10 Plants That Repel Mosquitos in Your Yard & Indoors
Author: Rick Worst | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Plants that repel mosquitos are a big piece of the puzzle, but there’s more you can do, too, beyond just growing plants that keep mosquitos away. In some parts of the world, mosquitos pose a serious health risk, whereas in other areas they’re more of a nuisance.
There’s nothing quite like sitting down in your yard in the summertime to enjoy the hot sun, or sitting around in the evening with some music and good friends.
Regardless of how you choose to enjoy your little sanctuary, it’s always exponentially nicer when you aren’t being bothered by swarms of mosquitos that are trying to drink your blood.
There are some things that you can do in order to limit the amount of mosquitos, like ensuring that you dump out any standing water to limit their ability to reproduce, but unless everybody in the neighborhood is putting in this effort, you can only do so much on your own.
While you can’t necessarily do much on your own to stop mosquitos from breeding, you can organize your garden in a way that makes them uncomfortable, and ensures they’ll want to spend less time in your yard without having to spray any dangerous fog or other chemicals.
Mosquitos love the carbon dioxide that we breathe out with every single breath, they love the warmth from our bodies that’s amplified in nice weather, and all of this helps attract them to us to feast on our blood.
Going Beyond Plants That Keep Mosquitos Away
Before planting garden plants that repel mosquitos, think about some other ways to attack this problem, too. Dragonflies love to eat mosquitos, so if you can fill your yard with plants that attract dragonflies, that’s also going to help reduce the amount of mosquitos flying around.
A good way to attract dragonflies is by planting plants that attract dragonfly food (not mosquitos in particular, but other insects that dragonflies also like to eat, since attracting mosquitos would be counterproductive.)
You can see how planting a little flower or vegetable garden can quickly turn into a balancing act of trying to foster the perfect ecosystem in your yard. For some people, that’s part of the fun. For others, they just want to achieve like keeping mosquitos away so they can enjoy their time outside more.
Swamp milkweed, black-eyed Susan, and Joe-pye weed are all plants that can help increase the number of dragonflies that are visiting you, which will in turn help reduce the amount of mosquitos.
Plants That Repel Mosquitos
Now, let’s get right down to it. Here are some plants that you can put in your garden to help keep mosquitos away. You'll be pleased to know that many of these are the same that repel spiders and even repel fleas.
For the most part, they’re all easy to care for. You’ll need to figure out if they can grow in your climate or not, but I’m already putting an emphasis on selecting plants that are versatile and should do well in most gardening climates, at least for part of the year.
If you have weather conditions and an area that leads to mosquitos being a problem, these plants should do well where you are.
It’s also worth pointing out that it’s up for debate how effective simply planting these can be to directly keep the mosquitos away, but some of these plants can be boiled in water or made into candles, or used in other methods to repel mosquitos.
While there aren’t rock-solid studies to prove this works great, some gardeners swear by it, and the worse case scenario is that you end up with some different, beautiful plants in your garden, which is never a bad thing.
The way that citronella works is by strongly covering up the smells and things that attract mosquitos, so it doesn’t necessarily chase them away, but it stops them from coming around in the first place.
This is why you’ll often find citronella as an ingredient in outdoor types of candles and other products for keeping insects and mosquitos away. If you’ve ever used a citronella candle, then you probably know how well they can work.
Growing your own citronella is a worthwhile pursuit because it’s a lot less expensive than buying it, and you can make stronger concentrates of it. You can grow it, turn it into an essential oil to use in an oil diffuser, put it into a spray bottle, make your own candles with it, and many other ways to use citronella for repelling mosquitos.
The nice thing about lavender is that it comes in a number of different varieties, some will grow better than others depending on the climate you’re in.
Whatever grows best in your zone should get the job done. If you can grow any of the types of lavender, you should already be doing that - it’s a gorgeous purple flowering plant. There are nearly 50 species of lavender.
Lavender is used for keeping insects away, and also commonly used to make tea with. Making lavender tea is as simple as harvesting it, drying it, and then steeping it. So, once you’ve dealt with those pesky mosquitos, this plant will also look great and give you something relaxing to sip on.
If you’re looking to keep mosquitos away without using chemicals, catnip is a great option. If you’ve got a cat, tell them to look away for a second. Not only is catnip useful for bugs, felines also love it. I just didn’t want to get your cat’s hopes up in case you decide not to grow it.
Catnip contains nepetalactone, which does a great job of scaring away mosquitos. It’s the same component that makes cats so drawn to it.
If you ask me, Basil is something that should be grown in every garden. If you don’t have a garden, grow it in your windowsill.
It’s so simple to keep basil alive, it smells absolutely incredible, it’s great for cooking a number of different recipes, and the cherry on top is that it’ll help convince mosquitos to leave you, your friends, and family alone.
It’s my favorite out of all of the indoor plants that repel mosquitos because there’s so much you can do with it.
Mint is probably the easiest to grow out of everything on this list, and it’s very fragrant, which helps cover up the various person-smells we discussed earlier - the ones that attract mosquitos.
People that plant mint in their garden beds often have a hard time containing it, it spreads like a weed if it’s not kept in check. For this reason, a lot of people choose to grow mint indoors, or to grow it in a planter if you’re growing it outside.
Did you know that garlic can help keep mosquitos away? Not to focus too much on food, but combine your garlic with basil and you’re off to a pretty good start for a nice tomato sauce.
It’s the smell of garlic that is known to repel mosquitos, not as much when it’s in the ground, but when you eat it and when it comes out through your pores. People get a distinct smell when they eat a lot of garlic, not just their breath but also their sweat.
If you can handle that, and you enjoy garlic, you can make yourself less attractive to mosquitos. The plant itself grows in bulbs underground, so don’t expect all that much support until it’s harvested and consumed.
Pennyroyal can be crushed up and carried around in your pocket or in a small satchell. The smell of this plant can help repel mosquitos and a number of other pests.
Be careful! Pennyroyal can be toxic towards infants and pregnant women in particular.
If you’re familiar with the NIrvana song “Pennyroyal Tea”, you’ll understand. If that’s a concern, stick to things like garlic, rosemary, garlic, mint, basil, and other edible plants that aren’t dangerous or toxic to humans.
The flowery bulbs on this plant are absolutely gorgeous. They’re purple, and they form perfect spheres. You can plant them from seed, or you can plant them as bulbs.
The many types of allium do best in sunnier conditions, but can do fine in the shade as long as they’re in well-nourished soil and well-cared for and get at least some sun during the day. Allium is a family of plants, so you’ll find some variety to choose from.
Marigold is another lovely smelling plant that will give a very nice boost to your outdoor garden, even before we start talking about how well it can work as a repellent.
Pyrethrum is the name of the compound that various types of marigolds have, that is a common ingredient in a number of different types of repellents.
This is an excellent source of citral, a component that’s found in orange peels and other citrus fruits. Many people think lemongrass is the same as citronella, but it's not.
Citral oil is a commonly-found ingredient in a number of different types of commercial mosquito repellents, so lemongrass is an excellent way to make them yourself and not have to worry about any of the other ingredients.
As the name suggests, it has a lemon-like smell to it and is also commonly used in soups and other recipes.
Which Plants That Repel Mosquitos Work Best?
It doesn’t hurt to plant a variety of different things in your garden or indoors to help repel mosquitos right out of your life altogether.
I don’t know if this is backed up my science or not, but my gut tells me that different plants will have varying levels of effectiveness depending on where you are. What works in one zone may not work as well in another, and vice-versa for anything on this list.
That’s why I recommend planting at least a few of these, but that’s also kind of just an excuse to grow more plants in case you were looking for the green light!
Make sure you let me know how it goes! If all else fails, you can always light a citronella candle or ten and hope for the best.
Here’s to a summer filled with a yard all to yourself, without any little nuisances buzzing around to disturb you, all thanks to your diligent work in choosing some plants that repel mosquitos.