Mosquito-Fighting Plants for Your Yard

mosquito on a leaf

Nothing wrecks a warm night outdoors quicker than the arrival of mosquitoes. The buzzing, the stabbing, the bleeding, the itching — who needs it?

With barbecue season upon us, it’s time to fight back! There are a lot of great steps you can take to fight mosquitoes, from attacking standing water on your property through to ditching your scented products, but today we’re talking about planters.

With planters and gardens packed with mosquito-repelling plants, you’ll be able to to help reduce pesky intrusions, but there’ll always be the stubborn mosquitoes who know a tasty meal when they see one.

Citronella grass

The rest of our suggestions can be eaten, but this is among the most effective you can use. Citronella grass sounds like lemongrass, but it’s not the same and isn’t edible, despite being in the same family. You already know how effective citronella is. You smelled it in all the best bug repellents all your life.

citronella grass


In most climates, your citronella would rather be in a large planter, since it’s unlikely to thrive through frost. It’s great at repelling all kinds of bugs, but mosquitoes in particular abhor the lemony scent of this. If you’re wanting an edible solution, lemongrass is less effective but is still a player.

More help: herby heroes

Instead of mosquitoes eating you, you can ward them off by planting lovely herbs, which you can then eat. Isn’t this genius? Talk about switching things up.

You can plant all of these individually, or create planters that include ’em all. Heck, make a few extra, and as you’re invited to summer barbecues, you’ll have a meaningful and helpful gift to bring that’ll last your friends the whole season long.

Catmint or catnip

The caveat with catmint is that it’s an aggressive species and can quickly take over if it’s too successful in your yard.

Cat mint with actual cat

Part of the mint family, this one’s so potent that studies show it’s up to 10x more effective than the chemical DEET. It might bring the kitties to your yard, but it’ll repel fleas, aphids, beetles, weevils, and even ants!


Lovely to have in your garden if you’re simply a fan of roasted potatoes, but rosemary is so much more. Held in esteem for centuries, rosemary is everything from an aphrodisiac to a natural repellant. That woodsy scent we love so much is what keeps the bugs at bay.

photo: Nefi

photo: Nefi

Cabbage moths, mosquitoes, and carrot flies will avoid it. Hot, dry climates are ideal for rosemary, but it also thrives in planters in milder places. And if you’re barbecuing, throw a sprig on the grill to keep the bugs back as you grill up some grub.


There are all different strains of basil — from pineapple and lemon to spicy globe and Genovese and Thai, through to the classic sweet — and all of them are repellent to some bugs. Try a wide variety of them to spice up your cooking and keep a cross-section of pests away.

photo: amandabhslater

photo: amandabhslater

Mosquitoes will generally avoid most of them. Basil is particularly susceptible in colder climates, so be sure you wait until the lows don’t plummet under 12 degrees Celsius or 55 degrees fahrenheit before you plant them, or they might underperform all season long.


You’ve probably never noticed anything but bees hovering over lavender. It doesn’t get mauled by dogs, mangled by cats, or raided by rabbits. Maybe its heavenly scent knows no bounds and everyone’s a sucker for lavender.

Lavender flower

image: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Except mosquitoes, of course, who are thought to get a little overloaded by lavender, since it apparently hinders the skeeters’ ability to smell. Lavender is a hardy drought-resistant plant that can grow in all kinds of climates, so go ahead and plant a few bushes.

Scented geraniums

A number of gardening resources say geraniums are a winner in the fight against pesky mosquitoes. Available in a few scents, the lemon is thought to work the best, likely because of its similarity to citronella.

Scented Geraniums

If you’re not in a warm, sunny, dry climate — the geranium’s ideal home — then planters will suffice. I understand if you’ve been reading along but suddenly you’re confused because, who eats geraniums? This lady does, that’s who, and so can you.

Other Edible Heroes On Call

All kinds of plants offer bug-fighting benefits, so it’s worth it to chat with your local reputable nurseries to see what they recommend in native plants in your area. Some of your options with wide planting appeal include garlic, chives, oregano, bay leaves, and mint. All are tasty and wonderful in a range of cooking, while fightin’ the good fight to keep the bloodsuckers at bay.

There’s no reason you should have to be an easy feast for mosquitoes this summer. Take a look at this earlier post for more helpful ideas on keeping mosquitoes out of your yard as the seasons heat up.


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