Mosquito plants do work. Try citronella, catnip, marigolds, basil, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and even garlic! Lowes and Home Depot and most garden centers will carry mosquito repellent plants.
Natural mosquito repellent plants at Lowes. Citronella and lemongrass plants have been used for hundreds of years. No one likes to get bitten by mosquitoes. They are a nuisance and their bites are certain to be itchy and irritating–enough to ruin any outdoor barbecue or picnic.
When you consider the risk of the West Nile Virus that has sprung up all over the country in recent years, you can see the added precautions that are necessary each summer season. Discover mosquito repellent plants available at Lowe’s that help get rid of mosquitoes.
No matter what area of the country you are in, chances are you will have a problem with mosquitoes. You may typically reach for a can of insect repellent. However, most repellents carry DEET. DEET is the active ingredient in many insect repellent products. DEET is designed for direct application to your skin to repel insects, rather than kill them.
Using plants to keep mosquitoes and other pests away from both your home and your skin is an all-natural and safe alternative to using products that contain chemicals. There are a number of plants you can add to your garden and yard to naturally repel mosquitoes, and in some cases, you can even crush or rub plants on your skin to keep mosquitoes and bugs away.
→ Cant Find It At Lowe’s?
- Dress up your patio with these 12 mosquito repelling plants
- Ageratum– Ageratum houstonianum
- Basil– Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’ (Cinnamon Basil)– Ocimum citriodorum (Lemon Basil)
- Catnip– Nepeta cataria
- Citronella Grass (Mosquito Grass)– Cymbopogon nardus– Citronella winterianus
- Horsemint (bee balm)– Mentha longifolia
- Lavender– Lavandula angustifolia (L. officinalis)
- Lemon Balm– Melissa officinalis
- Lemon Thyme– Thymus citriodorus
- Marigolds– Tagetes erecta
- Peppermint– Mentha piperita
- Pennyroyal– Mentha pulegium
- Rosemary– Rosmarinus officinalis
- Does the Mosquito Plant “Citrosa” work?
- Maybe Not So High-Tech
- But Does It work?
- More articles
- 10 Plants To Grow In Brisbane That Repel Mosquitoes
- A few things you should do to protect yourself from mosquitoes
- 10 plants to grow in Brisbane to stop mosquitoes
- 1. Catnip
- 2. Lemon Eucalyptus/Spotted Gum/Corymbia citriodora
- 3. Lemongrass AKA Cymbopogon
- 4. Citronella
- 5. Lavender
- 6. Basil.
- 6. Rosemary
- 7. Peppermint/Mint
- 8. The Lemon Teatree Leptospermum liversidgei
- 9. Marigolds
- 10. Pitcher Plant
- Lemon Balm
- More Ways To Keep Mosquitoes Out Of Your Garden
- The Real Citronella Plant
- More Citronella in South America
- Another Option: Lemon Balm
- Or, Just Buy a Spray
- Pretty, But Ineffective
Facts about DEET
DEET was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946, and registered for use by the general public in 1957. Today approximately 140 products containing DEET are currently registered with EPA by about 39 different companies. DEET generally has been shown to be of low acute toxicity-meaning a low risk of poisoning. Some people may report irritations around the eyes, skin and mouth.
The EPA has concluded that as long as consumers follow label directions and take proper precautions, insect repellents containing DEET do not present a health concern. However, it is still a chemical that needs to be used with caution! DEET is a registered pesticide and products containing DEET are required to carry labels which specify:
-Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
-Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth.
-Do not allow young children to apply this product.
-Do not spray in enclosed areas.
-After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
The DEET chemical name is N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. It is the active ingredient in many insect repellent products sold today. The good news is that there are natural mosquito repellent plants that can keep mosquitoes away while keeping you safe from DEET. There are also new DEET-free mosquito repellents on the market today which offer relief in mosquito season. But there are also certain plants which are easy to grow and will have some effect in repelling mosquitoes.
The 6 Surprising Natural Mosquito Repellent Plants
Thankfully, there are plants that repel mosquitoes. They are effective and work by simply planting them in your garden or landscape or by taking a bit of the plant and releasing some of the scent or rubbing it on your skin.
Plants that are commonly used to repel mosquitoes are citronella, catnip, horsemint, and ageratum, in addition to several others. The most common is the citronella plant which carries the fragrance of citronella.
Here Are The Best Ones We Have Found
Mosquito repellent plants are inexpensive, easily maintained, and can produce results without using chemicals. This is important to many of us, especially gardeners, who are growing plants for their table.
There are actually a surprising number of mosquito repellent plants. You may already be familiar with some of them, and many of them are easily grown and cared for. The most effective and easiest plants to grow that repel mosquitoes are:
Citronella: This is the one most of you have heard of. Citronella is the most popular of the mosquito repellent plants. The aroma of Citronella masks other attractants to the mosquito. This masking effect will basically make it more difficult for the mosquito to find you and your loved ones.
Marigolds: Marigolds are great annual ornamental plants for your home and flowerbeds. Now there is more. They also happen to be a mosquito repellent plant. Marigolds have what some might call an offensive odor. They also contain pyrethrum, which is commonly used in organic pest control products.
Horsemint: Horsemint is another wonderful mosquito repellent plant. It works similarly to citronella. It has a strong odor and is also a good choice because it is a tough plant. It has the ability to grow fast and is drought resistant.
Hint: Bug lights and fans do work. If you have a deck or patio, try using a yellow “Bug Light”. These lights are not repellant, but do not attract mosquitoes like other lights. Also, mosquitoes are relatively weak fliers, so placing a large fan on your deck can provide a low-tech solution to your mosquito problem.
Catnip: Catnip is another plant you may already be familiar with. It also happens to be a terrific mosquito repellent. Researchers report that nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip that gives the plant its characteristic odor, is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. Catnip is not only effective, but is also easily grown.
Basil: Basil is said to keep away flies and to be one of the few herbs that gives off its scent without someone brushing it or crushing it. Basil is a slightly effective fly repellent when rubbed on the skin and it also helps repel mosquitoes.
Geraniums: They repel mosquitoes, making it possible to enjoy your yard in the mornings and evenings. Geranium extract is also a popular ingredient in many natural insect repellents. The plants also repel common pests that can damage plants, such as beetles, and are often used alongside roses.
More Plants that Repel Mosquitoes:
While the above plants have been shown to be the most effective, the following plants and herbs have also been used to repel mosquitoes.
- Citronella Grass
- Lemon Balm
- Lemon Grass
- Lemon Thyme
So enjoy your summer and try out one or more of these plant ideas. In order for these mosquito repelling plants to be most effective, plant them in potted plants around your patio area or near doorways. When you’re sitting outside and the mosquitoes are especially bad, break off a piece of your plant, crush it, and rub it on your skin.
Not all of these mosquito repellent plants grow in all climates. Most of these mosquito repellent plants are available at your local Lowes store. You can also check with your local nursery or garden center to find the plants that grow best in your area.
By Victoria Stone
Dress up your patio with these 12 mosquito repelling plants
There are many varieties of plants that repel mosquitoes and other insects. Some do their fine work looking pretty in plant form while for others it’s the plant’s oils that keep pests away when released. Here are the plants that are on my list to plant this summer so we can enjoy our time outdoors pest free and chemical free. I am planning on planting mine in containers so we can move them around the patio for the most enjoyment.
UPDATE: I stopped by Lowes this morning and found 6 of the 12 plants on my list. I managed to find Cinnamon Basil, Bee Balm (Horsemint), Lemon Balm, Lemon Thyme, peppermint, and Rosemary. I know they had lavender earlier in the season. It’s harder to grow here with the humidity. I am going to order lavender seeds and the citronella grass seeds. It turns out the citronella grass is hard to find.
My new mosquito repelling garden!
They were also selling the “mosquito plant” that does not actually contain citronella as the citronella grass does. Don’t be fooled! This Mosquito Plant does have a lemon scent similar to other repelling plants. However, this plant DOES NOT contain citronella oil. Read more below on Citronella Grass and what to look for to be sure you get the correct plant.
– Ageratum houstonianum
Ageratum, also known as flossflower, has brilliant blue blooms with the magic of Coumarin. Coumarin is a chemical with a scent that mosquitoes detest and is even used in commercial repellents. Coumarin is also used in may perfumes for it’s fragrance profile. The blooms are long lasting and deadheading will encourage fresh bloom growth.
Effective Form: Plant
Light: Partial to Full Sun
Zones: 5 to 10
Height: 1 – 3 feet
Width: 0.5 – 1.5 feet
Cautions: DO NOT rub the plant or blooms on the skin. This plant can be quite invasive, so a pot is best.
Other Benefits: Attracts pollinating bees and butterflies, including monarchs.
Buy Ageratum Seeds
– Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’ (Cinnamon Basil)
– Ocimum citriodorum (Lemon Basil)
Photo by bobistraveling / CC BY
Photo by Kembangraps / CC BY
Basil is a staple in most herb gardens. Any variety will repel mosquitoes. Cinnamon and Lemon Basil are the highest recommended due to their stronger aromas. The plant by itself will repel mosquitoes and crushed leaves may rubbed on the skin to keep mosquitoes away from the body.
Effective Form: Plant / Oil
Light: Full / Partial Sun
Zones: 4 – 10
Height: 1 – 3 feet
Width: 1 – 3 feet
Other Benefits: Great for cooking!
Buy Lemon Basil Seeds
Buy Cinnamon Basil Seeds
– Nepeta cataria
Photo by Penarc / CC BY
Catnip can do so much more than provide a fun, crazy time for your furry feline. Catnip is a powerful insect repellent and is especially good at repelling mosquitoes. Research studies have shown catnip to be 10 time more effective than DEET. These results were conclusive in the controlled testing environment. It was later released that the essential oil of catnip is not as effective as DEET on the skin. Catnip is a member of the mint family and has white and purple blooms. Like many mint varieties, catnip is invasive and should in a pot.
Effective Form: Plant
Light: Full Sun / Partial Shade
Zones: 3 – 9
Bloom: Late spring through fall
Height: 3 – 4 feet
Width: 1 – 1.5 feet
Cautions: Very invasive, will attract cats which may lead to cats spraying, fighting, or adopting you as a new owner.
Other Benefits: Attracts bees, butterflies, and birds.
Buy Catnip Seeds
Citronella Grass (Mosquito Grass)
– Cymbopogon nardus
– Citronella winterianus
Photo / CC BY
Citronella grass, also known as mosquito grass, is a variety of lemon grass. Be sure to look for the true varieties (Cymbopogon nardus and Citronella winterianus). Other varieties will have a citronella-like oil, but will not repel mosquitoes. Although these are a variety of lemon grass, these are NOT edible. Mosquito grass is a clumping grass and may be planted in the ground in zones that will not see a frost.
This plant’s name should not be confused with what is called the mosquito plant or citronella plant (Pelargonium citrosum). The mosquito plant has a citronella-like oil, however it is NOT citronella. Although you may find it in stores and advertised that it repels mosquitoes it does not. You want the grass!
Effective Form: Plant
Designation: Perennial (Annual outside zone 9)
Light: Partial Sun
Height: 5 – 6 feet
Width: 3 feet
Cautions: Be sure to get the correct variety with real citronella oil. This is NOT an edible form of lemon grass.
Other Benefits: Nice ornamental grass.
Buy Citronnela Grass Seed
Horsemint (bee balm)
– Mentha longifolia
Photo by Michael Becker / CC BY
Horsemint, also known as bee balm, is another mosquito repelling plant that is a member of the mint family. This is an aggressive plant that should be confined to a pot. Like many mint varieties, horsemint’s leaves may be dried and used for herbal teas. The flowers also attract bees and butterflies.
Effective Form: Plant
Light: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Zones: 5 to 10
Height: 2 – 4 feet
Width: 1 – 1.5 feet
Cautions: Aggressive plant and should be confined to a pot.
Other Benefits: Attracts butterflies, useful for herbal teas.
Buy Horsemint Seeds
– Lavandula angustifolia (L. officinalis)
Photo by H. Zell / CC BY
Lavender is as beautiful as it is fragrant. An added bonus is that lavender also repels mosquitoes. All parts of the lavender plant contain it’s fragrant oil. The plants will repel insects on their own and lavender oil can be mixed with other oils and applied to the skin. Lavender plants prefer a hot, dry environment with well draining soil. Planting in raised beds or pots with rock or mulch to trap in heat will help in wet environments.
Effective Form: Plant / Oil
Light: Full Sun
Zones: 5 – 10
Height: 1 – 3 feet
Width: 1 – 3 feet
Other Benefits: Can be used in cooking and lavender oil has numerous aromatic benefits.
Buy Lavender Seeds
– Melissa officinalis
Photo by H. Zell / CC BY
Lemon balm is also referred to as balm or balm mint and should not be confused with horsemint or beebalm. This plant has a mild lemon scent with small white flowers during the summer. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and will grow vigorously like most mint. The plant’s oils consist of several chemicals, one of which being citronellal (26%). Citronellal is the chemical that gives citronella oil it’s distinctive scent. Although mosquitoes hate this plant, you will love all the benefits it has to offer. Aside from repelling mosquitoes, Lemon balm has other benefits. Studies have shown lemon balm to be effective at reducing stress and anxiety. This herb can be made into a tea giving wonderful calming affects. Lemon balm has other culinary usages. It is used as a flavoring for ice cream and as a healthier alternative to preserve sausages.
Effective Form: Plant
Light: Partial Sun / Shade
Zones: 5 – 10
Height: 2 – 3 feet
Width: 2 – 3 feet
Other Benefits: Can be used to make calming teas and flavorful culinary treats.
Buy Lemon Balm Seeds
– Thymus citriodorus
Photo by Wildfeuer / CC BY
Lemon thyme has a nice lemon scent and can be grown in containers, used as ground cover in beds, or between pavers. In addition to repelling mosquitoes, lemon thyme is a culinary herb and may be used in cooking, added to salads, or dried for herbal teas. Lemon thyme will bloom between mid to late summer with pink to lavender flowers. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers as a nectar source.
Effective Form: Oil
Light: Full Sun
Zones: 5 to 8
Height: 4 inches
Width: 1 foot
Other Benefits: Attracts butterflies, useful herb for cooking and teas.
Buy Lemon Thyme Seeds
– Tagetes erecta
Photo by Sanja565658 / CC BY
Marigolds are often used as a border plant to protect gardens from pests including mosquitoes. This plant contains Pyrethrum, an ingredient found in many insect repellents. The strong aroma marigolds have create a bug barrier. Marigolds can be potted and strategically placed to keep mosquitoes away. The plant is very good at repelling nematode pests especially those that attack tomato plants.
Effective Form: Plant
Light: Full Sun
Zones: 9 to 11
Height: 1 – 3 feet
Width: 1 – 2 feet
Cautions: The brightly colored flowers may attached wasps.
Other Benefits: Will protect vegetable gardens from insects.
Buy Marigold Seeds
– Mentha piperita
Photo by H. Zell / CC BY
Similar to other fragrant members of the mint family, peppermint is great for repelling mosquitoes. Be sure to plant peppermint in a pot if you don’t want it take over your yard. Peppermint of course has many culinary uses from tea to dessert garnish and more.
Effective Form: Plant / Oil
Light: Full Sun
Zones: 3 to 8
Height: 2 – 3 feet
Cautions: Very aggressive plat.
Other Benefits: Many culinary uses. Leaves may be rubbed on the skin to reduce itching from bites.
Buy Peppermint Seeds
– Mentha pulegium
Photo by Daniel Feliciano / GFDL
Pennyroyal is an aggressive growing ground cover with delicate flowers. In addition to repelling mosquitoes it is also very effective at repelling gnats, ticks, and fleas. A potted pennyroyal will have some repelling power and the oils of the plant are most effective. Pennyroyal oil is often used in commercial natural insect replants. Although the oils of this plant are safe on the skin, the concentrated essential oil of the pennyroyal plant can be fatally toxic if ingested. Read more about the benefits and cautions here.
Effective Form: Plant/Oil
Light: Full / Partial Sun
Zones: 5 to 9
Height: 1 foot
Cautions: Very toxic if ingested. An aggressive grower and should confined to a pot.
Other Benefits: Attracts butterflies.
Buy Pennyroyal Seeds
– Rosmarinus officinalis
Photo by THOR / CC BY
Rosemary is a common herb in most kitchens and gardens. In addition to it’s culinary contributions, rosemary has beautiful purple blooms that will dress up your patio and attract butterflies. Rosemary’s wonderful aroma will repel mosquitoes as well as other garden pests. For an added visual statement, rosemary can be groomed into a topiary.
Effective Form: Plant
Light: Full Sun
Zones: 6 to 9
Height: up to 4 feet
Width: 4 feet
Other Benefits: Many culinary uses, attracts butterflies.
Buy Rosemary Seeds
Does the Mosquito Plant “Citrosa” work?
The Citrosa, or Mosquito Plant, has attractive foliage and a lemony scent.
You may have heard of a “mosquito plant,” a potted plant you can put outside in summer to repel mosquitoes. The idea seems great, if it would work. You’d set out some attractive greenery around your patio or back yard, that would not only look decorative but emit a pleasant odor that keeps mosquitoes away.
There are several plants that go by the name “mosquito plant,” but the one that was originally promoted most heavily and is still popular today is the Citrosa or Citronella Geranium, and that’s the one this article is about.
The question is, does it work? Well, according to scientific tests on mosquitoes from Canada to Florida, no, at least not the way the inventor advertised it. The leaves may have some value as a repellant if crushed and rubbed on the skin, but they don’t perform any better than any other citronella scent.
The story of the Citrosa is a classic tale of marketing hype. Its scientific name, Pelargonium citrosum ‘Van Leenii,’ reflects the name of its inventor, Dirk Van Leenen. He began developing the plant in Holland, then moved to the U.S. around 1984, according to an article in the September 9, 1985 Orlando Sentinel. In Miami, he started Horticultural DNA Products Inc. to sell the plant, and the marketing promises began. Within its first year, the company reportedly sold 25,000 plants, thanks to the enthusiasm of the inventor. “Sounding a bit like a carnival barker, Dr. Dirk van Leenen says that for only $5 he will give you a sweet smelling miracle plant which will rid your home of mosquitoes,” the Ocala Star-Banner said in 1985 .
By the early 1990s, news of the miracle plant had spread, sales were up, and the citrosa was now “produced by PhytoNova, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch/Shell that specializes in plant tissue culture. Austerica Inc., in Ontario, purchased the North American rights to the patented plant,” according to the New York Times, which ran an article on the news-worthy Citrosa in 1991.
The high-tech names of the companies reflected the story behind the plant’s origin. Van Leenen had explained to an Ocala Star-Banner reporter in 1985 that this was no ordinary hybrid: “It’s a combination of two plants, but normally you do that by pollination… and have two compatible plants. In this case, they are not compatible. And then you take out some chromosomes or put in some chomosomes that have other characteristics.”
The plant is still advertised as “genetically engineered.” Van Leenen claimed to have incorporated tissue culture from an Asian grass, Cymbopogon nardus, which produces mosquito-repelling citronella oil, into an English fingerbowl geranium and crossed it with an African lemon geranium, to produce an attractive geranium that emitted a citronella scent. Crossing the two geraniums would be easy enough for any florist, but Van Leenen’s gene-splicing skills would be necessary to combine the dissimilar citronella grass with the geranium.
Maybe Not So High-Tech
As sales increased in the early 1990s, scientists investigated the claims, and also analyzed the plant to try to confirm its origin.
Arthur O. Tucker and Michael J. Maciarello, of the Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Delaware State College, pointed out that “‘Citrosa’ does not have any unique compounds not found in other species of Pelargonium.” In other words, gene-splicing wasn’t necessary to create a geranium that produced citronella or related compounds. The common rose geranium (Pelargonium ‘Rose’) already contained the same related compounds in similar amounts as the Asian grass whose genes supposedly needed to be spliced in.
In fact, another Pelargonium variety called ‘Dr. Livingstone,’ already developed the natural way without gene splicing, contained 9% of one of the compounds, citronellal. That was a hundred times more than the mosquito plant, which contained only .09%.
Tucker and Maciarello expressed doubt that Dr. Van Leenen’s mosquito grass was different from a naturally-produced hybrid. They also quoted the opinion of Dr. Barry V. Charlwood, Director of Biotechnology at King’s College London, who was experienced in tissue culture of Pelargonium. Dr. Charlwood suggested that what Van Leenen claimed he did might not even be possible: “Although protoplast fusion is easy to carry out, selection of the required heterokaryon would be extremely difficult, and protoplast regeneration of fragrant Pelargonium is in our hands impossible.”
But Does It work?
Whether Citrosa came from a high-tech gene-splicing lab, or was the result of a florist crossing plants in the ordinary way, the important question was and still is: does it repel mosquitoes as promised?
It gives off a citronella-like odor, no doubt about that. A Long Island greenhouse owner brought “40 or 50” plants to a Fourth of July party in 1991, hoping to convince people to buy. “Historically, people are eaten alive,” he told a reporter aftewards. “This year nobody complained at all about the insects, and they bought up my supply . I’ve ordered a couple thousand more.”
The owner of a nudist resort in Kissimmee, Florida liked the plants as well but reported something that scientists also were noticing: “They are a repellent, but sometimes a mosquito gets through the barrier. So we advise people to shake the plant, to give off more aroma, and to run their hands across the leaves and then rub their legs.”
At the University of Guelph in Ontario, researchers tested the plants and discovered that before the plant was added to a small clear cage, a volunteer was bitten 40 times in thirty seconds. After the plant had been in the cage for half an hour, the bites dropped to 26 in thirty seconds. But when it had been there for an hour and the test was run again, the bites increased to 43 in thirty seconds. After a day, the bites were up to 61 in thirty seconds. The initial success had faded, perhaps because the plant was sitting still, after initially being jostled when moved into the cage, or perhaps because the mosquitoes had become used to it.
Lemon thyme contains more citronella oil than Citrosa.
Crushing the leaves and rubbing them over the hands reduced bites to 12, but crushed lemon thyme, which contains more citronella, reduced bites to 6.5 on average.
The University of Guelph researchers published their findings in the March 1996 Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, concluding that Deet, the old chemical standby, reduced bites by 90%, but “there was no significant difference between citrosa-treated and nontreated subjects.”
About the same time, other researchers were finding similar results. Florida A&M; University scientists reported in 1994 that there were “no significant differences… in the number of mosquitoes landing on the forearms of human subjects in locations where plants were present compared with areas without plants.” In laboratory cages, one species of mosquitoes actually preferred to rest on cut Citrosa leaves compared to paper cut in the same shape.
Michigan researchers had the same result in 1993: “The ‘Citrosa’ plant was found to offer no significant repelling qualities in three different models of application used to test its reputed repellency.” They compared it to burning a permethrin coil, which they found “to offer significant repellency.”
There was, and still is, no doubt that citronella oil repels mosquitoes, although it doesn’t last as long as Deet, but if applied to the skin, it can keep mosquitoes away for a couple of hours.
However, there isn’t any objective evidence that just having Citrosa plants around will repel mosquitoes, even though they give off a citronella odor.
That doesn’t mean Citrosa plants are worthless. Rubbing the crushed leaves on your skin may repel mosquitoes like any citronella-based repellent for the skin. Some people are sensitive to the oil when it’s applied to their skin, though, so test a small amount and wait a day or two to make sure there’s no rash or redness, before trying more.
In addition, many people enjoy growing Citrosa plants for their ornamental foliage or because they give off a nice lemony odor, regardless of their mosquito-repelling properties. The plants have small lavender blooms in summer, but they don’t set seed, so if you want to propagate more, you need to do it from cuttings. They’re perennials, but are hardy outside only in zone 9b or warmer, so they’re best left in pots and brought indoors in the winter in colder climates. A mature plant may be three or four feet tall.
If you mainly want a potted plant with citronella oil in it, Citrosa isn’t the only option, or even the one with the most oil. Other choices are lemon thyme, hardy outside in zones 5-9, or lemon grass.
Just don’t expect Citrosa, or any plant, to repel mosquitoes without any work.
- Do mosquito dunks and bits work?
- Mosquito racket zappers
Did you know that Metro Atlanta region ranks as the worst in the U.S. for mosquitoes, according to the Orkin pest control company?
As we head into peak mosquito season here in Gwinnett County, I came across this fantastic list of 11 different plants and herbs from Natural Living Ideas you can plant in pots for your deck or directly in your garden as a natural way of keeping these pests from buzzing around your back yard!
Enjoy these 11 Plants & Herbs That Naturally Repel Mosquitoes
Chances are, you’ve heard of this one before- it’s one of the most common ingredients in most mosquito repellents. Strange enough though, many people don’t even know that citronella is actually a plant! Citronella is a beautiful perennial clumping grass that emits a strong aroma. That aroma masks other scents, and keeps mosquitoes from being attracted to things located around it.
The citronella plant has a much stronger aroma than other mosquito repellents that contain citronella, so it is a great choice. Citronella is very easy to grow, and can get to be a very tall 5 or 6 feet high! You can grow citronella in pots and place it around a porch or patio, or you can plant it directly in a yard or garden bed. It’s a great choice for repelling mosquitoes naturally.
2. Lemon Balm
A member of the mint family, the plant also known as horsemint and beebalm is a very easy plant for beginning gardeners to grow- even if you don’t have a green thumb! Lemon Balm is a very hardy plant, it resists drought, and it grows well even in shade.
It is a very fast growing and sometimes aggressive plant, so you might want to contain it to a pot, where you can move it to wherever you like to ensure that it doesn’t take over your garden. An added bonus? You can dry the leaves and use them to make a delicious herbal tea!
Your feline friends will be happy to know that catnip is a great mosquito deterrent!
In fact, in a 2010 study, researchers found that catnip is 10 times more effective than DEET, the ingredient commonly found in bug repellents.
It is a very easy plant to grow, and if you have cats in the house, they will surely be happy to have it around. Keep plants full by pinching the growing stems and flower buds when they appear.
A bright, hardy annual plant, marigolds are a great choice for repelling mosquitoes. Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, an ingredient found in many insect repellents, and they have a unique aroma which bugs find repulsive.
The flowers themselves are beautiful and can make a great border or addition to any flower bed. Try placing them around borders of your home, and mosquitoes might not want to cross over!
Top Tip: Companion plant marigolds with tomatoes. The insects hate them so much they’ll stay away from your beloved tomatoes.
Calling all cooks! Want a double whammy when it comes to mosquito protection? Plant some basil. Not only will you have a quick and easy mosquito repellent, you will also have a delicious fresh herb on hand to add to all of your favorite recipes. (try my Perfect Pesto Recipe!)
There are many different varieties of basil around, so feel free to experiment and find the ones that you like best.
Many expert gardeners recommend trying lemon basil or cinnamon basil to deter insects. Plus basil is one of the easiest herbs to keep alive – even the biggest novice can manage it.
You probably know that lavender is a gorgeous purple flowering plant with a soothing, calming scent. But, did you know that it is also a natural mosquito repellent?
Grow it indoors near a sunny window, or outside in your garden or flower bed to keep the bugs away.
While you’re at it, make a delicious herbal tea, or use lavender to fill your home with a wonderful calming aroma. There are so many reasons to grow lavender.
Most bugs despise the smell and taste of peppermint, so planting it around your home is a great way to keep them from dropping by uninvited.
Plus, if you do happen to get bitten, peppermint leaves rubbed directly onto the skin make a great bite relief treatment.
An added bonus is the wonderful minty smell that makes a delicious addition to food and beverages.
Unfortunately for all of us who love Italian food, studies have shown that eating garlic does not repel mosquitoes. (Unless, however, you were to eat a huge amount!) However, having garlic around does!
Make sure to add some garlic to your flower bed or vegetable garden for added protection from mosquitoes.
Not only will you keep mosquitoes away, you’ll also have a whole load of garlic to flavor your food and for its incredible health benefits.
The adorable pennyroyal flower is a natural deterrent for mosquitoes. Make sure to plant some around your flowerbeds.
Pennyroyal plants also make great groundcovers, and they attract a plethora of beautiful butterflies.
Some people even use pennyroyal to flavor certain fish dishes. As you can see, this plant has plenty of benefits.
Rosemary is a beautiful flowering plant that is often used to flavor lamb or fish dishes, but did you know that it is also a natural mosquito repellent?
It’s perfect to add to your herb garden or flowerbed to keep bugs away, and it even attracts butterflies!
Plus you can simply snip a few springs off every time you need to add extra flavor to your lamb or steak.
This beautiful flowering plant is a great choice for mosquito repellent.
When planted in a hanging container, the colorful blooms will cascade over the side of the pot, providing a beautiful visual piece as well as a very useful bug repellent.
Note that geraniums don’t want too much water, otherwise their leaves will yellow and the plant can rot. Geraniums tolerate periods of dry soil much better than long periods of wet soil, so let the soil get fairly dry before providing additional moisture. Also, water the soil directly without wetting the leaves. Your geranium will thank you!
Bonus Tip #1:
Breaking the leaves of these plants and rubbing their oils directly onto your skin can amplify their positive effects on beating mosquitoes. Plus, think how good you will smell! (well, except for the garlic…)
Bonus Tip #2:
To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your yard, get rid of all standing water. Anything that can hold even the smallest amount of rain or sprinkler water must be removed or turned over.
There are over 65 varieties of mosquitoes in Georgia, and some of these plants will be more or less effective against certain types. However, all of these plants will add beauty to your garden, with others providing additional cooking benefits.
While our team at Holtkamp Heating & Air helps your family feel comfortable indoors, these mosquito tips from Natural Living Ideas will help you and your family enjoy maximum comfort in the outdoors this summer as well!
10 Plants To Grow In Brisbane That Repel Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes in Brisbane are a problem especially if you live near water or you are surrounded by trees. Our Brisbane family has been literally bitten through clothing which has made the wearing of insect repellent just a small part of our family plan to try and protect our children from mozzies and the ever increasing rate of Ross River Fever in Brisbane.
A few things you should do to protect yourself from mosquitoes
Remember that some days will be worse than others but as a minimum we always use insect repellent on our children when they are playing outdoors. The overkill might be better explained by the fact we live surrounded by trees so if they aren’t as bad at your Brisbane home then lucky you! We have the hardcore tropical repellent for the really bad days but we have been using the MooGoo Tail Spray which is DEET free, skin friendly and seems to work if the mozzies aren’t too bad. We also make an effort to rid our property of puddles. Equally important (while it won’t prevent Ross River Fever) we keep an eye on mosquito bites to make sure the kids don’t scratch them with their dirty hands and treat them straight away with some garden grown aloe vera or antiseptic cream depending on what they look like.
This post is being written as the beginning of a massive green change for our family so I hope you enjoy the trickle of garden posts. Note that I am not a professional gardener and that this is more about collating the research, trials and errors and hopefully many successes of planting out a 2 acre garden in Brisbane.
10 plants to grow in Brisbane to stop mosquitoes
Lets be clear before we explore the plants that might help you deter mosquitoes. There is no plant on earth that I have found via research that will stop mosquitoes from being in your garden. Instead there are plants that simply don’t smell good, or perhaps hide your scent and make it less likely for mozzies to find you! Also note- that just because plants are natural does not make them safe and do some research and use some common sense before concocting any DIY insect repellents. Further I have attempted to actually research this, so where I can link to actual data I have but the majority is anecdotal but equally overwhelming in their mentions across the interwebs.
Long considered a cat associated plant, catnip is also gaining a reputation for being an expert mosquito repellent. Infact there are suggestions from researchers that the essential oil in Catnip may be more effective than DEET which is the main ingredient found in the hardcore commercial mozzie sprays. Interestingly the research also found catnip oil to be an excellent coackroach repellent. While the research was conducted with the oil itself, catnip by its nature omits the smell (which is why it stimulates cats) and is well worth planting in your mosquito barrier garden.
2. Lemon Eucalyptus/Spotted Gum/Corymbia citriodora
The main oil extracted from this tree is citronellal which is the unrefined version of Citronella. Interestingly in my research there is more anecdotal support for the use of citronella as a personal repellent than scientific and even less so for potted plants. What I mean is that – sure it works- BUT all the research shows that unless it is applied consistently (hourly) it is not very effective. But how about plants- if the effect is constant? Maybe it can work? I am pretty focused on the plant side of things and while I did find some supporting research here for this particular species of plant, it is limited to the burning and thermal release of the leaves. Now, this might have made me rule out Citronella based plants entirely so let me explain why I have included it. Firstly we live in QLD so is it possible there will be some thermal release? Maybe? And secondly I can grow this plant and then burn the leaves or oil it down as a cheap repellent while entertaining outside, so it is on the list! Also keep in mind these are BIG trees so while not suitable for all gardens, may be an ideal tree choice is you are wanting to plant some natives.
This tree warrants a second paragraph because the other oil extracted from the spotted gum is pure oil of lemon eucaplytus which shows far more promise than it’s poorer sister Citronella. Infact from reading various bits of information on insect repellents it would appear Lemon Eucalyptus in its pure form is an awesome repellent for around 6 hours but due to its risk of eye damage (aka don’t spray it in your eyes), it hasnt been approved for safe use as an actual insect repellent. Still- wouldn’t you agree this tree seems like a great candidate for inclusion on a planting list?
3. Lemongrass AKA Cymbopogon
Lemongrass is also a contender due to the presence of citronella (once again( and to its credit it is a lovely plant that my mum used to make into a tea. It has many uses and despite the above discouraging info about citronella this one is IN. It also smells really lovely and by lovely I mean lemony and there is some scientific basis to the lemony scent blocking the senses that the mosquitoes use to track us down (I know so scientific!).
Again as above. Similar looking plant to lemongrass. Really confusing- they are cousins- worthy of differentiation but all seem to contain an oil call citronella somewhere.
The writing on this wonderful old world plant is clear, its scent being the key to its success. Infact the further you delve into the world of mosquitoes the more you realise it is about strong smelling plants and masking the smell of the delicious human. Infact lavender is known to be unpleasant to a number of insects.
According to Nurseries Online the scent of basil is great for repelling insects including mosquitoes. It is also one of the few herbs that actually excretes it’s scent without any rubbing of the actual leaf being required. Go smell your basil if you don’t believe me!
Rosemary is a mosquito repelling plant for similar reasons, its scent masking that of the human. I say this with suspicion because my rosemary only smells upon rubbing- but anecdotally this plant is up there. The great thing about Lavender and Rosemary is their many other uses and the fact they actually look quite pretty in the garden. According to Bulleen Art and Garden > Placement of plants in areas such as doorways, pathways, near outdoor eating areas, dog kennels and chook pens will increase their effectiveness. Lavender and rosemary borders, wormwood as an accent plant, geraniums for foliage and year round colour, colour in pots and along vegetable garden borders, ageratum, cleome and cosmos in cottage gardens. Herbs have lovely vibrant foliage, like basil (try columnar basil!).
I don’t really need to say why do I? The lovely smell of peppermint will be a wonderful addition to your garden and your tea and will annoy mosquitoes and other insects.
8. The Lemon Teatree Leptospermum liversidgei
This is a lovely pretty native tree well known for its lemon scent. Not surprisingly it also contains Citronellal which as mentioned is manufactured into Citronella.
The jury is still out on this one but they are mentioned A LOT on nursery and gardening site and they remind me of my nannas garden so are they are going to be included too.
10. Pitcher Plant
ok- this one is more for a bit of fun- but this insect eating plant will take the mosquitoes away never to be seen again
From spending several hours pouring over old school research and stories of Indigenous Australians and even folklore there is a common thread. Despite the lack of verifiable research there is plenty of anecdotal support for the planting of any lemon scented plants in your garden. Infact I could have continued to offer about 5-10 other plants all linked by their lemony properties mostly because they contain citronellal. Planting mosquito repelling plants won’t rid your garden of mosquitoes completely but it will give you access to some wonderful herbs and plants and according to many gardeners it will have an impact. A curious mind does wonder what would happen if every garden planted the above plants but you can only do what you can do and this is a great start. The most promising plant is by far catnip followed closely by its lemony friends.
Continue your vigilance in clearing any water storage places around your home but also consider the addition of some well known mosquito repelling plants so you can enjoy Brisbane all year round. Feel free to add what has worked for you in comments below.
About the Author Ngaire Stirling Owner and Founder of Brisbane Kids, Ngaire grew up in Brisbane and lives with her husband, 3 kids and too many animals. She has marketing and teaching qualifications focused on the early year of schooling. She loves long summer days, bright starry nights and working on Brisbane Kids. Tell All Your Friends About This! Tweet
Mosquitoes aren’t just a nuisance you have to endure when you go outdoors, they’re a legitimate cause for health concerns.
They buzz around, searching for people or animals to dine on, sucking out their blood and bringing all sorts of diseases and viruses with them, like Zika, malaria and west Nile virus, none of which you’d wish on your worst enemy. But, dousing yourself, and your family, in chemical sprays come with another set of problems that can negatively impact health.
So, what’s a gardener to do in order to repel these biting insects and keep everyone in the home free of disease?
Use the power of smell. Mosquitoes are attracted to things like sweat and body odor, but certain scents that many of us find pleasant, repel them. That’s why things like citronella candles and DEET sprays work. There is also a number of sweet smelling, beautiful plants that contain powerful mosquito repellent properties.
By including these eleven plants in your garden, and used in conjunction with other natural mosquito repelling products and enjoy a much more relaxing outdoor space without fear of getting bitten.
While citronella candles are often laden with chemicals (unless you make your own), the citronella plant (officially known as the citrosum plant and often referred to as the mosquito plant) can be grown in your garden for mosquito control.
The plant carries the fragrance of citronella in its foliage, and when a leaf is crushed and rubbed onto the skin, the aroma is very pleasant, yet it helps to naturally repel those mosquitoes. While not as effective as bottled repellents, it comes without the high price or potentially hazardous chemicals, and when grown in the garden, you’ll always have it on hand.
This perennial grows 5 to 6 feet and can be planted in the ground or kept in large pots. The plants tend to do best in full sun in areas with good drainage. If you live in a drought-prone area, you can still plant citronella as it’s relatively tolerant of summer stress.
Want to try growing citronella? You can buy two large live citronella plants from Clovers Garden on Amazon here. Each plant is capable of keeping a ten square foot area free of mosquitoes so plant around your patio or near your porch to keep your outdoor seating areas free of mosquitoes and other biting insects.
The green leaves of lemon balm have the scent of lemon with a hint of mint, which should be no surprise as it’s a member of the mint family. Not only does it offer lots in the way of healing properties, it’s known for warding off mosquitoes while also attracting important pollinators like butterflies and bees.
For a quick mosquito repellent, all you need to do is crush a handful of the leaves in your hand and rub them onto your exposed skin.
By growing lemon balm near your back door or in your garden, the leaves will be handy when you need them. Just keep in mind that while this plant is especially effective for keeping mosquitoes away, it’s also considered an invasive species, you can avoid a takeover by planting it in a pot, rather than directly in your yard or garden. It’s drought resistant, fast growing and reseeds itself, making it ideal for container gardening.
Plus, aside from mosquito control, there are many other brilliant ways to use your lemon balm plant.
You can purchase a live lemon balm plant from this page on Amazon so you don’t have to wait for seeds to start.
Not only will your feline friends be especially appreciative of having catnip around, it’s considered one of the best natural insect repellents.
It contains a natural chemical known as nepetalactone, which is both a useful insect repellent and a feline attractant. In fact, studies, including one reported at the 222nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society, have shown that catnip is about 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.
Of course, if you’re not a fan of cats, you may want to consider one of the other plant options. Otherwise, be sure to plant it in a spot where cats can rub and roll in it without hurting adjacent plants. Some cats like it so much that they lie on it, roll on it, and chew it to the point of destruction.
Catnip is easy to grow – it grows readily as a weed as well as a commercially cultivated plant in some regions of the U.S. While it will repel mosquitoes that are in close proximity to it, some people apply the crushed catnip leaves for optimal protection.
A live catnip plant can be purchased from here to instantly start taking advantage of its mosquito repelling properties.
Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents. A “screened cage method” study examined the repellent action of essential oils derived from Marigolds and Myrtle compared to DEET and found that it demonstrated the protection time of 50% essential oils of marigold and myrtle were respectively 2.15 and 4.36 hours, compared to 6.23 hours for DEET 25%.
Position potted marigolds near the entrances to your home, as well as common mosquito entry points like open windows to deter the insects from going past the barrier.
As one of the most pungent of herbs, basil makes an outstanding natural mosquito repellent, giving off a scent without the leaves having to be crushed or touched. A 2011 review published in the Malaria Journal found that essential oils from Ocimum (basil) provided very high levels of mosquito protection, as much as 100 percent.
Plus, as basil can be used in a wide range of dishes and for a variety of reasons, you’ll be able to take advantage of its wonderful flavors just by taking a few steps outside your door. Basil emits its aroma without crushing the leaves, so you can grow it in pots and place them in your yard or garden to control mosquitoes. To keep the mosquitoes away from your skin, rub a handful of the leaves onto exposed areas.
Read More: How To Grow A Giant Basil Bush: A Pro Gardener Reveals Her Secret
Most of us love the smell of lavender, but few realize that it not only offers that fabulous scent, and helps promote a relaxing, calming sensation, but it can keep those tiny invaders from ruining your outdoor dinner party.
The pleasant aroma of lavender is offensive to mosquitoes and is best harnessed by planting it in the garden, or in pots situated near doors, windows and entertainment areas.
For an even higher level of protection, rub the plant onto your skin to release its oils. Lavender is also used in our highly effective Natural Mosquito Repellent Spray.
For a total guide on growing, harvesting and using lavender, read our guide here.
Not only is peppermint’s minty clean scent significantly better than that awful chemical smell, it can serve as a natural insecticide to repel mosquitoes. In fact, research published in the Malaria Journal revealed just why it’s so effective. The experts discovered that it offered repellent action when applied to exposed body parts, while also showing larvicidal and mosquito repellent action. Mosquito larvae were killed 24 hours after exposure to a solution of peppermint oil and water.
When enjoying your yard or when mosquito problems get severe, crush a few of the leaves on the plant to release the scent and oils.
While eating garlic-filled foods won’t repel mosquitoes unless you consume a massive amount, growing garlic can do the trick. Planting it not only helps to deter the nasty rascals, but you’ll have your own supply of tasty garlic to use for flavoring your cooking. Simply add some garlic to your vegetable garden or flowerbed.
Pennyroyal is another famous natural bug repellent and it’s especially effective for battling mosquitoes.
Simply planting it outside around your house can discourage them from taking up residence in your yard, and by keeping a vase of fresh pennyroyal in a room, it can drive mosquitoes away.
As pennyroyal is related to the mint family, it can quickly become invasive which means it’s best to plant it in a container or control growth by using a tough border that it can’t penetrate through and spread. As it can be grown both indoors or out, you may want to grow it in a couple of containers in your home for added protection.
This gorgeous flowering plant is most commonly used to flavor dishes, but it can also serve as an outstanding mosquito repellent amongst a number of other fantastic uses.
You can keep it indoors or out, just be sure it gets full sun. For repellent purposes, both the live plant and cuttings from it are effective for repelling those annoying disease-carrying insects.
Rosemary is great when you want to gather around a fire without battling mosquitoes. Just toss some in and the aromatic smoke it gives off when it’s burned not only adds a nice smell, but it’s strong and unpleasant enough to those critters (and many other types of insects) that it will keep them away.
Scented geraniums are yet another popular mosquito repelling plant recommended by countless gardeners and gardening sites.
The lemon scented type of geranium is most effective, as it’s similar to citronella. Geraniums also have especially gorgeous blooms that can make for an incredibly attractive decorative piece. While they prefer a warm, sunny and dry climate, in cold climate areas, you can grow them in planters provided they’re pruned frequently.
More Ways To Keep Mosquitoes Out Of Your Garden
Plants are great for repelling mosquitoes, but for added effectiveness, combine with these other natural ways to keep mosquitoes away.
- Attract mosquito eating critters – Banish mosquitoes from your garden by attracting birds and other animals that literally eat them!
- Make a natural mosquito repelling spray – Apply this herbal mosquito spray before going outside to repel mosquitoes.
- Burn a citronella candle – But not a toxic one you buy in the store. Either buy a natural citronella candle or make your own.
- Use essential oils – Essential oils are a more potent form of many of the plants mentioned above making them more effective at repelling mosquitoes.
- Burn a mosquito repelling incense – This is a great recipe that works really well.
Scented Geranium Plants in 4-Inch Pots
P. ‘citrosum’ contains less than 1 percent of citronellal, the compound that has the insect-repelling properties.
It’s a pretty plant, and it smells good, so if you’d like to add one to your landscape, please do; you can get a live, 4-inch plant from Burpee. But don’t expect it to banish the bugs.
The Real Citronella Plant
Let’s look at the grass-like plants that boast a higher concentration of citronellal.
Ceylon citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus), available via Amazon, and Java citronella grass (C. winterianus) are related to a plant well-known in southeast Asian cooking – lemongrass (C. citrate), available from True Leaf Market.
Citronella Grass, 6 Live Plants
These are clump-forming grasses that are perennial in zones 10-12, but grow as annuals in other zones.
Heirloom Lemon Grass Seeds
C. nardu contains an average of 14% citronellal, while C. winterianus has about 22% citronellal. These are the plants that supply the oil used in commercial citronella products, such as candles.
More Citronella in South America
Another citronellal-containing plant for which limited information is available in English is Citronella mucronata, also known as Chilean citronella or, in Spanish, huillipatagua.
C. mucronata. By pabloendemico. D. Don, CC via Wikimedia Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
Chilean citronella is an evergreen tree native to Chile that can grow to be 30 feet tall. It is one of approximately 25-30 plants in the Citronella genus, most of which are native to tropical climates.
We couldn’t find much information about their citronellal content, but it’s no matter, since you’re unlikely to find these plants for sale in North America.
Another Option: Lemon Balm
A citronellal-containing plant you might consider for your back porch is lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), which is said to have as much as 38% of the substance.
Lemon Balm Seeds
Packets of 700 seeds are available from Burpee.
Lemon balm is an herbaceous perennial native to south-central Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, Iran, and Central Asia. A member of the mint family, it is often used to make teas to relieve indigestion and promote relaxation.
Or, Just Buy a Spray
So, having told you about all these plants, the fundamental fact still remains: simply planting these in your landscape will do absolutely nothing to chase away the bothersome bugs.
You would have to crush the leaves or stalks of these plants and rub them on your skin. This, of course, can be risky because of potential skin sensitivities. If you really want to try this, do a “patch test” first – apply to a small area of skin and make sure you don’t react badly.
If you have a football field of a backyard, I suppose you could plant a whole lot of, say, C. winterianus, and build a pressing/extracting plant and a bottling plant…
Sky Organics Organic Bug Spray, 4 Oz.
More logical, perhaps, is to purchase a spray-on product containing citronella (the candles don’t work terribly well). This one from Sky Organics, available from Amazon, contains several plant-based oils.
However, the most-certain way to repel these unwelcome pests is with a spray containing DEET, such as this one from Repel via Amazon. This chemical has been found to be the very best mosquito repellent. If DEET’s not your thing, use the natural, citronell-containing stuff, but apply it often as it evaporates fairly quickly.
Repel 100 Insect Repellent, 4 Oz.
Also, reduce populations of mosquitoes by eliminating their breeding grounds: standing water. Be diligent, especially after a rainfall, about walking the yard and emptying out buckets and whatnot that may have collected water.
Pretty, But Ineffective
While all these wonderful plants have many things to offer to your landscape, getting rid of mosquitoes is not among them. From a practical standpoint, anyway.
Purple martins can help to solve your pest problems.
Eliminate standing water, purchase a spray containing either citronella or DEET, and enjoy a misery-free summer! You might also want to attract purple martins to your yard, as these birds enjoy a mosquito snack now and then.
What’s your favorite way to eliminate mosquitoes from your yard? Share in the comments section, below!
And for more on ridding your landscape of common garden pests, check out the following:
- Managing the Aphid: An Unwelcome Garden Visitor
- Doing Battle with Japanese Beetles: Tips for Banning Them from Your Garden
- 23 Beneficial Insects and Other Creepy Crawlies That Your Garden Will Love