Does anyone have any plant recommendations that could deter mosquitoes? The location is North Texas, and I am looking for something that could be used on or around the deck. This might make the deck more comfortable in summer, but it may also deter them coming in the back door when it is open for the dog (we don't have a dog flap and it is a glass door).

So pots might be the most convenient, but there's a bed below the longest length of the deck, and there's additional space for new (small) beds if need be. It should not smell bad to humans, and ideally be decorative (edible works too!).

None of the botanical solutions seem to work. Citronella never seems to work, and those candles have a low melting point - ie. They can get messy if left out in the Texas summer heat. I've heard of aromatic wood chips being used, but it seems we'd need a lot and they'd require regular replenishment - ie. expensive over the long term.


6 Answers 6


Don't really have plant based solution, but if you just want a potential organic solution to keep mosquitoes in your general area in check, then you could build a couple of bat houses. Mosquitoes are some of bats favorite food and if you can successfully attract bats to live in the houses you provide, they'll cause the mosquito population in your area to drop pretty significantly.

  • 4
    I like that idea. I think it is safe to say that my wife and I are pro-bat, and can only roll our eyes when we get local news items like this.
    – winwaed
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 14:54
  • @winwaed How well did this work?
    – J. Musser
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 22:22
  • We moved from that house before we had the chance to fit a bat box!
    – winwaed
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 12:07
  • Should a potential bat house owner be worried about rabies? especially if they have pets (vaccinated obviously).
    – anon
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 18:02
  • Probably not: The statistic for the US (not sure where I heard it now) is something like mother worried about child who has been in the same room as a bat: child more likely to die in a car accident on the way to hospital than the child contracting rabies.
    – winwaed
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 14:49

I have tried Citronella plant, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Balm, and Catnip. About the only thing that actually worked was rubbing Catnip leaves on my exposed skin, and that didn't deter them for particularly long. They all smell nice, though, and the cats enjoy having fresh catnip.

I'm investing in screening my porch in this year.

  • So probably nothing. I don't think rubbing leaves on skin is going to be an option. Replacing the back door isn't an option at the moment, but if it was then a door with a dog flap and a screen would be the way to go.
    – winwaed
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 21:23
  • Screening porch, not because of the mosquitoes, but to protect from the sheer number of cats that now stop by... Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 0:58

Unfortunately, mosquitoes are pretty persistent, and most plants just seem like a very temporary roadblock. The most important thing to do for mosquitoes is to deal with the standing water nearby. But if you live near a bog or swamp, this might be simply impossible. If not, just making sure your gutters (and your neighbors' gutters) are cleaned out twice a year could make a significant difference.

Similar to Daniel's advice about bats, toads and frogs might be another potential organic solution. Ironically, you'll need to add a permanent water fixture to your garden in order to keep frogs, and that would seem like the ideal mosquito breeding ground. But supposedly tadpoles and frogs are more than able to earn their keep, eating all of the nymphs in your water and plenty of adult insects as well. And a small pond or hiding places for toads can be nice decorative elements for your garden.

I'm considering doing this myself next year (and as such, I don't have any direct experience with it... yet).

  • Thanks - yes I should have mentioned that we deal with standing water (but the advice is useful for others who browse the question). The only place we may have it is in pot trays - but that evaporates or soaks up very quickly in summer. There is a neighbour two houses down that has a water feature. Although that probably doesn't help the mosquitoes, I think they are the source of the few toads we occasionally see.
    – winwaed
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 17:01
  • We don't have standing water in our area, but in New England we get lots of mosquitos sitting in the grass in the daytime. I guess they nest and thrive in different environments.
    – MichaelF
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 18:50
  • @winwaed - maybe if you added some hideaways for the neighbor's toads, they would hang out in your yard for longer, and maybe dine on more insects? Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 19:13
  • @MichaelF - although they need standing water for larvae and pupae, adult females will typically fly a mile or two from their breeding grounds, looking for blood (ext.colostate.edu/westnile/faq.html). This could explain why they thrive even though there isn't any any standing water in your area. In my experience the worst swarms are when they can breed and feed in the same place. Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 19:25
  • So I have now experienced this. We used to have mosquitoes really terribly because we are right next to a scrap yard and a cemetery. Both have all kinds of standing water and unhealthy ponds. We added a healthy pond to our property and the mosquito population has dropped precipitously. They're still here, but not half as bad. When they land on the water to lay eggs, they get eaten by tad poles. The many frogs attracted do their piece as do the dragon flies it brought. If we added fish, it would probably be even more effective. Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 15:22

Mosquito shoo geraniums were biogenetically engineered with pockets of citronella that rupture and let out the citronella into the air which irritates the mosquitoes feet as the plant grows. They are winter hardy only in tropical regions so they are normally used as potted houseplants.

  • Are they on the market? Although technically all cultivars are 'genetically modified', the release of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are tightly controlled in most jurisdictions.
    – winwaed
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 2:51
  • The geraniums are available at Farmer seed co. I have not seen any restrictions.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Sep 15, 2011 at 1:07

Nothing stops mosquitoes. I tried many plants including carnivorous plants, but carnivorous plants actually attract bugs and eat them, and they need a humid environment to grow, which gives a good place for mosquitoes (more food indeed).

  • The first thing you can do is to check your surroundings for standing water and eliminate them.
  • The next thing you should do is to use a mosquito net to prevent mosquitoes biting you when you are sleep.
  • Finally, buy an electrical mosquito swatter and have fun!

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  • The problem mosquitoes are the ones you don't see! Yes I've grown carnivorous plants in the past and they wouldn't work - they do grow in the wild in Texas, but not in our local climate/environment.
    – winwaed
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 21:33
  • Some mosquitoes can actually breed in the pitcher of a nepenthes that would dissolve other insects. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 0:10

Tomatoes are here in Germany a quite reliable plant.

Planted in a pot and placed either on the windowsill or flanking doors or around your patio, they deter mosquitoes and flies quite well. Obviously not as "guaranteed" as netting or screens and if you leave the light on and the window open, no amount of tomatoes will stop the blighters, but combined with common sense protective behaviour, they work fine.

We plant them every year: The larger ones go in containers on the floor, windowsills get "adorned" with dwarf cherry tomatoes. As they love the same places we humans do - sunny and warm, German summers can be fickle - they actually fruit well. (And having them nearby helps not to forget to water them, aehmmmm...) One anecdote: I was such a mosquito magnet as a child that my mum even draged two small pots to our holiday home. Therefore I can attest that they deter Italian mosquitoes too.

You want a generous amount of leaf mass and if you brush along the leaves now and then to release the smell it won't hurt either.

I can't guarantee that it works with Texan mosquitoes, because this insect family is quite large and divers, but it does work with European ones.

  • 1
    interesting - never heard of that before, will have to check it out.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 21:06

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