Plant Power: 12 of the Best Herbs to Combat Mosquitoes

If you cannot enjoy your yard because of mosquitoes, try planting and spraying some of these herbs to repel them. Before diving into the world of natural repellents, it’s essential to understand the characteristics of mosquitoes and the advantages of choosing natural solutions over synthetic ones. 

Since mosquito bites can lead to itchy welts, skin irritation, and disease, it’s best to do all you can to repel them. AND if you want to get rid of mosquitoes inside the house, these plants can help with that, too!

Mosquito Biology and Behavior

Mosquitoes are not just a nuisance; they carry awful diseases like malariadengueWest Nile, and yellow fever, which can have serious health implications. 

There are many types of mosquitoes, but they all have a lifecycle that consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Only female mosquitoes bite mammals because they require the protein in their blood to reproduce. These insects are attracted to carbon dioxide, body odors, heat, and movement.

  • Active Times: Most species are most active during dusk and dawn.
  • Breeding Grounds: They breed in standing water and require as little as a bottle cap to lay their eggs.

Understanding these traits can help you target your repellent strategies more effectively.

Remember that these herbs for mosquito repelling will only partially solve the issue. If your neighborhood has many mosquitoes, you’ll need to combine many types of treatments and repellents.

Top Mosquito Repellent Herbs and Plants

Many of these plants and herbs are the active ingredients in chemical repellents. The best way to control mosquitoes in your yard is to eliminate all standing water and plant tons of mosquito-repelling herbs! You can also buy some mosquito dunks to help kill off any mosquito larvae ready to metamorphasize! 

So, let’s implement some of these plant-based repellents and start spending more time in our yard! Plant all of these around your yard or in containers for best results.

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma L.)

Best herbs to Combat Mosquitoes_ Bee Balm

Bee Balm’s fragrant leaves can help keep mosquitoes away while attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden.

  • Fragrant foliage: Natural mosquito deterrent.
  • Attracts pollinators: Ideal for a pollinator-friendly garden.
  • Colorful blooms: Add vibrant colors to your garden landscape.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Best herbs to Combat Mosquitoes_ Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Basil emits a strong smell that mosquitoes find particularly off-putting. This herb is excellent for planting in gardens or keeping pots near doorways to deter mosquitoes.

  • Natural repellent: Basil’s essential oils are effective in repelling mosquitoes.
  • Easy to grow: Thrives in well-drained soil and full sun.
  • Dual-purpose: Besides being a repellent, it’s also a popular culinary herb.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Best herbs to Combat Mosquitoes_ Lavender

Usually known for its calming fragrance and beautiful purple blooms, lavender also repels mosquitoes due to its potent essential oils. As one of the easy-to-grow mosquito-repellent plants, you can add it to balconies and porches, too.

  • Highly aromatic: Lavender’s strong fragrance deters mosquitoes.
  • Drought-resistant: Requires minimal watering once established.
  • Versatile use: Can be used in dried floral arrangements and as an essential oil.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)

Best herbs to Combat Mosquitoes_ Lemongrass

Lemongrass contains citronella oil, a natural oil used in many commercial mosquito repellents. However, this is a different plant than the typical citronella plant that we all think of. 

  • Contains citronella: It’s a natural oil that repels mosquitoes.
  • Easy to maintain: Grows well in full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Culinary uses: Widely used in Asian cuisine for its flavor.

Mint / Lemon Balm (family Lamiaceae)

Best Herbs to Combat Mosquitoes_ Mint

Mint has a sharp, pungent scent that mosquitoes find unpleasant, making it an excellent natural bug repellent. Lemon balm is just one member of the mint family and has powerful mosquito-repellent properties.

  • Strong scent: Peppermint oil can effectively repel mosquitoes.
  • Invasive growth: Best grown in pots as it spreads quickly.
  • Culinary and medicinal uses: Used in various drinks, dishes, and remedies.

Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)

Best herbs to Combat Mosquitoes_ Rosemary

Rosemary’s woody scent is excellent for keeping mosquitoes at bay. It thrives in warm, dry climates and poor soil. You can place sprigs of the plant all over your outdoor space.

  • Intense fragrance: Repels mosquitoes naturally.
  • Drought-tolerant: Grows well in containers.
  • Culinary herb: Enhances the flavor of meats and vegetables.

Marigold (genus Tagetes)

Best plants to Combat Mosquitoes_ Marigolds

Marigold plants contain pyrethrum, an ingredient in many insect repellents. Their bright flowers also help beautify spaces.

  • Contains pyrethrum: Acts as a natural insecticide.
  • Easy to grow: Thrives in sunny locations.
  • Border planting: Ideal for planting around the edges of a garden as a protective barrier.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Best herbs to Combat Mosquitoes_ Catnip

Studies suggest that catnip may be even more powerful at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, a common chemical repellent. Reference: Evaluating repellence properties of catnip essential oil against the mosquito species Aedes aegypti using a Y-tube olfactometer

  • Contains nepetalactone: Proven to repel mosquitoes more effectively than DEET.
  • Easy to grow: Thrives in both sun and partial shade.
  • Attracts cats: As the name suggests, it is very popular with felines.

 Garlic (Allium sativum) 

Best herbs to Combat Mosquitoes_ Garlic

While not traditionally grown as an ornamental herb, you can plant garlic around the garden and then crush it, to repel mosquitoes.

  • Natural repellent: Mosquitoes dislike its strong scent.
  • Edible and medicinal: Widely used in cooking and natural remedies.
  • Soil health: Helps improve soil quality.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Best plants to Combat Mosquitoes sage

When burned, sage leaves add an aromatic quality to the air and serve as an effective mosquito repellent. Sage plants are super easy to grow in containers!

  • Repellent when burned: Effective in smoke form.
  • Drought-tolerant: Requires minimal water.
  • Culinary uses: Adds flavor to a variety of dishes.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Best herbs to Combat Mosquitoes_ Thyme

Thyme produces a robust and unappealing scent to mosquitoes, making it a helpful plant for natural pest control.

  • Potent aroma: Natural mosquito repellent.
  • Ground cover: Can be used to fill spaces in a garden.
  • Culinary herb: Enhances the taste of dishes, especially in Mediterranean cuisine.

Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus)

Best herbs to Combat Mosquitoes_ Citronella

Citronella is one of the most common natural ingredients in commercial mosquito repellents. Although citronella oil is used in many chemical mosquito repellents and infused into citronella candles, it is usually from the lemongrass plant. (I know, it’s confusing)

  • Widely recognized: Known for its effectiveness in repelling mosquitoes.
  • Grows tall: Can reach up to 6 feet in height.
  • Need to crush leaves: The best way to get the repellent properties out of this plant is to crush the leaves and rub them around where you are sitting. (You want to use caution if you decide to rub them on your skin)

Other Ways of Controlling Mosquitoes in Your Outdoor Spaces

All of the plants and herbs listed above can be planted in pots around your yard. Not only that but you can also use the essential oils to make mosquito repellent sprays. If these best herbs for mosquito repellents are not enough, try some of these ideas as well. With bugs it’s always all about a multi-faceted approach.

​A Fire Pit

Mosquitoes don’t like to hang around the smoke of a fire pit. So, as long as you are burning wood, that should keep them from biting you!

​Insect Repellents

You can buy commercial insect repellents to spray in your yard periodically. Read the labels and see the best repellent activity for your situation.

Wear Long Pants and Long Sleeves

Making sure you don’t have a lot of skin exposed will help reduce the chances of them biting you.

Use Mosquito Protection

​You can purchase natural sprays for your skin—these work by preventing insects from biting you.

Final Thoughts for Best Plant-Based Mosquito Repellents

A multifaceted approach can be highly effective when dealing with mosquitoes in your yard. Incorporating a variety of herbal repellents such as basil, lavender, mint, and marigold can create a natural barrier against these pests. You’ll be leveraging the unique properties of each plant to provide broad-spectrum protection.

Additionally, maintaining a tidy yard by eliminating standing water and trimming bushes can reduce mosquito breeding grounds, complementing the protective effects of your chosen plants and maximizing the overall efficacy of your mosquito control strategy.