5 Best Plants to Repel Mosquitoes and Bugs in Chicago

Your plants will blossom beautifully in the summer heat, but the heat also attracts bugs and mosquitoes! Fortunately, there are several ways to repel bugs, and the best way is to plant bug repellant plants so you won’t have to worry about buying a pesticide solution; these plants’ oils repel bad bugs naturally! Keep reading to learn how to make your garden more enjoyable for the family with mosquito and bug repellant plants, including citronella, lemongrass, and basil.


Why Use Natural Bug Repellents?

The most natural bug repellant is from the plant itself! It contains natural oils in its leaves that mosquitoes don’t like. Their oil has antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties—excellent for making your backyard more enjoyable for you and the family. 


How Do Citronella and Lemongrass Repel Bugs? 

It’s all in the scents! Bugs and mosquitoes rely on their sense of smell to find plants or humans; bug spray blocks the bug’s smell receptors to repel them. Lemongrass and citronella contain an aromatic oil opposite the fruity and sweet that pests like. However, you’ll need a lot of this plant’s scent to get mosquitos away from your garden. You can plant a whole bunch of citronella around your seating area, or you crush the plant’s foliage and rub it on your skin to repel them and avoid mosquito bites. 


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Best Placements for These Plants in Your Chicago Garden

Plant lemongrass or citronella plants along a walkway or the front and sides of your garden. Planting plants alone won’t repel the bugs, but crushing the leaves and putting them into a spray bottle with witch hazel to spray is an effective way to repel mosquitos and bugs. If you spray it onto other foliage, it can also amplify the effect of the citronella so that you and your guests can enjoy a relaxing evening sitting on the patio. Of course, if the bugs are particularly bad, you can add a mosquito net to keep mosquitoes at bay. 



Basil is a popular plant known to repel bugs and mosquitoes. The heat and carbon dioxide sensors in mosquitos stop from four chemicals found in basil leaves, decreasing their capacity to recognize something to feed on! A plant that repels pests must be close to your seating area.


Platt Hill Nursery -plants that repel mosquitoes - basil and rosemary


Rosemary is available as a herb or as a landscaping plant. The herb form is preferable for cooking and DIY bug repellents since it contains more oil, and the more oil, the better it works to repel bugs. In addition, rosemary’s silvery-green needles also provide a pleasant visual contrast to other leafy plants in your garden.


Platt Hill Nursery -mosquito repelling plants - lemongrass

Citronella Varieties and Facts 

  • Citronella geraniums have lovely pink and white blooms with a strong citronella scent. This aroma repels mosquitoes effectively. By bringing it inside for the winter, you can keep it for a few years to keep repelling mosquitoes away.
  • Lemongrass has citronella oils, as citronella comes from the lemongrass family, making this a very effective option to keep your garden mosquito-free. Plus, it’s a great culinary plant for citrus flavors! 


If you’re looking for the best plants to repel mosquitoes from your garden this summer, visit Platt Hill Nursery in Bloomingdale or Carpentersville, or contact us if you have any questions! We are always happy to help you with any bug repellant plant inquiry. 


Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.


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