Mosquito Repelling Plants
Plants have many properties with various uses. Gardeners grow plants to use as ornamentals and in culinary arts, medicines and aromatherapy. During the spring and summer months, all indoor and outdoor gardens and flower beds should include plants that naturally repel insects– especially mosquitoes.
Some mosquito-repelling plants give off aromas naturally, but others might need their flowers and leaves brushed or crushed to get the same effect. Sometimes plant parts have to be harvested and distilled into oils or made into teas. These tinctures can be used in natural sprays, soaps and skin lotions that repel mosquitoes.
- Citronella (Pelargonium citrosum) is a perennial grass famously known as the mosquito plant. Citronella is native to south-east Asia and grows well outdoors in United States Department of Agriculture zones 10 through 12 (See USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map). It is best to plant citronella in pots in cooler climates that experience frosts.
- Citronella does best in full sun and needs at least 30 inches of water a year. When conditions are optimal, citronella can grow to a height of 4 to 6 feet. As an insect deterrent in gardens, it needs to be planted in large quantities to be effective.
- Gardeners can also use citronella as a border plant, along sidewalks, in flowerbeds, at curbs and near porches and sitting areas where the fragrance can be enjoyed.
- Citronella oils are used in aromatherapy, perfumes, soaps and insect repellents.
- Marigolds contain a compound called “Pyrethrum” that is used in many insect repellents. Two marigolds that have this compound are French marigolds and African marigolds. An all-natural mosquito-repelling plant, marigolds can be potted or planted next to doorways and windowsills. Marigolds put out a heavy aroma when the flowers are brushed or the leaves are crushed.
- French marigold (Tagetes patula) is an annual that grows best in USDA zones 2 through 11. These low maintenance plants grow well in full sun and require medium water. French marigolds bloom from June until early winter and feature fragrant, red, yellow and orange flowers.
- African marigold (Tagetes erecta) has the same growing conditions as its cousin, the French marigold. It also blooms from June until the first frosts and has yellow, orange and white flowers. This natural mosquito repellent also attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
- Lantana (Lantana camara) is a broadleaf evergreen commonly grown as an annual in the mid- to northern states and as a perennial in the south. Their ideal growing zone, according to the USDA, is in zones 10 through 12. Lantana can be grown in containers or flowerbeds and do best in full sun in well-drained soils.
- Lantana blooms from July through early winter with clusters of five-lobed flowers. Bloom colors include white, orange, pink, red and purple. The fragrant aroma attracts butterflies, but repels harmful insects such as mosquitoes. The leaves can be dried, crushed and put into cans and burned. The smoke and scent of the burning leaves repels mosquitoes.
- Sweet basil (Ocimum Basilicum) is an annual native to tropical Asia. Basil grows well in USDA zones 2 through 11 and prefers full sun and rich, well-drained soils. Basil grows to a height of about 2 feet and blooms from June until the first frost, depending on the region.
- Blooms are generally deep-red or magenta and the leaves can be dried and used as a culinary herb. Basil can be grown year-round indoors and gives off an aroma that mosquitoes and other pest insects dislike.
- Other mosquito-repelling basil varieties include Peruvian basil, cinnamon basil and lemon basil. These plants have a more pungent scent and are also great at warding off mosquitoes.
- Rosemary (Saxifragaceae spp.) is an herbaceous perennial that likes full sun to partial shade. Soil conditions need to be well-drained with medium moisture. Most rosemary varieties grow well in zones 4 through 8 and generally bloom in the warmer months. Rosemary has a scent that works as a natural bug repellent.
- Other herbs with mosquito-repelling properties include mint, catnip, lavender and garlic.
- Pennyroyal is a really good mosquito repellent, but it is not popular because it has been known to harm pets.