Outdoor spaces are having a moment right now, from beautiful backyard gardens to pretty patios, and even full outdoor kitchens. However, the more time we spend outside, the more we have to worry about keeping those pesky mosquitoes at bay!
Of course, I’m not telling you to skip a good DEET-free insect repellent. But, if you’re hoping to add an extra layer of protection, there are plenty of plants out there that can help keep these pests away with their natural fragrances. Besides, they’ll also bring those fragrances to your garden, along with some beauty.
In terms of mosquito repellents, citronella grass is the gold standard. Citronella is by far the most popular plant used to repel mosquitos. All the citronella candles that you have outside are made with oil that comes from this plant.
However, don’t be fooled into picking up whatever pot at your local garden shop is labeled “citronella plant.” If it features lacy foliage instead of grass blades, it is actually a scented geranium. The leaves will give off a wonderful citrus scent when bruised, but it’s not citronella.
Lemongrass is closely related to citronella grass, and not just in looks. It can also help repel pesky mosquitoes. This grassy plant can grow as high as five feet tall, so it can also add height and interest to your garden. You can also grow lemongrass in a pot on a deck or patio, just make sure it’s in a large planter.
As an added bonus, lemongrass is edible! It is commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking, but it can be a great aromatic in any number of recipes and even cocktails.
Marigolds are usually pretty popular — likely because they are easy to grow, affordable, and they add a pretty burst of color. Not only are marigolds beautiful, though, but they can also deter mosquitoes. On top of that, they may also help keep whieflies, tomato hornworms, aphids, thrips, Mexican bean beetles, and squash bugs at bay.
Plant these bright blooms in pots near the entrance to your home. Or, because marigolds are usually inexpensive, go ahead and grab a whole flat (or three!) and create a whole patio border from them.
Much like marigolds, the bright blooming nasturtium can help repel mosquitoes and other pests. Keep these beauties around to stave off the likes of whiteflies, beetles, cabbage loopers, aphids, and squash bugs.
It’s not just the plant itself that repels bugs. These pretty plants produce an airborne chemical, so that means they provide protection for the immediate area around them, too.
Most people agree that lavender smells heavenly, but luckily, mosquitos have a conflicting opinion about its sweet floral scent. Not only will it help keep mosquitos at bay, but it will also brighten up your space with pretty purple blooms.
This fragrant herb loves to be hot and dry, so it’s perfect in full sun and doesn’t require a ton of watering or other attention.
Similar to lavender, rosemary loves summer heat — and mosquitoes don’t love rosemary. It also smells delicious, and that scent is what mosquitoes hate so much.
Although you can grow it in pots, this fragrant edible herb is actually a perennial shrub and can grow several feet tall. Plant it straight in the ground as a hedge around your outdoor space. In zones 9 or higher, it’ll live as an evergreen perennial, but there are some varieties that are hardy in zones 6-8.
This perennial makes a great mojito and a great mosquito repellent. Another fragrant herb, mint exudes a fresh, crisp scent that pests don’t like.
It’s easy to grow, but it can be invasive. This one is best in containers if you don’t want it to take over.