Over the last three Rhode Island summers, we’ve used our backyard as a kind of outdoor laboratory to find the best plants to naturally repel mosquitoes. The seven plants we have listed here are our tried and tested winners. At Debug, we’re all about conscientious pest control. So, when we find natural ways to control pests, we share that information with you – it’s part of how we show We Care.
Mint is our highest performer. We’ve planted mint everywhere and so far it seems to be doing the trick. And mint is SO easy to grow. Mint is literally a plant-it-and-forget-it type of plant (we love that). We’ve put mint in our window boxes, our flower planters, and garden beds. This year we took an old terracotta strawberry planter (honestly, we could never get strawberries to grow in that thing) and made it an herb planter.
A secret trick from our grandmother: Break a spring of mint and rub the leaves on your legs and arms to keep mosquitoes away. I can’t remember our grandmother ever having a mosquito bite, so she must have been onto something.
Added bonus? Delicious mojitos!
All basil seems to keep away mosquitoes, but we found that cinnamon basil works best. Basil is another super-easy plant to grow. We put basil in all of our planters–right alongside our flowers. Right now, we have this basil, rose, and nasturtium planter on the deck, and we love it. This year we invested in some deck railing planters and planted herbs in them. We’ve seen a big decline in mosquitoes and hornets.
The added bonus of fresh basil is a plus.
Growing-up, we had a fig tree in our yard. Our grandparents planted lavender under the tree to keep pests away from the figs (a nice Old World trick that really works). Turns out, lavender is also great at keeping away mosquitoes. We’ve planted lavender in pots, planters, and in our garden beds. Lavender is a perennial, so it will come back year after year. It’s also another low-maintenance plant that is great for beginner gardeners. Another bonus here: you can cut the lavender and make great smelling sachets for your drawers. Plus, lavender is just gorgeous.
We loved geraniums long before we knew they were a great mosquito repellant. So now we just plant double. Geraniums are easy to care for, come in beautiful colors, and can be easily added to any planter or garden bed. Geraniums are annuals here in New England, but we bring our geranium pots in before the first frost and they brighten-up our interior over the winter with their blooms. It’s a lovely way to add color to your natural mosquito control approach.
This is our first year growing citronella and we’re seeing great results. We planted this one in a pot next to our water feature to keep the mosquitoes out of the water. So far, the citronella seems to be very low maintenance; we really haven’t done anything to it, except give it a little water during a dry spell.
Mosquitoes (and lots of other garden pests including deer and rabbits) hate onions. Honestly, we never buy onion bulbs. We take onions from the grocery store and plant them just like tulip bulbs in the spring. When we buy scallions at the market, we chop and eat the tops and save the white bulbous end. We take these ends and plant them in the herb planters and then give them a good soak. Within a couple of days, the scallions start growing back. Onions are probably the easiest plant to grow. And again, they’re great to add to your summer dishes.
Our grandparents always planted marigolds in their garden beds, especially around the tomato plants. These little orange and yellow flowers are great at keeping mosquitoes away (and lots of other pests, too). Marigolds are easy to grow and care for – and very economical when you plant them directly from seed.
Get a couple of oscillating fans for your patio or deck. Mosquitoes don’t like flying in the wind, so a couple of fans will set up a nice no-fly zone around your deck and patio.
Utilize some common sense and compromise with Mother Nature: go inside after dusk.