Summer means mosquitoes. While there is no doubt that mosquitoes have an important role to play in the ecosystem, they are a pest to humans and pets, and none of us wants them around our homes. They are a great food source for bats and birds, however, they also bite, buzz persistently, and carry serious diseases. These include Malaria, ZIKA virus, Ross River Virus, and others.
Using bug sprays which contain DEET is not ideal. It can be toxic, especially in large amounts and when used by children or pregnant women. There are now some commercial insect repellents available which do not contain DEET.
The good news is that there are natural ways to repel mosquitoes, without using environmentally harmful insecticides and bug sprays. One of these is by harnessing the power of plants which naturally repel these annoying little insects.
10 Mosquito-Repelling Plants
Using plants to repel mosquitoes is both natural and effective. An array of plants are easy to grow for this purpose. Some will also repel flies, slugs, and snails! This is due to the presence of certain chemicals, including nepetalactone, coumarin, citronella oil, and others, and which are emitted via fragrance or taste when munched on.
Our Top Ten Plants to Grow at Home to Repel Mozzies are:
- The perfect companion plant for vegetables and other herbs, marigolds attract bees, butterflies, dragonflies, and ladybugs, but repel harmful and annoying white flies, mosquitoes, and nematode worms. They require full sun to part shade and will grow to 30cm x 30cm. Don’t over water or overfeed them.
- A member of the mint family, catnip is a vigorously-growing herb which is extremely effective at repelling mosquitoes. Plant in the ground or a pot in the sun, and it will provide purple flowers in summer and autumn. Low-maintenance, it will grow to 1.2m x 60cm. BONUS – your cat will most likely love it! 50% of cats will experience euphoric effects when sniffing, eating, or rubbing against catnip. (Be warned – you may attract other neighborhood cats too if they spread the word).
- This hardy, low maintenance culinary herb has fragrant foliage, the strong aroma of which repels pests. Plant in full sun, in well-drained soil or pots, and prune it well after flowering to maintain its shape.
- Hugely popular for its beautiful scent and benefits for sleep, headache treatment, and more, lavender is detested by bugs including moths, flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. Plant in full sun in the garden or pots and allow the roots to dry between watering. Choose from an array of varieties – it will grow up to 1.2m x 1.2m.
- Great in salads, pesto, and spaghetti Bolognese, basil repels mosquitoes, house flies, and white flies. It is toxic to mosquito larvae. Plant in pots in full sun and water well.
Oregano, Thyme, Sage, and Parsley
- These herbs are perfect for cooking with and will help repel insects. As with most other herbs, plant in pots or the garden in well-drained soil and water moderately. Sage will also repel ticks.
- This drought-tolerant perennial releases a lemony aroma which may help deter mosquitoes. It will tolerate light shade but prefers full sun.
- Easy to grow, mint will flourish and can take over your garden, so it is best grown confined to pots. It prefers a sunny position with part shade and mulching at its base. Water well.
- Another member of the mint family, lemon balm repels insects, especially if the leaves are crushed to release their fragrance.
Petunia, Tansy, Nasturtium
- These flowering plants provide a burst of color to your garden, attract pollinators, and can repel an array of pests at the same time, including mozzies, aphids, beetles, moths, cockroaches and more. Tansy even repels mice! These plants prefer well-drained soil and full sun and are ideal in garden beds and pots.
Other plants which grow well and deter mosquitoes include bergamot, tea tree, cedar, garlic, lemon verbena, citronella grass, lemon eucalyptus, pennyroyal (CAUTION – it is toxic to animals and humans), and floss flower.
What Should I Grow in Pots Near Entrances?
Plant the following in pots near entrances, in gardens under windows, and pots in alfresco areas and on patios to keep those mozzies away:
Other Natural Tips to Protect Yourself from Mosquitoes
- Remove sources of standing water from your garden or yard – this includes clogged gutters, blocked drains, and areas which don’t drain properly and result in puddles. Be very wary of installing a fishpond, birdbath, or similar.
- Trim long grass and shrubbery which creates damp areas.
- Mosquitoes are attracted to the smell of people and pets. Use citronella candles or coils (under supervision and in compliance with summer bush fire restrictions) to confuse mosquitoes and help keep them away.
- Make a spray with essential oils of lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, tea tree, or mint mixed with fresh water. You can also rub the leaves directly on your skin when outdoors to repel these critters.
- Place basil under a birdbath to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs nearby.
Plant these mosquito-repellent plants in pots so that you can move them around to suit your needs and easily keep an eye on their health and well being. With the right combination, there will be little need to resort to smelly, potentially harmful commercial bug sprays this summer!