There are several mosquito repelling plants and trees you can add to your landscape that can help keep mosquitoes from finding your yard an attractive place to reside. The scents and oils in these plants are not liked by many insects, which can be an added bonus. However, you should know that some will do little to keep mosquitoes out of the yard unless the leaves are crushed and the oils released.
The best way to naturally prevent mosquitoes in your yard is to follow the standard advice of draining standing water and maintaining pools and ponds to prevent breeding. Use these natural mosquito repelling plants as a companion to those efforts and most of the mosquitoes should move out of your yard to a more suitable habitat.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) – The best mosquito repelling plant?
It’s true. Catnip may be the best of the mosquito repelling plants and should be first on your list to buy. This mint relative has shown to be more effective as a mosquito repellent than DEET in studies; 10 times more effective. It’s also known to repel cockroaches making it a good plant to keep indoors and out. Keep your cats happy and get rid of bugs by planting some catnip.
Citronella Geranium or Lemon Scented Geranium
Also marketed as citrosa, this is a hybrid of citronella grass and African geranium. Advertisements claim it is as effective as repelling mosquitoes as citronella grass. However studies have not supported this claim. According to Horticulture & Home Pest News put out by Iowa State University, “chemical analysis of this "miracle plant" revealed that it contains only 0.09 percent citronellal (one of the main ingredients in citronella oil). Some forms of lemon balm beat that by a factor of around 400 (38 percent citronellal)...” Crushing the leaves and rubbing it on your skin can give you some protection, but it’s much lower than other plants such as lemon thyme or citronella grass.
Citronella grass is probably the most commonly known of the mosquito repelling plants. This is where citronella oil comes from to make natural mosquito repellent, candles, and other products. It looks like a clumping grass and is native to Asia. It grows best in full sun in USDA zones 10 to 12.
Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus)
Lemon thyme resembles English thyme with its small leaves and lavender flowers, but it smells and tastes like lemon. It’s a hardy plant that can take over like a weed. Makes an easy ground cover plant. Its crushed leaves have shown to be 62% as effective at repelling mosquitoes as DEET. Full sun. Zones 4 to 11.
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Another member of the mint family, these are hardy plants that grow into large bushes. For centuries it has been used as a pest repellant, flavoring, calming medication, and even for embalming according to NC State University. There are several types of lavender plants that can be grown in most zones. Plant in full sun.
Another hardy herb that grows to a large bush, rosemary has long been used as a bug repellent. It does best in hot climates and needs little care. It’s an evergreen that sprouts tiny purple flowers in the summer. USDA Zones 8 to 10. Partial sun or full sun.
Many gardeners plant marigold around the edges and throughout their vegetable garden as natural garden pest control. In particular they will keep aphids out of the garden. So it makes sense that it also makes a good mosquito repellent. Annual. Plant in full sun.
Lemon grass has a strong citrus scent the drives insects away. It’s commonly used in natural mosquito repellents for pets and humans. It is a clumping grass that grows about 2 to 3 feet tall in most climates and can be used in cooking. If you live in a tropical climate, your lemon grass may reach 9 or 10 feet in height.
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Floss Flower / Ageratum
Floss flower oils called coumarin are also used in mosquito repellents, but it’s not recommended that you rub this plant directly on your skin. It produces white, pink, and purple flowers and only grows to 1 to 2 feet in height. It’s an easy plant to grow. It can thrive in part or full sun with most any soil conditions.
This small bushy herb can be planted in small pots to keep on your outdoor and indoor furniture to help keep mosquitoes away. Since it can be grown indoors, it can be an all season plant.
Lemon Beeblam or Horsemint
A drought tolerant shade plant, it needs sandy soil and grows to 2 to 3 feet in height. With light lavender flowers, it will attract butterflies and bees.
Mosquito Repelling Trees
Eucalyptus trees are known for their pest repellent properties and the oils are also found in natural repellents, sometimes combined with lemon grass. There are many different species that grow to varying heights. Most need full sun, and will bring also bring natural predators of mosquitoes to your yard such as birds and beneficial insects.
Cedar wood can be used in closets and trunks to protect cloth from moths. Cedar oils also keep the mosquitoes away. However many find that having cedar trees attract mosquitoes. It’s not the tree attracting the mosquito, but rather the conditions under the tree. Cedar trees thrive with lots of watering. If the ground below the tree has puddles, you will breed mosquitoes. Some gardeners also use cedar mulch around their garden and flower beds to repel unwanted bugs.
Warnings on Using Mosquito Repelling Plants
These plants repel mosquitoes and other insects because of chemicals in the plant that are toxic or harmful to the bugs. In some cases, these plants can cause adverse reactions in humans as well including skin rash or irritation, eye irritation, or lung irritation. If you want to use the crushed leaves oils on your skin check the safety of the plant first and then do a patch test. Rub a small amount on a small spot and wait 24 hours to see if there’s any adverse reaction. Keep in mind that natural does not equate to safe. These plants repel mosquitoes and insects because of some toxic properties. Some can also affect humans just as severely when used improperly.
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