What are the best plants to keep mosquitoes away?
Mosquitoes use their strong sense of smell for lots of things, including finding their next person to bite. Certain strong smells – like citronella candles – have the effect of masking human smells and confusing mosquitoes.
Some plants and herbs you can grow in your garden do have the properties to keep mosquitoes away, but their leaves or stems would need to be crushed to retrieve the oils within. The plants in their natural form are not strong enough to ward off mosquitoes.
Plants and Herbs with Mosquito-Repelling Properties
Oils from certain plants you can grow in your garden work as a natural repellent against mosquitos. These plants include:
- Citronella: there’s a leafy citronella geranium and citronella grass available in most big box garden centers. It’s the citronella grass that’s useful for extracting citronella oil
- Lavender: as one of the most fragrant plants, lavender oil can help deter a mosquito by blocking its sense of smell
- Marigolds: easy to grow and beautiful, marigolds emit a scent that can deter mosquitoes, aphids, whiteflies, and other garden pests
- Rosemary, basil & thyme: similar to other plants, the scents of these keep pests and mosquitoes at bay
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How do mosquitoes feel about gardens?
Contrary to popular belief, mosquitoes don’t only feed on blood — the main part of their diet is actually plant nectar. Male mosquitoes feed only on nectar, plant sap, and honeydew. Female mosquitoes feed on blood only when they’re ready to lay eggs. So, just like other insects in your garden, mosquitoes are mostly getting their nutrients from flowering plants.
Scents that can repel mosquitoes
Female mosquitoes use their keen sense of smell to locate carbon dioxide, which is exhaled by nearby people. Knowing that, it makes sense that strong smells like citronella candles could repel mosquitoes by disorienting them or masking your scent.
But this only tends to work for one to two hours while the citronella scent is strongest. As the candle burns throughout the evening, it becomes less effective.