Plants to Deter Mosquitoes

Citronella Grass

If you’re familiar with mosquito repellant, or a product called the citronella candle, you may have heard of citronella grass! This lemon scented plant is a popular one, making it one of the most common used in natural repellants. Sitting near citronella grass is often said to be enough to protect you from mosquitos. You can also crush up the leaves, and rub them on your skin, but it is important to test a small patch first to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction such as a rash.

It is important to buy citronella grass, not a citronella plant as the citronella plant doesn’t work in the same way the grass does. If you are having trouble finding or growing citronella grass, candles can be used in its place. The most effective citronella candles have a citronella oil percentage of 5 to 10%.

Citronella grass is technically a perennial but the climate we live in in Ontario makes it an annual. It should be planted in planters during the summer, as it cannot survive our climate’s frost well enough to be planted outside. Citronella grass also deters whiteflies, and other garden pests which don’t like the lemony scent it produces.


Part of the mint family, catnip is also a natural mosquito deterrent. Interestingly, some studies even claim that catnip oil is more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitos and other insects. DEET is a chemical used in commercial bug sprays that is safe for humans. A downside is that some people can be allergic to it hence the need for more natural options. The ingredient in catnip/catnip oil which does the repelling is called nepetalactone. This chemical has been found to repel not only mosquitos, but also cockroaches and flies.
Catnip is easy to grow, and a fairly hardy plant making it an easy to care for option in regards to repelling mosquitos. All catnip really requires to grow is adequate sunlight. You can harvest the leaves once winter comes and dry them, using them in tea, or giving them to cats.

A downside to some may be the possibility that catnip will invite kitties from far and wide to your garden! If you have a cat of your own, or aren’t fond of cats this may be an option to avoid.


Popular in many relaxation products, lavender is also great at deterring mosquitos and other bugs. Most humans absolutely love the scent of lavender, its relaxing properties a favourite of many. However, insects such as mosquitos absolutely loathe the smell of it. Lavender can be planted in pots near doorways or windows to deter mosquitos and other insects from entering.

Lavender works best when put directly on skin, and as mentioned before should be tested in a small patch to ensure no allergies to the plant are present. An added benefit to lavender is that the scent is very relaxing and as well, lavender nourishes skin. There are a few ways to apply lavender to skin, one being mixing the plant’s oil with coconut oil and rubbing on skin, or by drying the flowers, mixing them with other flowers/herbs, and creating a natural bug spray.

Lavender thrives in poor soil and also self-seeds, making it an easy to grow option for any gardener. Lavender only requires sporadic watering and adequate sunlight so the upkeep of this plant is very minimal!


Marigolds are a common springtime flower, and can you believe it? They are also a great mosquito deterrent as well. Insects such as mosquitos don’t like the smell of marigolds which makes gardens with them less attractive. Marigolds are what is called a companion plant, meaning that if you plant marigolds in your vegetable gardens they will help protect the plant from bug infestations. They are especially great to be planted in tomato gardens.

Marigolds are hardy flowers which will grow all season long as long as they are taken care of. They will grow in all soil, including untouched or poor quality. They grow best with abundance of sunshine. To aid their growth, you can add slow release fertilizer to the soil. They can withstand hot summer months, which makes them an excellent option for a gardener of any experience!
Once planted, marigolds will begin creating seeds. This means that with the growth of one marigold plant, you will be able to get countless more from them as they have an abundance of extra seeds. This is also helpful because for the best results of mosquito prevention, it is best to plant marigolds around all windows and entrances of your home.


Commonly found in most gardens and sometimes even indoors, geraniums are also a natural mosquito repellant. These aromatic plants develop beautiful flowers, making them a great addition to any garden. Their unique lemon scented leaves cause mosquitos to avoid them, even awarding some varieties the name of mosquito geranium.

Geraniums can be grown fairly easily, and they also grow quite quickly in the right conditions. Geraniums require lots of sun, 4-6 hours daily and they typically like sunny, dry climates. If you want your geraniums to last more than one season, they should be planted in pots so they can be brought inside during the winter. Geraniums won’t survive outside in the cold weather. Geraniums can be made to last in a few different ways, either by taking cuttings, allowing the geraniums to continue to grow inside as houseplants, or allowing them to go dormant inside for the Winter and bringing them back outside come Spring. If you are going to allow them to grow as houseplants, it’s important to store them near the window allowing them to get lots of sunlight, and keeping them in a window that doesn’t have a draft.

For the best results in mosquito repelling, place the plants near where you will be sitting or near windows and doors in your home in an attempt to barricade the area. Geraniums are most effective in mosquito repelling if the leaves are rubbed directly onto the skin. A small area should be tested first to ensure no allergies are present.


Tips for Keeping Your Yard Mosquito Free


Mosquitos breed in shallow water, so it is important to make sure that standing water is dumped out and changed regularly. Things that can catch and store water, such as clogged gutters and flowerpot saucers should be dumped out after a rainfall to deter mosquitos. Ponds should also be cleaned of algae, which can attract mosquitos.


Lighting candles when outside can prevent mosquitos whether citronella or just a standard candle as mosquitos don’t like smoke. A Lampe Berger with Summer Night fragrance is a pleasant smelling mosquito deterrant, available at Garry's Garden Gallery.


Tent the area you will be sitting in, which will prevent all types of bugs from interrupting your meal!


Allow spaces for bats in your yard, a natural predator for mosquitos. Bats are mostly harmless and only bite or attack if provoked. Also, bats are nocturnal meaning they only come out at night and will not disturb your day to day activities. Bat houses and a food source should be enough to attract bats to your garden.


Wear mosquito-resistant clothing. Light-coloured clothing that covers the legs and arms, as well as keeping feet covered, will assist with mosquito bite prevention.

If you have questions about mosquito prevention for your home or garden, feel free to visit your local Garden Gallery location! We would be happy to assist you in making your garden as close to mosquito free as possible!

August 16, 2023 — Garrys Garden Gallery