What Plants Repel Mosquitoes?
Everyone dreams of having a stunning yard with beautiful plants that can attract colorful butterflies, pest-eating dragonflies and pretty songbirds! When you choose the right varieties, a garden or well-placed plantings throughout your landscape may also repel mosquitoes and other pests. We will sum up a few beneficial plants that can help you with this. Best of all, some of them make flavorful additions to a kitchen garden.
Widely used for cooking, aromatic basil, a member of the mint family, may also offer protection against mosquitoes. Research confirms that the essential oils found in the leaves of lime basil (Ocimum americanum)1, a plant native to Africa; holy basil (Ociumum sanctum)2; and sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum)3, may be toxic to mosquitoes and their larvae. But all types of basil are easy to grow with plenty of sun, so try multiple varieties and experiment!
Basil brings a beautiful sweet smell to the area!
Floss flower is the common name for ageratum, a bright, colorful, fuzzy, tufted flower that makes a perfect ornamental plant to decorate your yard. They are easy to grow and can be very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds! While there is thin anecdotal evidence to support the plant’s mosquito-fighting powers, floss flowers make a lovely addition to a backyard that will attract beneficial pollinators.
Floss flower is also known as ageratum.
Research suggests that marigold (not to be confused with pot marigold, or calendula, from a different plant genus), a popular summer flower that ushers in fall color with its deep golds, oranges and reds, may show some promise in fighting mosquitoes. In fact, scientists have been able to isolate insecticidal compounds called thiophenes in the plants’ leaves, roots and flowers. Researchers found that of all the plant parts, the marigolds’ flowers were most potent.4
Marigolds’ autumn colors are a familiar sight at Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico.
Besides looking great in planters and emitting a lovely fragrance, lavender can add a feeling of peacefulness to your yard, and its many flowers can also appeal to butterflies. Lavender plants may also help keep mosquitoes at a distance, and as a bonus, they are deer resistant too.5
Who doesn’t love a fragrant field of lavender?
Peppermint’s strong, bracing, herbal scent is known to keep mosquitoes at bay6. The plant’s leaves can be used for culinary applications or brewed into a tisane, or herbal tea. Like many members of the Lamiaceae family, peppermint can quickly spread, so to keep it from taking over your garden, plant peppermint in pots.
We love the herbal scent of tenacious peppermint.
This member of the mint family has been used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary purposes. When its leaves are rubbed, the strong aroma may release insect-repelling oils. Choose a culinary variety that does double duty as a kitchen garden addition, or choose an ornamental variety with variegated leaves to add interest to your landscape.
Sage typically has very soft, fuzzy leaves.
Do Any Plants Attract Mosquitoes?
Flower nectar serves as an essential food source for all male mosquitoes, and for nonbreeding females. Scientists aren’t certain why some flowers attract mosquitoes and some repel, but research is underway7. One flower that is well known to attract mosquitoes is the blunt-leaf orchid, which often grows in wetlands, and can be found in the Rocky Mountains in the US8. In general, however, the mosquito’s powerful scenting abilities attract it to its food sources, both nectar and people.
You don’t need to eliminate flowers from your garden, however! To keep mosquitoes from breeding in your yard, make sure any pots and containers drain well, and be sure to change or empty the water in birdbaths often, as the female mosquito needs standing water to lay her eggs. So run to your nearest garden center to find varieties that suit your growing region best and plant some of these beneficial herbs that can help naturally protect your yard against mosquitoes while attracting butterflies and dragonflies!
For fuller protection, you can harness the powerful compounds in some of the plants above with a natural mosquito repellent, such as Best Bee Brothers’ effective essential-oil-based natural insect repellent spray! Our mosquito repellent contains the essential oils of some of these beneficial garden plants, such as lavender and peppermint, along with those that are less easy to grow, such as eucalyptus.
- A. Tawatsin, S. D. Wratten, R. R. Scott, U. Thavara and Y. Techadamrongsin, “Repellency of Volatile Oils from Plants against Three Mosquito Vectors,” Journal of Vector Ecology 26, no.1 (June 2001): 76–82, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11469188/. Marta Ferreira Maia and Sarah J. Moore, “Plant-Based Insect Repellents: A Review of Their Efficacy, Development and Testing,” Malaria Journal 10 (March 15, 2011): S11, https://dx.doi.org/10.1186%2F1475-2875-10-S1-S11.
- Ismalia Husna, Endah Setyaningrum and Tundjung Tripeni Handayani, “Utilization of Basil Leaf Extract as Anti-Mosquito Repellent: A Case Study of Total Mosquito Mortality (Aedes aegypti 3rd Instar),” Journal of Physics Conference Series 1467, no. 1 (March 2020): https://doi.org/10.1088/1742-6596/1467/1/012014.
- Sarita Kumar, Radhika Warikoo, Monika Mishra, and Roopa Rani Samal, “Impact of Ocimum basilicum Leaf Essential Oil on the Survival and Behaviour of an Indian Strain of Dengue Vector, Aedes aegypti (L.),” Vector Biology Journal 2, no. 2 (2017): https://doi.org/10.4172/2473-4810.1000122.
- Paul Simons, “Science: Could Marigolds Slay Killer Mosquitoes?,” NewScientist, July 17, 1993, https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg13918823-200-science-could-marigolds-slay-killer-mosquitoes/.
- “Deer-Resistant Plants,” Warren County, Cornell Cooperative Extension, accessed April 27, 2022, http://warren.cce.cornell.edu/gardening-landscape/deer-resistant-plants.
- “Does Peppermint/Mint Repel Mosquitoes?,” Mosquito Reviews, accessed April 27, 2022, www.mosquitoreviews.com/mosquito-repellents/mint
- University of Washington, "Mosquitoes Are Drawn to Flowers as Much as People – and Now Scientists Know Why," ScienceDaily, January 22, 2020, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200122080547.htm
- Mark Jaunzems, Blunt-leaf Orchid (Platanthera obtusata (Bands ex Pursh) Lindley),” US Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/platanthera_obtusata.shtml.