Our porch has no screens so we use mosquito repellent plants to keep pesky insects away. Here is a list of 25 plants that repel mosquitoes!
If you ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you that I practically live outside on my deck. From coffee to meals to just sitting in the late evening watching the hummingbirds, I’m out there a lot. However, there are no screens surrounding it, so we need creative ways to keep mosquitoes away. Plants are natural and fun!
Tip: you can also use our homemade mosquito repellent to keep them away!
Plants that Repel Mosquitos
To begin with, you can plant most of these plants directly into the ground or keep them in pots. Also, some have lingering scents that just need a light breeze to spread while others are more beneficial with a gentle contact. Lastly, some plants that repel mosquitoes do better if you crush the leaves to release the oils.
25 Mosquito Repellent Plants
Geraniums contain geraniol, which mosquitoes hate! Most all geraniums contain varying amounts of geraniol, but the regular florist varieties contain the most. Geraniums are not cold hardy but you can grow them outdoors during the summer months. They enjoy full sun.
2. Citronella Geraniums
Citronella Geraniums are not true citronella plants (we’ll get to that one next) but are a type of geranium. Yes, both are great as mosquito repellent plants, but I list them separately because the main oils are similar but different. So citronella geranium contains higher amounts of citronellol, the main constituent in citronella grass. Which is also the oil that is used in candles and torch fuel to repel mosquitoes.
3. Citronella Grass
Citronella Grass is a tropical grass that contains high amounts of citronellol. It can be confused with lemongrass but is a different species of grass. It can also be harder to find in garden centers.
Lemongrass plants are also great mosquito repellent plants because they contain high amounts of both citral and geraniol, both of which repel mosquitoes. To a lesser degree, it also contains some citronellol along with limonene and linalool, which are often used in “natural” commercial mosquito repellents. Lemongrass is easier to find and grows very well in most damp climates. It can get very large and the clumps may need to be divided. In some areas, it can overwinter very well.
5. Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm contains higher amounts of rosmarinic acid, along with citronellol and geraniol. Rosmarinic acid is found in rosemary. Lemon Balm makes a great tea and is very easy to grow. It can become invasive if the tiny black seeds are allowed to spread into the lawn and sprout. I let mine do this on purpose. When I mow near them, they get chopped up and release the oils into the air.
Lavender contains pinene and linalool, both of which make lavender plants great mosquito repellent plants. Many other compounds make up lavender, but these two are largely responsible for repelling mosquitoes. Lavender grows best in well-drained soil. It can produce flowers the first year, but the leaves often contain as much oil as the flowers.
There’s an old saying that if you plant marigolds near your potatoes, you won’t get potato bugs. Turns out it’s because of tagetone and to a smaller degree limonene. Tagetone repels mosquitoes very well just by being present in the garden. Marigolds are annuals that come in short or tall plants with a variety of yellows and oranges.
Basils are great mosquito repellent plants because they contain geraniol, among other constituents. Some basils such as Thai, Holy Basil, and African Blue Basil, also contain eugenol. Some other basils contain eugenol but to a lesser degree.
Eucalyptus is ornamental in most areas, but in some, such as Australia and the Gulf Coast of the southern USA, it grows so well that it can be considered a weed. In temperate areas, you can keep it in a pot and move it in each winter. Eucalyptus contains mainly pinene and limonene and is well known as a mosquito repellent.
Rosemary is well known as a culinary herb. It contains rosmarinic acid along with pinene and borneol, another compound that makes them great mosquito repellent plants.
Peppermint contains mostly menthol, which mosquitoes dislike.
Lantana is native to Africa and has naturalized itself into parts of the Everglades among other places. It is mostly used as an ornamental, but the leaves have an odor that can help keep mosquitoes at bay. Two newly discovered compounds contained in the lantana plant (lanatoside and lantanone) are at present being studied.
13. Monarda (Bee Balm)
Monarda, or bee balm, contains thymol, also present in thyme, and pinene. Dried crushed leaves work best as a mosquito repellent.
Catnip is one of the mints and contains menthol among others.
Pennyroyal is another mint that has strong citral and pinene esters. It also contains pugelone which has been used by Native Americans as an abortifacient. Used in landscaping, it rarely poses a threat.
16. Lemon Thyme
Lemon Thyme contains thymol and can help keep mosquitoes away.
Sage varieties work as mosquito repellent plants because they contain cineole and camphor. To get the most repelling benefit it is best to burn the sage and allow the smoke to linger.
Chamomile is a smaller gentle plant best known for tea. Pinene is largely responsible for its ability to repel mosquitoes.
Nasturtiums are controversial as far as their ability to repel mosquitoes. Some people swear by them and say they are better than most other mosquito repellent plants.
Onions contain sulfur compounds that mosquitoes don’t like.
Garlic also contains these sulfur compounds. Yes, onions and garlic always seem to go together. Whether it’s for culinary use or use as mosquito repellent plants!
Oregano contains thymol and pinene, both of which repel mosquitoes.
I’m not sure what is in petunias or if they are officially on this list, but having them on my deck, I notice fewer mosquitoes.
Yarrow contains camphor, another mosquito-repelling compound.
Chrysanthemums contain many compounds that mosquitoes hate. They bloom later towards fall giving you color later in the season.
Have you used mosquito repellent plants? Tell us about it!
[1.] Duangkamon Sritabutra. Evaluation of herbal essential oil as repellents against Aedes aegypti and Anopheles dirus. Sciencedirect.com. Sept 2011.
[2.] David Stewart. The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple. Google Books. 2005.
[3.] Begum S. Nematicidal constituents of the aerial parts of Lantana camara. Journal of Natural Products. June 2000.