Plants That Repel Flies


The last thing you want is to spray some nasty chemical around your plants, but you’re at your wit’s end with these flies. Perhaps adding a few new plants that repel flies is exactly what you need. There are a few plants that are especially good at keeping flies away. If you’re not sure which plants are best for repelling flies then continue reading because that’s exactly what this post is about.

The following plants will repel flies:

  • Rue
  • Venus flytrap
  • Catnip
  • Citronella
  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Sweet woodruff
  • Lavender
  • Wormwood
  • Marigolds
  • Pennyroyal
  • Mint
  • Tansy
  • Basil
  • Bay laurel

In this guide, I’ll explain what it is about the above plants that wards off flies, such as a strong odor that insects hate. I’ll even provide some basic care tips for each plant so your indoor garden will be healthy and keep flies away! 

15 Fly-Repelling Houseplants to Grow Today

Rue Plant

Ruta graveolens, from the Rutaceae family, commonly known as Rue, herb-of-grace, garden rue as well as “common rue”. Rue is one of those houseplants that’s a double-edged sword.

Yes, its pretty yellow flowers can add a pop of color to your indoor garden, its smell is so strong that a lot of people can’t stand it and the strong odor, is a natural deterrent. 

As you hope you go noseblind to the musty odor of rue, any flies that get too close will want to escape ASAP as soon as they’re enveloped in that overwhelming odor.

You can grow rue from seed as the winter comes to an end and you’re chomping at the bit looking for something to do. Rue doesn’t require a lot of water, and it prefers full sun with some shade.

Rue is a plant that “self seeds” so it will continue to grow more of itself if left to its own.

Although rue is an herb, just touching it is enough to cause skin irritation and possibly a rash.

And don’t even think about eating it. Rue is poisonous if ingested. If you choose to use rue in your garden our indoors to repel flies, please be sure to grow it where people and pets won’t easily come in contact with it.

Venus Flytrap

Maybe you don’t want to repel flies so much as you want to exterminate them. In that case, then a Venus flytrap is perfect for your indoor garden. Just look at the name; catching flies is this plant’s purpose. 

Even when your fly problem comes to an end, having a Venus flytrap in your indoor garden is still cool. To care for yours, provide acidic, well-draining soil with some sphagnum to retain moisture. 

The biggest component of growing a venus flytrap is its lighting requirements. The Venus flytrap requires direct sun for about four hours per day, then four more hours of indirect sun. 

Catnip

Not all flies are merely nuisances. Others can suck your blood like mosquitos. Catnip is especially adept at removing the bloodsucking variety of flies, this 2010 report from the American Chemical Society found. 

Do you have cats in the house? Growing catnip will make any feline friend happy. Whether it’s fresh or dried, this herb stimulates cats. If you’re trying to acclimate your kitty to a new room in the house or even a new bed, catnip also very much comes in handy! 

Growing catnip is easy-peasy. Avoid fertilizer, especially if you intend to use catnip for your cats, as the chemicals can affect its flavor. Provide partial to full sun and add well-draining soil. 

Citronella

That’s right, those citronella candles around your patio aren’t randomly scented, but inspired by a houseplant of the same name. 

The Cymbopogon nardus has the trademark smell that you know and love from those patio candles. Besides preventing mosquitoes, citronella can keep flies away as well. 

Unlike catnip, citronella plants are less cat-friendly, as the plant has been known to deter felines. If you have an issue with feral cats, this might not be such a bad thing.

Citronella’s active growing season begins in the spring. This houseplant prefers its soil moist but well-draining. Whenever the plant’s top inch of soil is dry, it’s time to water it. 

Give your citronella plant sunlight for up to six hours; artificial light works well on cloudy or dark days. 

Eucalyptus

The natural odor of eucalyptus is mint-like yet unique. If its aroma is one that’s pleasing to your olfactory receptors, then plant some eucalyptus in your indoor garden, as flies can’t stand its scent. 

Choose well-draining soil for the eucalyptus and position it in a southerly-facing window so it gets plenty of direct sun. You might have to rotate your plant to ensure both sides receive the same amount of light, especially if you’ve noticed uneven growth! 

Rosemary

You might not have all the space in the world for an indoor garden, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rid your home of flies. Even a small herb garden can be effective if you fill it with the right houseplants. 

The rosemary should certainly be at the top of your list. Its scent is utterly appealing to us people, but flies can’t handle it, and neither can cabbage moths. 

Having rosemary to pluck from your herb garden so you can garnish food is another great perk. 

Check your soil pH before growing rosemary and confirm that it’s between 6.0 and 7.0. The soil should also drain well. 

Watch your watering habits. Rosemary is drought-resistant, so it can go longer without water than other plants. Provide direct sun for upwards of six hours a day. 

Sweet Woodruff

Sweetscented bedstraw or sweet woodruff is an edible herb. Its flavor is a lot like its odor, which is earthy and sweet with notes of hay. If you don’t feel like eating it, you can always admire its small white blooms. 

When your herbs grow, you can harvest them, dry them out, and put them in pouches. Place the sweet woodruff pouches around your home or office where the fly problem is worst. You won’t see as many flies buzzing around! 

How do you grow sweet woodruff? This houseplant needs well-draining soil with organic amendments. Keep its soil moist and its conditions shady and the herb can grow very fast, so fast that it’s sometimes known to be invasive. 

For more plants that love to grow in the shade, you’ll want to read my article: Which Indoor Plants Like Shade?

Lavender

Are you trying to destress? Lavender is proven to aide in relaxation and even improve mood. 

Rather than light a scented lavender candle, why not grow the real deal? As an added benefit, your home or office will have fewer flies as well as fleas and beetles.

To see the pretty purple blooms of a lavender plant, keep its soil well-draining and provide full sun. 

Water this houseplant when its soil gets mostly dry. Avoid waiting until the soil is bone dry to prevent the plant from getting dehydrated. Use all-purpose fertilizer monthly during the active growing season. 

Wormwood

A medicinal herb, wormwood is a recommended natural treatment for such health maladies as intestinal spasms, gallbladder disease, stomach pains, and a decrease in appetite. 

However, I would caution you against snacking on wormwood, as it could cause kidney failure if ingested in high quantities.

Flies will not get near your wormwood plant since it produces a resin they don’t like. The resin is a lot safer than the wormwood itself, so feel free to put it in sachets around the house or even apply it on your skin.  

Water your wormwood plant when its soil gets dry, but don’t be surprised if that takes a while to happen. Outside of the summer, this plant doesn’t need a lot of water. Well-draining soil will prevent root rot. Choose a nice, sunny spot for your wormwood too.

Marigolds

Although most marigolds are beautiful and aromatic, the kind that best repels flies is neither. 

It’s called the Stinking Roger and it isn’t exactly known for its flowers. It also has an odor somewhat like marigolds but a lot stronger. People either love it or hate it while flies just hate it.

Standard marigold care applies for the Stinking Roger. That means watering when the soil gets dry and providing sun for at least six hours. A southerly-facing window will be especially good for this houseplant.  

Pennyroyal

The lavender lookalike known as pennyroyal will send the flies packing, but that’s not all. Ants and mice don’t like this indoor plant, nor do mosquitoes. Pennyroyal is such an effective mosquito repellant that one of its nicknames is the mosquito plant. 

Partial sun is best for the pennyroyal, but this plant can withstand full sun as well. You will have to increase how often you water the plant in brighter light. Aim for at least six hours of sunlight or artificial light per day. 

Mint

Finally, a houseplant that repels flies with a pleasing scent, not something that makes you want to pinch your nose. Mosquitoes, ants, and spiders will also become fewer around your indoor garden thanks to your mint plant. 

Mint likes moist, acid soil with a pH of up to 6.5. Neutral soil at 7.0 is also fine. Above all, the soil should be well-draining.

Your mint plant won’t burn in full sun, but periods of shade are recommended as well. Even if all you have for this plant is a shady corner of your cubicle, your mint plant should still grow! Garnish your favorite desserts with a sprig of this herb. 

Tansy

The Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) produces flowers that look like a marriage between dandelions and marigolds.

As drawn in as you’ll be to the sunny yellow flowers, all sorts of critters will not be. Tansy is known for repelling mice, bedbugs, cockroaches, ants, moths, mosquitoes, and flies.

Tansy can be invasive, so you’ll have to carefully monitor the growth of yours so it doesn’t take over your indoor garden. 

This houseplant prefers full sun (with some shade if necessary), well-draining soil, and infrequent watering since it’s a drought-resistant houseplant. 

As an FYI, some people are sensitive to the oil within the tansy plant. If you’re among them, then handling this plant can cause skin irritation.

You should also avoid consumption, as ingesting enough tansy can lead to an upset stomach.

Basil

You can eat basil though. Whether you top a pizza with basil or stir yours through soup, this is another herb that’s a fantastic fly repellant. Mosquitos will also stay back when you have basil growing at home or the office.

The key to growing basil is to provide moist soil. Basil also loves the morning sun but doesn’t need the full brunt of the afternoon light. A shady spot is better for this plant during those hours. You shouldn’t need to fertilize this herb. 

Bay Laurel 

The last houseplant I recommend for resisting flies is bay laurel, which produces an herb called bay leaf. 

Wasps, fleas, and cockroaches are none too fond of bay leaves either, which makes bay laurel a very useful addition to your indoor garden.

Bay laurel trees are indeed suitable for growing in your home. Provide as much sun as you can in the winter months and into the rest of the year as well. The more sunlight this plant receives, the better its leaves will taste.

Water the bay laurel when its soil is dry and double-check that the soil is well-draining to prevent root rot

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

Recent Posts

Join Thousands of Indoor Plant Lovers Just Like You

For Houseplant Care, Tips & More

You have Successfully Subscribed!