Nobody likes mosquitoes. Not only do their bites cause redness and itching, they can also be quite painful. Moreover, mosquitoes are known to carry a wide variety of diseases that can lead to sickness and even death, diseases such as West Nile Virus, the Zika Virus and even malaria (in certain parts of the world).
As a result of the nuisance and peril mosquitoes can cause, many homeowners are choosing to grow plants in their yards and patios that are known to naturally repel mosquitoes—plants whose makeup and scent tend to ward off the flying pests. To help you create a natural defense system around your yard and patio, below we have highlighted several plants that naturally repel mosquitoes, and the properties of each plant that helps them do just that.
Also known by the scientific name Cymbopogon nardus, citronella grass is a clumping natural grass that belongs to the lemon grass family. The essential oil of citronella grass, or citronella oil, is used in many commercial mosquito and insect repellants, including citronella candles and Tiki torch oil. In addition to being a natural mosquito repellant, citronella oil is also used in many household disinfectants, as a fragrance in some soap and is popular in aromatherapy. Although native to Southeast Asia, citronella grass—a perennial that can grow up to five feet in height—can be grown almost everywhere in the U.S., although it will usually die off in the winter only to come to life again when the weather warms.
Also known as the “mosquito plant,” Citrosum, as its name suggests, emits a strong citronella scent that mosquitoes absolutely hate. Although not as effective as citronella grass, it can be used in a pinch to control the flying intruders.
Also known as Thymus X Citriodorus, Lemon Thyme can be a very effective remedy against mosquitoes. In a Canadian study, performed by the University of Guelph in Ontario province, researchers found that the crusted leaves of the lemon thyme plant were roughly 60 percent as effective in repelling mosquitoes as DEET, the most commonly used compound in most commercial mosquito and insect repellants. Fortunately, Lemon Thyme is incredibly easy to grow. The plant thrives in areas that receive a lot of sunshine and they require less watering than most of the other plants on our list. According to a website specializing in the growing of herbs, “lemon thyme does really well in gravelly dry soil and will thrive in places to USDA climate zone 5 and up.” When tending to your lemon thyme plants, keep in mind they need lots of pruning to thrive and to keep them from taking over your garden space.
While we are on the subject of “lemon” plants that repel mosquitoes, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Lemon Balm. A member of the mint family, lemon balm is a beautiful plant, with white flowers and a pleasant lemony aroma. It is this “lemony scent” that makes it so effective at repelling mosquitoes and keeping the summertime bites at a minimum. Homeowners need to be very careful when growing and keeping lemon balm, however, as the plant is known as a very invasive species. With the ability to literally take over a garden space, we strongly recommend you plant lemon balm in a pot and keep it on the patio next to any common gathering areas where mosquitoes could be a problem.
Lavender is a gorgeous plant with a number of well-known uses. It is used in a variety of herbal remedies and in aromatherapy, and its powerful scent is a renowned repellant of a wide variety of insects, including spiders, ants, moths and mosquitoes. Furthermore, the plant’s essential oils work great in treating the pain and itching associated with mosquito and other insect bites. Although usually used as an essential oil, the fresh or dried cuttings of lavender, placed near outdoor gathering spaces, can often help keep the insects away. There are many different types of lavender, and it can grow to a variety of sizes. Best of all, it can be grown in almost every climatic zone (4-9), save for extreme northern and southern areas, and its pleasant aroma is a definite bonus for any garden.
Marigolds, assuming they are of the African or French variety, can be very effective as a repellant against mosquitoes. The powerful and potent aroma of these types of marigolds is what makes them so beneficial against the biting pests. As a bonus, both of these types of marigolds are beautiful and extremely colorful. Marigolds require a lot of sun, can be grown throughout the US, and do best in moderately fertile soil.
If you want to prevent the proliferation of mosquitoes around your yard or patio, you may want to plant a few Basil plants. This plant, which produces the delicious basil herb, has essential oils that have proven to be toxic to mosquito larvae. Hence, if you plant basil near any natural water sources in your yard, where mosquitoes tend to lay their eggs, you may help to limit the number of eggs that actually make it to maturity.
Peppermint is a pleasant-smelling plant that has some effectiveness as a mosquito repellant. Peppermint, in its concentrated form, is used in a variety of natural-based insect repellants and has been proven effective both as a repellant and a killer of mosquito larvae.
Last but not least, if you self identify as a “cat person,” catnip can be an excellent helper in ridding your yard and garden of pesky mosquitoes. A member of the mint family (as many insect repelling plants are), catnip contains a chemical called Nepetalactone. This chemical, while being a natural attractant for felines, is also a natural repellant for mosquitoes and other insects. However, if you would rather not turn your garden into a gathering place for all the neighborhood cats, or if you have large dogs in your yard, you may want to forgo this plant for some of the others on our list.