16 Plants & Herbs That Repel Mosquitoes

For bite-free good times, explore these 16 plants and herbs that repel mosquitoes from outdoor areas.

Mosquitoes can be the bane of anyone’s existence. Even if you’re a lover of your garden and the outdoors, these tiny pesky bugs can ruin even the most well-planned afternoon or any beautiful hike or adventure.

It’s not a stretch that many people who love nature may also wonder if there are natural ways to repel mosquitoes. The answer is yes! 

lemon thyme plant ground covered in plant green foliage
This is lemon thyme. It also has many culinary uses like flavoring herb butter, fish, poultry, and salad dressing.

Plants & Herbs That Repel Mosquitos

Basil

Getting some basil plants may help spice up pizza or pasta night, and it may also do a great job at keeping these biting bugs away. In year-round warm climates (and during summertime in cold climates), a basil plant on its very own emits an aroma that mosquitoes really don’t like. Grow a few in your raised beds or containers near your patio or outdoor area and see what happens!

Bee Balm

These flowers add fireworks of color to your flower beds, like red, pink, orange, and magenta. They also have a strong smell (similar to oregano and thyme) that repels mosquitoes pretty successfully. Keep this beautiful plant growing near your favorite outdoor area, though it thrives best straight in the ground (not in a container).

Cedar

This majestic tree is famed for protective spiritual powers— which may be connected to its ability to repel many insects, including mosquitoes! Cedar smells heavenly to humans, while mosquitoes hate it. Find cedar fragrance in candles, incense, essential oils, diffuser oils, or sprays to experience its benefits.

up close of photo of citronella leaves foliage from citronella geranium plant
This is often sold as Citronella Plant or citronella Mosquito Plant but it’s actually a scented geranium, Pelargonium citronella. It’s a pretty plant with sweet flowers & a lemony fragrance.

Citronella

This plant is a famous one, and you’d be hard-pressed not to find it in any natural mosquito repellent or bug spray. While you can easily find it in products like these in stores (or in candles), you can also grow plants like citronella grass or citronella geranium for your patio or deck. These plants do a swell job repelling some of these bugs on their very own.

Garlic

It could keep vampires away— and its strong scent helps keep the mosquitoes away, too. The best way to use garlic as a natural mosquito repellent? Eat a whole clove raw! If that’s too intense for you, try garlic in honey. Garlic will make your sweat so acrid, the mosquitoes won’t want to touch you.

lavender plant in bloom purple flowers green foliage bright sunny day
We all know the strong fragrance of this plant! Lavender is 1 of the many delightfully scented members of the mint family & a lovely addition to any garden bed or patio container.

Lavender

Compared to garlic, lavender is a much more pleasant and aromatic way to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Simply growing lavender plants around your patio or outdoor area could add both beauty and a subtle mosquito shield! Nothing beats the aroma of lavender in your outdoor yard and ambiance, too.

Want more info on lavender? Check out: Planting Lavender In Pots, Answering Frequently Asked Questions About Lavender

lemon balm plant in blue plastic pot container on wood slat table
An added benefit of lemon balm is that it’s a calming herb used in tea. The plant shown here is small, but it can grow to 3′ tall & wide.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is like a gentler version of citronella. Even better: you can make a soothing tea out of it, and it’s easy to grow in your garden! The essence of the plant’s leaves in a spray, oil, or even just growing the plant strategically nearby can help hamper the presence of these pesky biting bugs.

Lemon Thyme

You’ll love this small plant for its compact size and agreeable, easy-to-grow nature— and for how much mosquitoes hate it! Lemon thyme is also a beautiful addition to flower and container gardens both indoors and outdoors, on your balcony or patio, or around your vegetable garden.

Lemongrass

If you live in tropical, Mediterranean, or desert climates, lemongrass is a must-have if you’re growing a mosquito-repelling garden. It can grow outdoors as a perennial in these regions, but you can also enjoy and use it for its bug-fighting properties grown as a large container plant. It makes for a fine ornamental grass! Look out for it at garden centers.

up close of orange marigold flower in bloom lighter orange-yellow outline on flower petals
Marigolds are also a great companion plant to basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash & more.

Marigold

People with vegetable gardens already know the secret of this flower: it keeps pests away when grown near plants. Marigold plants have this potential too for mosquitoes. If you’re wanting both beauty and bug-repelling to go hand in hand, pot up a bunch of these beauties for your patio, deck, or other outdoor areas that you don’t want mosquitoes around. 

Marigolds love full sun. Check out: 14 Colorful Summer Annuals For Full Sun

Mint

Think tasty garnishes and natural breath mints, right from your garden— plus impressive fragrance to fight back those mosquitoes. If you experience their bug bites, you can also crush up or chew mint leaves to get some pain relief (and extra protection!) All mints, especially spearmint and peppermint, are incredibly easy to grow and take care of.

Mint not only repels mosquitoes but also makes a wonderful herbal tea. Check out: 26 Best Herbs To Grow In Your Own Herbal Tea Garden. More info growing mint How To Prune Mint, Tips For Growing Mojito Mint In Pots.

Mugwort

Mugwort is a great addition to any herbal garden, for both tea and to keep away mosquitoes. Its bitter compounds and aroma are both things that bugs of many types don’t like. Mugwort is also a classical “witch” herb, the tea of which is supposed to stimulate spirituality and even your dream life! Burn it as a smudge or incense, and it works not unlike sage, while the smoke keeps mosquitoes away.

mint plant in blue pot green foliage plant full of mint leaves outside on rocky ground
This is spearmint, 1 of the easy-care herbs that repel mosquitoes. It’s best grown in a pot if you don’t want it to take over the garden!

Rue

This herb is one of the greatest classics for keeping away all types of insects, mosquitoes included. It is also supposed to help keep cats and dogs out of your garden as well— now that’s powerful! While it’s toxic and can’t be enjoyed as a tea, it does add humble and understated beauty to your patio or container garden in the summer.

Sage

Whether it’s garden or culinary sage, smudging sage, or really any type of sage, it’s bound to help drive off the incessant buzz and bite of mosquitoes during the summertime. While growing some around your outdoor space can help, the most effective way to use sages is as smudges or incenses. The pungent smoke is a signal to mosquitoes that says, “be gone!”

Did you know salvia(sage) is a member of the mint family? Check out Pruning 3 Types Of Salvia in Spring Or Fall

Wormwood

A close relative of mugwort, a witch’s herb, and a popular ingredient in absinthe liqueur, in ancient times wormwood, was used as ample pest control. It’s easy to grow and care for, grows tall and bushy, and can act as a natural shield both for its anti-mosquito fragrance and as a physical barrier. Now that’s natural mosquito netting!

Natural ways to discourage mosquitoes don’t have to take the form of bug sprays, candles, or stinky burning oil torches— natural mosquito control can take the form of a bountiful herb garden filled with the right plant and herb choices that pesky mosquitoes won’t like. They will add beauty, fragrance, and ambiance to your outdoor area, too!

up close photo of 2 common sage plants in grow pots at plant nursery greenish yellow foliage leaves
These Common Sage plants are not only pretty perennial herbs in the garden but useful in the kitchen too.

Herbs and Plants for Mosquitoes FAQ

What fragrance do mosquitoes hate the most?

There are many options, but by far the smells that mosquitoes seem to hate the most are citronella, garlic, and many plant species from the mint family. These include spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, bee balm, lemon thyme, basil, and more. Some people have found that even cinnamon or pine oils can help.

How do I keep mosquitoes off my patio naturally?

Besides planting a surrounding or strategic garden filled with plants and herbs that repel mosquitoes naturally, you can also install big screens, mosquito netting, or use non-invasive oil diffusers, candles, or incense sticks while dining or dwelling in your outdoor area.

Certain essential oils from the herbs and plants listed in this article (such as sage, cedar, or citronella) can also be diluted into water and used as a pleasant-smelling spray directly on the skin for prevention.

Nobody likes mosquito bites. I hope this list of plants and herbs that repel mosquitoes will make your summer more enjoyable!

Adrian

Adrian White is an organic farmer of 13 years and an herbalist of 10 years, and she is owner and operator of Jupiter Ridge Farm. She has written about subjects related to her work for 10 years, with pieces published as a professional writer in such outlets as The Guardian, Civil Eats, and Good Housekeeping, and has also written for such websites as WebMD and Healthline. Her first authored book, Herbalism: Plants and Potions That Heal” comes out in October 2022.

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