Whether you’re into gardening or you simply enjoy spending time on your porch or in your backyard engaging in all sorts of activities, you know that it takes just one insistent mosquito or fly to take all the fun away. Just like you need a garden fork to help you cater to your gardening-related needs, you need a good insect repellent to make sure that no unwanted guests disturb your outdoor activities.
The market offers a rich selection of insecticides that are remarkably effective but full of chemicals. If you’re not comfortable with covering yourself with a mosquito-repellent spray, and you want to avoid using chemical products around your place, you might want to try a more natural way of keeping pesky insects at bay.
Even though further research is still needed, certain plants are said to help repel insects to a certain degree. Let’s find out more about mosquito and fly repellent plants and why they are considered to work when it comes to repelling such uninvited guests.
How can plants repel mosquitoes and other insects?
Keeping mosquitoes away is not only a matter of comfort but also of health, considering the various mosquito-borne diseases. That’s why keeping them away gains even greater importance.
The key to stopping them from disrupting your tranquility or interfering with your outdoor activities is eliminating the things that can attract them or use different sources to confuse them or block their scent receptors. Mosquitoes and other insects target their victims by the gases and odors they give off.
The essential oils of various plants can act as a natural bug repellent. Thus some insects might avoid certain plants. However, there isn’t enough research to support this theory entirely. We still don’t know how many of the plants included in the list below should be placed together or how close should they be to one another in order to be effective in repelling such pests.
However, since many of them have pleasant visuals and/or smell great, it is worth trying to strategically place them in the outdoor areas where you spend most of your free time. They will embellish your place and outfit your outdoor living space with all sorts of aromas and may also help reduce the presence of mosquitoes, flies, and other unwanted insects.
Plants that repel flies and mosquitoes
People have used natural solutions to repel insects for ages, and plants are among them. While research is still needed to learn more about their insect-repelling properties, the plants mentioned below are considered to be plants that repel flies and mosquitoes to a certain extent. Some of them are great at repelling mosquitoes and house flies, while others are described as plants that keep spiders away.
Basil does not only smell great, but it is also a key ingredient in many dishes, so planting it will help you flavor your food and can reduce the presence of mosquitoes, thrips, and house flies. It is also included in the plants that repel spiders.
Growing basil is easy and inexpensive, making it a common choice among gardeners and people who want to keep their outdoor area free of insects as much as possible.
What’s great is that you can use basil to make a natural insect repellent. A simple recipe that is said to have such effects includes four to six ounces of fresh basil leaves, four ounces of boiling water, and four ounces of vodka.
Put the basil leaves into a container and then pour the boiling water over them. Let them steep for a few hours, then remove them, and squeeze out their moisture. Add the vodka to this water-basil mixture and store it in the refrigerator. Apply this spray when going outdoors but make sure to avoid your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Native to the tropical climates of Asia, this ornamental is also said to help repel mosquitoes. What is considered to make it effective at keeping these insects away is the oil it contains, which is known as citronella.
It is thus worth planting it where you spend most of your free time or near the walkways. Just keep in mind that it grows up to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide within a few months; therefore, make sure there is enough space for the lemongrass to develop healthily and you use large planters. What’s also great about lemongrass is that you can use its narrow leaves for various dishes.
Highly appreciated for its pleasant fragrance and relaxing color, lavender is also included among the plants that repel flies, gnats, and mosquitoes or are said to have an insect-repelling effect, given its smell. While people like the way lavender smells, insects such as flies and mosquitoes dislike it.
If you want to try this natural solution, make sure you place lavender bouquets indoors to keep house flies away and plant it in sunny areas of your garden. Lavender oil is also used in natural mosquito repellents. You can extract the oil yourself or get it from your local stores and make a lavender-based body oil that you can use to nourish your skin and repel unwanted insects.
One of the great things that make lemon thyme easy to grow is its adaptability to different types of soil. As long as you plant it in a sunny area, it should thrive whether the soil in your herb garden is dry, rocky, or shallow.
In order to use this herb to repel mosquitoes, you will have to cut or bruise its leaves to release its chemicals. Rub the stems you’ve cut between your hands. However, make sure that you get all the information you need regarding the adverse reactions it can lead to, especially if you have a health condition.
To learn more about your tolerance, it is recommended to rub some leaves on your forearm for a few days. If there is no adverse reaction, you can then use it as described above. It is always best to talk to your doctor before using such solutions, even if they are natural.
Also included in the list of plants that repel mosquitoes is the aromatic mint. Suitable for various culinary uses, the mint can be employed to repel unwanted insects as well, but it is best to grow it in pots.
Make sure to place those pots in the areas where you spend most of your time; otherwise, given the mint’s rapid growth and ability to spread aggressively, you might find it difficult to remove it from the places you need for other plants. You can extract mint oil and combine it with apple cider vinegar and a bit of vodka to make a mosquito repellent.
The great thing about the herbs mentioned above is that you can benefit from their aromas and flavors when adding them to various dishes and repel insects when strategically placing them in your garden. Rosemary is also worth trying when you want to repel mosquitoes and other common insects such as cabbage moths.
You can either grow it in containers that you can then place in the areas most visited by these unwanted guests, or you can plant them in landscaped beds. Given that rosemary oil is more potent, you can add a few drops of rosemary oil to your diffuser to keep mosquitoes and flies away.
Catnip is another option you might want to try when in need of a natural insect repellent. It is easy to grow, and thanks to the nepetalactone it contains, it can repel mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, and deer ticks. Given that it grows quite rapidly, it can take over the place where it is planted.
Besides keeping an eye on how much it spreads and taking the necessary steps to prevent it from invading your garden, the catnip is easy to grow as it needs just a bit of watering. For better results, you can use catnip oil to make a natural insect repellent.
Suitable for being planted directly into landscaped beds or grown in planters, sage is another plant you might want to try if your place is often visited by mosquitoes and other insects. Place the sage containers or the seeds strategically to repel such pests as many insects dislike the plant’s scent.
Plus, when camping or simply gathering around a fire with your dear ones, you can burn a few sage leaves. While humans find the scent of burned sage soothing, insects find it repellent, which is a double win.
You can also use sage to make a natural insect repellent. There are many recipes available online so that you can choose and make the one that best meets your needs.
Besides herbs, you can also plant various flower species to create a barrier that will keep mosquitoes and insects at bay. Alliums are among these flowers. They have a strong smell and are considered to be a powerful natural insect repellent thanks to this very characteristic.
Alliums are said to keep not only mosquitoes away but also other insects, such as aphids, carrot flies, and cabbage worms. What’s more, they will also add to your garden’s aesthetics, and they prove to be of help when planted around other plants, including tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots.
Farmers have used petunias as a natural pesticide for quite some time now, thanks to their insect-repelling properties. They are said to repel various insect species, including asparagus beetles, squash bugs, aphids, and leafhoppers, to name a few.
What’s more, their beautiful bright colors will complement any garden or patio, and they require little maintenance. Plus, you can grow them in containers, hanging baskets, or garden beds.
What you get with these flowers is not only a beautiful addition to your garden or outdoor living area but also a natural insect repellent. Various compounds found in geraniums are used for a variety of over-the-counter mosquito repellents. They thrive in sunny, dry climates.
Geraniums have a fragrance similar to the ones of lemons and can repel not only mosquitoes but also slugs, beetles, and other common insects that can damage garden plants. These flowers are also often planted around various vegetables and fruits, thanks to their insect-repelling properties.
Another option you might want to consider when looking for plants that repel insects and spiders is eucalyptus. This plant’s leaves have a strong scent that is said to repel a variety of insect species. However, since growing a eucalyptus tree might not always be an option since it requires more space, you can try a dwarf variety to benefit from its properties.
If spiders are the unwanted guests you’re most concerned about, planting onions is an inspired and natural way to keep them at bay. You will benefit from the flavorful properties of onions when adding them to various dishes, and planting them in the areas where spiders tend to gather can also help you repel them.
Spider mites, or red spiders as they’re largely known, can affect a variety of garden plants since they feed off the plants’ nutrients, which interferes with the plants’ natural development stunting their growth. Keeping such pests away increases your plants’ chances to thrive.
With marigolds, you won’t just make your landscape more visually pleasing, but you will also turn it into an unwelcoming place for spiders, mosquitoes, and other insects. Their distinct smell and the compounds they release are known to deter whiteflies that can usually be seen hovering around tomato plants, which makes them suitable for being planted near tomatoes.
You can also grow them in pots and place the pots near windows and doors or the outdoor areas where you spend most of your time.
When prospecting the market for mosquito and bug repellants, you will see that many products contain coumarin, which is a chemical compound found in floss flowers. These flowers won’t just add to your garden’s or patio’s beauty but should also help you repel mosquitoes. You can add them to flower beds or plant them as edging flowers.