Top 5 Plants to Repel Mosquitoes

By Darcy Larum | August 11, 2018
Image by Nikki Tilley
by Darcy Larum
August 11, 2018

These days, outdoor living spaces are all the rage in landscaping. Large patios are created with built in fire and/or BBQ pits, seating areas, and bars. Many people are replacing a night out on the town with a relaxing evening of outdoor entertaining. However, when mosquitos crash the party, the atmosphere can quickly turn from casual and relaxing to just plain irritating.

Tiki torches and citronella candles can create a fire hazard and are dangerous if small children are present. Plus, their scent can sometimes be overpowering and unpleasant. There’s no point in slaving away for hours preparing the perfect barbecue if all your guests will be able to taste is citronella. Chemical insect repellents can also have nasty odors and serious side effects.

Mosquitoes can quickly put an end to any garden activities and they seem to thrive in almost every climate. In addition to being annoying, mosquitoes can carry serious diseases. Before long that outdoor living space that you spent a fortune on becomes a forsaken zone and the garden is left unattended and unruly.

In the hopes of repelling mosquitos, consumers purchase all sorts of plants that boast repelling properties. Unfortunately, these are rarely labeled with a disclaimer that states they are only effective if you crush them and rub the juices directly on the skin. In actuality, the most effective plants for repelling mosquitos are quite common, easy to grow and inexpensive garden plants. You may already have these beneficial plants in your garden and never realized their natural mosquito repelling properties.

While these plants repel mosquitos without having to be crushed or rubbed on the skin, they do need to be placed close enough to the patio to be effective. Planting them in decorative pots on the patio or mass borders around the outdoor living space is recommended. Below the top 5 plants to repel mosquitoes:

1. Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) – The same sweet perfume-like scent of lavender that helps us humans relax and sleep deeply is an offensive pungent odor to mosquitos and other insect pests.

2. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) – All members of the Nepeta family will repel mosquito pests, but the variety known as catnip contains the most concentrated amount of nepetalactone, which repels mosquitoes so effectively that it is used in many commercial mosquito sprays. In fact, a study by Iowa State University found catnip to be ten times more effective than DEET.

3. Marigold (Tagetes lucida) – Marigolds, especially Mexican marigolds, contain pyrethrum, which is a common ingredient in insect repellents and insecticides. Mosquitoes and many other garden pests are deterred by the scent of these annuals.

4. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Rosemary not only repels mosquitoes, but also ticks and many other insects. When enjoying a cozy fire, snip off some sprigs of rosemary and toss them into the fire to repel insects wherever the smoke blows.

5. Basil (Ocimum americanum) – The strong scent of all varieties of basil are natural mosquito repellents. They also repel deer and rabbits.

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