What Plants Repel Mosquitoes: Top Choices for Your Garden in 2024

As we look towards the 2024 mosquito season, utilizing plants to repel mosquitoes gains more relevance, especially as we seek ways to protect our families from mosquito-borne illnesses without constantly applying chemical repellents to our skin. While EPA-registered products containing DEET, picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus have proven effective in preventing mosquito bites, the scientific community continues to explore more environmentally friendly and potentially less intrusive methods, such as leveraging the natural properties of certain plants. Despite skepticism, some plant extracts like oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD), catnip oil, and 2-undecanone have shown repellent action. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate to the same effectiveness simply by having these plants in your garden.

This article will discuss what plants repel mosquitoes and how incorporating them into your garden can offer additional protection against these pests. With mosquitoes attracted to body heat, odor, carbon dioxide, and lactic acid, and the potentially deadly diseases they can transmit, such as malaria, West Nile virus, Dengue, Zika, yellow fever, and Chikungunya, it’s crucial to find diverse methods to keep them at bay. From citronella geranium to lavender and marigolds, we’ll explore the top choices for your garden in 2024 that claim to keep mosquitoes away while acknowledging the need for more traditional preventive measures like minimizing standing water and using effective mosquito repellents.

Citronella Geranium

Citronella Geranium, often celebrated for its mosquito-repelling properties, presents a nuanced effectiveness in keeping these pests at bay. The plant, part of the citronella family, releases a potent aroma, particularly when its leaves are disturbed, a trait that can indeed deter mosquitoes to some extent. This scent, primarily due to citronellol, a compound known for its mosquito-repelling capabilities, is most potent when the leaves are crushed, liberating some of the natural oils that provide a mild deterrent effect against mosquitoes.

Despite its aromatic defenses, the citronella geranium’s actual mosquito-repelling effectiveness is somewhat limited. Studies and observations suggest that while the plant’s strong scent can repel mosquitoes, this effect is relatively short-lived and localized, requiring physical interaction with the plant to release the repellent oils. This contrasts with traditional mosquito control methods such as DEET-based products or permethrin sprays, which offer more reliable and longer-lasting protection against these pests.

Interestingly, citronella-based products like candles and mosquito coils have shown some effectiveness, albeit in a limited radius and more so due to the smoke produced rather than the citronella itself. Among these, the mosquito coil stands out for its efficacy, attributed to the release of pyrethrum smoke, a potent insecticide, rather than the citronella scent per se.

It’s also worth noting that not all plants marketed under the citronella or mosquito plant label offer the same level of repellent action. For instance, the so-called “mosquito plant” (Pelargonium citrosum) is ineffective at repelling mosquitoes despite its citronella-like scent. On the other hand, scented geraniums, particularly those with a lemon fragrance, have been noted for their strong aroma, capable of keeping mosquitoes and other insects at a distance, underscoring the importance of plant selection for those looking to incorporate natural repellents into their garden.

In summary, while citronella geraniums can contribute to a mosquito-repellent garden strategy, their effectiveness is relatively modest compared to more direct-repellent methods. Crushing the leaves can release repellent oils, offering a temporary deterrent effect. Still, for more comprehensive protection, it is advisable to consider a combination of plant-based repellents with proven mosquito control products.

Lemon Balm

Plants that Repel Mosquitoes - Lemon Balm

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), with its rich, zippy lemon smell, stands out as a versatile herb not only for its culinary and medicinal uses but also for its ability to repel mosquitoes. This plant is particularly effective due to its high citronellal content, a compound that closely mimics the mosquito-repelling properties of citronella oil. In fact, some forms of lemon balm contain nearly 38% citronellal, making it a formidable foe against these pests.

Growing Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is remarkably easy to cultivate. It thrives in full sun but is also adaptable to partial shade. It can be grown from seed, rooted cuttings, or by root division, offering multiple methods for gardeners to incorporate it into their landscapes. Planting lemon balm in pots is a recommended strategy to manage its growth and prevent it from becoming invasive. This approach ensures a steady supply of leaves for repellent use while controlling the plant’s spread.

Utilizing Lemon Balm as a Plant for Mosquito Repellent

The citrus scent of lemon balm, which mosquitoes find unpleasant, is most effectively released through the bruising of its leaves. This simple action can help maximize the plant’s repellent qualities without requiring extensive effort. For those looking for a more direct application, lemon balm leaves can be transformed into a potent mosquito repellent in several ways:

  1. Tea Application: By steeping lemon balm leaves in hot water for 10-15 minutes, a tea can be created that, when applied to the skin, offers a natural repellent effect.
  2. Tincture Preparation: A stronger option involves soaking lemon balm leaves in vodka for two weeks, then straining the mixture. This tincture, due to its concentration, should be used sparingly.
  3. Homemade Spray: After infusing for a week or two, fresh lemon balm leaves combined with other herbs like basil, catnip, and mint in witch hazel extract can produce a homemade spray. This spray is an effective repellent once strained and diluted with water and essential oils.

It’s important to note that the homemade lemon balm spray should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 1 week for optimal effectiveness. Additionally, the spray typically lasts one to two hours before needing reapplication, making it a suitable option for short outdoor activities.

Additional Benefits of Lemon Balm as a Mosquito Repellent

Beyond its mosquito-repelling capabilities, lemon balm is valued for its medicinal properties. It has been tested and found effective in treating a range of conditions, from anxiety and sleep disturbances to digestive disorders and cold sores. These benefits highlight the plant’s multifunctional nature, offering more than just pest control.

In summary, lemon balm is a powerful, natural solution for those looking to keep mosquitoes at bay while enjoying its medicinal properties’ added benefits. Whether grown in your garden or applied directly to the skin, lemon balm represents a safe, effective, and environmentally friendly alternative to chemical repellents.

Floss Flower Plant to Repel Mosquitoes

The Floss Flower, scientifically known as Ageratum houstonianum, stands out in the garden for its eye-catching blooms and its unique ability as a plant to repel mosquitoes. This attribute is primarily due to coumarin, a chemical found within the plant and a common component in commercial pesticides. Coumarin’s mosquito-repelling properties stem from its natural production within the Floss Flower, offering a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic repellents.

Key Attributes of Floss Flower

  1. Natural Mosquito Repellent: The Floss Flower’s ability to deter mosquitoes comes from coumarin, making it a valuable addition to gardens or outdoor spaces.
  2. Safety: No adverse effects have been reported on humans, highlighting its safety as a natural mosquito repellent.
  3. Versatile Planting Options: It can be planted directly in your garden or kept as a potted plant, ensuring you have its leaves within reach during the summer months to ward off mosquitoes.
  4. Ornamental Appeal: With vibrant pink, white, and violet blooms, the Floss Flower adds color to any ornamental floral setting and serves dual purposes of beauty and pest control.

Despite its appealing characteristics, it’s important to note that the practical value of Floss Flower in repelling mosquitoes is subject to debate. The lack of substantial evidence to support its effectiveness means that while it can be a part of a mosquito-repellent garden strategy, reliance solely on Floss Flower for mosquito control might not be sufficient.

Incorporating Floss Flower into your garden offers a multifaceted approach to mosquito control, combining the aesthetic appeal of its blooms with the functional benefit of natural mosquito repellency. However, for those seeking to protect their family from mosquito-borne illnesses, integrating Floss Flower with other proven methods, such as misting systems for mosquitoes or the strategic use of mosquito nets, can provide a more comprehensive defense strategy.

This approach ensures a beautiful garden and a safer outdoor environment for your family, minimizing reliance on chemical repellents while embracing nature’s solutions to pest control.

Lavender Plant Repels Mosquitoes

With its enchanting fragrance and attractive blooms, lavender is a delight for the senses and a formidable foe against mosquitoes. This plant’s ability to repel mosquitoes is attributed to the volatile oils it releases, which are unpleasant to mosquitoes and can effectively keep them at bay. Here’s how you can leverage the mosquito-repelling qualities of lavender in various ways:

Crushing Lavender Leaves

One of the simplest ways to utilize lavender’s mosquito-repelling properties is to crush its leaves and rub them onto your skin or clothing. This action releases the plant’s essential oils, providing a natural barrier against mosquitoes.

Creating a Mosquito-Repelling Smoke

For those enjoyable evenings outdoors, consider tossing a bundle of lavender stems into a fire pit or chiminea. The resulting smoke carries the lavender’s volatile oils into the air, creating a cloud of mosquito-repelling aroma that enhances the ambiance while keeping pests away.

Strategic Planting to Repel Mosquitoes

Incorporating lavender plants into your garden can serve the dual purpose of beautification and mosquito repellence. Growing lavender in pots or using it to edge planting beds adds aesthetic value and creates a perimeter that repels mosquitoes, making your outdoor spaces more enjoyable.

Sweet Romance® Lavender

Among the lavender varieties, Sweet Romance® stands out for its strong fragrance, which makes it particularly effective as a mosquito repellent. The robust scent of this lavender variety is a natural deterrent for mosquitoes, contributing to a pest-free garden.

Lavender’s Essential Oils

The essential oils in lavender are key to its effectiveness as a mosquito repellent. These oils interfere with a mosquito’s olfactory senses, making it difficult for them to locate hosts. For a more concentrated application, lavender oil can be extracted and used directly on the skin as a natural repellent, offering protection without harsh chemicals.

Lavender’s Growing Conditions

Lavender thrives in full sun and is suitable for planting in zones 5 through 11. This fragrant herb blooms from summer to fall, serving as a decorative element in gardens and a natural method to keep mosquitoes and other pests at bay.

While lavender plants are effective in repelling mosquitoes, they should not be solely relied upon as a complete solution for mosquito control. Their efficacy can be significantly enhanced as part of a broader natural repellent regimen. A 2009 study highlighted lavender oil’s impressive repellent rate of 93% against mosquitoes indoors and 53% outdoors, underscoring its potential as one of the most effective natural mosquito repellants.

In addition to its pest-repelling capabilities, lavender’s strong scent also deters moths, flies, fleas, and mosquitoes, making it a versatile addition to any garden looking to minimize the presence of unwanted insects.


Marigolds, known scientifically as Tagetes spp.have long been celebrated for their vibrant colors and distinct scent, which many gardeners believe help repel mosquitoes. Thanks to their pest-repelling abilities, these plants are easy on the eyes and serve a functional role in your garden’s ecosystem.

Why Marigolds as a Plant to Repel Mosquitoes?

Marigolds emit a unique aroma that effectively keeps mosquitoes at bay. This distinct smell, coupled with their ability to deter various other pests, such as aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and even tomato hornworms, makes them a versatile choice for gardeners looking to protect their plants. Furthermore, marigolds are known to attract beneficial insects, aiding in the natural control of unwanted pests.

Planting and Utilization

To maximize marigolds’ mosquito-repelling properties, consider planting them in pots near high-traffic areas such as patios, entrances, or even within your vegetable garden. This strategic placement ensures that their scent acts as a natural barrier against mosquitoes while adding a splash of color to your outdoor space. Marigolds can also be grown in containers, allowing you to move them around to seating areas or other outdoor spaces.

Marigolds and Nematodes

Beyond repelling mosquitoes and other pests, marigolds have another trick up their sleeve. They contain a chemical known as alpha-terthienyl, which has been shown to inhibit the hatching of nematode eggs, offering a natural solution to controlling certain types of nematodes in the soil. However, the effectiveness of marigolds in controlling nematodes varies depending on the type of nematode and the specific variety of marigolds. Those interested in leveraging marigolds for nematode control can send a soil sample to a nematode assay laboratory to identify the types of nematodes present.

The Debate on Effectiveness

Despite their popularity and widespread use, it’s important to note that scientific evidence supporting marigolds’ ability to repel mosquitoes is limited. While certain plants, including marigolds, contain phytochemicals like pyrethrum and thiophenes that prevent insects from feeding on them, there is no solid evidence to show that these plants can effectively repel mosquitoes or prevent them from biting. The volatile compounds in these plants evaporate rapidly and do not release into the air sufficiently to repel mosquitoes.

A Multifaceted Approach to Using Plants to Repel Mosquitoes

Given the limitations in the scientific evidence, relying solely on marigolds or any single plant species for mosquito control may not be sufficient. Planting various mosquito-repelling plants around your outdoor area can help create a more comprehensive defense against these pests. While there is no specific guideline on the number of plants needed to make a noticeable difference, incorporating marigolds alongside other proven mosquito-repelling plants and methods can enhance your garden’s ability to keep mosquitoes away.

Marigolds stand out as a natural and aesthetically pleasing option for those looking to reduce the presence of mosquitoes and other pests in their garden. While their effectiveness as a standalone mosquito repellent may be debated, their ability to contribute to a multi-pronged pest control strategy, their ornamental value, and their nematode control properties make them a worthy addition to any garden.

Plants can Repel Mosquitoes

Throughout this article, we’ve explored a range of plants known for their mosquito-repelling properties, from the limited effectiveness of citronella geraniums to the promising potential of lemon balm, lavender, floss flower, and marigolds. These plants add aesthetic value to our gardens and offer environmentally friendly alternatives to chemical repellents. However, it’s clear that while these plants can aid in deterring mosquitoes, their effectiveness varies, and they should be considered as part of a larger, integrated mosquito management strategy rather than standalone solutions.

Incorporating these plants into your garden can enhance your outdoor living experience, reducing the reliance on synthetic repellents and fostering a more natural ecosystem. As we strive for sustainable living practices, understanding and utilizing the natural mosquito-repelling capabilities of certain plants can be an important step. Nevertheless, further research and a combination of methods are recommended to minimize mosquito populations and the associated risks of mosquito-borne diseases.

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Skeeter Beater