Did you know mosquitoes are considered to be the deadliest critter on Earth? Every year they spread a host of debilitating, and often fatal diseases, including West Nile Virus, Encephalitis, Malaria, Chikungunya, Zika Virus, and Canine Heartworm. Pretty scary for folks like us who spend so much time outdoors!
But dousing on bug spray is not always practical and for children and animals, it’s potentially toxic. Try this idea for chemical-free, all-natural mosquito control that’s also beautiful: a mosquito-repellent garden that works all summer long to keep bugs out of your outdoor living spaces.
7 Gorgeous and Easy-to-Grow Plants Mosquitoes Hate
Citronella Geranium, Lemongrass, and Lantana Camara already top popular gardening lists because they’re robust and quick growers; adaptable to almost all conditions; gorgeous in every setting; and in Southern climates (Zone 9 and warmer), hardy enough to grow as perennials.
Best of all, when cut, bruised, or even jostled by a breeze, they give off a pleasant lemony, citronella scent that mosquitoes avoid.
These three plants make fantastic container elements and look lovely combined with Petunias, Alyssum, or even tucked into your potted herbs. This article offers quick tips on growing these plants but you can also find much more information in this free ebook, Mosquito Repellent Plants, from Clovers Garden.
Citronella Geranium (Mosquito Plant)
Citronella Geranium grows large and bushy with thick foliage of lacy, medium-green leaves and produces a few pink-purple blossoms during the season. Like all geraniums, Mosquito Plant should be planted outside after all danger of frost, needs direct sunlight for at least 6 hours per day but can tolerate partial shade, and prefers well-drained, moderately-rich soil.
It makes a great container addition but give it room to grow as it will reach up to 4 feet high and 2 feet wide. Toward mid-summer, prune back woody branches to keep plant nicely shaped. Look for the main central stem and cut it back to the preferred height — this will promote outward, side stem growth and encourage more blossoms.
Add trimmed branches to floral arrangements as the thick leaves provide a good structure for smaller flowers. Citronella Geranium can be overwintered using regular geranium propagation techniques.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
This edible plant is often grown as an ornamental and grows in a dense, rounded clump reaching up to four-feet high and three-feet wide. Similar to scallions, the grassy stems grow out of a thick bulbous base which is frequently used in Asian or Thai cooking.
Follow the same general planting instructions as Citronella Geranium: full sun but partial shade tolerant, prefers well-draining, loamy soil, and does best if watered consistently. Lemongrass bulbs can be harvested throughout the entire growing season.
When mature, this plant benefits from division as it can become root bound. Just slice into the crown with a sharp knife or spade and separate each root clump. Replant in a pot or in the ground and feed and water until established.
Unlike most plants, Lemongrass will grow in soil with black walnut residue.
Lantana (Lantana Camara)
The foliage grows in an upright and sturdy pattern making it a great container choice and, best of all, it thrives in nearly all growing conditions especially low moisture, hot sun, and even salty soils.
Deer and other critters dislike the taste and smell but butterflies and hummingbirds love it.
'Creeping Lemon' Thyme
This low-growing, trailing herb fits well in rocky and sandy locations and adds a lemony kick to your summer cooking. The lovely leaves release a burst of citronella scent when bruised or rubbed and its vining growth pattern makes it a great “spiller” addition to most containers.
'Creeping Lemon' Thyme is a great companion plant for cabbage and broccoli but can be invasive if not kept trimmed back. Better yet, deer hate it but bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love it!
Plant grows as perennial in Zones 4 and warmer; requires no overwintering protection; prefers at least six hours of sun per day; and tolerates most types of soil.
This workhorse garden plant adds delicious flavor to grilled chicken and veggies; grows like a champ and fits perfectly into containers; and keeps the mosquitoes away.
Rosemary is an upright, evergreen-like herb that grows as an annual in most Zones but can be overwintered in containers. It withstands a wide range growing conditions but prefers full sun, well-draining or sandy soil, and does best if soil is allowed to dry out between waterings.
Plant can be pruned regularly to maintain a bushy shape but trim off no more than one-third of overall growth and prune above leaf joints. Use these trimmings in outdoor bouquets; tie in bundles and dry for later use; or toss on the campfire for a smoky, scented repellent. Rosemary also makes a great garden companion as it deters bean-hungry bugs, parasites, and cabbage flies.
Mint (any variety)
Here’s one more reason to love mint! This hardy herb is a fast and perennial grower in most Zones and thrives in nearly all conditions. It comes in lots of interesting varieties such as Apple Mint or Chocolate Mint and adds delicious flavor to every dish and cocktail all while keeping mosquitoes from crashing your party.
Plant prefers full sun and well-draining soil and should be trimmed back periodically. Mint also works to deter ants, aphids, and cabbage flies so it’s a good companion for cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, and kale.
No cottage garden is complete without this gorgeous flowering herb. It not only repels mosquitoes but also deters fleas, ticks, and even mice while at the same time attracting beneficial insects, butterflies, and birds. Lavender prefers full sun; well-draining soil; infrequent but deep waterings; and occasional pruning. Grows as a perennial in Zones 5 and warmer but in Southern climates, the plant must have good drainage all winter.
Stems can be bundled and hung to dry and will continue to give off a lovely scent making it a favorite for sachets and potpourris. You can even make a natural insect repellent that almost smells like perfume (more on that in our next article).
Some Quick Garden Design Ideas
For the best mosquito-repelling benefit, group these herbs together in containers and place in high use areas such as patios or decks. Try filling window boxes (see top image) with trailing herbs such as creeping thyme or tuck some mint along your walkways and into foundation beds.
Lavender and Rosemary can be shaped with creative pruning – try sculpting a mini-hedge or topiary in your outdoor spaces for a great conversation piece that also works as a bug deterrent.
Once Upon a Time in America…Are you ready to turn back the clocks to the 1800s for up to three years?Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers were the last generation to practice the basic things that we call survival skills now. ….Watch this video and you will find many interesting things!