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9 Best Mosquito-Repellent Plants, Pest Experts Say

Try planting a few of these varieties in your yard this summer.

It's not hard to understand why summer is so many people's favorite season. Balmy temperatures, BBQs, beach days—the list goes on and on. You have to take the good with the bad, however, and summer also brings with it mosquitoes. It's never fun to spend the evening enjoying your backyard, only to realize you've been attacked by these pesky pests. But while you probably can't avoid mosquitoes altogether, you can deter them. According to experts, there are several flowers and herbs that mosquitoes prefer to steer clear of. Read on to discover the nine best mosquito-repellent plants.

RELATED: 4 Soaps and Scents That Repel Mosquitoes, Experts Say.


Citronella Leaves
Wildflower Whispers/Shutterstock

Mosquitoes use their sense of smell when making decisions—like where they're going to lay eggs, says Emma Grace Crumbley, an entomologist for Mosquito Squad. So, opting for plants with scents they dislike or aren't attracted to is your best bet to deter them.

Citronella is one of the most popular options—and you've likely seen mosquito-repellent candles made with its essential oil. But you can also go straight to the source and plant citronella in your yard.

"It smells like lemon and covers up your scent that mosquitoes love," Bryan Clayton, the CEO at GreenPal, tells Best Life. You can either plant it in pots or in the ground.


aTp_artist / Shutterstock

Amber Noyes, horticulturist and editor at Gardening Chores, says any type of lemon-scented plant is a solid option to keep your yard mosquito-free.

Lemongrass (which is most similar to citronella), lemon balm, and lemon verbena are all anti-mosquito. It just depends on which one works best for your climate, she explains.

Lemongrass, in particular, needs to be in a spot with full sun and "excellent drainage," according to David Price, associate certified entomologist and director of technical services at Mosquito Joe. When the weather gets colder, you'll want to bring it inside.

RELATED: 6 Mosquito-Repellent Clothing Items That Actually Work.


Lavender Bush
nieriss / Shutterstock

Not only is lavender aesthetically appealing, but it's also known to help keep mosquitoes at bay.

"Mosquitoes can't stand it—plus it has linalool, a chemical that repels them," says Clayton.

According to Price, crushing lavender leaves also releases oil that repels mosquitoes. Dried lavender petals can even work as an anti-itch solution to treat any mosquito bites you may get.

This purple plant does best in sunny conditions.

"It really needs a lot of sunlight to grow, so make sure you don't plant it in a shady area," cautions Ben McInerney, founder of Home Garden Guides.


rosemary growing in garden
Xavier Chi / Shutterstock

According to experts, rosemary has essential oils that mosquitoes and other insects like to avoid.

"It also has culinary uses and adds beauty to the garden with its fragrant, needle-like leaves," Price says.

Plant rosemary in full sun in well-drained soil, he suggests.

RELATED: 6 Mosquito Repellent Hacks That Actually Work, Experts Say.


Catnip Plant

Catnip may help keep mosquitoes away because it contains nepetalactone, which Clayton says can be more effective than DEET.

"The name sounds like a mouthful, but all you really need to know is that this chemical is powerful against repelling mosquitoes," he explains.

In addition to being easy to grow and maintain, catnip is a pretty addition to any yard or garden.

"It's super robust; they can grow in almost any type of soil, as long as it drains well," says Noyes.

You can also use catnip oil or leaves to make your own repellent spray or rub, Clayton adds.


Marigolds Outside
FunFamilyRu / Shutterstock

Marigolds are bright and cheerful flowers that will make your yard even prettier, but their biggest pro is that they have another scent that mosquitoes don't like.

"[Marigolds] have pyrethrum, a natural insecticide that kills them, so you should plant them near your doors, windows, or seating areas," Clayton suggests.

Plant marigolds in full sun, between 8 and 12 inches apart, Price recommends.

RELATED: 5 Tips for Keeping Your Outdoor Party Mosquito-Free.


Iuliia Timofeeva/Shutterstock

Mint's most active ingredient is menthol, which is known to repel and control mosquitos and other pests.

"The scent of mint does wonders in keeping mosquitoes at bay, and all types of mint work well, but I'm particularly fond of Algerian mint for its spicy kick," Noyes shares.

Price says peppermint is another variety that may be particularly effective and can be used to make homemade mosquito repellents.

Mint is super easy to grow, too: Noyes notes that it can thrive in all types of soil, as well as partial shade.


Basil Plant
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

We all know basil is excellent for cooking, but it's also quite nice to have in your yard. According to Price, the leaves contain compounds that can kill mosquito larvae.

"Basil has eugenol, a compound that works as a mosquito repellent, and you can use the leaves for repellent lotion or spray," Clayton says.

These compounds confuse and irritate the mosquito, forcing them to leave and find another food source.

Clayton suggests planting basil near any grilling area outside.

RELATED: 7 Reasons Mosquitoes Are Attracted to You, According to Science.


wild garlic growing
Rejdan / Shutterstock

You may want to plant garlic in your yard, as it, too, has a strong odor that mosquitoes like to avoid.

"Its compounds are also used in various natural mosquito repellent recipes," Price points out.

He recommends planting garlic in full sun in "well-weeded" areas.

What plans attract mosquitoes to your yard?

purple and white orchids
Santiago Quintero Alzate / Shutterstock

While there are certain varieties that mosquitoes dislike, other plants lure them in.

"Mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs. Plants like bromeliads and succulents have waxy leaves and 'wells' that let water roll off and hold water after it rains," Crumbley says. "Believe it or not, the water these plants hold is enough for mosquitoes to breed in."

These insects also like flowering weeds and grasses, and ornamental flowering plants like goldenrods, orchids, and wildflowers. According to Crumbley, the sugars in plant nectars and saps provide another source of nutrients for adult mosquitoes.

What are some other options to keep mosquitoes away?

Cutting lawn at sunny day.

Experts point out that plants aren't going to fully rid your yard of mosquitoes, and people often have more success when crushing up the leaves of these herbs and flowers to release oils for wearable repellents or sprays.

However, if you don't have a green thumb or don't enjoy making homemade concoctions, you do have some other options to keep the mosquito population under control.

Brian Feldman, senior director of technical operations at TruGreen, advises clearing standing water (where mosquitoes are drawn to lay eggs) and keeping your grass cut.

"In addition to standing water, shady areas near trees, tall grass, or brushy areas are ideal mosquito habitats, so focus on eliminating these spots as much as possible," he recommends. "As a bonus, the more sunlight that reaches your yard, the less likely you are to have wet or damp spots that foster mosquito breeding."

If you find that your own remedies aren't doing the trick, it may signal the need to consult a professional to treat your home for pests.

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copy-editing.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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