Enjoying the outdoors, whether a family BBQ or a relaxing evening on the patio watching the sunset, can quickly halt when mosquitoes invade your space. Not only do these blood-sucking insects create bites that cause swelling and itching, but their bite can also spread diseases to you, your family, and even your pets. While supermarkets are lined with shelves of mosquito repellents, such as sprays with DEET or citronella candles, these products are not for everyone. They can be dangerous if not used as directed. But avoiding these products doesn’t mean you have to live with mosquitoes. Many natural plants can be effective in deterring these biting insects.
Here we take a closer look at some of the common plants that can not only help keep mosquitoes away but can also add some color and design to your backyard landscape.
Do mosquito-repellent plants really work?
Mosquito-repellent plants can help deter mosquitoes to some extent, but their effectiveness may vary. While these plants contain natural compounds that mosquitoes find unpleasant, simply planting them around your yard may not be enough.
To get a real benefit from these plants when it comes to stopping mosquito bites, you need to transfer the natural plant oils. You can do this by simply crushing the leaves of the plants and rubbing them on your skin or clothes.
15 mosquito repellent plants
Here we look at 15 plants that will not only help keep mosquitoes and other pests away but can add splashes of color and natural beauty to your landscape.
1. Citronella grass (Cymbopogon)
Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus or Cymbopogon winterianus) is a species of grass known for its strong and distinct aroma, which is often used in mosquito repellents. Citronella grass contains natural compounds, particularly citronellal, and geraniol, that mosquitoes find repulsive. The scent of citronella masks the scents that attract mosquitoes, making it harder for them to locate you and your family for their next meal.
2. Lavender (Lavandula)
Lavender (Lavandula) is a popular aromatic plant known for its beautiful purple flowers and soothing fragrance. It is native to the Mediterranean region but is now cultivated worldwide for its ornamental and medicinal uses. While it may not be as strong as some other mosquito repellents, the natural compounds present in lavender, such as linalool and linalyl acetate, are believed to deter mosquitoes to some extent.
3. Marigolds (Tagetes)
Marigolds (Tagetes) are bright and colorful flowers that are widely recognized for their ornamental value. They come in various shades of yellow, orange, and red. Marigolds produce a distinct scent due to a compound called pyrethrum that is believed to repel mosquitoes and other insects.
4. Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a well-known herb that is prized for its refreshing scent and a wide range of uses. It is a hybrid mint plant that is a cross between water mint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). Peppermint has a cooling and invigorating aroma due to the high concentration of menthol in its leaves. It is this strong mint scent that can help deter mosquitoes, flies, and other outdoor pests.
5. Basil (Ocimun basilicum)
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a fragrant herb known for its culinary uses and distinct aroma. It is native to tropical regions of Asia but is cultivated worldwide for its flavorful leaves. Basil plants typically have bright green leaves that emit a delightful scent when crushed or rubbed. It is believed that the strong aroma of basil leaves, particularly varieties like lemon basil or cinnamon basil, can help deter mosquitoes.
6. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial herb known for its lemony fragrance and soothing properties. Lemon balm has vibrant green leaves that release a refreshing citrus scent when crushed or brushed against. It attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies with its small, white flowers. However, lemon balm contains citronellal and geraniol, which works to repel mosquitoes.
7. Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. It is widely known for its effects on cats, which often become playful and energetic in the presence of catnip. However, catnip also has potential mosquito-repellent properties. The essential oil in catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone, which is known to repel mosquitoes.
8. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a fragrant evergreen herb that is well-known for its culinary uses and aromatic properties. Rosemary has needle-like leaves that release a strong, pine-like scent when crushed or brushed against. This strong scent is what makes this plant a potential deterrent for mosquitoes.
9. Geraniums (Pelargonium)
Geraniums are popular flowering plants known for their vibrant blooms and aromatic foliage. These versatile plants come in various colors and varieties, making them a popular choice for gardens, containers, and hanging baskets. When it comes to mosquitoes, the Pelargonium citrosum species, known as the “mosquito plant,” produces a fresh lemony scent believed to deter mosquitoes.
10. Lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora)
Lemon eucalyptus (Corymbia citriodora) is a tall evergreen tree native to Australia. It is known for its distinct lemony scent and is widely valued for its essential oil, which is derived from the leaves of the tree. Lemon eucalyptus oil contains a compound called PMD (para-menthane-3,8-diol), which has been found to have mosquito-repellent properties. In fact, The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recognizes lemon eucalyptus oil as an effective natural alternative to synthetic mosquito repellents. When properly formulated into a repellent product, lemon eucalyptus oil can provide protection against mosquitoes for several hours. It is particularly effective against the Aedes species of mosquitoes known for transmitting diseases.
11. Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Also known as Fleabane, Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) is an herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the mint family. It is known for its strong minty aroma that can act as a natural insect repellent. The essential oil of this plant also contains the compound pulegone and can be extremely potent and toxic to humans and animals. Adding these plants as mosquito deterrents should be done cautiously and away from children and pets.
Another plant containing natural mosquito deterrent citronella is Lemongrass. Lemongrass is a tall grass-like plant native to tropical regions, particularly Southeast Asia. It is widely recognized for its strong citrus aroma and is a popular ingredient in culinary dishes, teas, and various household products.
Also known as bee balm or bergamot, monarda is a North American native flowering plant and a member of the mint family. Monarda plants have unique, tubular-shaped flowers that come in various vibrant colors, including red, pink, purple, and white. The flowers are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, hence the common name “bee balm.” Natural compounds in monarda, such as thymol and carvacrol, have been found to repel mosquitoes.
Ageratum, also known as flossflower, is a flowering plant native to Central America. It is a popular choice for gardens and landscapes due to its attractive clusters of fluffy, button-like flowers in shades of blue, lavender, pink, and white. Ageratum plants are relatively low-growing and have soft, fuzzy leaves that add texture to garden beds. This plant produces a natural compound used in commercial mosquito repellents called coumarin.
15. American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a deciduous shrub native to the southeastern United States. It is cherished for its striking clusters of bright purple berries that adorn the plant in late summer and early fall. Some studies suggest that the leaves of the beautyberry plant contain compounds that can act as natural mosquito repellents. Crushing the leaves and rubbing them on the skin may help deter mosquitoes and ticks to some extent. The USDA is investigating it as a possible insect repellent.
Beautify your garden with mosquito-repellent plants
While no one wants to become a mosquito buffet while spending time outdoors, using chemical insect repellents is not always an option. Adding these beautiful plants to your landscape can help keep mosquitoes, and other pests, at bay. If the mosquitoes are still biting, consider professional mosquito control.
Helping you keep the mosquitoes away
If mosquitoes are still keeping you locked indoors despite trying natural repellents, the team at Arrest A Pest can help. Our technicians will do a thorough inspection of your property, identifying breeding areas and possible attractants that are bringing in more mosquitoes and work to eliminate the problem. To learn more, schedule an appointment today.