Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil is one of the few herbs that give off a scent without the leaves having to be crushed or physically disturbed. There are many varieties of basil, but the ones with the most mosquito-repelling powers include lemon basil and cinnamon basil.
For a quick, natural insect repellent in the garden, take a few basil leaves and rub them on your skin. The oils will deter any nearby mosquito from bugging you while you work.
photo by Anja Sonnenberg
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Mosquitoes and many other insects don’t like the smell of lavender. This trait makes lavender a welcome addition to any garden, especially considering how attractive this plant is when it blooms. Aside from planting lavender around seating areas to deter pests, try making your own natural insect repellent with lavender leaves (as shown on the next page).
Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus)
Many natural insect repellents found on the market contain citronella oil, which of course is derived from a natural plant source—citronella grass. When candles and lanterns containing citronella oil are burned, the fumes repel mosquitoes.
This tropical perennial, native to Asia, is a member of the Poaceae grass family and can grow up to six feet tall. Handling citronella can cause skin irritations or allergic reactions when the grass blades are broken, so make sure you wear gloves. In addition to its mosquito-repelling abilities, it’s also quite an attractive ornamental grass. Plant it along walkways and seating areas to allow its strong fragrance to deter mosquitoes.