In order to avoid a patchwork of pesky mosquito bites on your skin after an evening in your backyard, you don’t need to resort to harmful chemicals. We’ve carefully curated a list of plants to add to your pots or landscape to help make your space greener and also protect your family from insects at the same time!
Natural Mosquito Repellents that Grow in Most U.S. Regions
If your home has the climate for mosquitoes, it likely has the climate to grow these mosquito-repelling plants. Most of these plants and herbs can live in your yard for multiple years, but, if you tend to experience extreme heat or cold, they can also live in pots inside your home until they’re needed in your yard.
Skip the unnecessary chemicals and go straight to the source with ageratum. Also known as floss flower, ageratum excretes a substance that’s actually used to manufacture commercial mosquito repellents. Ageratum is a native plant to the US, so it’s equipped to handle summers across the country with ease.
You’re already aware of how useful basil is in your kitchen, but this fragrant plant can also kill mosquito larvae! Place it near standing water in your yard to warn mosquitoes to lay their eggs elsewhere.
Basil does wonderfully in milder temperatures and can thrive as an indoor plant when it’s not needed for mosquito protection
Also known as horsemint, its strong odor masks the odor of mosquitoes’ hosts (humans), and sends them elsewhere. If you have mosquitoes buzzing around, you can crush a few leaves for extra repellent. Bonus: it attracts hummingbirds!
Not only do cats go crazy for it, but catnip has been found to be about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET (the harsh chemical bug spray).
Catnip is perfect for hotter, drier climates, and loves full sun or partial shade.
You’re probably familiar with citronella candles. Why not get your citronella from the source? When the leaves of this plant are crushed, they release fragrant oils that repel mosquitoes and smell lovely. Citronella doesn’t like frost though, so be sure to bring your plant inside before it gets too chilly.
You don’t even have to grow garlic for it to repel mosquitoes. Just cut up some store-bought bulbs and distribute them outside near the areas where you plan to gather. The scent smells delicious to us and mosquitoes hate it. Garlic oil can kill adult mosquitoes and their larvae, and it can also prevent eggs from hatching.
It’s a calming fragrance for us, but mosquitoes don’t feel the same way. Lavender plants prefer warmer climates with less humidity but can also thrive as potted plants inside.
Even if you don’t need it to keep mosquitoes away, lavender has all kinds of easy, DIY uses around the house!
Lemon balm is another member of the mint family, meaning that it’s got plenty of fragrant oils in its leaves. Pinch off some of this herb to use in your recipes and crush some of the remaining leaves on your skin. Mosquitoes (and many other insects) are repelled by mint. Lemon balm does like to sprawl out, however, so we suggest planting it in a pot to keep it contained.
Lemongrass is a type of ornamental grass that’s often used in Asian cooking. In addition to smelling delightful and deterring mosquitoes, lemongrass can thrive in colder climates as an annual.
Best Mosquito Repelling Plants for Warmer Regions
Some of the plants mentioned above are hardy enough to plant in the landscape as perennials for warmer climates, meaning that they can live for multiple years in your yard. Ageratum, basil, citronella, and lemongrass all thrive in warm, sunny regions.
If you live in a warmer region and still can’t seem to get any relief from constant bug bites, there are a few other plants you may want to try:
- Clove - This plant grows especially well in tropical conditions since they love warmth and humidity.
- Eucalyptus - The natural oil in this plant repels not only mosquitoes but other insects like ticks and sandflies as well.
- Rosemary - A great herb to use in your kitchen, it’s a beautiful plant that bears blue flowers, and mosquitoes do not like it.
- Mexican Mint Marigold - It’s a matter of opinion, but the scent this flower produces is reviled by both humans and mosquitoes. It’s a good candidate to place far enough away so you can’t smell its aroma.
Ways to Turn Mosquito Repellent Annuals into Perennials in Colder Climates
Most of the mosquito-repelling plants can be grown as annuals in northern or colder climates, meaning they’ll last about a year, but there are ways to keep these plants alive for more than just a year if you follow these rules:
- Lavender - Grow lavender in an area that receives a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight, and cover the plants carefully during the cold, winter months.
Catnip - While the top of the catnip plant will die in cold and snowy weather, the main part of the plant will survive. Here’s how you can bring your catnip back to life the following spring:
- Cut back the catnip so it is only a few inches from the ground as soon as the temperature drops in the 40s.
- Make sure you eliminate weeds.
- Cover the cut-back plant with dried leaves, which will protect the roots during the winter.
Get Mosquito Bite Relief for the Mosquitoes that Didn’t Go Away
Sadly, even a garden full of these wonderful plants won’t guarantee a mosquito-free yard, and DIY mosquito bite remedies don’t work as well as these natural repellents. If you’re looking for a natural, chemical-free mosquito bite treatment, try Bite Away’s fast-acting bug bite relief. This small device uses heat to naturally break down the proteins that cause itching, swelling, and irritation, meaning that you’ll get lasting relief in as little as 3 seconds.