6 Mosquito-Repellent Plants With a Dual Purpose

by Elizabeth Lang on 8 August 2012 6 comments
Photo: katieb50

Mosquitoes are incredibly common in my home state of Minnesota. Perhaps it's all the lakes and ponds — which make for great mosquito breeding grounds. Every summer it's another battle to keep these pests away. I've previously written about homemade mosquito repellent recipes, but I've recently discovered something even easier — mosquito repellent plants. There are plants that you can grow in your background that naturally repel mosquitoes. (See also: Pesky Pests: Easy Homemade Mosquito and Insect Traps and Repellent)

There is a full list of plants that repel mosquitoes here here, but below I've compiled the top plants based on price and what I call "dual purpose." That is, besides just repelling mosquitoes, these plants also either look especially nice or serve some more functional purpose. For example, planting citronella is great, but you can't do much else with it. In contrast, marigolds are beautiful flowers and several of the herbs below can also be used to cook with.

Marigolds

Marigold flowers are not only relatively easy to grow, they also look nice and repel mosquitoes. They look great potted, which gives the added benefit of being able to move them closer to where you are sitting. You can buy 1,000 seeds on Amazon for $4.50.

Rosemary

As someone lacking a green thumb, I appreciate plants that don't require much work. Thankfully, rosemary is one of those plants that I've grown in my backyard every summer for years. If you plant it in a pot, you can also bring it inside in the winter to keep your herb garden up. Rosemary is a great dual-purpose mosquito repelling plant because you can also use it to cook. (I like it with potatoes or in bread.) 100 Rosemary seeds cost just $1.79 on Amazon.

Catnip

Catnip has been found by researchers to be even more effective than DEET (a neurotoxin found in most bug sprays). Like marigolds and rosemary, catnip can be planted in a pot for easy portability. But it's also a perennial, so you may prefer to plant it in your garden so it will grow year after year. And, if you have a cat, you have a treat for your pet as well as protection from mosquitoes. You can buy 200 seeds on Amazon for $1.85.

Garlic

Garlic repels mosquitoes and is used in almost all of my favorite Italian recipes. I recommend waiting until the spring to plant garlic, as the weather is better for growing it then, and it takes awhile to harvest. 50 bulbils on Amazon cost $5.79.

Ageratum

Ageratum is another flowering plant that produces small purple/blue flowers. The plant emits a smell that repels mosquitoes. I've never grown this plant before, but you can buy 45 seeds for $5.95 and see for yourself how well it works.

Peppermint

Like rosemary, I found peppermint exceptionally easy to grow. During the summer I use the leaves to flavor water and at the end of the summer I dry the peppermint leaves to make peppermint tea. And 200 Peppermint seeds cost $2.15.

How to Use the Plants

The best thing to do is to place these plants around your garden patio or the area you are most likely to sit outside. Then, when you are grilling, hosting a barbeque, or just enjoying a book outside, crush the leaves. Crushing a few leaves will emit the odor that most effectively drives the mosquitoes away.

Personally, as much as I hate mosquitoes, I would never plant plants just for the sake of repelling the pests. That's why I think these dual mosquito repelling plants are better choices to incorporate into your garden.

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Guest's picture
Debi

If you plan to put mint in your garden, be sure to keep it in a separate container - it will spread like wildfire!

Meg Favreau's picture

Mmm...at least it's a delicious problem!

Guest's picture
Guest

I plant my garlic in the fall. It overwinters and sprouts in the spring ready to be harvested in the summer (usually around July). Once you harvest a plant, you can separate one clove from the bulb and plant it in September and repeat the cycle every year.

Guest's picture
tammy nelson

Great plant ideas tamnel

Guest's picture
Guest

Thyme and/or citronella geranium will repel skeeters for varying periods of time. Thyme is a herb of a thousand culinary uses. New potatoes dressed with thyme butter will make your taste buds purr with delight.
The best of the repellents is fenugreek seed. Cook curries with plenty of fenugreek and garlic, and skeeters will travel miles to avoid you.

Guest's picture
Brian

Peppermint seeds do not exist. Peppermint flowers are sterile.