Do you somehow attract bugs, most specially flies? Check out these flies repellent plants that you can place around your home or bring outdoors to help you in keeping flies away.
Dealing with pesky bugs can be quite annoying. You have to constantly swat around you just for them to keep coming back after a while.
This can be troublesome when you’re just trying to enjoy a nice day in your home or a family activity outdoors.
As always, you can use products like sprays, incense, fly zappers, traps, or special machines to solve your fly problems.
However, you can also go on a more natural route in fixing this crisis. There are many plants that keep flies away
What plants keep flies away? Here are the 14 best Plants That Repel Flies Naturally
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
- Mint (Mentha arvensis)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Bay leaf or Laurel leaves
- Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
- Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon)
- Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
- Rue (Ruta graveolens)
- Marigold (Tagetes erecta)
- Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
In this article I've put together a list of 14 best plants that repel flies, and how to use these herbs to keep flies away!
What’s more is that you may already have some of the plants lying around your garden. If not, you can start keeping them in containers. These plants can also make your surrounding even more beautiful.
1. Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil is not only ideal as an ingredient for your chicken or pork meals, tomato-based dishes, pesto, and salads. It’s great in keeping flies, even mosquitoes, away too!
There is a lot of basil species out there, the most common are the cultivars of sweet basil or O. basilicum.
Other types of basil feature different smells like licorice, cinnamon, and lemon. Don't worry though since no matter what type of basil you use, they will still work perfectly for insect control.
The scent that these plants give off keeps the flies away even if the basil is dried or fresh.
Since basil thrives in simple pots and containers, you can easily place them near the entrance of your home to halt the entry of those pesky flies.
If you’re constantly bugged outdoors, you can put them in any place where you do picnics or simply in places where you relax.
You can also use them as foundation planting for your flowers, bugs will also stay away if you place them near your roses.
If you have a vegetable patch, the basil will also repel a lot of problem bugs that usually feed on tomatoes and squash.
Basils are annuals, they will produce tiny flower stalks in the late summer and will reseed in warmer climates if you let them bloom.
However, if you want to let them keep on propagating the leaves since it’s basically what you need, you need to stop them from flowering.
What do you need to do?
You just need to snip the branches and leaves off once they start to produce flowering stalks. This will make for new growth and will let your plant live longer.
Some believe that the basil plant per se won’t repel flies and other bugs if you don't mash its leaves, that’s why they prefer to make a basil spray since the vapor from the basil juice is more effective in keeping the flies away.
How to Make a Basil Spray
- In a container, put 4-6 oz. of fresh and clean basil leaves. You can include the stems if you want.
- Pour four ounces of boiling water
- Let the leaves soak for a few hours to a day.
- Take the leaves and stems out and squeeze them to get as much moisture as possible into the mixture.
- (Optional)Mix in four ounces of cheap vodka into the basil-water mixture thoroughly.
Place the basil spray in the refrigerator and use it when going outdoors. Be careful in using the spray and keep it away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
Do not spray it on your skin. You can spray it on the picnic table or any furniture nearby.
2. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
People love lavender because of its fragrant smell but this strong floral smell is also the same thing that insects such as flies, spiders, moths, ants, and mosquitoes definitely hate.
Yes, lavenders are not just for tea, desserts, and sauces, you can also use this plants to keep flies away.
In fact, people have used this throughout history to freshen up their homes and keep the insects away at the same time. Lavenders are placed in sachets then kept in clothes drawers.
Now, you can choose to hang a bunch of it in your closet near the clothes that you don't really use or near the entryway to keep the flies out. You can also just grow them in pots and place it in the patio.
Even the rabbits will stay out of your spinach and lettuce supply if you plant the lavenders in your kitchen garden.
There are different varieties of lavenders so you should choose the type that will suit the climate in your area as well as the growing space.
Choose the type that thrives in pots so you can reposition them in different areas around the house.
Spanish, French, or English lavender are best when planted indoors.
Out of the three, French lavender is the easiest to maintain while the English lavender gives out a more potent smell hence it is more effective in keeping the bugs out.
You can apply lavender oil on your skin that is made from the flowers to repel the bugs when you’re out and about.
Aside from keeping your safe from the bugs, it can also nourish your skin while the smell can calm you down and aid your sleep.
3. Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
The little yellow tansy blooms might be pretty but most flies definitely hate the smell of it. Instead of the leaves, its flowers give off that aroma so you might want to keep them blooming.
Traditionally, it was used as a stewing herb in churches during the Middle ages.
This plant is also a perfect foundation planting if you don't want to use them to keep the bugs out or to make your home beautiful.
Tansy is best used by extracting the oils and creating a spray to either use on your body, or in the areas you are in inhabiting (such as spraying along the door frame, or window frame where flies can enter your house).
Just like the first two plants, you can also use it as a spray for the areas where you like to hang out or on furniture or outdoor tables.
Just follow the same steps stated in making the basil spray above then you’re good to go. You can also add a bit of your preferred oil if you want.
4. Mint (Mentha arvensis)
Aside from being a good digestive aid and an addition to your favorite recipes, mint really has a lot of uses including natural fly repellent.
No matter what mint that you like, may it be chocolate mint, sweet mint, peppermint, citrus mint, or spearmint, a lot of bugs will steer away from you. It is because of the component of these mints called mentha.
You can grow them in near your porch door or in pots that you can place all over your house or in areas where flies and other bugs mostly flock.
If you want, you can also apply mint oil or extracts on your skin when you’re outdoors since it is more potent.
The scent of mint can also be found in its flowers and stems. Just like the other plants in this list, you can also extract the aromatic oils in mint.
To make a good repellent, mix the oil with some cheap vodka and apple cider vinegar.
Under mint, pennyroyal or squaw mint is another specie under the mint family. Other than for decoration, this specie of mint is highly potent and can keep most bugs away even mice.
However, take caution in using this since it can be toxic to children and other animals.
Rubbing fresh pennyroyal cutting on problem areas can release the fragrant oils that the flies hate. It also helps in deterring harmful bugs on your vegetable crops. Think of it as a natural insecticide.
5. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Its scent and flavor is commonly enjoyed in your favorite dishes. But as you expected, this is why the flies hate rosemary.
Its strong scent repulses a lot of insects especially the ones that loves to destroy vegetable plants.
It is also available in different forms and you can trim it in different decorative shapes. The rosemary plants are best placed in pots on your patio or in any place where its scent can flow with breeze, therefore effectively keeping the bugs away.
You can form the plants into ornamental pyramids, or plan them in herb gardens or landscaped beds especially the varieties that grows big.
Another plus is that if you don't like cats, this plant can also keep them away. You can easily put the plant springs beneath the cushions or on the furniture.
From your existing rosemary plants, you can propagate more and put them in pots all around your garden or yard. The dried or fresh rosemary cuttings will keep a lot of insects away.
For better efficiency, rosemary is best mixed with bay leaves as a sure fire way to repel flies.
You can make a spray from the mixture of the plants’ essential oils since it is more potent than just the plant itself or the cuttings.
Filter the resulting liquid to any lidded container that has one quart of cool water. The size of the container should be at least ½ gallon.
Secure the lid then put it in the refrigerator.
Transfer the repellent to mini spray bottles then bring it with you during outdoor activities. You can discard any remaining rosemary repellent if it has lost the prominent scent of the rosemary.
6. Bay leaf or Laurel leaves
This plant is another staple when it comes to cuisines. Dried or fresh, it is not only useful in making soups and roast even more flavorful, the very scent of the, keeps flies, weevils, and even rats out of the way.
You can hang bundles of bay leaves close to any entry points if you want to keep those pesky flies out.
7. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
The sweet scent of this plant has been used to repel moths and beetles in a carpet but you can also use it to keep the flies and even ants away.
You don't need to cut of dry it for the plant to keep the bugs out, it just does so naturally.
The smell lingers in the area where you put it to. Most of the time, it is planted in a hanging basket instead of pots indoors.
Through this, the tendrils of this plant have ample space to dangle and spread out.
8. Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon)
Citronella is a perennial that is well-known when it comes to insect repellents so best believe that this plant can turn those flies away too.
This plant features a strong smell that hides the certain aroma that the bugs are attracted to.
It mostly thrives in zones where there are no harsh winters. Your patio is the perfect place to plant them but remember to keep them indoors once the winter comes.
The plant as is cannot ward of those insects however, you need to extract the oil in the fronds where the strong aroma is potent.
If you want to use it as a repellent, just break the fronds then rub them in any area or clothing that seems to attract the flies.
Don't worry since it is not harmful to your skin. Just like the other plants in this list, you can make a spray out of this plant to to keep flies away .
Remember to reapply the oil or spray every two hours since the smell will wear off after this time. A nice plus is that the oil features an anti-fungal and antibacterial component too!
9. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
If you want to ward off not only flies but a whole lot insects, then you should plant wormwood in your garden.
Wormwood or absinthe is popularly used as a natural insecticide. You can use the fresh plant to keep the flies away by rubbing it in areas where flies seem to flock or on your skin and clothing.
There are many types of Wormwood but the best one that’s the most effective out of all types when it comes to solving your bug problems is Artemisia absinthium or grand wormwood.
Many countries ban wormwood because it is really potent and can have adverse effects when ingested in abnormal amount that’s why you also need to be careful in using it.
10. Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Before, people have this plant spread around their barns and houses because they believe it keeps that rats away and it attracts cats.
Nowadays, some might still use catnip for this purpose but what’s more is that it also keeps insects just like flies away.
It contains citronella oil which as discussed above, is a great deterrent for insects as well as nepetalactone which is also a powerful component that keep the flies away. It is also under the mint family.
It is really easy to plant near entryways of your home to ward off insects but it can be quite invasive so take caution in planting catnip in your garden.
11. Rue (Ruta graveolens)
This woody plant has a strong scent and potent components that many insects hate. In addition to this, rue is also used as a disinfectant and is effective in calming epileptic attacks.
If you have a big fruit fly problem, this plant can surely help you. You can just plant this as a fragrant border for your other plants to keep a number of insects away.
For better efficacy, you can also crush the rue leaves to release the potent scent.
However, since it has some really potent components, you need to take caution in using rue leaves since it might also cause some skin irritation when used the wrong way.
12. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
The leaves of the eucalyptus plant features a heady scent that will keep flies away.
Since most of the eucalyptus varieties can grow up to 130 feet tall, it is better if you look for the ones that can do well in small containers that you can placed around the house.
Just like citronella, you can get the full capacity of this deterrent when you extract the oil from its leaves.
You can also just rub the crushed leaves in problem areas if you want to enjoy a nice day out.
Another method is to just crush the leaves then put it in a vase or container with water. You can drop menthol or crushed mint leaves.
The calming scent will waft through the house and will also keep the flies at bay. Just swish the container from time to time to release more scent.
13. Marigold (Tagetes erecta)
Based on a Newcastle University's School of Natural and Environmental Sciences study this 2019, marigolds can keep the whiteflies at bay. Its aroma is also hated by mosquitoes, rabbits, and aphids.
The limosene that marigolds release is effective in slowing down the whiteflies so if you have a big whitefly problem especially with your tomato plants, having marigolds is the best solution.
It thrives in sunny location so you can just place it in pots on your patio or near entryways to deter the insects.
14. Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
Last but not the least is Dionaea muscipula or Venus flytrap. From its name alone, you can be entirely sure that this plant will keep those pesky flies away.
As you know, this fascinating plant basically feeds off of flies and other insects that unsuspectingly rest on its leaves like some prey.
First, it secretes some nectar on its traps that attracts the flies then the leaves will shut in a second to trap the prey. The trap goes even tighter if the insect tries to struggle or release some fluid.
Having a Venus flytrap in your home can not just deter the flies, it basically kill flies.
Other Plants that Can Also Repel Flies (Plus Other Insects)
With most of these plants you can definitely keep those pesky flies away. Not just the common housefly, but also the other types of flies like fruit flies, whiteflies, or even moth.
You don't need harmful chemicals since you can basically get these in your pots and garden. In addition to this, a lot of these plants smells pleasant and will keep your surrounding smelling fresh.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she attended University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture. She has supplemented her formal education by working on various organic farms, including spending a semester abroad in India.
Growing and/or raising just about anything gets her excited. She is especially passionate about environmental justice and low-tech, sustainable ways to better run small-scale farms and homesteads. Lindsey started Urban Organic Yield to discuss gardening tips and tactics.
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