Watch CBS News

Top 6 Mosquito Repellent Plants To Keep Pests Away

Mosquitoes (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

Stephanie Snay is a reporter for Angie’s List. She writes about pet services and lifestyle matters, and enjoys getting to speak with members and service providers across the country.

This article originally ran on

Summer means it’s time to fire up the grill and invite friends over for a barbecue, but it seems like unexpected guests always crash the party. No, not your in-laws — we’re talking about pesky bugs.

There are ways to keep mosquitoes and other insects away besides drowning yourself in bug spray. For a more green approach, try installing some of these insect-repelling plants around your yard.

1. Marigolds

Marigolds (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)
Marigolds (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

Not only do they make your landscape more attractive, but marigolds also have a distinct smell that repels mosquitoes. Plant from seed or get a starter plant from a nursery or floral department. Place potted marigolds near mosquito entry-points, such as doors and windows, or on a deck or balcony where you spend a lot of time outdoors. They also deter insects that prey on tomato plants — an added bonus for gardeners.

2. Citronella

Citronella/Lemon Grass (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)
Citronella/Lemon Grass (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

Citronella is one of the most common ingredients in insect repellents, due to its strong smell, which masks mosquito attractants. The perennial clumping grass grows 5 to 6 feet, and can be planted in the ground or kept in large pots. Citronella plants thrive best in full sun and areas with good drainage.

3. Catnip

Catnip (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)
Catnip (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

Warning: Your catnip might bring all the cats to the yard. The perennial herb, related to mint, is easy to grow. While it repels mosquitoes in close proximity, some people apply crushed leaves for more protection.

4. Lavender

Lavender (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)
Lavender Catnip (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

In addition to smelling lovely, aiding in relaxation and promoting restful sleep, lavender dissuades mosquitoes and gnats from invading your outdoor dinner party when planted in the garden or in pots placed by windows, doors and entertainment areas. The dried flowers can also be placed in wardrobes to repel moths.

5. Basil

Basil (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)
Basil (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

Enjoy delicious pesto dishes, and keep mosquitoes at bay, with this insect-repelling herb. Basil is one of the few herbs in which you don’t have to crush the leaves to reap its benefits. Lemon basil and cinnamon basil are the best varieties to prevent unwanted pests.

6. Lemon balm

Lemon Balm (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)
Lemon Balm (Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

Also known as horsemint, lemon balm’s aroma wards off mosquitoes, but attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies. It’s fast growing, drought resistant and reseeds itself, so consider planting in a pot rather than in your yard to avoid a lemon balm takeover.


For more Environmental news and information from CBS Local, click here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.