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Top 10 Common Plants that Repel Mosquitoes and Other Insects

By Edited Sep 8, 2016 0 0

Have you ever wondered if there are common plants that repel mosquitoes and other insects? Well, plants seem to hold the answers too many of the most common problems as well as fill the most basic needs of people. We use them as food, build our homes from them and we even use them to cloth us and keep us warm. But plants also have many other unique and beneficial elements to them, some of which we are just starting to understand. A problem that most of us have in common no matter we live is trying to rid ourselves of pesky and bothersome insects like mosquitoes, flies, fleas and ticks.

People have slowly discovered over time that certain plants have the ability to repel different types of insects and science is starting to prove some of this as fact. So to answer the question, yes there are plants that can repel all types of insects including mosquitoes.

Common Plants that Repel Mosquitoes and Other Insects
These insects are not only bothersome they can be down right hazardous to your health, by carrying and passing on some of the nastiest diseases around, even those with the ability to kill. So now your next question is probably going to be which plants repel which type of insect? Especially if you are the type of person that would prefer to use a safe mostly non-toxic plant to repel bugs instead of spraying bug killers and poisons on you, your kids and your pets. Well that question is answered below in this list of the top 10 common plants that repel mosquitoes and other insects.

Common Plants that Repel Mosquitoes and Other Insects

1) Citronella Grass – Or Cymbopogon nardus is a clumping grass that belongs to the lemon grass family and is the source of the will known Citronella oil that is used in a number of commercial insect repellent products like citronella candles and tiki torch oil. It also has many other uses including being used in household disinfectants, as a fragrance in soaps and is popular in aromatherapy. Citronella grass is a perennial that is native to Southeast Asia. It can be grown here in the United States just about anywhere but will usually die off during the winter unless you live in USDA climate zones 10-12. Citronella grass grows best in full sun, requires lots of water and can grow 5-6 ft tall.

2) Marigolds – To get the mosquito repelling properties that you are looking for from your marigolds they must be the African or French variety. The strong pungent aroma of these two types is what makes them so beneficial. The African marigold is the bigger of the two and can reach heights of 30 to 40 inches. They have blooms that are different shades of yellow and orange. While the French marigold only gets to be 6 to 24 inches tall but is much more colorful with the added shades of mahogany and crimson. All marigolds need lots of sun and do best in well drained moderately fertile soil but will grow just bout anywhere.

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3) Basil – A member of the mint family this culinary herb is not only wonderful to cook with but it makes a decent repellent of mosquitoes and flies. Though not the best repellent, in large quantities it does fairly well. There are many varieties of basil to choose from and all should work about the same. Basil can be grown in pots or in a garden either way it prefers full sun in rich well draining soil.

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4) Lemon Thyme – Now here is one of your best bets when it comes to plants that repel mosquitoes. In a study done by the University of Guelph in Ontario they found that the crusted leaves of lemon thyme (Thymus X citriodorus) had 62% of the repellency of DEET which is the most common compound used in commercial insect repellents. This is an article from the Iowa State University website that details the results of that study. Lemon thyme is easy to grow all you need is a sunny spot and a little water now and then. Now this statement may be over simplifying it just a little but lemon thyme does really well in gravelly dry soil and will thrive in places to USDA climate zone 5 and up. Pruning is a must when you are growing lemon thyme.  

5) Catnip – This perennial herb is also a member of the mint family and is native to Europe though it now grows wild in most parts of the U.S. Chances are if you know anything about cats you know that they are extremely attracted to catnip. But the same researchers from the lemon thyme study at Iowa State University also found that it has the opposite effect on not one but two nasty little bugs, the mosquito and the cockroach. If fact they found that Nepetalactone, the essential oil that makes catnip smell the way it does has roughly ten times more mosquito repellency than DEET. That is amazing! You can find that more about that study and others at the American Chemical Society website ACS.org. As far as growing catnip it is also fairly easy but it does take a lot of sun and a whole lot of water to keep these plants going. Like thyme catnip will need to be pruned to make the most of your plant.

6) Sage – Here is yet another herb that has the benefit of repelling some of our most annoying pests. It is not only known to repel flies but cabbage moths and black flea beetles as well. This perennial likes full sun with well drained soil. Best grown in USDA climate zones 4 to 8 it grows to be about 18 inches tall and can be grown in pots or in the garden. 

7) Pennyroyal – This is another member of the mint family though it is unlike any other variety. Known mostly as an ancient culinary herb and herbal remedy pennyroyal has a bit of a bad name do to the fact that its essential oil is highly toxic. This plant isn’t recommended to those that have pets or small children that may eat the leaves. If you do choose to plant this herb in or around your home it does come with the benefit of repelling all types of insect including fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. Growing pennyroyal isn’t much different than the other mint family members. It grows best in hardiness zones 5 to 9 growing to about 12 inches tall. They prefer moist well drained soiled with partial to full sun. 

8) Rosemary – Or Rosmarinus officinalis is an aromatic evergreen sub-shrub that is used in culinary seasonings and herbal remedies. It is commonly known to repel fleas and mosquitoes. Rosemary grows best in hardiness zones 7 to 10 prefers full sun and dry rocky well drained soil. It is a large plant that can reach heights of 6 feet.

9) Geraniums – Or citronella plant to be exact is a member of the large geranium family of plants. It is also commonly called the mosquito plant and is sold as a repellent. The reason for the name is that it smells just like citronella but as we learned in number one on this list it is not the source of citronella oil. But this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work at repelling mosquitoes and other bugs like the cabbage worm and the Japanese beetle. It grows best in USDA climate zones 9 to 11 but can be grown in pots and moved inside in colder climates. One problem with this geranium is that it is poisonous so like pennyroyal is not recommended for those with pets or young kids. The plant itself can reach heights of 24 to 48 inches.  

10) Lavender – This beautiful plant has many uses in aromatherapy, herbal remedies and repelling unwanted insects including spiders, ants and moths. As a herbal remedy it can alleviate the pain and itching associated with all types of insect bites including mosquitoes. Lavender is typically used as a essential oil but can be used as fresh or dried cuttings. There are many different types of lavender do to the ease at which it will cross-breed. It will grow in USDA climate zones 4 to 9 making it possible for just about anyone to be able to grow except those that live in the extreme northern or southern parts of the country. Lavender can be a little picky and can be slightly harder to grow than the other plants on this list but as long as you keep it in well drained soil you should be fine. Do to the wide variety of types it can range in sizes considerably.

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There you go the top 10 common plants that repel mosquitoes and other insects. Just remember for the best insect repelling results you should pick the leaves of these plants and crush them. Hope the information in this article will help make your outdoor summer events much more enjoyable.



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