The sun is shining, you’ve got a glass of rosé in your hand and you’re breaking in that outdoor furniture for the first time this season. Everything is pretty wonderful except for one teeny-tiny little thing. Make that 12 little things—a swarm of mosquitoes buzzing around your head. Not to mention the gnats. And are those ants? While you could pick up some insect spray, there are more natural—and far prettier—alternatives out there. Here, seven beautiful plants that repel bugs just by existing.
7 Indoor and Outdoor Plants That Repel Bugs
Bees love this flower’s pleasant scent, but most other bugs including gnats, fleas, mosquitoes and moths will stay clear of it (hence why many people hang dried lavender in their closets). Plant a row of these purple blooms by a windowsill or doorway to keep the bugs out and enjoy having the earthy fragrance waft through your home.
Looking for an indoor plant that repels bugs? Your favorite roast chicken topping is also great at keeping cockroaches and mosquitoes out of your home. Folks who live in a hot, dry climates can also plant this fragrant herb outside to help keep slugs and snails away. (Just make sure it’s within easy access of your kitchen—you’re going to want to reach for it come dinnertime.)
When it comes to plants that repel ants, these ornamental blooms are top of the class. In fact, a compound in chrysanthemums called pyrethrin is so effective at keeping bugs away that it’s used in many commercial insect sprays. Plant these guys anywhere you want to add a pop of color and also ward off ticks, beetles, roaches, silverfish and mosquitoes.
You may already be familiar with citronella’s pest-repelling powers (we like these citronella candles). But did you know this magical oil is found in one of your favorite Thai recipe ingredients—lemongrass? You’ll love this plant’s fresh, citrusy scent (try adding some in your next coconut curry) but mosquitoes won’t.
French marigolds are especially good at deterring whiteflies and killing nematodes, while Mexican marigolds will help keep rabbits away from your other plants. But both varieties can be sprinkled over salad for a peppery kick.
Pesto-maker, Caprese salad topper and…mosquito repellent? Yep, this fragrant green herb is toxic to mosquito larvae and will also deter the carrot fly, asparagus beetles and whiteflies. While you can definitely grow your basil plant indoors, keep in mind that it needs six to eight hours of full sunlight per day.
This pungent plant deters mosquitoes, root maggots, beetles and vampires. (Just kidding.) And then when you’re ready, you can harvest the garlic plant and use it in cooking.