The real summertime sadness comes from the fact that a season full of vacations and sunshine comes with mosquito hoards. If you live in warm and wet climates, you probably have a weekly subscription to bug spray. But we don't always remember to coat ourselves or cover up before we step foot outside. Ditch the DEET and grow a few of these mosquito-repellant plants instead.
Alliums are bulbs that grow into fun spiky purple balls. These spring-flowering plants do well in full sunlight, and they can be planted in either the fall or spring. But, if you want them blooming just before the mosquitos come knocking, plant them in the fall. They're pretty resilient and can be planted in most of the U.S.
With a name fit for a fairy, these wild shrubs are great mosquito-repellant plants. Without pruning, American Beautyberries can grow massive; we're talking 9' tall. On their stems, they grow delightful purple berries that birds and deer love. They're pretty hardy and can stand both cool and warm temperatures. Just be sure to plant them where they'll get some shade and remember to keep them moist.
If you only deal with a light smattering of mosquitoes in your area, then ageratum, aka floss flower plants, are attractive mosquito-repellant plants you can add to a garden. They're not as potent of a repellant as some plants on this list, but they do contain the insect-hating compound coumarin.
Because these spiky blue, sun-loving flowers are easy to care for, they'll do well for even the most novice gardener. For a maximum repellant effect, crush some of the plant leaves and stems and rub them around areas you want protected.
Who knew an herb that defines so many dishes would also help protect your skin? Basil is a great mosquito-repellant plant. Humans love the smell, but the blood-suckers hate it. Because they're tropical, these plants do best in really warm climates and need to a lot of moisture. Protect your hunger and your yard by planting some basil.
Not to be confused with every cat's favorite plant, catmint is a related plant that blooms little two-lipped flowers. What makes them so good at keeping mosquitoes away are their leaves, which release a mint-like smell when they're agitated. So, these drought-tolerant perennials can keep mosquitoes away, but if you crush a few of their leaves when you're sitting or playing outside, they'll do double duty in making a mosquito barrier.
Your cats will be thanking you by not waking you up at 3 AM knocking things over if you plant some catnip. The joke's on them because you're not doing it to please the feline gods living in your house, but to keep the mosquitoes from irritating you instead. You can plant your catnip in the spring in nutrient-rich soil, making sure to keep them in a sunny area.
Catnip works just like catmint in that its leaves hold the potent chemical that mosquitoes don't like. Rub a few leaves and spread the oil over yourself when you're staying outside to really keep the bugs away.
Take one guess of what citronella grass smells like based only on its name. If you said citrus, give yourself a pat on the back. These voluminous plants with tiny leaves that sprout off the base like a spiky punk haircut can be planted in the spring after the frost has finally left. Like with many other plants, rub the leaves' oils onto your skin as a natural mosquito deterrent.
Although wild eucalyptus trees can grow huge, the annuals you'll grow to help ward off mosquitoes take up way less real estate. On top of making your yard smell wonderful, the plant's oils work to repel mosquitoes.
When you go to plant eucalyptus though, start by seeding them indoors and then transplant them outside, as growing them from seeds is hard to do. They also love some sunlight, so plant them where they can soak up some rays.
Fennel is a bulb vegetable that kind of looks like an overgrown garlic with shaggy hair. Both the bulbs and the leaves can be used in various dishes, so they're a double-duty plant. Plant them at the end of your frost season, and you'll have delicious plants with oils that'll keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Garlic is a perfect little plant to put in your gardens because it's so culinarily versatile, and it'll kick mosquitoes to the curb. You have to wonder - is that where the 'bloodsuckers hate garlic' myth came from? Either way, garlic - which belongs to the allium genus that's already on this list - is a wonderful annual crop to plant in October and harvest throughout the year.
Lantana Camara is a tropical plant that needs a lot of sunlight, and when rooted, they'll be drought resistant. The best part of these easy-to-grow plants are their cartoon-like bright flowers. We're talking neon pink and yellow.
On top of their vibrant blooms, lantana camara works well to keep mosquitoes away. Keep the plants to block off your yard and use the flowers' oils to protect your skin.
Lavender is a beast when it comes to repelling mosquitoes. You can thank its iconic and soothing fragrance. Unlike 99% of humans, mosquitoes hate the smell and the oils that come off of the flowers. These tall purple plants work best to repel mosquitoes when they're dried and crushed. So, you can plant them in a sunny area when the frost clears, and either use the stalks as they dry out or cut some and dry them yourself.
Like the name suggests, lemon balm's a green plant that gives off a vague lemony mint smell. Naturally, they resemble mint plants because they're a part of the mint family. They're a rather petite herb and shouldn't be planted until all chances of frost are gone. Plant them in partial shade. It's the oils and smells that keep mosquitoes away. And, if you're a tea drinker, you can use the leaves to brew new beverages throughout the summer.
Another mosquito-repelling herb to add to your garden is lemon thyme. With a citrusy aroma, this petite plant needs a lot of sunlight and thrives in average, dry soil. Harvest it for the medicinal or culinary properties, or just leave it as an aromatic ornamentation to your yard.
Lemongrass is strikingly similar to citronella grass, though people are much bigger fans of using it in food dishes than they are citronella. Lemongrass is incredibly popular in Asian cuisines because of its citrus flavor. These shrubby-looking plants can grow to about 3-5' tall and shouldn't be planted until you're not experiencing frost anymore. Because of their natural oils, mosquitoes will stay far away from them.
Undeniably pretty with bright orange-yellow puffy flowers, marigolds have quite the reputation. So many people don't plant marigolds because of their rather strong odor, but it's this oil and odor that's precisely what makes them a great mosquito repelling plant. If you find these annuals that love the sun to be too stinky, keep them to the edges of your beds and away from any areas where you'll be sitting.
If you want to support bees and keep mosquitoes away, add a few monarda plants to your beds. Also called bee balm, these perennials bloom long, hummingbird-loving pink petals, and they can be planted in either the spring or the fall. Keep them watered and deadheaded to prevent mildew, and these native plants will serve you well.
Nasturtium is a unique plant because it uses an airborne chemical to ward off any insect from getting too close - mosquitoes included. Because of this, they're often planted alongside vegetable gardens to keep unwanted bugs away. Whether you plant the bush or climbing varieties, these plants need to go somewhere with a good amount of sunlight, but in partial shade as well. Don't over fertilize, and they'll do well.
Pennyroyal sound more like a Victorian candy brand than a quaint minty plant. Yet, this funny little plant that belongs to the mint family is really easy to keep alive. Treat it as you would most other herbs and take advantage of the many medicinal properties. And, to top everything off, add them to your gardens to help ward off mosquitoes, thanks to their citronellal chemicals.
The unofficial flavor of Christmas, peppermint plants (obviously belonging to the mint family) are just as good as other mint plants in keeping mosquitoes away. The mint oils they secrete affect the mosquito's ability to smell and disorient them long enough to keep them off of you. Make sure you rub the oil on your skin for more of an effect.
Unlike most of the other plants on this list, peppermint prefers cool temperatures and moist soil. However, they still need abundant sunlight. Also, be wary of them spreading throughout your garden as mint plants notoriously do.
Everything tastes a little better with a sprinkling of rosemary, and your summer days can be improved by a rosemary bush or two. Rosemary bushes need a lot of sunlight and will do great in humid environments. Just make sure you keep them well-watered, and they'll be fighting off mosquitoes for months.
The last herb in the mosquito-repellant wheelhouse is sage. Sage has deep mystical roots, being used in medicine and spiritual pursuits for centuries. Although it's not as strong of a natural insecticide as other plants are, the warm aromas do combat mosquitoes. Make sure to plant your sage where it'll get full sunlight and don't over-water or it will die from sitting in wet soil.
Mosquito-Repellant Plants Let You Enjoy Your Yard
Instead of spending extra money each year to buy citronella candles, stinky bracelets, and bug spray, do yourself a favor and grow some of these mosquito-repellant plants. They're not full of chemicals you can't pronounce, and you'll be surrounded with tons of beautiful plants every time you walk outside. What could be better than that?