These 5 Mosquito-Repelling Plants Are Easy To Grow In Any Garden

mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant By Sarah Regan
mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant

Sarah Regan is a writer, registered yoga instructor, and Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

field of lavender plants blowing in the wind

Image by Jovana Rikalo / Stocksy

Love being outside but prone to bug bites? When it comes to choosing plants for your backyard or garden, going for ones that can help ward off mosquitoes isn't a bad idea. And the good news is there are a handful of low-maintenance species that are effective mosquito repellers. Here are five plants you'll want to have around this summer, plus how they work to keep the bugs at bay.

How plants repel or attract mosquitoes.

To find out the science behind some plants' mosquito-repelling ability, we reached out to the director of glasshouse horticulture and senior curator of orchids at the New York Botanical Garden Marc Hachadourian. He told mbg that many plants likely evolved mosquito-repelling compounds as a self-defense mechanism.

"Many plant extracts from plants as wide and unrelated as cedar, basil, lantana, beauty berry, lavender, eucalyptus, mint, and even breadfruit have shown promise as natural insect repellents in studies with varying degrees of success," he explains. These plants produce a wide variety of antifungal, anti-herbivore, and anti-insect compounds that fend off different types and species of bugs—some of which can stunt their growth or carry plant viruses.

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Check out these low-maintenance plants that repel mosquitoes:

1. Basil

A wonderful addition to your backyard and your cooking (homemade pesto, anyone?), basil has long been used as an insect repellent. It requires full sun and regular moisture, according to Hachadourian. Just be sure to clip back and prune the plant from time to time to encourage continued growth of its yummy basil leaves.

2. Lantana cultivars

This annual has gorgeous flowers, attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, and also repels mosquitoes. Perfect for a pop of color, it needs full sun, regular water, and fertilizer.

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3. Mint

Mint is another great option for the garden and the kitchen, and Hachadourian notes its fragrant oils can be used to repel mosquitoes. Be sure to plant it either in a large container or sectioned off in the garden, as it can spread quite quickly. Then, all it needs is full sun and regular watering.

4. Lavender

Lavender's fragrance is smooth and relaxing to humans, but off-putting to mosquitoes! Lavender plants make for a great addition to any backyard, but they require some maintenance. They need full sun and well-drained, sandy soils since they can get finicky with too much water. "Prune back after flowering to encourage new growth," Hachadourian adds.

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5. Citronella

Last but not least, citronella has long been a standby for its mosquito-repelling properties—and it's easy to grow! Even watering and good sunlight are best, according to Hachadourian, and it can handle a little drying out between waterings. He recommends adding it as a foliage accent in mixed flower containers for some added texture.

...but don't ditch your bug spray just yet.

These plants may be able to lend a helping hand for keeping mosquitoes at bay, but wearing bug spray is still important. "Any of the plants that possess the natural oils will only really be effective in small areas, and one plant will not drive hungry mosquitoes away from you and your yard completely," Hachadourian notes. So to maximize your mosquito-repelling potential, your best bet would be to wear a bug spray and position your new plants near where you like to sit outside.

With a few easy additions to your garden, you can freshen up the aesthetic and limit mosquitoes at the same time.

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