Garden Plants That Will Naturally Repel Insects

As the Midwest slowly approaches the warmer months, many homeowners are looking for ways to mitigate the presence of mosquitoes and insects that will impede on outdoor activities. With the proliferation of the West Nile virus, many homeowners want to couple traditional methods of bug control with natural solutions.

Commercial insect control is formulated with toxic chemicals that can be hazardous to children, wildlife, and pets. The market for DEET-free mosquito repellents is growing – but your garden can be one of the most potent forms of insect control. The plants that will naturally repel insects and pests include:

Citronella Grass

Traditional mosquito repellents use chemicals derived from this lemon-scented grass. Its bushy appearance makes it a perfect plant to accent different areas in the backyard’s and front yard’s landscape.

Known for its distinct smell, this plant is relatively low maintenance, with the only caveat is that they are sensitive to the dangers of frost. Many grass types look like citronella grass. The citronella winterianus and Cymbopogon nardus variety are the kind of grass that you want to find that will naturally repel wasps and mosquitoes.

Lemon Balm

A mint, lemon balm is a natural mosquito repellent. Also colloquially known as horse mint and bee balm, this perennial plant is an edible garnish, with many people also using the plant to make homemade teas and seasonings. The insect repellent power is in its leaves. It is a vigorous plant that will do well even in the shade. Unless you want this plant to take over your open plot, it is best to plant them in pots, where the plant can be moved when need be.


Surprisingly, some flowering plants are naturally insect repellent, with marigolds being hearty annual plants that have a distinct smell that deters mosquitoes. Even though they may require a bit of upkeep for it to take hold and flower properly, this inexpensive plant will reseed itself once established.

The compound in the plant that repels mosquitoes and insects is called pyrethrum, which is found in many insecticides. Their vibrant flowers and petals make them the ideal plant to place on your home’s entryways, welcoming your guests but actively repelling insects.


One of its distinct features it’s their woody stems, with the plant showcasing white, purple, and blue flowers. Rosemary is a shrub, with its scents being a natural mosquito repellent.

Not only does it keep mosquitoes away, but the Rosemary plant can also deter moths and carrot flies as well. They do best during the hot months in the Midwest region, which is the time when mosquitoes proliferate. They are a hardy plant, seamlessly blending into your home’s landscape.

Pitcher plants

Pitcher plants have evolution on their side – they are designed to be carnivorous, with its signature “pitcher” leaf attracting, trapping, and digesting all types of insects that haphazardly slips into the plant. Once the insect becomes trapped in the plant’s pool of digestive liquid, it is absorbed over time. A pitcher plant may be carnivorous, but their distinct flowers and uniquely shaped leaves make for an impressive centerpiece in your garden.

Venus Fly Traps

Like pitcher plants, Venus fly traps are also designed to catch small insects. They are the ideal plant if you have an infestation of ants. Hungry and looking for their next meal, ants will clumsily climb into the plant’s jaws, with little hairs triggering the plant to close and trap its prey.

These plants are known to ward off mosquitoes, ants, wasps, and other insects that can be annoying during the summer months. They are best used with other environmentally safe methods of control.