Natural Mosquito Repellents: Plants That Protect and Beautify

As the days get warmer, fireflies come out to play—and mosquitoes come out to feast. However, there are a few things we can do to interrupt their banquet. And there are plants that can actually help to repel mosquitoes or help to hide your scent from them! That’s the good news.

Some Primary Anti-Mosquito Plants

Lemon Grass

Lemon Grass has pretty lemon-lime colored foliage—and it’s lemony scent is large. It contains citronella oil, which mosquitoes don’t like. When buying it, do be sure the tag reads either “Cybopogon” or “Citronella winterianus,” as other varieties of lemon grass do not contain as much citronella oil. Do not rub into skin as some people may find it irritating.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is fast-growing, drought resistant, and shade tolerant. It contains as much citronella oil as does lemon grass. And, unlike Lemon Grass that is not winter-hardy here in zone 7, Lemon Balm is perennial. And, as a bonus, it makes a delicious and soothing tea—simply pour boiling water over a few sprigs and allow to steep for 15 minutes.

Lemon Thyme

Besides helping to repel mosquitoes, Lemon Thyme is also a good groundcover for low-traffic sunny areas and the pretty flowers are VERY pollinator friendly. And it is perennial.

A Few Other Plants to Repel Mosquitoes

And here are a few other plants that can help you in your dealings with mosquitoes.


Not only does ageratum have pretty fuzzy blue or lavender flowers, but it contains courmarin—an ingredient in many mosquito repellents.


Your cats will be thrilled to know that a 2010 study at Iowa State University showed that catnip oil is more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes! And the pollinator friendly flowers are a bonus. It is perennial.

Bee Balm

Another one with pollinator friendly flowers and mosquito-repelling foliage and it’s perennial.


The strong scent of basil is another great deterrent. Mother Earth News gives a recipe for a homemade insect repellent calling for basil. Bring 4 ounces of water to a boil and pour over 4 to 6 ounces of basil leaves. Steep several hours until cool, remove leaves (crushing them to squeeze out all the water) and place solution in a spray bottle. Add 4 ounces of vodka and shake well. Store in the fridge.


Marigolds have many uses in our gardens. When planted in our vegetable gardens, they not only help to repel harmful nematodes, but they can act as a trap crop for aphids. When grown in pots around our deck, the spicy fragrance of the flowers can help with mosquitoes.

Rosemary, Lavender, Oregano, all Mints, Sage, regular Thyme, etc.

Any strong smelling herb can help with a mosquito problem by camouflaging your scent. So do enjoy pots of rosemary, lavender, and Spearmint etc. on your deck or patio.

Important Reminders

Remember, all these plants are most effective when the leaves are crushed or bruised to release the essential oils. A few sprigs of catnip or lemon balm can be crushed and rubbed directly on the skin, if you’re working out in your garden.

And also remember, it’s easier to deal with a mosquito problem by checking your yard to make sure you’re not giving them any place to lay their eggs. Considering they can lay eggs in as as little as a tablespoon of water, we have to think small. While we want to change the water in a bird bath every other day, for example, we can’t forget about the little “dip” in the splash guard under the downspout where water can stand for a couple of days after a rain.

And don’t forget about saucers under plants—or the spare pots and/or saucers under the edge of the deck. Use mosquito “dunks” for larger areas of standing water.

Birds Eat Mosquitoes – Make Your Yard Bird Friendly

Something else we can do is to make our yards bird-friendly. Hang bird feeders and bird houses and plant bird-friendly trees and flowers. The birds will pay us back by hanging around to eat caterpillars and mosquitoes.

And appreciate bats when they flutter overhead. Remember that one bat can eat thousands of mosquitoes in an evening.

One More Reason to Bring These Plants Into Your yard

Oh, and one fun fact–most of these same plants can repel fleas–and deer don’t eat them!

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