9 Mosquito Repellent Plants to Keep Your Summer Bug Free

We all love summer weather, but not the bugs that come with the change in seasons. While all bugs have their place in the ecosystem, having mosquito repellent plants will keep them in their own space and out of yours.

Here are some of the best plants you can use in your yard, porch, and inside to keep mosquitos out of your way.

Grasses and Plants

1. Lemon Grass / Citronella Grass

Cymbopogon citratus / C. nardus

Mosquitoes hate citronella candles, which makes them a common addition to any late night, outdoor hangout. Releasing that citronella oil into the air keeps them away. So what if you skipped the step of having a candle and just had the citronella plant itself instead?

The oil contained in the leaves of the citronella plant will ward off unwanted bugs. And if you really want to make sure they stay away, break off and crush the leaves, then rub it into your skin. It’s a natural repellent that’s always within reach!

It can survive as a perennial, but only in frost-free zones. If your area experiences frost, you can let them live a season and replant, or you can pot them and bring them inside during the colder months.

2. Marigold

Tagetes

If you’re looking for a multipurpose flower, choose marigolds. While lemon grass works wonders, it doesn’t have a bright aesthetic that this plant offers. Marigolds act as great mosquito repellent plants and will make your yard look amazing. They don’t take a green thumb to grow, and their smell keeps away mosquitos, aphids, thrips, tomato hornworms, whiteflies, Mexican bean beetles, and squash bugs. Gardeners will commonly plant these on the ends of their veggie gardens, because they keep those pests away.

3. Bee Balm

Monarda didyma

If you want a plant that (1) repels mosquitoes, (2) attracts the bugs you want, and (3) looks gorgeous, you want bee balm. It’s also called Monarda or horsemint. If you crush those leaves, you’ll release the fragrant oils that keep mosquitoes away. However, bees and butterflies will flock to the scent. And you have a wide variety of colors to choose from: red, lavender, pink, white, or purple shades.

4. Catnip

Nepeta cataria

While catnip made a name for itself as a cat attractor, that same chemical keeps mosquitoes away. Nepetalactone, the chemical it possesses, actually has more repellent properties than commercial deet. Before you throw away all of your bug spray, that study is comparing it when extracted and concentrated, not just planted. So while the plant on its own won’t produce those drastic effects, it certainly will make a difference. And it’s a perennial, so as long as you leave it in full sun and allow the soil to dry a bit between waterings, you’ll get it back each year.

Herbs

5. Lemon Balm

Melissa officinalis

In keeping with the lemon theme, this citrusy smell offends insects. You can apply it to yourself, or you can grow it indoors. As a part of the mint family, you’ll want to keep it potted. If you let it grow uninhibited, your entire yard will soon get taken over. This family of plants is quite easy to grow!

6. Lavender

Lavandula

Lavender gives you the best of both worlds; you’ll smell incredible to people, but bugs won’t stand you! It keeps flies, fleas, mosquitos, and moths away. You can use it when it’s fresh, but if you’ve got a bit of skill, you can get more creative. Dry the flowers to make lavender sachets to hang around the home to keep mosquitoes at bay.

7. Rosemary

Salvia rosmarinus

Do you find that bugs like to invite themselves to your cookouts? You can use rosemary as a way to show them that they are not welcome. Pop a few rosemary sprigs on the grill and that aromatic scent will keep them away. Plus, it will smell amazing.

8. Basil

Ocimum basilicum

Basil is a great herb to have fresh in a lot of dishes. Even just garnishing the top of tomato sauce and pasta? Perfection.

But did you know that basil also acts as a mosquito repellent plant? You don’t even need to crush the leaves to get the effect. Their strong scents are enough to keep the bugs at bay.

9. Sage

Salvia officinalis

If you love using your backyard as a hangout for fire pits, plant sage nearby. If you toss pieces of the plant in throughout the night, the smell will keep the bugs away. Even if you don’t have bonfires, you can dry the leaves and make a bug spray from scratch.

Mosquito Repellent Plants Work Best With Other Protections

While including mosquito repellent plants in your yard and home will make a difference, make sure you take other basic precautions. Remove standing water from around your property and keep your fly window screens intact. Clean up debris around your yard and don’t leave your windows and doors open for long at night. They’ll see the light in the house and come right towards it.

Mosquito repellent plants will make a difference across your property, but using bug sprays and essential oils on yourself will keep you even safer from the rogue mosquito bite. 

Published in Featured Articles, Plants
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Author, Artist, Photographer.

Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.

She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.

She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.

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