7 Plants That Mosquitoes Hate But Butterflies Love – It’s Win, Win

Fill your garden with multitasking plants that ward off pesky mosquitos with their aromatic scent, while attracting precious pollinators with beautiful flowers.

Tortoiseshell butterfly on geranium flowers
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Everyone knows how quickly mosquitoes can ruin time outdoors on a warm summer's evening. These pests are not just annoying, they also spread disease. Anything you can do to deter them from your yard will protect you and your family.

There are numerous ways to control mosquitoes in the garden, including natural solutions that avoid chemicals. Choosing mosquito-repelling plants will help to deter them, especially when their aromatic leaves and flowers are crushed or burned.

However, you can make your garden work smarter by selecting plants that perform double duty, attracting butterflies and other beneficial pollinators. As well as nectar-rich flowering plants, adding butterfly host plants will entice butterflies to lay eggs and enable baby caterpillars to feed.

While it is not possible to eliminate mosquitos from your yard, these flowering plants will help to keep the critters at bay and support local wildlife.

1. Lavender

Lavender planted in modern steel planters

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Lavender (Lavandula spp.) is a fragrant, perennial herb native to the Mediterranean region. The aromatic oil lavender produces repels mosquitoes, and the flowers are attractive to butterflies and other pollinators.

Plant in borders or grow lavender in pots around your outdoor seating area to deter pests.

Lavender thrives in dry, hot climates and rocky soils, but it also grows very well in many typical gardens and is hardy in USDA zones 5 through 10. It is low maintenance and easy to grow but must have soil that drains well and will not tolerate soggy roots. It also needs full sun.

2. Mint

Mint in a terracotta pot in garden

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Another fragrant herb, mint (Menta spp.) has a strong aroma that deters mosquitoes. However, its flowers are attractive to pollinators.

Mint is also a useful culinary herb, so it does triple duty. Enjoy mint leaves in savory and sweet dishes and as tea.

The downside to mint is that plants are aggressive and can quickly overtake beds. Growing mint in containers will avoid this issue.

Mint is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. It is very easy to grow and requires little maintenance. Plant in containers in partial shade to full sun and ensure good drainage. Pinch off tips to encourage bushy growth.

3. Marigolds

Orange French marigolds

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Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) are consistently popular annuals in many gardens. They have cheerful, round blooms in shades of red, orange, and yellow and a distinctively strong aroma that mosquitoes and other pests don’t care for. Butterflies, however, will flock to these flowers, as will other pollinators.

You can grow marigolds in USDA zones 2 through 11 as annuals – so don’t expect them to come back next year. Marigolds prefer moist, well-drained soil and full sun. Enjoy blooms all summer long by deadheading marigolds once they are spent.

4. Geraniums

Potted pelargoniums displayed in an ornamental ironwork window box

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Due to an old naming mistake, what we know as annual geraniums are actually species of Pelargonium and not related to true hardy geraniums at all. For pest control, this doesn’t matter, as both are effective at deterring mosquitoes and attracting pollinators.

For the greatest pest control, choose scented geraniums, which are the most fragrant of all Pelargonium.

Growing geraniums in containers will enable you to enjoy blooms all around your outdoor seating area, but they also make good borders and bedding plants.

Geraniums are only hardy in the warmest USDA zones, so expect to grow them as annuals. They require minimal care but prefer full sun and bloom most proficiently with regular deadheading.

5. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm growing in garden

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Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a fragrant, flowering herb that works very well as a mosquito deterrent. You can even rub the leaves on your skin for some additional protection. For people, the aroma is attractive, and its flowers also bring bees and butterflies to the garden.

Lemon balm is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. Grow it in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Pinch off leaves as they grow to encourage bushy growth.

You can keep lemon balm as a pest control tool but also enjoy its fragrant leaves in drinks and desserts.

6. Alliums

Purple heads of allium flowers

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Alliums (Allium spp.) are ornamental relatives of onion and garlic, grown for their showy, perfectly round heads of small purple flowers on top of tall, straight stalks. They make a striking contrast to other plants in a flower bed. The smell of these onion relatives deters mosquitoes and other pests but attracts pollinators.

You can grow ornamental alliums as perennials in USDA zones 4 through 9. They prefer full sun but can grow in some shade.

Allium is easy to grow, but the blooms won’t last all summer. To get ongoing pest deterrence, plant alliums successively throughout the season.

7. Fennel

Bronze fennel growing in garden

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Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) deters mosquitoes and provides vital food for butterflies. Bronze fennel even serves as a host plant for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.

Once the feathery fronds and flowers have done their work against pests and in support of butterflies, the plant can be harvested for use in the kitchen. Florence fennel produces bulbs that can be eaten as a vegetable.

Grow fennel in vegetable beds in USDA zones 4 through 9. It prefers full sun, fertile soil, and good drainage. Avoid adding too much compost or fertilizer when growing fennel. Overly rich soil results in a bland flavor.

Harvesting fennel for the kitchen means removing the plant that has provided pest control and attracted butterflies. Consider growing some of your fennel ornamentally. Its tall, feathery growth makes a nice backdrop for shorter plants.

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Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.

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