Jennifer is an environmentalist from Ohio. She is passionate about advocating for the planet and wildlife through gardening and education.
Naturally Repel Mosquitoes with Plants
Mosquitoes can make enjoying time in your garden difficult. Not only are they annoying, they can also potentially spread diseases to you and your pets. Luckily, there are certain scents that these blood-sucking insects can’t stand. Reducing the number of mosquitos attacking you in your garden is as simple as planting a few strategically chosen plants.
Catnip is a popular garden herb, especially for gardeners who love cats. Cats can’t get enough of this herb, but mosquitoes find it very unpleasant. A study by the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University found that nepetalactone, the chemical in catnip that cats go crazy for, is 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the common commercial chemical DEET.
To repel mosquitoes using catnip, you can either plant catnip plants around your property, or use catnip sprays. Homemade catnip sprays are relatively easy to make using your own home-grown catnip. If you are concerned about attracting cats to your yard, you can grow catnip in pots indoors, and bring it outside with you when you want to repel mosquitos.
Catnip may spread aggressively if not contained, so be careful if you plant it directly in your garden to keep it under control.
Citronella plant is one of the most widely used plants for repelling mosquitos. In fact, it is often called the “mosquito plant.” Citronella plants are related to geraniums and produce a fragrance that mosquitos can’t stand.
Citronella plants can be planted in your garden to discourage mosquitos from entering. You can also use citronella oil on your skin to keep mosquitos away. There are also many products available containing citronella oil, such as candles and incense, that you can use to keep mosquitos away while you spend time outdoors.
While wild bergamot is excellent for attracting beneficial insects, such as bees and butterflies, to you garden, it also repels pests such as mosquitos. Mosquitoes are thought to be repelled by oils produced by wild bergamot. They greatly dislike the citrus-scented essential oils of this plant. The popular closely related plant, bee balm, has also been shown to keep mosquitoes at bay.
Cranesbill (True Geraniums)
Cranesbill, also known as true geraniums (not to be confused with garden geraniums, which are a related but a different plant), are another flower that pollinator insects enjoy, but mosquitos hate. In addition to repelling mosquitos, cranesbill also deters other problematic critters such as raccoons.
In addition to keeping mosquitoes away, cranesbill leaves can also be used to treat mosquito bites. To treat mosquito bites using cranesbill leaves, simply rub the fresh leaves on the affected area of your skin.
Lavender is another plant that is highly effective at repelling mosquitoes. You can utilize this plant’s mosquito-repelling properties by planting lavender plants around your property or garden, or by using lavender essential oils.
According to a study conducted in 2019, lavender essential oil was 80% effective at repelling mosquitoes for up to eight hours. Lavender is unappealing to mosquitoes because it contains a compound called linalool, which is thought to overwhelm the insect’s sense of smell.
Marigolds are another flower that act as a natural mosquito repellent. These flowers contain a compound called pyrethrum, which is often found in commercial mosquito repellents. These colorful flowers can be planted in a border around your garden to keep you garden pleasantly mosquito-free. You may also consider keeping a container of marigolds as a centerpiece for a garden table, or on your patio. Keep marigolds near doorways and windows to prevent mosquitos from entering your home.
Basil is a powerful herb for keeping mosquitoes away. There are a number of different ways to use basil to repel mosquitos including basil plants, steamed leaves, burnt leaves, basil oil, which have all been proven effective in different ways.
Basil is commonly planted as a companion crop with vegetable crops like asparagus, root vegetables, tomatoes, and peppers because it is effective in keeping pests away. Simply planting basil in your garden can help keep mosquitos away from you while you work in the garden.
You can also burn basil as an incense, as the basil-scented smoke will send mosquitos running. Oils from basil leaves can also be extracted and made into a spray or oil that can be applied to the skin.
Lemongrass, also sometimes called citronella grass, is a tropical ornamental grass that naturally repels mosquitos. Lemongrass has been found to be even more effective at repelling mosquitos than many commercial mosquito repellent products.
Lemongrass can be planted and used to repel mosquitos from the garden. Its oil can also be extracted and applied to the skin as a topical mosquito repellent.
Vampires aren’t the only blood-sucking creatures who hate garlic! Mosquitos also find garlic quite repellent. Plant garlic plants in your garden to keep mosquitos away. You can also use crushed garlic, garlic powder, or garlic spray to deter these pests. Some sources also claim that you can prevent mosquitos from biting you if you include ample amounts of garlic in your diet.
Many people claim that the eucalyptus-like scent from rosemary essential oil is an effective mosquito repellent. Though there hasn’t been much scientific research done on rosemary’s ability to repel mosquitos, there are many anecdotal reports of this plant being an effective mosquito repellent. If you enjoy using this herb in your cooking, planting a few rosemary plants in addition to the other mosquito-repelling plants couldn’t hurt.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jennifer Wilber