8 Plants That Repel Bugs and Mosquitoes, Naturally

Adding a little rosemary to your patio tells mosquitoes, "You're not invited!" Plus more plants our experts use to deter outdoor pests.

Plants that Repel Bugs and Mosquitoes, pretty flowers
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When you spend long summer evenings on the patio or in the backyard, keeping bugs and mosquitoes at bay is a top priority. For pest control that also makes your outdoor space look better, consider adding a few plants that repel bugs. Whether it's pots of fragrant lavender around the perimeter of your patio or citronella grass in your garden, these multi-tasking plants are pretty and serve a purpose.

Once you've stocked up, arrange these plants to maximize their bug-repelling potential. For the best effect, position them as close as possible to your sitting area. Some lavender planted across the yard likely won't be effective, but adding a few pots of lavender to your outdoor dining table could do the trick.

Besides lavender and citronella, what are these miracle plants? Our plant-and-garden experts helped us compile a total of eight for you to choose from, based on the aesthetics, growing conditions, and unwelcome pests in your outdoor space.

01 of 08

Citronella Grass

Plants That Repel Mosquitoes, Citronella Grass
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The citronella candles on your patio are made with the oil that comes from this plant. "Citronella is by far the most popular plant that repels mosquitoes," says garden lifestyle expert Carmen Johnston. "It has a very pungent odor."

"I often place this in small eight-inch terra cotta pots and mix in with my centerpieces when entertaining outdoors," she adds. "You can either use the clippings mixed in with arrangements or use the plant itself as the centerpiece."

02 of 08


Plants that Repel Mosquitoes, Purple petunias
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This perennial—sometimes called "nature's pesticide"—can repel aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, and squash bugs. "Petunias are very easy to grow and you can plant them in the ground or keep them potted," says Peyton Lambton, lifestyle expert and star of My New Old House. "They like sun, and I recommend buying transplants and placing them in light, well-drained soil in full sun after the last spring frost."

03 of 08


Plants That Repel Mosquitoes, Lavender
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"Lavender has a fragrant smell that deters mosquitoes," Johnston says. "I have this planted in clusters at the entryway of my garden, and I love those purple blooms.

"It likes to be hot and dry, so it's perfect for summer," she adds. You can also apply lavender oil to your skin as a natural repellent.

04 of 08


Plants That Repel Bugs and Mosquitoes, Orange nasturtium
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Nasturtium is a colorful, edible flower that repels whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, several beetles, and cabbage loopers. As if that's not enough, it helps other plants in your garden, too.

"They produce an airborne chemical that repels insects, protecting not only themselves but other plants in the grouping," says Chris Lambton, professional landscaper, star of My New Old House, and Peyton's husband.

"Plant these in early spring in moist, well-drained soil in full sun," he advises. "They should be regularly watered and deadheaded to promote blooming."

05 of 08


Plants That Repel Bugs and Mosquitoes, Rosemary growing in yard
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You probably know rosemary best as an herb that adds flavor to your dishes, but it also helps keep bugs away. "This one is another plant perfect for summer heat because it likes to be dry," Johnston says. "It is one of my absolute favorite smells, but mosquitoes can't stand it."

"You can plant it in containers, but it also works well as a hedge," she suggests. Since a rosemary plant adds texture to arrangements, she says, why not place it in an outdoor centerpiece to repel bugs and provide some eye candy at the same time?

06 of 08


Plants That Repel Mosquitoes, Basil in pots
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Nothing beats basil as a go-to for making pesto and a host of other Mediterranean-style dishes, and now add "bug repellant" to its resume. "It's an annual herb and repels houseflies and mosquitoes," says Chris Lambton.

"Ensure that the plant gets six to eight hours of full sun daily, and its soil should be moist and well-drained." he continued. "When you see blossoms start to form, pinch them off at the base to ensure the best-tasting leaves."

This versatile herb can also treat mosquito bites, Johnston adds. She recommends rolling several leaves between your hands to release their natural oil and then applying them to your bite to ease swelling.

07 of 08


Plants That Repel Mosquitoes, Lemongrass in garden
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Lemongrass is closely related to citronella and repels mosquitoes but, unlike the latter, it's edible and is commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking. "It can grow three to five feet tall and adds lots of extra height and texture to the garden," Johnston says, "so it needs a larger container." Keep this plant in a sunny spot.

08 of 08


Plants that Repel Bugs, Fresh mint plant
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Mint leaves serve as a refreshing addition to dishes and cocktails, but the plant they come from offers another bonus. "It's a perennial that repels mosquitoes," says Peyton Lambton.

"Mint is easy to grow, but once established in a garden, it can be tricky to remove," she warns. "Plant it in a pot instead and frequently pick its leaves to keep the plant at its best. You can grow the plant indoors all winter long—and it will help keep flies outside, too."

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