Saturday, July 13, 2024

19 Plants That Repel Mosquitos

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We’ve all been there: watching the sunset in your backyard, by a bonfire, or on the balcony after a perfect summer day, when suddenly: bzzz. A mosquito whines in your ear or worse, appears on your bare arm or leg.

Mosquitoes are the scourge of any good summer evening, and it can be tricky to banish them permanently, particularly if you live in an area with a lot of woods, marshes, or standing water. Bug spray is sticky and smelly, citronella candles don’t really work (sorry! We were equally devastated), and netting can ruin your view and vibe.

However, there is one natural, and super-easy, way to fight off mosquitoes: while nature is typically known for nurturing the bugs, it can be used against them, too. There are many plants that repel mosquitoes with their scent, while still smelling great to humans. All you need to do is plant them around your home or balcony, and your summer will be buzz-free.

We rounded up the best plants to permanently repel mosquitoes from your space, without needing to shower off sticky bug spray after. Some of them may already be in your herb garden, hard at work! Note that for many of the following plants, the leaves actually need to be crushed or manhandled a bit to release the mosquito-repelling scent.

19 Plants That Repel Mosquitos

  1. Lavender: The same plant that smells so pleasant to humans is way too pungent for mosquitoes, who won’t go anywhere near it.
  2. Marigolds: These classic flowers emit a smell that deters mosquitoes as well as other pests like aphids. Bonus points: some species are perennials in warmer climates, meaning you only have to plant them once.
  3. Chrysanthemums: These pretty flowers have chemical compounds that act as natural insecticides. The painted daisy and dalmatian daisy varieties are known as the most effective against bugs.
  4. Citronella Grass or Lemongrass: There’s a reason this plant has inspired so many mosquito-deterring candles. The original plant is much more effective than any candle or spray, due to the much higher dose of scent.
  5. Catmint: Gardeners know that catmint grows like a weed, and invades like one, too — but all that catmint might be worth it for its mosquito-repelling powers. An Iowa State University study from 2003 found that catmint was more powerful than DEET.
  6. Basil: Basil’s pungent aroma is great for keeping mosquitoes at bay.
  7. Rosemary: Like basil, rosemary is an herb that most humans love and mosquitoes hate (as do cabbage moths and carrot flies, so it’s a great choice for any veggie garden).
  8. Citronella Scented Geraniums: Like citronella grass, this geranium variety has a lovely lemon scent that deters mosquitoes.
  9. Bee Balm: Welcome pollinators and banish bad bugs with bee balm. It’s good for bees and butterflies and comes in gorgeous shades of red, pink, lavender, white, or purple.
  10. Lantana: These flowers may be eye-catching, but they’re certainly not mosquito-catching. If you can handle lantana’s infamous smell in your garden, you’ll have a one up on mosquitoes, who can’t stand it.
  11. Lemon Thyme: This herb combines two scents that mosquitoes hate for double deterrent power.
  12. Lemon Verbena: Did we mention that mosquitoes hate lemon? This scented candle darling will help keep mosquitoes out of your private sanctuary. It’s also easy for beginner gardeners to grow.
  13. Mint: Both a kitchen powerhouse and a bug deterrent, your favorite herb for making chutneys, mojitos, and tea is also excellent for keeping mosquitoes away. The more pungent, the better!
  14. Eucalyptus: The same scent that’s probably found in your favorite spa is the opposite of relaxing for mosquitoes. Eucalyptus releases the most scent when it’s warm, so keep this plant in full sun or burn the leaves when you need bugs to be gone.
  15. Floss Flower: Pretty floss flowers contain coumarin, a chemical that repels mosquitoes — but can also be toxic to pets and humans, so be extremely careful where you place it if you have outdoor pets.
  16. Sage: Great for cleansing away bad auras and buzzy invaders alike, sage’s earthy smell can help ward off bugs.
  17. Allium plants: Garlic, chive and onion bulbs all release a strong fragrance that mosquitoes dislike. Plus, they’ll adorn your garden with pretty purple globe-shaped flowers.
  18. Thyme: Crushing thyme leaves releases oils that mosquitoes hate. Burning the leaves is just as effective for releasing the odor, meaning this herb provides excellent protection on bonfire nights.
  19. Wormwood: Like lantana, wormwood is another stinky plant that’s even more effective against mosquitoes than it is against you. If you don’t mind the scent, it will add a lovely silver-green backdrop to your garden, in addition to keeping mosquitoes at bay.

Kaley Rohlinger is a freelance writer for PS who focuses on health, fitness, food, and lifestyle content. She has a background in the marketing and communications industry and has written for PS for over four years.

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