My son recently asked what “possible good flies were” as he attempted to swat away the worst of them during an outdoor family meal. Equally annoyed, I wasn’t even going to attempt to explain the role they play in the ecosystem since I was too busy gathering up our dinner to bring it back in the house- and right there decided I needed to find a solution to get rid of these pesky creatures.
Flies come only second to mosquitoes on the annoyance scale in our household, and are number one in what I most want to eradicate since they can spread germs (and not to mention are obnoxious). It doesn’t take long to become overwhelmed with flies in some of your favorite outdoor spots no matter what time of day.
There are many plants that are touted as repelling the worst of our biting and buzzing insects, and below I’m going to provide you a healthy list that will help aide in keeping flies away. Combined with other proactive attempts to eradicate your fly problem (keeping animal feces picked up, covering your compost pile, and dusting damp areas with lime or diatomaceous earth to name a few), plants CAN, and WILL help deter these annoying little critters.
Table of Contents
- PERENNIAL PLANTS TO REPEL FLIES
- EXTRACTING AND USING OILS
- ANYTHING TO ADD?
- How to Get Rid of Flies in the House
- So… What’s a Fly?
- Reproduction Patterns of Flies
- Are Flies Harmful?
- Fly’s Habitat
- Controlling Fly Populations
- Create an Unfriendly Fly Environment
- Invest in Hungry Plants
- Fly Controls
- 12 Mosquito Repellent Plants
- 12 Plants to Use as a Natural Mosquito Repellent
- What do you think about this page?
- More Natural Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away
- The Importance of Mosquito Control
- Basil Plant And Flies: Does Basil Keep Flies Away?
- Flies on Basil
- Does Basil Keep Flies Away?
- How do I get rid of white flies on my basil?
- 15 Mosquito Repelling Plants
PERENNIAL PLANTS TO REPEL FLIES
There aren’t many plants that are touted as able to repel flies, but there are a few little beauties you may either have in your garden beds already, or want to place there. Not only are they lovely to have around to aide in fly eradication, but they are genuinely pretty and smell good!
Some of these plants help keep away flies simply by growing nearby due to their potent fragrances, but others needs a little help to extract their oils. Look to the bottom of this article for oil extracting techniques!
Buy Sweet Basil On Amazon
Both fresh and dried, the scent given off by basil deters flies. Since this is a plant that thrives in patio pots, adding some to your summer flower arrangements near areas of home entry can help keep the worst of your flies away. Used near a vegetable patch you can also repel many of the problem insects that tend to feed on squash and tomatoes. As an additional plus, it keeps away bugs from roses as well.
It also tastes great in many beverages and culinary dishes! But be sure to keep the plant from flowering as it will fail to continue to propagate the best of its popular, sweet smelling leaves! Simply snip off leaves and branches when it starts to send out flowering stalks to allow for new growth.
Basil is considered an annual, although it can reseed itself in warmer climates if allowed to bloom. Despite this, inexpensive plants can be purchased each spring from local garden centers, and seeds can be easily cultivated indoors and transplanted outside after the last frost. Basil also makes a good choice for indoor herb gardens and can be kept alive year round.
Buy Bay Laurel Here
For centuries, the glossy bay leaves from the bay laurel has been used as an aeromatic in cooking, and placed within cupboards to keep insects, weevils, and mice away. It’s pungent scent is useful when both fresh and dried, and can be bundled to hang near home entryways during fly season as well.
As a warm climate evergreen this large tree (can get to 40’ high if allowed) cannot handle any sort of freeze, but does exceptionally well in a pot and is often used for topiary to be brought inside once cold weather sets in. It also can handle some cramped conditions since it is a very slow grower, so you won’t have to repot constantly. Be sure to give it rich, well drained soils – especially during its first few years of growth as it gets established.
Bay leaves combined with sprigs of rosemary (see #5) create a lovely scent, as well as providing a great fly deterrent when placed around the house.
Buy Lavender Here
By far one of my favorite plants, lavender thrives in well-drained, hot, and sunny climates. Both the foliage and blooms are fragrant and fend off many types of insects, flies included. During flower bloom, harvesting of the flowers for drying results in bundled, rich smelling sachets to place in closets, drawers and cupboards to keep creepy crawlies away. Plus it makes your clothes smell great!
This is a very easy plant to propagate and comes in quite a few different varieties to fit your climate needs and growing spaces. I prefer those that do best in pots so I can place them in different places around my property as both added interest and pest control. Depending on your planting zone, take care about how you winterize your potted plant. They are tough to kill, but freezing out the roots can do just that, so putting them up for the winter in a shed, wrapping the pots, or even burying the pot in northern zones is a smart move.
It takes around 3 years for your plant to produce an abundant flower crop and get really established. At its height, one plant can put out over 1000 flower stems!
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).
Both fresh and dried leaves can be used in this potent spray recipe, but dried leaves will create a stronger repellent since the oils will be more concentrated. Easy to make, leaves are soaked in hot water before cooling and straining to be placed in a spray bottle. Feel free to add in other fly repellent oils as well (such as lavender, see #3).
Tansy is a simple and pretty plant to grow, but it can be toxic when consumed in large quantities. There have been reports of livestock falling sick and even dying after eating large quantities of the plant. Because tansy reproduces through it’s roots, be sure to keep it in a contained area if you have any worries about it getting into livestock fields.
Many growing zones will find that rosemary will stay evergreen for them with the correct care and protection. It can grow to heights of 3-4 feet and up to 5 feet wide, so make sure to give it room! They can also do well in well-drained planters as long as it receives the sun it loves and craves for healthy growth.
Because of it’s heady scent, rosemary is a popular flavor and aromatic herb to use in many culinary dishes and beverages. These properties are also the same that keeps away many flies as it is the leaves that put forth the most scent.
Many gardeners will grow it as an annual in the North, but rosemary does surprisingly well through the winter. In northern climes above zone 5 you may want to bring plants indoors if your plant is unprotected, and the winters have consistent deep freezes.
Propagate new plants using growth from existing plants and mix them into containers around your yard. You can also take cuttings and hang fresh or dried rosemary around to repel insects. As mentioned above, when mixed with bay leaves you have a nice, natural way to keep flies at bay. Having a fresh supply of rosemary to cook with and dry for the winter also saves a lot of money since it’s a fairly costly herb to purchase.
The mint family contains peppermint, spearmint, sweet mints, citrus mints, and even chocolate mints! But what they all have in common is the ingredient mentha, which is what makes it so potent against many insects, flies included. All mints are aromatic either fresh or dried, but the extraction of their oil really brings about their true properties, and potency.
Whether you keep it growing nearby (I keep some nearby back porch door), rub it on your skin, or use the oil extracts- you will have an effective fly repellent.
Mints are hardy, rapid growers and self-pollinate through runners. They can quickly take over a yard if left unchecked, and are often best kept in containers, or within bricked areas where they are more easily thinned out. The effort of care is well worth it as this multi-purposeful plant does so much more than keep insects at bay. Mints are popular in cooking, beverages, and has been used as a digestive aid for thousands of years.
*Maybe you’d like to read more about: Aloe vera Plant – Uses, Benefits and Proper Plant Care
A highly potent plant, the use of anything other than as a decorative plant to help repel most biting insects (and even mice) should be done with caution. Rubbing fresh cuttings and releasing the aromatic oils into clothing and on hats has been found to be very effective, however I should note the ingestion of the plant, or plant oils, are only used under supervision of a doctor.
Pennyroyal can be most helpful in your garden as well to help deter many bugs from your susceptible veggies. By simply planting this low-grower under and around your plants, you are providing a natural insecticide to help keep them pest-free.
As a member of the mint family, be sure to re-transplant them come fall, or rip them out since they can become invasive quickly if left unchecked.
Easy to grow and beneficial to your garden, wormwood leaves leaves contain a resinous particle which can be used as a natural insecticide. When picked fresh and rubbed on your arms or clothing, it will help to keep flies away. It also can be dried and bundled to be placed in doorways, closets, etc.
Wormwood is famously known as absinthe, and has been used for over 3000 years for medicinal purposes. It also became a popular flavoring for certain beverages, and has since been banned in many countries due to its potent properties and negative side effects when ingested in large quantities. Despite its many uses, only external applications are without caution. If using this plant in any other way, be sure to consult a doctor to avoid any side effects.
Citronella grasses are a popular ornamental, and can be found dotting many landscapes in frost-free zones within the United States. Because of its intolerance of the colder climes, it also can thrive within a patio planter with the correct care, and can be brought indoors as the weather begins to chill.
Contrary to many beliefs, the plant itself is not effective in warding off biting insects. Rather it is the oil found in the fronds that provides relief despite the strong fragrance it gives off when brushed against.
Effective insecticidal usages include breaking off a frond to rub into your skin or clothing. This typically wears off after two hours so you’ll need to reapply. Or you can also create a spray using the extracted oils that has been found to be comparable to deet. As an added bonus, the oil also has both antibacterial and antifungal propertiesmaking it a common ingredient in many over the counter aides.
This hardy growing, carpet-like plant will only grow to 10 or 12” in height, but it’s umbrella like leaves, and white delicate flowers are a favorite in shade gardens because of its sweet, fresh scent.
Popular in areas of bulb plantings, sweet woodruff also repels flies naturally – no cutting or drying needed. You can also add a breath of fresh air to sitting areas by planting within patio pots by propagating from existing garden plants. Just be sure to keep the soil moist!
Famous for their silver-dollar foliage, many health benefits can be derived from the leaves as eucalyptus oil. Many over-the-counter products contain eucalyptus as well to aide in common household ailments. Most importantly, it was registered in the U.S as an insecticide and miticide in 1948, which is why it can be so handy to have around.
Because of the varying species of this tree (some can reach 130 feet in height) it is best to choose a variety of species that do better in pots. On its own it does produce a heady scent that can deter flies, but the oils derived from the leaves are even more potent and can either be crushed from the leaves and rubbed on, or extracted to further uses.
When mixed with water and made into a spray it can be as effective as DEET. If you should get bit using this oil, it doubles as an antibacterial agent and will help keep swelling to a minimum.
Once believed to draw in cats to keep rodents away, European farmers planted catnip around the foundations of both house and barn. Even more telling is the amount of insects and mice it will repel when planted in conjunction with areas that open into your house. A pretty plan to have amongst your pants with it’s silvery foliage- catnip is related to mints and can quickly grow out of control so be sure to keep it contained.
Catnip contains citronella oil as well as other insect deterrents, and can be used in a similar manner as citronella grass as explained previously. But be warned, it isn’t called catnip for nothing! It will bring in your feline friends!
Rue is a strongly scented woody plant that repels many insects, has disinfectant properties, and is also often used as a calming aide. Because of its potent properties, rue is usually best left in its natural environment unless you have knowledge of correct usage of the plant and its oil extracts. Even rubbing against the leaves can cause light sensitivity and blistering if you have an allergy.
Growing to approximately 2 feet in height, this blueish leafed plant tolerates poor soils, and is a good addition mixed into perennial gardens to help keep out insects and to provide you, the gardener, and natural aromatic border to keep away unwanted flying insects. Rue is best started from seed in the spring, and in the correct environment can reseed itself year after year, but the leaf potency is best when it is kept from flowering.
EXTRACTING AND USING OILS
As mentioned in conjunction with a few of the plants above, oil extractions can create a much more effective and potent fly repellent. For best results, be sure to harvest in the morning after the dew has dried, but before the sun burns off any newly formed essential oils.
Even though you can get some relief by simply crushing or rubbing the foliage on your skin or clothing, long-term effects are optimized when extracted oil is made into a spray, or is mixed with other fly deterrent plant oils.
Primitive oil extraction is a fairly simple process that you can do in your own kitchen with a minimum of fuss. Be aware that by using the linked methods you will not be getting 100% pure oils and they should not be ingested although they will be good for use in . homemade insect sprays and some topical applications.
ANYTHING TO ADD?
Flies are a common place annoyance, and many times a combination of techniques to repel these small winged creatures is your best defense. This more extensive list of plants that can help aide in your fight against these cook-out invaders was hopefully helpful, and gave you some ideas as to wear you can add some garden interest as well!So experiment away and share your experiences with what works, and what doesn’t below! Questions? Feel free to ask, and as always, share this article to help spread the word!
*You might also like: Beneficial Insects and How They Support Your Garden
How to Get Rid of Flies in the House
To get rid of flies, you must first know your enemy. Check here for comprehensive fly facts and control options–eliminate your problem quickly and for good.
So… What’s a Fly?
When you hear the word “fly,” the common housefly probably comes to mind most often. Flies enter homes through holes in window screens, open doors, and any unsealed cracks and crevices around your home.
Common houseflies are most commonly recognized in their adult stage. The adults have two wings and measure about 1/4″ in length. They’re easily recognizable by their gray-colored, bristled bodies and round, red eyes— you may see them landing on piles of manure. However, houseflies are only one type of nuisance fly attracted to filth.
Blow flies and flesh flies are also germ-carrying pests that can be found within the home.
Larvae of houseflies and other filth flies are maggots that feed on rotting matter.
Reproduction Patterns of Flies
The female housefly lays about 50 to 100 eggs at one time in organic debris. The eggs will hatch into maggots in a mere 12 hours after being deposited. These maggots will feed on the organic debris and then each will build a cocoon where it will pupate and turn into an adult housefly.
It’s a good thing that houseflies can only survive for about two to three weeks at most, because during that time, a female can lay over 500 eggs. If even half of those eggs are females, and each of those females can produce 500 eggs, and so forth, it is no wonder flies are found in endless numbers!
Female blow flies live between 2 to 8 weeks, but they can lay thousands of eggs during their short life span. Eggs can hatch within 24 hours under ideal conditions. Their larvae develop inside rotting animal carcasses, causing it to take on a bloated appearance.
Female flesh flies’ eggs hatch in the female’s body. She then deposits up to hundreds of larvae inside a decaying host, such as a rotting animal carcass or on rotting meat. The larvae feed on the host for about 4 days. The adult flesh flies emerge in about two weeks, and repeat the same reproduction cycle.
Are Flies Harmful?
Common houseflies, blow flies, and flesh flies do not bite, but they do carry certain diseases. This makes it important to find natural ways to kill flies.
To understand why flies spread various diseases, take a look at their unique feeding habit. Flies land and feed on decaying organic matter that contains bacteria, and then land on your food that’s sitting unprotected on your indoor dinner table or at an outdoor picnic.
Their mouths also consist of proboscises. The proboscises are curled up under the flies’ heads while flying. A fly uncurls the proboscis to release saliva and other digestive juices onto food and to take in the juices created by doing so.
Flies also land on feces of animals and humans, garbage, rotting animals, and spoiled foods. These items can contain bacteria, fungi, and other potentially harmful germs. Flies can easily spread the bacteria and other germs when they come inside your home. Once you consume the food flies land on, the bacteria may begin to multiply and could make you sick.
To prevent yourself from contracting diseases that flies carry, it’s important to learn how to keep flies away by understanding their habitat and how to control them.
Flies can be found throughout the world. Due to all of the organic material waste we produce, flies are attracted to our dwellings, outdoor buildings, yards, and just about any other area we humans can be found! These insects carry diseases; therefore, it is imperative that we control them and learn how to get rid of flies.
Controlling Fly Populations
Shooing flies away from your food or face, or following them around with a flyswatter can become tedious. If the flyswatter is your weapon of choice for fighting off pesky flies because you’re concerned about using chemical pesticides, there are additional natural methods to get rid of crane flies and other flies.
There are other steps you can take to help control the fly populations and get rid of the flies in your home. This includes taking measures to make your home less attractive to flies and using control measures as a way to kill flies.
Create an Unfriendly Fly Environment
Your home can become a fly magnet if you leave food uncovered or trash bins open. Female flies may use your trash as a place to lay their eggs. To make your home less attractive to these pests, make sure your kitchen is clean by following a few tips.
If your family takes the time to follow these tips, you can greatly reduce the amount of flies in your home because you have removed their food source and breeding grounds.
If you’re having trouble with large numbers of blow flies or flesh flies in your home, look around for dead rodents or birds inside your home. Rotting carcasses can sometimes hide in basements, crawlspaces, walls, and other areas where animals may hide or take shelter inside.
Invest in Hungry Plants
If you like houseplants, consider placing some insect-eating plants in your home. These plants may also be able to control whiteflies on your indoor plants.
Venus Flytrap – Venus flytraps are a fun and attractive plant. They have two hinged leaves with large hairs along the edges. When flies or other insects land on the plant leaves, it triggers the plant’s trap to snap shut. The two halves remain closed until the fly is digested.
Venus flytraps need a frost-free area to grow with high humidity and good light. To care for them, you must keep the plant constantly moist — mist it regularly to provide additional humidity.
Pitcher Plant – Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants. Their long, trumpet-shaped leaves have a hooded top, and the plant’s nectar attracts insects. Once trapped, insects are digested by enzymes and bacteria. Pitcher plants are also easy to grow. Like the Venus fly trap, pitcher plants need good lighting, consistently wet soil, a humid atmosphere and regular misting to grow well.
Both Venus flytraps and picture plants don’t require feeding, just a little TLC. While these plants will readily help you get rid of white flies and other pests, they cannot control large fly infestations.
Indoor and Outdoor Fly traps such as the Victor® Poison-Free Fly Magnet can provide you with a way to attract and eliminate flies without using harmful chemicals. Aerosol sprays containing pyrethrins/d-limonene such as Safer® Brand Flying Insect Killer provides another option in controlling houseflies by eliminating flies on contact.
Indoor Fly Traps such as the Victor® Poison-Free Indoor Fly Trap can be used inside the home when directions are followed. Outdoor fly traps such as the Victor® Fly Magnet Trap can be used when many flies have infiltrated an area. Fly paper is another option for fly trapping. Victor® Poison-Free Super Fly Roll can eliminate your fly problem without the use of harmful chemicals.
Outdoor fly traps such as the Victor® Fly Magnet Trap contain food attractants that draws flies. These traps should be placed outdoors according to trap instructions. Set these traps away from outdoor living spaces. By attracting flies, the trap will keep them away from your home, patio, or deck.
Indoor fly traps such as the Victor® Poison-Free Indoor Fly Trap may also contain food based baits and can be used safely in the home when directions are followed. Some traps attract flies just because of their 3-D look. Flies are always looking for a place to land and the color contrast of some traps creates the look of an edge for them to land.
Fly Paper such as the Victor® Poison-Free Super Fly Roll contain an adhesive type of paper, and can be placed around windows, in garages, and in barns and stables.
What is the Best Solution for Flies?
The best solutions break down quickly to their natural elements. Such solutions are preferable to chemical pesticides that leave residuals where they are sprayed causing long-term detrimental effects on the environment.
Pest solutions made for both indoor and outdoor use help decrease indoor air pollution. Even when synthetic or man-made pest control products are used outdoors, the residue they leave behind can make its way into your home on the clothing and shoes of children.
To get rid of flies in your home, as well as other pests, Safer® Brand products don’t involve harmful pesticides. Instead, you can relax with fewer pests around your home and yard.
Plenty of people tell me they’d love to bring more plants into their homes and offices, but they don’t have a green thumb, or even a yellow thumb. Even if you are a beginner, you can make it a lot easier on yourself if you choose plants proven to be easier to care for than others.
Another strategy is to choose plants that are naturally resistant to bugs, as in pests! If you aren’t having to fight off mites, scale, ants, flies, snails or the dreaded fungus gnats, your gardening experience will be much more rewarding.
Here are a dozen houseplants I like because bugs don’t like them. They are all fairly easy to grow and should survive even the worst brown thumb plant killer. Give one (or more) of them a try.
NOTE: One of the reasons bugs avoid most of the plants on this list is that their leaves are naturally toxic. This means most of these plants are also toxic to animals and sometimes even little kids, so if you are a pet owner or have babies and toddlers likely to chew on a plant, pay attention to which are safe and which are not for your critters and kids.
Good Earth Plant Company’s Top 12 Insect Repelling Plants That Are Easy to Grow
Bold Sanseviera plants in striking pots make a statement and improve the indoor environment without wasting water.
Called mother-in-law’s-tongue or snake plant, sansevierias are nearly the toughest houseplants around. Seriously, if you can kill one you’re a plant assassin. These are plants with leathery leaves in pretty cream, yellow, and green variegated patterns. They grow straight upright and can reach several feet tall. Sanseveierias prefer a nice sunny spot but will grow in nearly any kind of light. Don’t overwater these plants. Overwatering is about the only way to kill one. Once every 10 days is plenty and in the winter you can water it once a month. Put one in a gorgeous tall pot as a showpiece or group several.
Because of the tough leaves, bugs stay away.
Keep your pets and kids from chewing on sansevierias as they are poisonous.
Chinese evergreens can grow nearly anywhere, which is why they are popular choices in workplaces.
The Chinese evergreen is super disease-resistant and bugs tend to leave it alone. It has green variegated leaves and will bear white flowers similar to a calla lily. The flowers are followed by green berries that turn red-orange. It can handle almost any light setting. The more silver or yellow in the leaves, the more light your plant requires. Dark green varieties can grow in shade. But don’t ever put it in direct sun. Put it under a ceiling floodlight that is on six to eight hours a day and it won’t need much natural light at all.
This plant likes to be warm and it appreciates humidity. Water it every seven days and you can keep the soil a little moist, but it’s OK to let it dry out once in a while. The one thing that can hurt this plant is a draft. If the leaves on your Chinese evergreen start turning yellow, try moving your plant to a new location because it was probably on the receiving end of a nasty draft.
The Chinese evergreen is toxic to pets, so it is best kept out of their reach or in households without pets.
Good Earth Plant Company recently chose bromeliads as part of our plantscaping services to the Alpha Project in public spaces like its lobby and its offices.
One of our favorites at Good Earth Plant Company! Bromeliads come in over 2,000 varieties. Pineapples are bromeliads! But we don’t recommend you plant one at home. Try one of the many commonly sold decorative varieties. Bromeliads have thick, fleshy leaves which wind up from a central bowl that forms a small natural vase. Insects don’t like chewing on these tough leaves so they rarely bother a bromeliad. Plant diseases are rarely a problem for this plant. Its foliage comes in a variety of colors. It will survive without direct light and it’s even OK in artificial light, but the more bright indirect light it gets, the more colorful its leaves will be. Don’t keep the center of the plant filled with water while in low light and the potting mix just barely moist. Water whenever the potting mixture looks dry by pouring the water into the center “cup” of the plant. Watering a plant really doesn’t get much easier. The plant should be kept drier in the winter, and has been known to survive for weeks without water.
Another reason we love bromeliads: they are one of the few on the list NOT poisonous.
4. Aspidistra Elatior
You can probably guess why this plant is called the “Cast Iron” plant. It’s tough as… you know the rest. This plant will grow under nearly any conditions: heat, cold, overwatering, underwatering, dust, or low light. It is a pest resistant champ. It likes cool filtered sun and its soil should be kept evenly moist. Water it thoroughly every time it dries out, then leave it alone. There are over 93 reported species of this plant. Most have shiny dark leaves up to 24-inches long. It’s easy to grow cuttings. Cut a leaf off down into the soil to include some roots, put it into potting mix, and eventually you’ll have a new plant.
Another plus: The Cast Iron plant is non-toxic.
The cissus is also called grape ivy or kangaroo vine. It is another plant safe for pets and kids. It will tolerate cooler temperatures and drafty spots. It doesn’t like direct sun but nearly anything else will do. It is a pretty aggressive climber, so don’t leave anything in its path it can grab. It has small green leaves and will do just fine in a decorated pot.
Taste the rainbow! Coleus leaves bring beautiful bright colors into your home.
6. Coleus Blumei
This plant is known for its wild colorful leaves in nearly every color of the rainbow. It loves bright sun and it needs moist soil, so this is a good plant for those of you who just can’t keep your hands off the watering can. It’s one of those plants with leathery tough leaves, and insects don’t want to work that hard for a meal. Coleus plants are not harmful to people, but this one can make a pet quick sick, so be aware.
Dracaena leaves come in a variety of striking patterns.
You are probably familiar with these tall, tough plants. They have long spear shaped leathery leaves and come in lots of colors such as spotted with yellow or cream, striped white, edged with burgundy, and plain green. It can easily survive indoors even under less than ideal conditions, anything short of outright neglect. Dracaenas need plenty of filtered light. Some do just fine under fluorescent light. Because there are many different hybrids, ask someone at your favorite garden center to help you choose the right one. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. These plants like humidity, so they’re great for a kitchen or bathroom. Those leathery leaves repel insects, but they are poisonous to pets.
Mosquito plants are easy grow choices for pots inside or outside your home. Skeeters hate them!
8. Mosquito Plant or Citronella Plant
This plant is actually a member of the geranium family, bred by a Dutch botanist by crossing African geraniums and Citronella grass. The plant’s leaves smell like citronella, which is a mosquito repellent. You can crush a leaf and rub it on your skin to help naturally keep mosquitos away. It can be grown indoors. It gets about a foot tall and can tolerate anything from full sun to part shade. Consider also growing this in pots on your porch or patio. The Citronella plant’s leaves has a strong citrus aroma which naturally repels mosquitos.
9. Culinary Herbs
The strong scent and flavor oils in most herbs are way too strong for most pests. Basil, chives, chamomile, and mint repel most bugs including mosquitos. Most types of herbs you can buy in your garden center can be grown together in rectangular boxes except for mint. Mint is very aggressive and will do its best to move out its neighbors, so grow mint on its own. Cooking herbs generally require good sunlight and drainage. It’s fun to grow herbs in a sunny kitchen window and then use them for cooking or tea.
Non-toxic of course, although you don’t want your animals eating them all.
Bugs hate catnip, but your feline friends will love it.
I’m including catnip for readers who are cat lovers. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) contains “nepetalactone,” the chemical compound that drives cats crazy. It turns out this stuff is also a natural cockroach deterrent! This is a pretty plant similar to the culinary herbs you might know better, and grows in the same type of bright sunny conditions. It will get six inches tall. Grow it in a pot, then trim the plant. You can either sprinkle small amounts where you want to keep pests away, or you can simmer it in small amounts of water and then put the solution in a spray bottle and spray it in corners and on baseboards. But you need to remember, while you’ll keep the cockroaches away, your spray will make the cats want to play!
The plant is nontoxic to humans and other pets.
Jade plants come in many colors and shapes and all of them are easy to grow.
11. Crassula Arborescens
You know this one as the jade plant. It comes in many varieties and colors. What they all have in common are smooth, fleshy succulent leaves that insects dislike due to toxic and nasty tasting sap. Jade plants grow quickly – sometimes too quickly, as they will outgrow a pot in record time. The good news is that you can be pretty aggressive about trimming them, and root the cuttings for more jade plants. They are easy going, and while they like sun they will grow in medium light too. Best grown in a window. They can tolerate nearly any temperature. Frequent re-potting of your jade plants will help them stay healthy. The jade plant is another one pet owners should avoid for toxicity to their cats and dogs.
Ready for action, these Venus Flytraps digest insects after catching them in their leaves.
12. Venus Flytrap
You can bet a carnivorous plant won’t attract too many bugs! The Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is a plant native to wetland areas of the East Coast and the Carolinas. Its leaves form a trapping structure triggered by tiny hairs on the surface. When a bug lands on the leaves or crawls across them and touches one of these hairs, the leaf trap starts closing. If there is another contact within about 20 seconds, you’ll be startled to see it snapping shut. The plant then digests the insect. In its native damp soil, the Venus flytrap developed this adaptation to make up for the lack of nitrogen in the soil. These plants get about six inches tall and they are very each to grow inside. They really will get rid of flies and gnats. They like sun with damp soil. I just bought one at Home Depot on a whim. Let’s see how it does. Try a terrarium?
With all of the rain and cool weather we’re having, (and snow for our readers elsewhere) it’s the perfect time to indulge in a little indoor gardening. Try a few of the plants on our list. Remember, they all have the ability to clean your indoor air. Having a little success with just a few houseplants can inspire you to try a few more, and having something green and growing nearby in the winter (even a San Diego winter) is great for your wellbeing!
12 Mosquito Repellent Plants
What plants keep mosquitoes away? Plant these 12 plants in your garden for their colorful and fragrant display, plus their ability to keep uninvited bugs out. By Christine Yoo
Most insect-repelling plants do so with their natural fragrances, which keep annoying mosquitoes away and introduce wonderful scents throughout your garden. If you don’t want to douse yourself or your garden in chemical bug sprays you can grow some of these plants to help keep mosquitoes away naturally. Plant these plants in areas where guests will be often such as by a seating area or a doorway.
12 Plants to Use as a Natural Mosquito Repellent
Have you ever noticed that insects or even rabbits and other animals have never decimated your lavender plant? It is because of their lovely fragrance, which comes from its essential oils that are found on the leaves of the plant. It is even argued that lavender oil hinders a mosquito’s ability to smell! This plant is very tough and drought-resistant once established, and only needs full sun and good drainage. And while it can endure many climates, it thrives in warmer areas.
Buy now from Proven Winners
Marigolds, an easy-to-grow annual flower, emit a smell that deters mosquitoes. Grow them in pots and place them near your patio or entrance to your home to keep bugs out. Marigolds are also a popular addition to borders and vegetable gardens. According to NYBG, not only can they keep away mosquitoes, but they also dissuade aphids, thrips, whiteflies, Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs, and tomato hornworms.
Buy now on Amazon
- Citronella Grass
Known for its distinct smell, citronella grass is the most commonly used natural ingredient in mosquito repellants. In fact, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden recommends lemon-scented plants such as citronella grass to keep mosquitoes at bay. And the good news is that the living plant is the most effective at repelling pests. This low maintenance plant does best in large planters because it cannot withstand frost, but in warmer climates, can be planted directly a sunny area in the ground. Also, when buying Citronella, make sure you buy Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus, which are true varieties.
Buy now on Amazon
Catnip (catmint) can be found thriving almost anywhere. It is from the mint family and grows abundantly both as a commercial plant and as a weed. It is very easy to take care of and may even start to invade other areas of your garden. However, if you are willing to forgo this plant’s insidious nature, they are amazing mosquito repellants and another recommendation from the BBG. In a study at Iowa State University, catmint was found to be ten times more effective than DEET, the chemical used in most insect repellants.
Buy now from Proven Winners
Another great mosquito repellant is rosemary. Both the New York Botanical Garden and PlantShed recommended this plant. Rosemary is an herb that many of us are very familiar with and their woody scent is exactly what keeps mosquitoes as well as cabbage moths and carrot flies away. They do best in hot and dry climates and thrive in containers, which may be ideal for areas with winters. They can also be pruned into all sorts of shapes and sizes and make great borders or decorations. While the pests stay away you can enjoy the herb’s scent and also use it to season your cooking.
Buy now on Amazon
Basil is another herb that can also double as a pest repellent. The pungent smell the basil leaves give off are what keep pests at bay. And since all kinds of basil work to keep flies and mosquitoes at bay, feel free to explore and find the right types of basil to mix into your garden. This herb likes to be kept damp, needs good drainage, and enjoys lots of sun. You can plant basil in containers or in the garden, alone or with other flowers, as long as both plants meet the same requirements.
Buy now from Proven Winners
- Scented Geraniums
Scented geraniums seem to be a popular mosquito repelling plant. Recommended by PlantShed, BBG, and NYBG, the favored scent seems to be lemon scented, which is reminiscent of citronella grass. They are beautiful blooms with a strong fragrance that keep several types of pests away. These fast growing plants like warm, sunny, and dry climates, but if you are in a cold climate area, they can be grown in planters with constant pruning.
Buy now on Amazon
- Bee Balm
Want to attract good bugs like bees and butterflies, while deterring the bad ones? Then bee balm, also known as Monarda or horsemint, is the plant for you. Simply crush its leaves to release the fragrant oils. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy colorful flowers, in shades of red, pink, lavender, white, or purple, all summer long.
Buy now from Proven Winners
Mint is an excellent nontoxic option for keeping mosquitoes, flies and even ants away. The more pungent the aroma, the less bugs you’ll have. Grow it in pots on your patio where it can be easily reached if you want to drop a leaf or two in your afternoon tea. You can even dry the leaves and use them inside your home as a natural pest control method.
Buy now on Amazon
- Floss Flower
This attractive annual flower makes great bedding or container plants. Floss flower contains coumarin, a chemical that helps repel mosquitoes—but, also makes it toxic if ingested by pets or humans.
Buy now from Proven Winners
If you love gathering around a fire pit in your backyard, then plant some sage nearby. Toss some of the plant into the flames and its earthy smell will ward off bugs. Sage can also be dried and used to make homemade bug spray.
Buy now from Proven Winners
These bulbs, which include garlic and onions, release a strong fragrance that mosquitoes don’t like. You’ll enjoy the whimsical globe-shaped flowers of allium that seem to float atop long slender, stems.
Buy now from Proven Winners
Need more tips to keep your garden pest free?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for timely gardening information!
Swipe to view slides
1. Lavender – buy now from Proven Winners
- A lovely fragrance which comes from the plant’s essential oils
- Tough and drought-resistant once established
- Needs full sun and good drainage
- Thrives in warmer areas
- Learn the fundamentals of growing gorgeous lavender
2. Marigolds – buy now on Amazon
- An ornamental annual flower
- Emits a smell that deters mosquitoes
- Does well in pots, borders or the vegetable garden
3. Citronella Grass – buy now on Amazon
- Most commonly used natural ingredient in mosquito repellents
- Does best in large planters (cannot withstand frost)
- Make sure you buy Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus
- Get design ideas for using grasses in your garden
4. Catnip – buy now from Proven Winners
- From the mint family
- Very easy to take care of
- Can become invasive
- Found to be ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET
5. Rosemary – buy now on Amazon
- An herb with a woody scent
- Does best in hot and dry climates
- Will thrive in containers elsewhere
- Can be creatively pruned for borders or decoration
6. Basil – buy now from Proven Winners
- An herb that keeps flies and mosquitos at bay
- Likes to be kept damp, needs good drainage, and enjoys lots of sun
- Plant in containers or in the garden
- All types of basil work as mosquito repellents
7. Scented Geraniums – buy now on Amazon
- Lemon is the favored scent for keeping mosquitos away
- Beautiful blooms with a strong fragrance
- Fast growing
- Likes warm, sunny, and dry climates
- Check out our article about growing rose-scented geraniums
8. Bee Balm – buy now from Proven Winners
- Attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds
- Deters bugs that bite
- Release fragrant oils by crushing leaves
- Flower colors: red, pink, purple, white
9. Mint – buy now on Amazon
- Nontoxic pest control
- Use in drinks and food
- Also effective against flies and ants
10. Floss Flower – buy now from Proven Winners
- Great bedding or container plant
- Contains coumarin
- Toxic if ingested
11. Sage – buy now from Proven Winners
- Burn this plant like incense
- Plant near your fire pit
- Use dried leaves in homemade bug spray
12. Allium – buy now from Proven Winners
- Bulbs with whimsical globe-shaped flowers
- Includes garlic and onions
- Releases strong fragrance
We consulted with the New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Plantshed for the best plant options.
What do you think about this page? Send Feedback
What do you think about this page?
More Natural Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away
In addition to growing the plants listed above, you should also practice good mosquito control in your garden so that the pests don’t get out of hand. The best thing you can do is prevent water from collecting and becoming stagnant; mosquitoes can lay hundreds of eggs even in a tiny spoonful of standing water. Mosquito rings can be used virtually anywhere you have standing water — rain barrels, birdbaths, water gardens, ponds — even animal watering troughs. They contain a naturally occurring bacterium (Bt israelensis) that kills mosquito larvae.
There are also other natural products available that can help ward off mosquitoes in your garden. These include, citronella torches and candles, as well as essential oils derived from the plants listed here.
The Importance of Mosquito Control
Throughout the years, mosquitoes have transmitted many diseases including malaria, dengue, yellow fever, encephalitis, and more recently the West Nile and Zika viruses. Mosquitoes are even to blame for heartworm in dogs. So it isn’t just about the annoyance or the itchy bite, it is a health concern for your family and pets.
Backyard Landscape Ideas
Basil Plant And Flies: Does Basil Keep Flies Away?
Herbal plants have many beneficial properties. Some herbs are useful companion plants that prevent pest problems. It is said that basil can keep flies from pestering you. Does basil keep flies away? Let’s separate the fact from the fiction and get an answer to the pesky question regarding basil and flies.
Basil is one of the warm season herbs that are classics in summertime cooking. The plant requires plenty of sun and heat but basil can be grown indoors by a southern window for convenience. There are many varieties of basil, adding a twist on the plant’s flavor in essences of citrus, licorice, cinnamon and spice.
Flies on Basil
The intense scent and oil in basil and many other herbs are often used to deter common household pests. The pungent herb seems to repel flies and basil pest control has been used since ancient times. Basil is intolerant of cold temperatures and needs a full day of sunlight. The plants are useful as potted herbs in a sunny, bright kitchen or outside in the warm summer months around the vegetable or herb garden.
Potted basil plants require well-drained soil and should not be allowed to stand in a dish of water. Soggy soil attracts small gnats and basil plant flies which are annoying and difficult to remove.
Outdoor basil plants are susceptible to whiteflies in spite of their ability to repel domestic house flies. Repeated applications of a horticultural soap may help get rid of basil plant flies. Basil pest control seems to have limited effectiveness when the pests are actually on the plant!
Does Basil Keep Flies Away?
Most herbs with strong oil content and scent appear to have some repellent properties for domestic pests. Basil contains very heady oil and is useful in the kitchen to keep small gnats and flies out of food.
Small moisture gnats that live in the soil of potted plants are also foiled by mixing in some dried basil to the soil. The plant doesn’t kill flies, but anything that prevents them from contaminating the kitchen and food and is non-toxic is a useful product.
In a nutshell, information on basil and flies is more in the form of folklore. That being said, you can try the basil method because the worst thing that can happen is you have a fresh lovely herb to use. The best is a pest-free kitchen.
How do I get rid of white flies on my basil?
I have a similar problem with these tiny white flies. It considerably weakened some Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla) seedlings I was growing in pots in the garden and is still feeding on them. Although you haven’t posted a photo, given your description, I’m still confident that the insect that attacked your basil is the same as the one I have been doing battle with, whitefly (almost certainly the Greenhouse Whitefly variety, Trialeurodes vaporariorum), particularly as basil, together with tomatoes and cucurbits, is one of its favorite foods.
Whiteflies are difficult to control, both chemically and biologically. I have tried spraying with a soap solution, which is fairly effective, but only for a day or so, after which they return and the plants have to be sprayed again. There is an excellent article about them here, and a very useful organic pesticide chart here.
I’ve done some research in an attempt to find out whether there is a more effective method of controlling this pest;
The flies can be found on the leaves of plants – both on the upper and lower surfaces, but mainly on the latter. These are the adults, which feed on growing shoots and lay eggs that hatch into tiny white scales that remain attached to the underside of leaves. Like aphids (greenfly, blackfly), whitefly are sap-sucking insect pests.
This sap sucking weakens the plant and may introduce plant viruses that further weaken the plant, and may even kill it. Unfortunately, whitefly don’t go round in ones or two – they go round in hordes of hundreds and a severe attack can severely weaken a plant. You will often see a ‘cloud’ of whitefly flying away from a plant whose leaves have been disturbed.
Source: Garden Forum – Pest Watch
You say the flies “spread out like snow-flakes” when you spray your plants, and this is exactly what happens when I spray or disturb mine.
Here is what I suggest. You could take only one or two or, preferably, all of these measures, depending on how bad the infestation is and how much time and money you’re prepared to spend:
Buy some Yellow Sticky Aphid Whitefly traps, or make your own, plunge your plants in a bucket of water for a minute or so, drain them and then place the traps around them.
Vacuum the plants with a small hand-held vacuum cleaner, preferably in the early morning when it is still cool and the flies are sluggish.
Place your plants in a mini-greenhouse, and then introduce a parasitic wasp called Encarsia formosa (it doesn’t sting) which, it seems, is highly effective in controlling whitefly in a confined space, and is used by commercial growers. Live Encarsia formosa eggs are available here. I have just bought a mini-greenhouse and this is a method I intend to try myself. Although my plants are outdoors, native predators have failed to control the whitefly and, as their numbers have increased, spraying with a soap solution has proved less and less effective.
Warmer weather brings backyard barbecues, beach days and our most famous uninvited guest: the mosquito. These pesky bugs are definitely annoying, but they also pose a big health risk.
Humans have a lot of delicious aromas that attract mosquitoes. These bugs like the smell of the carbon dioxide emitted from our breath and the compounds emitted in our sweat. Mosquitoes are also attracted to warm bodies, making humans the prime choice for this little critters dinner, especially in the summertime!
The chemicals in commercial bug sprays can be harmful to you and your family. These sprays are also harmful to the environment because they easily get into the air. For a more natural alternative, you can try adding few plants that repel mosquitoes in and around your house.
15 Mosquito Repelling Plants
Some plants listed below, like lavender and mint, emit a soothing scent for us, but a repulsive scent for mosquitoes. If you want to find a natural way to avoid getting bit this season, take a look at the top 15 plants that repel mosquitoes to help you avoid these blood-sucking critters.
These plants work best if placed closest to the area you want to deter mosquitoes. Areas to keep in mind include windows, doors, walkways, seating areas and dining areas. Some plants work better when leaves are rubbed directly on the skin, but this is not advisable for all plants! We’ve noted which plants are safe to do this with below. Consult with a doctor or dermatologist to confirm what’s best for you and your skin.
Some of these plants work best in pots and planters since this allows you to easily move the plants around your home. On the other hand, other plants work better in the garden since they repel multiple types of insects (and therefore they work as a natural insecticide for your garden bed). If you notice that one of your potted plants is outgrowing its current pot, you should take a look at our guide to repotting a plant to keep your mosquito-repelling plant happy and healthy.
Basil brings us delicious pesto sauce and tasty salads, but it can also keep away mosquitoes. This plant naturally emits its aroma, so there’s no need to crush the leaves or prepare it in any way. Basil is toxic to mosquito larvae, so you can put it near standing water to deter mosquitoes from laying eggs.
2. Bee Balm
This mosquito-repelling plant is commonly known as wild bergamot and horsemint. Bee balm will bring many pollinators to your garden like bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. This plant is commonly used in jellies, tea and as a delicious garnish for salads and other dishes.
Catnip contains the chemical nepetalactone, which is a strong mosquito repellent and feline attractant. This and other chemicals make it more effective than DEET, a chemical found in most insect repellants. This makes it a top choice among the list of plants that repel mosquitoes. Cats also like to rub and roll around in it, so place your plant in a cat-friendly area if possible. Another thing to note is that catnip is easy to care for, but invasive if planted in a garden bed.
Citronella is commonly found in mosquito repellents and candles. The strong scent from citronella masks the smell of other attractants (like the smell of carbon dioxide). This large plant is normally found in planters but can also thrive in gardens in areas with no frost. Citronella is a low maintenance plant, meaning you’ll be able to repel mosquitoes with little work at all. Variations of this plant name and plants in the same family include citronella grass and citrosum.
5. Floss Flower
Floss flowers contain a chemical called coumarin that is used in common mosquito repellants. These fuzzy flowers are a great visual addition to your flower bed or as an edging plant. Floss flowers come in blue, pink white and purple and also easily complement any bouquet.
Garlic’s pungent smell is a deterrent for mosquitoes. Consuming garlic can mildly repel mosquitoes. Squeezing and rubbing the juice directly on your skin can also keep mosquitoes at bay, but it’ll also keep everyone else away!
This pleasant-smelling plant can calm your mind after a long day and drive mosquitoes far away. In addition to being a great tea ingredient, lavender can also keep away other flying pests. There are many varieties of lavender, and one may grow better in your climate area than another.
8. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is frequently used to help reduce stress, alleviate stomach trouble and more. Keep in mind that lemon balm is an invasive species and can take over your garden bed if planted there. This ornamental plant tastes great in soups and other dishes in addition to fighting off pesky mosquitos!
This plant is also known as lemon verbena. Lemongrass has a high level of citral, an oil used in mosquito repellants. This ornamental plant tastes great in soups and other dishes. Pregnant women and new moms should stay away from lemongrass because it has been shown to cause birth defects.
Marigolds are popular edging plants for vegetable gardens. These annual flowers have a strong fragrance and taste great in any salad, soup or herb butter due to their light and citrusy taste. Marigolds contain pyrethrum, a compound used in many repellants and sometimes referred to as “nature’s insecticide.”
This fast-grower can easily invade your garden if left unchecked, but it’s not as invasive as other plants in the mint family. Peppermint oil is not only great for repelling mosquitoes, but can also help with relieving discomfort from itchy mosquito bites.
This herb is a popular seasoning for many dishes and helps keep several insects away from you and your vegetables. You can also toss some rosemary in a fire for an aromatic insect repellent (just keep close to the smoke). Rosemary oil has great benefits for skin and hair, too.
Sage is commonly used for spiritual cleansing in different cultures and is often burned in certain rituals. Burning sage is also a great way to keep mosquitoes away! Throw some sage leaves in a backyard fire pit or in your fireplace to fill your home with refreshing aromas and a natural mosquito-repelling scent.
14. Scented Geranium
Geraniums are slightly lemon scented and can keep a handful of pests away from your home and garden. These mosquito-repelling flowers have beautiful blooms and come in vibrant colors that make them great for decorating. Scented geraniums have a small portion of citronella oil that contributes to their mosquito-repelling capacity.
Pennyroyal is a strong natural mosquito repellant that also keeps other flying pests away like flies and fleas. It’s most effective to crush pennyroyal and keep in your pockets, but keep in mind that pennyroyal has been found to be toxic for infants and pregnant women.
Another major way to keep mosquitoes away is to avoid keeping standing water outside. Standing water is a breeding ground for many insects, so try your best to keep stagnant water away from your house. If you must (for example, if you have a birdbath), be sure to empty and clean your container at least once a week. Make sure to take care of all of your plants that repel mosquitoes so you can have a pest-free home!
Since you know how to successfully deter party-crashing mosquitoes, you can now focus on making your backyard parties and summer getaways the best they can be! Consider having a fun garden party filled with fresh and beautiful flowers and some of your favorite mosquito repelling plants.