Mosquitoes can be quite the bother this time of year, especially for those of us who like to spend some time outside and in the garden. The good news is, it’s possible to deter the insects in a way that actually improves your garden – by incorporating plants that repel insects. I’ll outline 7 plants that repel mosquitoes naturally below.
Insects don’t bother me. I don’t even like to kill spiders. But when it comes to working in my garden, mosquitoes always get smashed. And the more you sweat, the better mosquitoes like you. Or at least that seems to be the case for me.
But I refuse to douse my yard in pesticides; and honestly, I wouldn’t know where to spray.
Mosquitoes have always been annoying, but they’re more dangerous in the U.S. now due to West Nile virus and the potential for Zika. The best way to prevent a mosquito infestation is to make sure there is no standing water anywhere on your property – not even a tiny puddle.
So here are 7 plants that repel mosquitoes, and they smell wonderful, too.
7 Plants that Repel Mosquitoes
You can buy citronella candles, oil, and even bracelets and necklaces doused in citronella oil. But citronella plants make for an attractive addition to the garden, and they smell just as good as any product you could buy in the store. This perennial (meaning it should return every year) can be planted directly in the ground or grown in pots. 
2. Lemon Balm
A member of the mint family, lemon balm is a great choice for new gardeners. It’s a hardy plant that does well in the shade, and can even withstand drought. It can take over gardens, though, so you might do well to grow it in a container. As an added bonus, lemon balm can be used to make herbal tea.
I grow basil every year, although I do so for the purpose of cooking. Plant basil in containers by your house doors, or indoors wherever you spend the most time. It not only repels mosquitoes, but also houseflies.
You can also make a nifty insect repellent spray from basil. Simply pour 4 ounces of boiling water into a container holding 4 to 6 ounces of clean, fresh basil leaves. Let them steep for several hours; then remove the leaves and squeeze all of their moisture into the mixture. Mix 4 ounces of cheap vodka into the mixture and apply as a spray when going outdoors. 
I grow catnip in my home for – you guessed it – my cats. Yeah, they get a kitty-high on the stuff, but you can also grow it in the garden to ward off ‘skeeters. Catnip has been shown to be 10 times more effective than DEET at keeping mosquitoes away. Like lemon balm, catnip can become invasive, so if that’s a concern, grow it in a pot or container, or as a hanging plant. You can also make catnip tea – for yourself, not your feline companions.
I love marigolds and always grow them, though something is currently devouring them on the side of my house – I’m guessing it’s the baby rabbits I see hopping around the yard. I think the marigolds are pretty, and that’s why I grow them; but they repel both mosquitoes and aphids, which eat other plants, especially vegetables. They’re easy to care for and make a great border plant.
Also among plants that repel mosquitoes is lavender. Lavender is beautiful, it smells good, and it has many medicinal benefits. In addition to mosquitoes, lavender also repels moths, fleas, flies, and numerous other insects. Plant in sunny areas near entryways, and place tied bouquets in the house to keep flies out. You can also extract the oil from the flowers and apply it to your body as a mosquito repellent.
This is another favorite in my garden. Mint can become invasive, but in this case, I don’t mind, because I like to transplant it into pots to keep in my kitchen year-round, plus I give it away to friends, make tea with the fresh leaves, and dry it for later use. 
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.