Therefore, having a citronella plant can be similar to using bug spray, only without the use of harsh chemicals. Fortunately, there are several plants within this family that are marketed as mosquito repellent.

  • Citronella Plant, marketed as “The Mosquito Plant,” actually contains very little citronellal, around 1%
  • Ceylon or Java Citronella grass contains far more citronellal (14% – 22%) than the citronella plant. This plant is closely related to lemongrass, and also considered a good mosquito repellent.

2. The Mint Family

Some members of the mint family have the power to repel mosquitoes, or at least take the sting out of their bites. Members of the mint family are generally easy to grow, sun loving, drought tolerant, and are important plants for pollinators, like honeybees. In order to be most effective, mint plants need to be crushed or burned to effectively release their mosquito repellent.

  • Lemon Balm contains as much as 38% citronellal. It can also be dried, crushed and made into a sleep-inducing tea. Lemon balm plants grow easily in partial shade, but can spread easily, so consider planting in a container 
  • Peppermint emits a smell believed to be unpleasant to mosquitoes. When crushed, peppermint releases an oil that is effective at cooling mosquito bites 
  • Basil, a commonly used herb, is more effective at repelling mosquitoes through its smell in its natural state than most members of the mint family
  • Lavender’s purple flower, when crushed, or its oils, can be spread on the skin to naturally repel mosquitoes.
  • Sage, when burned in your firepit, will release an earthy smell that repels mosquitoes.
  • Catnip, adored by cats but hated by mosquitoes.

3. Flowers

Believe it or not, ornamental plants can actually do double duty and function as mosquito repellents. Even better, these plants love sun and are drought resistant.

  • Marigolds, and their relative, tarragoncontain pyrethrum, an ingredient found in many insect repellents that works to keep away mosquitoes and other bugs.
  • Bee Balm, also known as Bergamot, is a beautiful plant that repels mosquitoes and can even be used for medicinal and culinary purposes.
  • Verbena is a lemon-scented, easy-to-grow perennial that will also repel bugs from your house and yard.
  • Citrosum is also named “the mosquito plant,” and is one of the best plants in the game for repelling mosquitoes.

Other Tips To Keep Mosquitoes At Bay

If you’re looking for other ways to keep mosquitoes away from your home, check out these quick and easy tips to make your yard pest-free. 

Remove, Or Cover, Standing Water

Standing water is extremely attractive to mosquitoes, particularly for breeding purposes. Therefore, in order to keep mosquitoes away from your house, limit the amount of standing water in your yard. Some helpful strategies include covering rainwater-gathering barrels, turning over wheelbarrows and other water-catching garden implements, and leveling ground to prevent small puddles from forming.

Spray With Oils Derived From The Above-Mentioned Plants

If you don’t have access to the outdoor space or types of climates best suited to the plants mentioned above, the oils from these plants are used in natural sprays designed to repel mosquitoes.

Avoid These Plants

Some plants attract mosquitoes, including bamboo, taro, papyrus, water lilies, water hyacinths, and water lettuce. Avoid planting these if mosquitoes are a problem in your yard.

Grow Plants In Containers

For those with no or limited outdoor access, containers are a great way to grow desirable plants, like herbs or ornamental plants.

Summary: Plants Can Keep The Mosquitoes Away

Mosquito-repellant plants are a safe and sustainable way to keep mosquitoes away from your home. Next time you visit a home and garden store, consider purchasing one or multiple of these types of plants to try in your yard or garden.

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Emma Tomsich

Emma Tomsich is a student at Marquette University studying Corporate Communications, Marketing and Public Relations. She has a passion for writing, and hopes to one day own her own business. In her free time, Emma likes to travel, shop, run and drink coffee.