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Natural mosquito repellents: An overview of plants that repel mosquitoes

Updated on March 3, 2014

Female Anopheles albimanus mosquito feeding on a human host

Female Anopheles albimanus mosquito feeding on a human host
Female Anopheles albimanus mosquito feeding on a human host | Source

Plants that mosquitoes love to hate!

We have billions of insects all over the world. Some are harmless, but some insects like mosquitoes harm human beings. Mosquitoes cause dangerous diseases like dengue, malaria, yellow fever and encephalitis. More than one million people die every year all over the world due to mosquito borne diseases.

Many mosquito repellents and insect repellents are used to control mosquito menace. Unfortunately these are loaded with chemicals like propoxur, dichlorvos and transfluthrin which are harmful to human beings. This is true of any insect repellent, anywhere in the world.

Because of this fact, people are seeking natural ways to repel mosquitoes. One natural and effective way to repel mosquitoes is the use of mosquito repellent plants. Mosquitoes hate these plants.

Here is a brief overview of mosquito repellent plants.


Pyrethrum daisy or tinacetum cinerariifolium is also known as Dalmatian pyrethrum. It is well known for its insecticidal properties. This mosquito repellent plant’s white, yellow-centered flowers were used in the Napoleonic wars by soldiers to control insects.

Pyrethrum keeps mosquitoes away through the six esters known as pyretrins. Pyretrins are active ingredients contained in the pyrethrum’s flower heads within the flower parts known as achenes (the future seeds).

Pyrethrum acts on the mosquitoes’ nervous system, making them increase their movement so that they can contact the insecticide plant and inhibits them from biting. Pyrethrum is very effective against mosquitoes and other pests like aphids, pickle worms, bed bugs, leaf hoppers, spider mites, cabbage worms, harlequin bugs and ticks.


Basil is a very good mosquito repellent. Its characteristic aroma keeps mosquitoes away. It is advisable to grow basil in pots and to place them in your backyard. All varieties of basil repel mosquitoes. However, lemon basil, cinnamon basil and Peruvian basil are immensely effective against mosquitoes due to their strong aroma.


Marigold plants bear yellow or orange flowers. They have a pungent odor. This is due to terthienyl production. This compound repels mosquitoes and other insects. Farmers usually grow marigold as interval plants in their vegetable garden. Marigold plant is an excellent natural mosquito repellent. Hindus use marigold extensively to worship their deities at home and in the temples. Hindu women wear marigold flowers in their heads.


Citronella is a perennial clumping grass. This natural mosquito repellent grows up to six feet. Citronella’s strong aroma masks other attractants to mosquitoes, making it impossible for them to find you.

Citronella can be grown directly in the ground in climates where frost does not occur. It is advisable to plant them in the background, behind small decorative flowers and shrubs. In cold regions, they can also be grown in a large pot, preferably with casters. They can be rolled indoors during the winter months.

Like most grasses, citronella plants are easy to maintain. They are sold as small plants in pots. You can transplant them into raised garden beds on the ground or into a large pot. They grow well in full sun and well-drained locations. It is advisable to apply nitrogen-rich fertilizers once a year during early spring.


Clove (syzygium aromaticum) plants are well-known for their mosquito repellent properties. These plants grow well in tropical conditions. Cloves come from the myrtaceae family.


Rosemary herb grows up to five feet and bears blue flowers. It is an excellent mosquito repellent. It grows well under warm climatic conditions. It needs to be protected during the winter months. You need to arrange for a warm shelter.

It is advisable to grow rosemary in pots, thereby making it easy for you to shift them indoors during the winter months. You may place the pots in your yard during the warm months.


Horsemint plant is used in many parts of the world to repel mosquitoes. This fast-growing plant’s strong incense-like odor detours mosquitoes and makes it impossible for them to find you. You may also pinch a boom or two off the plant and crush them by rubbing them in your hands. Then you may apply them to the exposed areas of your skin. This is an assured way of keeping mosquitoes away from you.

Horsemint is a drought-resistant and a shade-tolerant plant. It grows well in dry sandy soil. Horsemint grows up to three feet. It is known to tolerate salty conditions. It is advisable to sow horsemint seeds in late summer in cold climate zones. They can also be grown in pots.


Nepeta cataria is commonly known as catnip. This natural mosquito repellent is 10 times more effective than DEET. DEET is a chemical found in most commercial mosquito repellents.

Whether it acts as an irritant or its odor acts as a repellant for mosquitoes, no one knows till today. However, lab tests conducted in many parts of the world have proved its effectiveness as a mosquito repellent. This perennial herb is easy to grow.


Ageratum is a low-lying annual ornamental plant is also known as flossflowers. It grows up to 18 inches and usually bears blue flowers. You can also find varieties of ageratum with pink, violet and white flowers.

Mosquitoes find its characteristic odor offensive. Coumarin, secreted by ageratum, is used extensively in manufacturing mosquito repellents. Ageratum plants grow well in full or partial sun. They do not need rich soil. It is not advisable to rub the crushed leaves of ageratum plants to the skin.


Lavender plant is an excellent mosquito repellent. It is easy to grow and grows well in sunny climate. Lavender plant grows up to four feet. It is advisable to keep lavender plants around seating areas.

Vetiver grass

Vetiver grass repels mosquitoes. This tropical plant’s roots emit a characteristic aroma. This clumping grass’ roots are used to weave screens. These screens can be used on windows.

Lemon grass

Lemon grass is nature’s own mosquito repellent that has a pleasant and fresh lemony aroma. Mosquitoes hate lemon grass. It is advisable to grow lemongrass in the landscape and in containers. You may place them around your patio, deck or outdoor living spaces.

Garlic plants

Mosquitoes hate garlic plants. This is due to their strong odor. It is advisable to plant garlic plants in the border areas of your garden. If you have a vegetable garden, do not plant garlic near parsley, peas, sage or beans. Garlic helps fruit trees, kohlrabi, tomatoes, peppers, egg plants, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and carrots grow better.

Here is how you can prepare your own natural mosquito repellent.

Your mosquito repellent should be a blend of essential oil (five to 10 percent) and carrier oil (remaining). You may use essential oils like lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella oil, cinnamon oil or castor oil. These essential oils repel mosquitoes. Olive oil, sunflower oil, vodka, witch hazel and alcohol are good carriers.

The above-mentioned natural mosquito repellents are immensely effective. Plant them in your garden or have them indoors. It is definitely advisable to use them somehow instead of using commercial mosquito repellents.


Marigolds | Source


Basil | Source

Mosquito repellent plants

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    • srirad0675 profile image

      Srikanth R 6 months ago


    • profile image

      Edith Mercer 6 months ago

      Very informative and truly helpful. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • srirad0675 profile image

      Srikanth R 21 months ago

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      anand singh bist 21 months ago

      very useful information.

    • srirad0675 profile image

      Srikanth R 3 years ago

      You are welcome! I am glad that the hub was useful! :-)

    • Lizolivia profile image

      Lizolivia 3 years ago from Central USA

      Thanks for the helpful tips to repel mosquitoes. I already have some of these planted and made a list to include additional plants to help keep the pests at bay.

    • srirad0675 profile image

      Srikanth R 4 years ago

      Thank you!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      This has been very informative. I don't like using chemical-based repellents, and I did purchase lavender plants to use as a natural mosquito repellent. But, wow! I have a number of the plants you have listed in your hub. I had no idea that many of the plants I already grow are plants that repel mosquitoes.

    • srirad0675 profile image

      Srikanth R 4 years ago

      You are welcome! :-)

    • srirad0675 profile image

      Srikanth R 4 years ago

      You are welcome! :-)

    • srirad0675 profile image

      Srikanth R 4 years ago

      You are welcome! :-)

    • wiserworld profile image

      wiserworld 4 years ago

      Very useful tips for the summer mosquito attacks! Thanks.

    • RonaldColona profile image

      RonaldColona 4 years ago

      Great hub. Eco-friendly ways to get rid of these pests. I like it.

    • profile image

      LCmom 4 years ago

      This has been most helpful! Great information! Thank you!

    • srirad0675 profile image

      Srikanth R 4 years ago

      Thank you! Glad to know that the article is useful!

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      This hub is fantastic and filled with useful information. I need to add a few more of these plants to my garden. Well written and researched. Definitely sharing.