14 Plants That Repel Mosquitoes (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

The Best 14 Plants that Repel Mosquitoes

In some countries, mosquitoes are just annoying insects that bother people trying to enjoy a barbecue in the evening, but in other countries, they pose a serious health threat to the lives of millions. Obviously, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid getting bitten in the first place and you can do this is by using a natural mosquito repellent or by growing plants that repel mosquitoes.

Insect repellents emit scents which are stronger than the ‘attractive’ scents we give out, thus making it harder for mosquitoes to find us. In this article, I am going to look at plants which act as effective and natural mosquito repellents.

The Best Plants to Keep Mosquitoes Away (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

1. Citronella


The citronella plant (also called mosquito plant) is one of the most popular plants that repel mosquitoes. In fact, if you look at what is in any mosquito repellent candle, you will probably see that citronella is one of the ingredients.

As its name would suggest, the citronella plant emits a lemon scent and it can be easily grown in any garden or plant pot.

The citronella plant is a perennial ‘clumping’ grass and can grow to about 5 or 6 feet (around 2 meters) high and it thrives in sunny locations. If you, however, live in an area that has cold winters, you should plant it in pots and take them indoors during the winter months because it doesn’t survive frost.

If you plan on buying citronella plants, you should buy the Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus variety as they have the best mosquito repelling qualities.

Citronella essential oil provide very effective protection against mosquitoes and insects when used topically and indeed it is one of the best natural ways to repel mosquitoes.

One factor that you should consider is that citronella oil on its own evaporates fairly quickly. However, a research published in the Journal of Vector Ecology showed that when citronella was mixed with vanillin, it increased its effectiveness to repel mosquitoes for up to 8 hours1. This means that as an insect repellent it is just as effective as DEET, the most common chemical compound used in insect repellents.

Another study showed that when citronella was mixed with gelatin-arabic gum microcapsules, citronella kept its insect-repellent properties on clothing for up to 30 days2.

Therefore, as an insect repellent, citronella is certainly one of the best natural plants that you can use to repel mosquitoes, and this has been backed up by scientific research. What’s more, you can use citronella to effectively repel mosquitoes without any of the side effects that are associated with chemical-based repellents.

Here are a few ideas on how to use your citronella plant to repel mosquitoes:

You can soften a few citronella leaves between your hands, then rub all exposed parts of body with them to keep the mosquitoes away.

You can also put fresh leaves on windowsills to halt mosquitoes from entering your house.

2. Lemongrass


Lemongrass is an herb plant that grows 3-6 foot (1-2 meters) tall, is dark green and clumping and it has a strong lemony scent.

Because lemongrass also contains citronella oil, it works as an effective mosquito repellent. Its strong lemony scent will keep mosquitoes away.

3. Catmint


Catmint contains an oil called Nepeta faassenii which many studies have shown to have insect repellent properties. A research published in the journal Parasitology Research, found that catmint has properties which can be used as an eco-friendly mosquito repellent3.

4. Catnip


Catnip is closely related to catmint and most people associate it as a plant that drives cats crazy. Both catnip and catmint can be easily grown, but do have a tendency to take over a garden.

However, many are not aware that catnip is also an effective mosquito repellent. Research has also shown that catnip has insect repellent properties. For example, the Iowa State University reported that, in their studies, catnip essential oil was 10 times more effective than DEET as an insect repellent4.

If you have cats, however, then you may want to think about growing other plants in your garden.

5. Rosemary


Rosemary is a very popular herb which looks beautiful and has many culinary uses. It grows well outdoors and indoors. Rosemary is also one of the best plants that repel mosquitoes (as well as insects and other bugs). It is also one of the plants the repel wasps.

So, to get the best from rosemary, you could have a pot growing on a windowsill or beside a doorway and this will not only add some color to a room and give off a wonderful smell but also help prevent insects from flying in.

6. Basil


As with rosemary, if you grow basil, you get the benefits from using it in cooking and as a mosquito repellent. This is also backed up by scientific research. For example, one study showed oils from turmeric and hairy basil with addition of 5% vanillin repelled 3 species of mosquitoes under cage conditions for a period of 6-8 hours2.

Basil not only repels mosquitoes, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties and you can use it for mosquito bites (as I mentioned in my article about the top 15 natural ways to relieve mosquito bites). Use a pestle and mortar to crush the basil and apply the paste to your skin or you can rub the leaves between your fingers and apply directly to the affected area.

7. Pyrethrum


This plant helps to repel not only mosquitoes but a whole host of other insects and bugs, including: aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, harlequin bugs and ticks. Pyrethrum is also the name of a natural insecticide made from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium and Chrysanthemum coccineum.

Pyrethrum acts against insects through the six esters known as pyretrins which are active ingredients contained in the Pyrethrum’s flower-heads within the flower parts called achenes – the future seeds.

8. Lavender


Lavender has many uses for its calming properties and its wonderful scent. Lavender is also a natural mosquito repellent. Some studies have shown that lavender essential oil is especially effective when combined with other natural oils5.

9. Geranium


Geraniums are known for their beautiful, vibrant colors and grow well both indoors and outdoors. Their scent is also effective at warding off mosquitoes and other bugs. In fact, studies on geraniums as a mosquito repellent showed that when mixed with the oils of lavender and lemon eucalyptus it was an effective mosquito repellent5.

10. Peppermint

peppermintPeppermint is also a plant that repels mosquitoes. It is a good all-around insect repellent because most insects tend to hate the strong smell and taste of it. One study showed that peppermint oil is effective as a mosquito repellent against malaria-carrying mosquitoes and also kills off their larvae6.

Other research into natural mosquito repellents has shown that essential oils from the mint family have proven repellent properties and are used around the world as insect repellents2.

If you have insect bites, peppermint leaves can also provide needed relief if you rub them on the affected area.

11. Garlic


Garlic is, of course, well-known for its health benefits as well as for its pungent odor that we give off after eating it. And, if we eat too much garlic it will probably repel more humans than insects!

Fortunately, we don’t have to eat garlic to enjoy its insect-repelling properties. It can be rubbed on the skin to repel insects, however, few of us would like to do that, especially when there are much better and nicer smelling natural alternatives like citronella.

Insects and mosquitoes tend to dislike the odor from garlic, so it can be useful in keeping those pests away.

12. Lemon Balm

lemon balm

This is also a member of the mint family and grows well in all conditions. As was mentioned with peppermint oil, essential oils from the mint family have insect-repellent properties.

As a bonus, you can also use lemon balm to make a delicious herbal tea.

13. Marigolds


Marigolds are rarely thought of as having any other benefit other than providing a splash of color to a garden but did you know that it is also a natural mosquito repellent?

Marigold plants bear yellow or orange flowers and they have a pungent odor. Marigold produces a substance called alpha-terthienyl which was found to repel insects. Marigold essential oil was also found to be useful for repelling mosquitoes.7

14. Horsemint

bee balm

This is also known as Beebalm, and it gives off a strong odor which works well as a natural mosquito repellent. It is easy to grow, and can be grown in pots. So, when placed near entrances or windows, it can repel insects from coming into your home.

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11469188/
2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3059459/
3. Evaluation_of_the_repellent_effects_of_Nepeta parnassica extract_essential_oil against_mosquitoes
4. http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/ent_pubs/348/
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16892632
6. Larvicidal_and_mosquito_repellent_action_of_peppermint_Mentha_piperita_oil_Bioresour_Technol
7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3385578/