Choose natural mosquito repellants and ditch the DEET!
Instead of reaching for the DEET, try some natural alternatives for keeping mosquitoes away. There are lots of perennial plants that repel mosquitoes.
Often they are herbs with strong fragrances that smell nice to us but are hated by mosquitoes. Good, eh?
Natural Mosquito Repellent
Many plants in the mint family (Lamiaceae) are natural mosquito repellants. Catnip, for example, is more effective than DEET at repelling the irritating critters.
These plants can help to keep the area immediately around them free from mosquitoes. Planting window boxes and containers close to doors with plants that repel mosquitoes can deter them from coming into your house uninvited!
The essential oils of some plants that repel mosquitoes are useful for applying to the skin although some are too strong to use without being diluted in a cream or spray. Always check first.
As well as growing plants that mosquitoes hate, there are other things you can do to stop the critters from invading your backyard. Don’t leave water in containers for too long, as mosquitoes love to lay eggs in standing water. Empty birdbaths regularly and turn wheelbarrows upside down when it rains, to avoid creating a mosquito breeding ground.
Now let’s look more closely at 17 plants that repel mosquitoes.
17 Plants that are Natural Mosquito Repellents
Botanical name: Eucalyptus citriodora, Corymbia citriodora
Lemon eucalyptus oil was found to be more than 95% effective at keeping mosquitoes away for 3 hours in an Australian study.
Reaching heights of 150 feet, this tall evergreen tree might not be something you’d consider growing in your backyard! But the science shows it’s a great mosquito repellant, so getting hold of a preparation containing lemon eucalyptus oil should be worth it.
Botanical name: Lavandula angustifolia
Most people love the smell of lavender, but mosquitoes hate it. Growing lavender together with other perennial plants that repel mosquitoes will help to keep them at bay in your garden.
You can use a lavender essential oil on your skin (diluted in a cream or soap if you have sensitive skin). Mix lavender, eucalyptus, and citronella oils to make an excellent mosquito spray.
Botanical name: Nepeta cataria
Seriously hated by mosquitoes! But loved by cats. If you want to plant catnip, it makes sense to choose a place that you don’t mind the cats rolling about it — this plant drives them crazy.
Researchers have found catnip to be more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. Be careful not to apply neat oil to the skin, as this might be a bit strong on its own.
Bee balm, bergamot
Botanical name: Monarda
Another of the mint family, the strong-smelling bee balm is a magnet for bees, as you may have guessed! But as with other fragrant herbs, it repels mosquitoes. Growing a herb garden with lots of different perennial plants that repel mosquitoes side by side is one way to pump up the repellant effect.
Botanical name: Ageratum
Plants of the Aster family, floss flowers secrete a substance called Coumarin which is found in many manufactured mosquito repellants. The critters hate it. Growing groups of these long-lived annual flowers close to places you sit should help to keep mosquitoes away from the area.
Botanical name: Mentha
Mint is a useful herb to have in any backyard. Grow it in pots if you don’t want it invading your whole garden. Great brewed as a tea, with roast meats, in water ices and a whole host of other recipes. Mosquitoes hate it.
Botanical name: Melissa officinalis
Lemon balm smells amazing (if you like lemon!). It’s another strong-smelling plant that mosquitoes don’t like to be near. Plant with other members of the mint family to make a garden border full of perennials that ward off the bugs.
Botanical name: Mentha pulegium
There are many perennial plants that repel mosquitoes; pennyroyal is another of the mint family with this welcome power. It will come back year after year, spreading low to the ground with pretty lilac flowers in the summer.
Botanical name: Allium sativum
Garlic is easy to grow in well-drained soils and is another smell that mosquitoes are not fond of. You could try rubbing garlic on yourself to keep them away, but you may find it will keep everyone else away from you too! Let some of your garlic plants flower to get the full anti-mosquito effect.
Botanical name: Calendula officinalis
Not many plants are as useful as the marigold. They are excellent for repelling pests in your vegetable garden. They are exceedingly easy to grow every year, being annuals. They will survive where other plants die off, even if they are neglected. They flower continuously. And mosquitoes hate them too! Plant pots of marigolds near seating, doors and windows as well as close to your vegetables.
Botanical name: Cymbopogon nardus, Cymbopogon winterianus
Citronella oil is often sold as a natural mosquito repellant. It is usually a mixture of oils from the citronella grass and lemongrass plants. You can buy soaps, oils and sprays for your skin, or burn citronella candles.
Although there is some doubt about the scientific efficacy of burning citronella candles, there is no doubt that mosquitoes don’t like strong fragrances. Strangely though, the lemony-smelling mosquito plant, or ‘citronella geranium’, with leafy rather than grassy foliage, does not repel mosquitoes.
Botanical name: Cymbopogon citratus
Popular in Asian cooking, in medicine as an anti-inflammatory and in numerous cosmetic preparations, the multi-talented lemongrass is used for keeping mosquitoes at bay. An evergreen perennial with a delicious scent.
Botanical name: Rosmarinus officinalis, Salvia rosmarinus
An ever-popular perennial plant, rosemary shares sage’s abilities to put off pesky mosquitoes. As well as it’s bug-repelling power it’s a useful culinary herb that is always a welcome addition in a wide range of dishes. Rosemary is a hardy plant that will grow bigger each year.
Botanical name: Ocimum basilicum
Quite rightly a hugely popular annual herb with a delicious flavour. Basil is also a natural mosquito repellant. It’s perfect for growing in pots in hot sunny places such as window boxes – just make sure you keep the compost moist.
Giant hyssop, hummingbird mint
Botanical name: Agastache cana
There might be a reason why this plant is sometimes known as the ‘mosquito plant’! Another mint family member, the giant hyssop deters mosquitoes but attracts hummingbirds. Pretty cool. Also known as Texas hummingbird mint or bubblegum mint.
Botanical name: Salvia officinalis
Another popular perennial of the herb border with striking purple flowers. Sage can be useful against mosquitoes when it is dried and burned. You could try throwing some sage leaves in your backyard fire pit – the fragrant smoke should help to keep the critters away.
Botanical name: Thymus citriodorus
There are many different types of thyme. Lemon thyme works against mosquitoes because of its lemony scent, like many of the plants listed here. You can crush the tiny leaves and rub the oil on your skin. As with our other choices in this article, it smells much better than DEET!