Growing These Plants Will Mosquito-Proof Your Outdoor Space (2023)


The joys of warm weather are many: splashing in the swimming pool, entertaining outdoors, sitting on your patio while watching the sunset. Unfortunately, mosquitoes are out to spoil your fun—and then some. According to Climate Central, the number of mosquito “disease danger days” is increasing across much of the country as temperatures rise, representing a greater risk for transmission of mosquito-borne diseases.

There are more than 170 species of mosquito in the United States, all of which need standing water to breed and prefer humid conditions. While males feed mostly on plant nectar, females are notorious biters, using our blood for the protein required for egg development.

Battling these bugs is such big business, with numerous mosquito sprays, bracelets, candles, bug zappers, and chemical repellents on the market, that lots of folks might not realize a natural alternative: mosquito-repelling plants. In your quest for an itch- and illness-free summer, try cultivating some of the following plants that keep mosquitoes away around your yard and near your favorite outdoor seating areas.

RELATED: 8 Ways You’re Making Your Mosquito Problem Worse

1. Catnip


Nepetalactone, the chemical in Nepeta (catnip and catmint) leaves that attracts felines, has the opposite effect on mosquitoes. In fact, studies have shown that nepetalactone is a more effective mosquito repellent than the commercial chemical DEET. As a bonus, both nepetas put up pretty spikes of flowers from spring until fall (white on catnip, and lavender on catmint). The plant, a perennial bound to return year after year, does best in full sun; allow soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

2. Citronella


You’re probably familiar with citronella candles, but might not realize that their strong fragrance, which is very objectionable to mosquitoes, is extracted from the leaves of the citronella plant, also called mosquito plant. The mosquito repellent citronella plant has a grassy appearance, is fairly drought resistant, likes afternoon shade and grows well in rich, fast-draining soil. It’s generally considered an annual because it won’t come back after frosty weather.

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3. Lavender

While most people love the relaxation-inducing aroma of lavender, this beautiful purple-bloomed perennial is one of the best plants for mosquito control. There are several varieties of lavender, but all prefer full sun, somewhat dry soil, and some deadheading to promote even more blooms.

RELATED: The Dos and Don’ts of Deadheading Flowers

4. Lemon Balm


Related to mint, lemon balm has a citrusy smell that mosquitoes abhor. Its leaves, allowed to dry, can be brewed into a wonderfully lemon-tasting herb tea that helps induce sleep. Grow these anti mosquito plants in a partially shaded spot, and keep soil moist but not soggy for the best growth.

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5. Marigold


The many varieties of marigold, those cheerful yellow, gold, white, or orange summer blooms, all tell mosquitoes to bug off. They’re quite easy to grow, and do especially well in containers when planted in a sunny spot. Let the soil dry out slightly before watering, and clip away spent flowers to encourage more flowers all the way through fall.

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6. Basil


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Not for pesto only, basil is a powerful natural mosquito repellent. All of the many varieties of this warm-weather herb discourage mosquitoes from lingering, so choose your favorites and plant them in a sunny spot. Basil is also a companion plant, so it can help other nearby plants (like tomatoes) in your garden grow and might even enhance their taste. Keep the soil moist, feed monthly with an all-purpose fertilizer, and pinch away any flower buds that develop, as once basil flowers, it stops producing new leaves.

7. Pennyroyal


A member of the mint family, pennyroyal has a strong fragrance that mosquitoes and other insects detest, making it among the most effective herbs that repel mosquitoes. Caution: The herb can be toxic to people and animals, so grow it in a container to keep it under control, away from kids and pets. Pennyroyal thrives with plenty of sun and soil that’s moist but not saturated.

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8. Peppermint


If you’re looking for mosquito-repellent herbs to add to your garden, give peppermint a try. Like most members of the mint family, peppermint’s fragrance is a natural mosquito turnoff. This versatile perennial herb has many culinary uses: dry the leaves for tea, drop a few fresh leaves into lemonade or cocktails, shred leaves for Asian dishes and salads, or give fruit salad extra punch with a few chopped leaves. Peppermint can be invasive, so corral it in a container, set it in a partially shaded spot, and water regularly so soil won’t dry out.

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9. Scented Geraniums


While most varieties of the pelargonium family are grown for their colorful flowers, scented geraniums are valued primarily for the pleasant fragrances of their leaves. There are many varieties of this annual, but lemon, lime, orange, and peppermint geraniums are some of the most effective flowers that repel mosquitoes. Grow them in a sunny spot, let the soil go dry before watering, and don’t bother fertilizing because scented geraniums do best in somewhat poor soil.

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10. Rosemary


Rosemary does it all: adds pretty purple flowers to your garden, is a versatile herb in the kitchen, and discourages mosquitoes with its potent fragrance. Grown as an annual in all but the most mild-winter areas, these mosquito repellent plants thrive in full sun as long as you plant them in sandy soil that drains quickly, and you only water when the soil dries out.

11. Lemongrass


Popular in Asian cooking, lemongrass, as its name suggests, looks like a tall clump of grass, and has a strong lemon fragrance and taste. You’ll appreciate its flavor in the kitchen, but mosquitoes hate the citrus scent. Grow this annual in a warm, full-sun spot, fertilize every few weeks with a fish emulsion or general fertilizer, and keep the soil moist.

12. Monarda


Commonly called bee balm, Monarda is a beautiful flowering perennial that attracts desirable pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, but repels mosquitoes with its minty-herbal scent. Bee balm prefers a full sun location, although afternoon shade is appreciated in the hottest areas. Keep the soil moist and deadhead regularly to keep the flowers coming until fall.

RELATED: 10 Flowers That Attract Bees to Your Garden

13. Ageratum


Known by its common name of floss flower, ageratum produces clusters of fuzzy, small purple blooms. A low-growing annual especially well suited to containers, floss flower secretes coumarin, a chemical that mosquitoes hate. Plant it in a part-sun location in soil that drains well, watering regularly so the soil won’t dry out.

14. American Beautyberry


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Not only will the American beautyberry shrub keep mosquitoes away, it will also add some visual appeal to your garden space and attract songbirds with its gorgeous purple berry clusters. Like mint, this plant is a member of the Lamiaceae family and mosquitoes do not like the aroma of the oils it releases. American beautyberries grow best in well-draining soil in light shade.

RELATED: 10 Colorful Shrubs for a Standout Winter Garden

15. Lantana Camara


If you’re looking at how to keep mosquitoes away, you might also want to consider planting Lantana camara (common lantana). These anti-mosquito plants are also very popular with pollinators, for the added benefit of attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden space. While lantana can thrive as a perennial in warmer zones, it is most commonly grown as an annual. It does best in full-sun locations and in arid or semi-arid soil, though it will adapt to different soil types.

RELATED: 27 Gorgeous Plants That Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

16. Fennel


Fennel’s wide, fern-like shoots that can add texture and definition to a garden space. While mosquitoes don’t like this herb, it can serve as a host for swallowtail butterfly larvae. Fennel is a perennial that does best when grown in areas that get at least 6 hours of sun and have fertile soil.

17. Eucalyptus


Eucalyptus plants repel mosquitoes and can be a welcome, fragrant addition to your yard, deck, or patio. Native to Australia, eucalyptus plants are not suited for cold weather. If you live in a climate with colder winters, grow your eucalyptus plant in a pot and bring it indoors when the temperatures drop. This plant thrives when placed in rich soil and full sun.

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How do you mosquito proof outdoor area? ›

6 Tips for Keeping Mosquitoes Out of Your Outdoor Living Space
  1. Burn Citronella Candles. ...
  2. Use Personal Repellents. ...
  3. Deploy Mosquito Traps. ...
  4. Eliminate Stagnant Water. ...
  5. Treat Your Lawn. ...
  6. Install Patio Screens. ...
  7. Buy Insect Screens From Shading Texas.
May 6, 2021

How do I keep mosquitoes out of my yard by plants? ›

Marigolds emit a scent that helps to deter mosquitoes. They are a great addition to a garden because they are easy to grow and also prevent aphids, whiteflies, and other pests. Rosemary, thyme, & basil. Similar to lavender and marigolds, these fragrant herbs emit a smell on their own that works to keep mosquitoes away.

What plants do mosquitoes and spiders hate? ›

11 Garden Plants to Help Keep Bugs Away!
  • Marigolds. The scent of a marigold will deter plant lice, mosquitoes, and even rabbits. ...
  • Chrysanthemums. This might be the best plant to deter bugs. ...
  • Mint. Mint plants can repel spiders, ants, and mosquitoes. ...
  • Basil. ...
  • Citronella grass. ...
  • Lavender. ...
  • Chives. ...
  • Petunias.
Oct 13, 2022

Do citronella plants really keep mosquitoes away? ›

Citronella is probably one of the most common plants thought of when you think of mosquito-repellant plants. Many people wonder: Do citronella plants work? They are called the mosquito plant, and they give off a scent mosquitoes don't like. And they are effective in repelling mosquitoes in small areas.

What plant eats the most mosquitoes? ›

Tropical carnivorous pitcher plants botanically known as Nepenthes feed on insects including roaches, ants and mosquitoes. You can grow pitcher plant vines quite easily by following some simple steps. Nepenthes require growing outside in a humid bright light location like you would grow an orchid.

What trees do mosquitoes hate? ›

Trees: Eucalyptus, Tea Tree

While humans generally like the fragrance of eucalyptus and tea tree, their strong scents are a major deterrent to mosquitoes. The CDC has even approved eucalyptus oil as an ingredient in mosquito repellent.

What kills mosquitoes the best naturally? ›

To naturally get rid of mosquitoes around the house, some popular methods include these:
  • Burning coffee grounds.
  • Lighting lavender candles.
  • Leaving plates of sliced lemons or cloves around the house.
  • Setting out mosquito traps.
  • Spraying with essential oils such as lavender, lemon, or eucalyptus.
Nov 16, 2022

What flower keeps mosquitoes away? ›

Lavender. Include beautiful lavender in your garden plans to help keep biting mosquitoes at bay. Varieties with higher camphor properties are the most effective insect repellents. This includes 'Provence' and 'Grosso' lavender.

What plants protect mosquitoes? ›

10 Plants That Keep Mosquitoes Away
  • Citronella.
  • Lavender.
  • Basil.
  • Marigolds.
  • Peppermint.
  • Lemon Balm.
  • Catnip.
  • Sage.
Sep 22, 2021

Do mosquito-repelling plants really work? ›

But do mosquito-repelling plants actually work? Sadly, not exactly. “Currently, the scientific community doesn't recognize any plants that effectively repel mosquitoes,” says entomologist Elmer Gray, with the University of Georgia. “The idea is that certain plants contain essential oils that keep mosquitoes away.

Which is better for mosquitoes lemongrass or citronella? ›

A completely different plant, the Cymbopogon (lemongrass) genus, produces the perfumed oil. Citronella plants (or Pelargonium citrosum) are commonly thought to be the best at repelling mosquitos. However, Lemongrass (or Cymbopogon) is superior.

Does lavender plant keep mosquitoes away? ›

Lavender can repel flying insects like mosquitos, moths, and flies. The flower's perfume is well-known, and while it will scent the air, the most effective way to use it for pest control is to rub the plant on your skin to release its oils.

What do professionals use to keep mosquitoes away? ›

Mosquito control professionals use natural pyrethrins, often referred to as pyrethrum, to kill adult mosquitoes using ULV spraying. Synthetic pyrethroids are similar to natural pyrethrins. Mosquito control professionals use different types of synthetic pyrethroids to kill adult mosquitoes using ULV spraying.

What kills mosquitoes on porch? ›

Use citronella torches or candles to keep bugs away from small areas outside, such as a porch or deck. Fans can blow winds strong enough to disperse mosquitoes outdoors. Electrocuters, or mosquito zappers, use heat and carbon dioxide to attract and kill mosquitoes.

What smell does mosquito hate? ›

Certain Natural Scents

Mosquitoes are turned off by several natural scents: cinnamon, peppermint, cedar, citronella, lemongrass, patchouli, catnip, lavender, and more. Find a favorite, and use it when you want to spend time outside.

What animals do mosquitoes not like? ›

Frogs. Frogs, toads, and their young called tadpoles are often touted as excellent for mosquito control.

What colors do mosquitoes hate? ›

So, if you're looking to avoid the itchy bites, researchers at the University of Washington say to avoid colors like cyan, orange, red and black. Instead, you should focus on wearing colors mosquitoes ignore like white, blue, green and purple.

Do mosquitoes hate the smell of vinegar? ›

As an alternative, many natural replacements for the DEET ridden repellents include apple cider vinegar. Mosquitoes dislike the smell and taste of the vinegar, and will leave you alone so you can enjoy your BBQ.

How do I get rid of thousands of mosquitoes? ›

Remove standing water where mosquitoes could lay eggs

Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.

What do all mosquitoes hate? ›

Mosquitoes hate the smell of lavender, citronella, clove, peppermint, basil, cedarwood, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass and rosemary. They also hate smells such as smoke, for further insight, see our exploration on, does smoke keep mosquitoes away?

What smell kills mosquitoes? ›

Use Citronella

Citronella oil is a natural mosquito repellent that will kill mosquitoes and drive them out of your house. Look for citronella candles or use citronella essential oil in your vaporizer or oil diffuser.

What is the most effective natural mosquito repellent? ›

What Are the Best Natural Mosquito Repellents?
  • Geraniol (found in citronella, lemongrass, and rose oil). ...
  • Catnip oil. ...
  • Cinnamon oil. ...
  • IR3535.
Sep 15, 2020

Does growing lemongrass repel mosquitoes? ›

What is the #1 plant you should grow in your garden and in pots on your patio or deck to keep the mosquitoes at bay all summer? Answer: Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus). Lemongrass contains citronella, a natural oil that repels mosquitoes.

What smell chases mosquitoes away? ›

Certain Natural Scents

Mosquitoes are turned off by several natural scents: cinnamon, peppermint, cedar, citronella, lemongrass, patchouli, catnip, lavender, and more. Find a favorite, and use it when you want to spend time outside.

Do dryer sheets keep mosquitoes away? ›

Dryer sheets are designed to provide a pleasant scent to laundry, not to repel insects, so any insect-repellent properties may wear off quickly. In summary, while some people claim that dryer sheets can repel mosquitoes, there is little scientific evidence to support this claim.

Which is better for mosquitoes citronella or lemongrass? ›

A completely different plant, the Cymbopogon (lemongrass) genus, produces the perfumed oil. Citronella plants (or Pelargonium citrosum) are commonly thought to be the best at repelling mosquitos. However, Lemongrass (or Cymbopogon) is superior.

Does lemongrass come back every year? ›

Lemongrass is a tender perennial meaning that it does come back every year so long as you take care of it properly. Lemongrass will die if it is exposed to cold weather and frost so while it can live outside all year round in USDA zones 8b and 9, it will need to be taken indoors in other zones.

Is lemongrass toxic to dogs? ›

Lemongrass poisoning is rare in canines; however, lemongrass is a toxic plant for dogs if the animal ingests it in large amounts. Learn how to spot the signs of lemongrass poisoning in your pet and what emergency steps you should take.


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