19 Plants That Work to Repel Mosquitos in Your Backyard

Mosquitos can be a nuisance in your backyard, especially in the evenings when you want to relax outside. Their bites can leave itchy welts that disrupt your peace. Fortunately, there are many plants that naturally repel mosquitos that you can grow in your yard. With some strategic planting, you can create an outdoor sanctuary free of pesky mosquitos so you can enjoy your backyard.

Why Use Plants to Repel Mosquitos

Using plants to repel mosquitos is an eco-friendly, natural solution. Many commercially available insect repellents contain DEET or other harsh chemicals. While effective, some people prefer to avoid applying these products directly on the skin. Plus, chemical insecticides can be toxic to children, pets, beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, and the environment.

Growing insect-repelling plants is affordable, since seeds and plants are relatively inexpensive. Once established, they provide ongoing mosquito control without the need for reapplication like spray repellents. The plants add beauty to your landscape as well, allowing you to improve the aesthetics of your yard while solving a practical problem.

Best Plants for Repelling Mosquitos

Here are 19 of the top plants for deterring mosquitos so you can transform your yard into a mosquito-free zone:

1. Citronella

Citronella is a popular ingredient used in candles and sprays for its clean, citrusy scent that drives mosquitos away. Growing citronella in your yard allows you to harness these repelling abilities organically.

There are two main citronella plant varieties:

  • Cymbopogon nardus – This perennial clumping grass has narrow leaves and can reach 6 feet tall.
  • Cymbopogon winterianus – More cold hardy than other citronella. Grows in an attractive clump of foliage.

Grow citronella in full sun and well-drained soil. The leaves release their lemon-scented oils as they are brushed or crushed. Place pots along walkways or plant next to patios and decks where people gather.

2. Marigolds

Marigolds (Tagetes species) are popular annual garden flowers that also have mosquito-repelling properties. Their pungent smell deters mosquitos while adding vibrant color to gardens and landscapes.

Certain varieties like Signet marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) and French marigold (Tagetes patula) are most effective. Plant marigolds around patios, play areas, or garden borders. The edible varieties can also be incorporated into vegetable gardens and herb beds to deter pests.

3. Catnip

The aromatic oil in catnip (Nepeta cataria) that drives cats wild also repels certain insects like mosquitos. Research shows catnip oil can be more effective than DEET at warding off the bugs when applied to the skin. Growing catnip around outdoor living spaces helps create a “no-fly zone” for mosquitos.

Plus, catnip is easy to grow in containers or garden beds since it spreads readily once established. It grows upright on stems with gray-green leaves and attractive flowers for additional visual interest.

4. Bee Balm

Also called monarda, bee balm (Monarda didyma) has showy flowers that attract pollinators. But this mint family member’s thick aroma repels mosquitos, making it perfect for placing along walkways, porches, and entertainment areas.

There are many colorful bee balm varieties to grow like ‘Jacob Klein’ (dark red), ‘Raspberry Wine’ (pink), and ‘Snow White’ (white). Bee balm thrives in full sun with average to moist soil conditions. The plants spread rapidly, so give them plenty of room.

5. Lavender

The pleasant floral scent of lavender appeals to humans but keeps mosquitos at bay. Growing lavender (Lavandula species) around patios, porches, and seating areas helps make them more comfortable for relaxing outdoors.

There are many lavender species and cultivars to choose from. Opt for types suited for your hardiness zone. English lavender (L. angustifolia) and Spanish lavender (L. stoechas) are two common options. Lavender thrives in full sun and well-drained soil.

6. Mint

Mint’s refreshing aroma is prized for tea, cooking, and cosmetics. Certain mint varieties also repel mosquitos, making them useful for planting around outdoor living areas.

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) contains a powerful mosquito-repelling essential oil. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) offers a milder scent best suited for garden borders. Mint grows vigorously and spreads rapidly, so confine it by planting in containers or by edges that restrict growth. Provide mint with partial shade to full sun and moist soil.

7. Sage

Salvia officinalis is the commonly grown garden sage variety. Its thick, savory fragrance deters mosquitos. The silvery-green leaves also make it attractive for landscaping.

Use sage as a decorative edging for garden beds, walkways, and patios. Or plant it in containers placed near seating areas. Grow sage in full sun and well-drained soil. Take care not to overwater it. Trim it back periodically to encourage new growth.

8. Basil

This popular culinary herb also doubles as an effective mosquito repellent. The strong scent of basil (Ocimum basilicum) confuses mosquitos and keeps them away. Plus, crushing or brushing against the leaves releases more of the aromatic oils.

Grow basil in full sun and fertile soil with good drainage. Pinch back the plant tips periodically to encourage bushy growth. Use basil around vegetable gardens, patios, window boxes, and in container gardens. The Genovese variety offers especially vigorous growth and mosquito-repelling power.

9. Lemon Balm

Also called Melissa officinalis, lemon balm has an appealing lemon scent that helps mask the carbon dioxide humans exhale, making mosquitos less likely to detect you. Plus, its aroma confuses the bugs and deters bites.

For the best mosquito protection, use the standard green leaved variety rather than variegated types. Give lemon balm partial shade to full sun and moist fertile soil to thrive. It can also grow well in containers for placement on patios and decks.

10. Rosemary

This attractive herb features pine-like fragrance and needle-shaped leaves. In addition to its culinary uses, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) repels mosquitos and other pests, making it a versatile landscaping plant.

Place rosemary in beds and containers around entertainment spaces, gardens, and seating areas. Choose upright varieties like ‘Tuscan Blue’ for vertical interest and easy harvesting. Rosemary thrives in full sun and well-drained soil.

11. Geranium

Also known as pelargonium, geranium repels mosquitos with its strong scent while adding color and visual interest to gardens. The Mosquito Shoo variety offers especially effective mosquito-repelling power.

Grow geraniums in containers on patios, porches, and near outdoor seating areas. Place citronella-scented geraniums like Pelargonium citrosum near walkways, gardens, and areas where people congregate outside. Geraniums need full sun and average moisture.

12. Allium

The onion genus Allium contains powerful compounds that chase away mosquitos. Popular allium plants like chives, garlic, and leeks all make good choices for repelling the bugs in gardens and landscape beds.

Chives offer pretty purple flowers that also ward off aphids. Garlic’s green foliage provides mosquito protection. For best results, plant garlic in the fall 6-8 weeks before the ground freezes. Leeks repel mosquitos when crushed or brushed against.

13. Floss Flower

Also called ageratum, floss flower (Ageratum houstonianum) emits a scent that mosquitos and other insects find offensive. The fluffy flower heads create visual interest and work well for edging planting beds.

Floss flower thrives in full sun to partial shade and moderately fertile soil. It spreads readily, making it good for large areas. Popular varieties include ‘Blue Horizon’ and ‘Red Sea.’

14. Lemon Thyme

This herb combines mosquito-repelling essential oils from citrus and thyme. The compact size of lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus) works well for edging beds and walkways. Crushing it helps release more benefits.

For the strongest mosquito protection, use the species Thymus citriodorus rather than hybrids like ‘Golden King.’ Give lemon thyme full sun and well-drained soil. It spreads readily but you can keep it contained.

15. Peppermint

The mint family member Mentha piperita has high levels of menthol, a powerful mosquito repellent. Its clean, crisp scent also helps mask human odor to avoid attracting bugs.

Grow peppermint in partial shade to full sun areas with moist soil. Contain its vigorous growth by planting in beds edged with landscape barriers. Or grow it in containers on patios and decks to keep mosquitos away from gathering areas.

16. Pennyroyal

A member of the mint family, pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) offers very effective mosquito protection. Its strong fragrance drives mosquitos away. However, pennyroyal can become invasive. Use containers to restrict its growth and prevent unwanted spread.

Give pennyroyal partial shade and moist, fertile soil for best growth. Avoid ingesting it, as the essential oil can be toxic if swallowed. But the plant’s aroma still helps create outdoor mosquito protection when grown safely in beds, borders, and containers.

17. Lantana

These heat-loving annuals have brightly colored clusters of flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. But lantana’s strong smell repels mosquitos, making it perfect for planting around entertainment spaces.

Choose compact bushy varieties in bold colors like ‘Miss Huff’ and ‘Radiation’ for maximum visual appeal. Grow lantana in full sun and well-drained soil. Fertilize regularly for abundant flowering.

18. Horsemint

Also called lemon beebalm, this herb has a strong citrus scent from oils in the leaves. Crushing or brushing against horsemint (Monarda citriodora) helps release the aroma to repel mosquitos.

Horsemint grows 3-4 feet tall on average, with purple flowers that attract pollinators. Give it full sun to partial shade and moist well-draining soil. Use horsemint around seating areas, gardens, and walkways. It spreads readily but is not invasive.

19. Pitcher Plant

This carnivorous plant lures mosquitos and other insects into its tube-shaped leaves filled with fluid and digestive enzymes. Growing pitcher plants helps reduce the number of mosquitos in your yard looking for breeding grounds and blood meals.

Choose hardy varieties of Sarracenia pitcher plants suited for your growing zone. Grow the plants in bogs or partially submerged pots to replicate their natural wetland habitat. Place them in sunny locations near areas where you want less mosquito presence.

Tips for Using Plants to Repel Mosquitos

Here are some useful tips for maximizing the mosquito-repelling power of plants in your yard:

  • Favor herbs with strong scents like garlic, mint, lavender, basil, and sage.
  • Crush or brush leaves frequently to release more repellent oils.
  • Grow plants densely together for greater effectiveness.
  • Keep plants trimmed and maintained for optimal health.
  • Use pots that allow you to move plants near gathering spaces.
  • Combine different mosquito-repelling plants together.
  • Install plants around lawn edges, gardens, play areas, walkways, patios, and entries.
  • Supplement plants with other deterrents like citronella candles and torches.
  • Check for and drain any standing water breeding grounds weekly.

Mosquito Protection Without Harsh Chemicals

Mosquitos can quickly turn a backyard barbecue or peaceful evening into an annoying nuisance. But instead of relying on spray cans and skin applications of DEET or other harsh repellents, you can use plants to create an area protected from mosquitos.

The natural aromas of plants like lavender, mint, marigolds, and citronella offer a safe, eco-friendly way to repel mosquitos. Plus, your yard benefits from beautiful flowers and foliage. With some strategic planting and care, you can reclaim your yard from mosquitos and enjoy outdoor living free of bites.

Frequently Asked Questions

What plants keep mosquitos away the best?

Citronella, catnip, lavender, mint, marigolds, and basil have proven highly effective for repelling mosquitos. The strong fragrances from these plants’ oils naturally deter mosquitos without harsh chemicals.

Are mosquito repellent plants safe?

Yes, using plants to repel mosquitos is very safe. They utilize natural oils and aromas to deter bugs without posing risks to people, pets or the environment. Always take care using plants like pennyroyal that may be toxic if ingested.

Where should you put mosquito repellent plants?

Place mosquito-repelling plants strategically around the edges of lawns, patios, walkways, gardens, play spaces, and entryways. Using movable containers allows you to position the plants wherever mosquitos are a problem.

Do citronella plants really work?

Yes, citronella plants release an oil that repels mosquitos with its clean, lemony aroma. The plants provide ongoing protection without the hassle of reapplying citronella-based sprays or lighting citronella candles. Just brush against the leaves periodically to release more oil.

How close together should you plant mosquito repellent plants?

Plant the mosquito repellent plants as close as recommended for each variety. Dense groupings help maximize the protective fragrance released. But leave enough space for adequate air circulation and growth.


Mosquitos can put a damper on enjoying long summer days spent relaxing in your own backyard. But instead of spraying harsh chemicals or lighting smelly citronella candles, you can deter these pests naturally with plants. Certain herbs, flowers, and greens effectively repel mosquitos using their aromatic oils.

Strategically planting these around your yard’s borders, seating areas, gardens, and walkways creates an inviting area protected from annoying bites. Repelling mosquitos naturally also benefits the environment, your family’s health, and your home’s aesthetics. So explore adding mosquito-repelling plants to your landscaping this season. You’ll reclaim your yard from these summertime pests.