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Our thoughts on everything from what attracts mosquitoes to why you should live life outdoors — and more!
Have a green thumb? Never gardened before but want to add some plants around your home this spring? Consider investing in plants with natural mosquito-repellent properties. Not only will you be protecting yourself and your family, but you’ll also be bringing your yard to life with beautiful grasses and blooms!
The main thing to remember about plants that help deter mosquitoes is that protection is most effective when you rub or crush the leaves of the plant. Doing so releases oils into the air that these pests don’t like, creating a natural repellent effect. Here are some plants that can help your spring and summer see fewer mosquitoes:
Lavender. While the scent of lavender is pleasantly fragrant and relaxing to us, it’s offensive to mosquitoes, making it great for planting. It’s drought-resistant once established and does best in warmer areas, needing sun and good drainage. It’s ideal for placing in your garden or in pots near a door or window.
Marigolds. These annual flowers also give off a scent mosquitoes don’t like, containing the compound pyrethrum that’s used in many insect repellents. They’re easy to grow and, like lavender, ideal when placed near entry points of your home to keep the bugs away.
Scented geraniums. A popular repelling plant, geraniums that are scented of lemon seem to be the favorite when it comes to geraniums among sources like the New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and PlantShed. They grow quickly and perform best in warm, sunny and dry temps, though they can be kept in planters and pruned regularly in colder climates.
Citronella grass. Requiring minimal maintenance, which is great for beginners, this plant is quite fragrant when its leaves are rubbed onto the skin. It’s ideal to keep it in planters in colder areas, as it doesn’t stand up to frost, but in warm weather, it can be planted in the ground in sunny areas. It usually grows five to six feet, so be sure to give it plenty of room.
Catnip. Also called catmint because it’s a member of the mint family, catnip is very easy to care for and grow. In the plant is nepetalactone, an organic compound that actually attracts cats (hence the name) but also offers useful insect repellent properties. In fact, in a study done at Iowa State University, catmint was found ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.
Pennyroyal. Able to be grown indoors or outdoors, this purple flowering plant is also connected to the mint family and should be placed in its own container or planted by a strong divider, as it tends to spread easily. Displaying its flowers or using its crushed stems can really help keep unwanted pests at bay.
Basil. Fantastic for cooking, basil emits a very strong smell (one of the strongest among herbs) and doesn’t require touching or crushing its leaves as much as other plants to reap bug repelling benefits. It’s a great addition to any garden and enjoys being kept damp but also in plenty of sun.
Rosemary. Another fabulous herb for cooking, rosemary has a woody scent that mosquitoes aren’t fond of, and it’s most successfully grown in hot, dry climates. For this reason, keep it in full sun either indoors or out. This herb is also effective in battling mosquitoes around a fire — just toss some cuttings into the flame and let the incense it gives off when burned keep those flying insects away.
Of course, you want to supplement your planting with making sure your yard doesn’t have any standing water and applying bug repellent products according to label instructions. For those who intended to plant some flowers or start a garden anyway, why not choose plants that will help prevent mosquitoes from being a nuisance?