Garden planning - repel mosquitoes this summer with these plants – Dr Wendy Davis ND

Garden planning - repel mosquitoes this summer with these plants

This spring and summer surround yourself with some of these plants that have natural bug repellent properties.  Once planted you you can crush to release their oils, rub on your skin as a natural repellant (simply having these plants growing in the garden won't be enough to send your tormentors packing),  or throw a few sprigs on the grill to emit a fragrant smoke that will chase the  mosquitoes away.

Some of these plants have fragrant foliage that have been known, either anecdotally or scientifically, to repel mosquitoes and other bothersome insects. Some are herbs with multiple uses, making them useful in both the garden and the kitchen. 

So get to planting, and you just might be able to get some relief from those pesky garden visitors this season.


Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum

This summertime herb has fragrant leaves and is a popular addition to kitchens across the globe. Once planted, basil requires full sun and regular watering. There are many types of basil but the strong, fresh fragrance of lemon basil (O. x citriodorum) has been known to ward off mosquitos. Keep pruning the leaves for your cooking and basil will last until the first frost.


Botanical Name: Nepeta cataria

Catnip, also known as catmint, has aromatic, bright green leaves and small blossoms. It is a low-maintenance plant that tolerates full sun or partial shade and moderate to regular watering. Nepetacataria x Citriodora is a good choice for mosquito repelling, as its fragrant foliage has a citrusy, lemony scent. The minty leaves of this winter-hardy plant can be used as a culinary herb. Catnip does not love heat and humidity, so grow it in well-draining soil in a spot with light afternoon shade.

Citronella Grass 

Botanical Name: Cymbopogon nardus

This plant is a tropical perennial that's widespread in Asia and the coasts of the Pacific. It's also the source of citronella, the essential oil derived from the plant's tall grassy stalks that are widely marketed in mosquito-repelling candles and repellent sprays. Though it's closely related to lemongrass, citronella grass is not palatable for cooking. 

Plant it in well-draining soil in full sun and water when the top 2 inches of soil is dry.


Botanical Name: Allium sativum

Whether chopping, cooking, or eating, the scent of garlic is a notorious lingerer. It lingers on your fingers utensils, and breath, and it's that quality—the potency of the oily, smelly allicin compound created when cloves of garlic are broken down—that makes it a potential mosquito-repellent (it really does keep the vampires away).

Although you can plant the bulbs in the early spring, ideally plant garlic in the fall before the first frost and you will get scapes and hardy bulbs the following season


Botanical Name: Lavandula spp.

This classic Mediterranean herb is prized for its eaves, purple blooms, and strong, calming fragrance. Not all lavender can thrive when planted outdoors in our climate, but you can purchase lavender at most garden centers and keep in year round

Lemon Balm 

Botanical Name: Melissa officinalis

Lemon balm has heavily perfumed foliage, which can be used fresh in cold drinks, fruit cups, salads, fish dishes; dried leaves give lemon perfume to sachets, potpourris"—all that on top of helping to ward off mosquitos. 

Lemon balm is not particularly picky about soil but can take over, so you can check the growth of this member of the mint family by planting it in a pot instead of your garden


Botanical Name: Cymbopogon citratus

Lemongrass is a perennial that thrives in full sun with regular water. All plant parts are strongly lemon-scented and are widely used as an ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking.

Its powerful, citrusy aroma is also used to repel mosquitos, as it is akin to the fragrant oils found in citronella combinations


Botanical Name: Tagetes spp.

Marigold plants provide showy garden color as well as an easily identifiable fragrance, one that is known to repel mosquitos and other insects. (Even some people find it repellent.) 

The heat-loving annuals have ferny, strongly scented leaves.When touched, copper canyon daisy (T. lemmonii) leaves emit a very strong aroma, as does the foliage of Mexican mint marigold (T. lucida), which smells strongly of tarragon. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun and enjoy months of blooms, which can be encouraged by deadheading and regular watering (though the plants are fairly drought-tolerant).


Botanical Name: Mentha x piperita

Another form of mint, peppermint, offers a strong, fresh fragrance from tall columns of deep green aromatic leaves. (It can grow to 3 feet tall.) Peppermint has also been known to repel mosquitos. It is widely appreciated for its flavoring potential, and its fragrance has been adopted for everything from toothpaste to tea. 

Keep its growth contained by planting it in a pot.


Botanical Name: Salvia rosmarinus

Rosemary s a low-maintenance planting, as long as you give it full sun and low to moderate watering in well-draining soil. It's also known for its mosquito-repelling potential and is notable "for its high essential oil content," a characteristic which also may help in repelling pests.

Scented geranium

Botanical Name: Pelargonium spp.

There are many species of scented geraniums, the foliage of which carries a heavy aroma and is accompanied by showy flowers. Prince of Orange Geranium(Pelargonium citrosum) and other citrus-scented species, like lime geranium (P. nervosum), have been known to deter mosquitos. P. citrosum is often sold as ‘citronella plant’

The leaves are not edible, but they smell delicious when you brush past.