15 Plants That Repel Flies

A green mint plant with a white background

Flies and insects buzzing around your backyard can be quite annoying when you’re trying to relax and enjoy time with company. Some of you might use toxic chemicals to deter these pesky insects away but that could also be harmful to you or anyone spending time in your backyard.

So, what other option is there? Well, believe it or not, there are many plants and herbs that will repel flies and insects away from your backyard. Let’s get to it.


Plants That Repel Flies

Here is a list of the plants that will help you enjoy a life free from annoying flies and insects. Many plants are easy to grow and will help you repel your backyard insects for a long time.


1) Basil

a green basil plant repelling flies.

Basil thrives both indoors and outdoors. Fresh basil is proven by many to be an effective insect repellent.

You can crush its leaves and rub it directly onto your skin, but it doesn’t work for too long. However, here is another way to prepare a basil spray that will last awhile:

  • Boil 4 ounces of water into a container.  (Be sure to use only the amount of water recommended for the recipe.) Too much water weakens the mixture’s potency.
  • Add 4-6 ounces of freshly washed basil leaves. (Leaves can stay attached.)
  • Let it steep for several hours, then remove leaves and squeeze all the moisture of basil leaves into the mixture. Let it cool. The infused liquid should strongly smell of basil.
  • Add 4 ounces of vodka into the infused mixture, (vodka will use as a carrier for the mixture) mix thoroughly and voila! You can now enjoy an affordable homemade insect repellent you can spray when going outdoors.

Reminder: Keep the spray out of your children’s reach, and when you spray, keep away from your eyes, nose, and mouth as it can be harmful.

Aside from basil adding flavor to different types of soups, salads, and various pork and chicken recipes, it can also be of great aid to improve the taste of vegetables like asparagus, tomatoes, and peppers.


2) Bay Leaf

A branch of bay leaf.

Dried bay leaf is an effective natural insect repellent. It wards off annoying insects like cockroaches, ants, and also fleas when sprinkled around your home.

It can act just like insecticide sprays sold commercially. Unlike commercial insect killers, they are best and safe for home use where your children and pets play around.

The pungent scent of bay leaf is what deters insects. Others believe that essential oils (myrcene and eugenol) commonly extracted from bay leaves play a vital role in discouraging these insects.

How to use bay leaves to repel insects:

Place leaves in the areas where you often spot insects. It can be under your cabinets, counter-tops, around trashcans, and even along your baseboards.

However, the pungent odor from the leaves wears off after a few days, and it loses its effectiveness too. With that being said, replace bay leaves once a week to keep insects from coming back.

Type of insects bay leaves can repel:

  • Cockroaches
  • Fleas
  • Wasps and flies
  • Sugar ants (one of the common household pests)
  • Spiders
  • Moths

3) Lavender

purple lavender plants in a green field

Lavender is known for its natural aid in helping people get a good night’s sleep and having it reduce stress.

Aside from offering a comforting and calming scent to people, lavender is also efficient in keeping away bothersome pests, particularly mosquitoes and ticks. It also deters ants, spiders, and fleas.

Protecting yourself from mosquitoes and other insects does not just help you avoid bites, but it also prevents you from the risk of catching diseases like Zika or Dengue.

Part of the reason for this is because lavender contains linalool, a non-toxic compound used in various pests control products.

Aside from acting as a natural insect repellent, it also helps relieve discomfort from bug bites because of its natural anti-inflammatory agent.

It can be applied directly to the affected wound and is particularly helpful with spider bites, bee stings, and fire ant bites.

How to use Lavender for bug prevention:
  • You can do so by putting a small amount onto your skin. If your skin is sensitive and lavender is too strong for you, diluting it with other essential oils like jojoba, sweet apricot, almond, or sesame oil is also a great idea.
  • However, if you prefer not to put anything directly onto your skin, another way to enjoy its benefits is to get lavender sachets, pillows, or another form of dried lavender.
  • A small amount of lavender oil is also efficient if mixed with your regular body lotions or moisturizer.
  • You can also grow a lavender plant in your garden to prevent insects near your homes.

4) Lemon Grass

Lemon grass planted on the ground.

Lemongrass has citronella oils that repel insects, particularly mosquitoes.

Aside from adding a citrus flavor in many Asian dishes, it is also helpful in preventing unpleasant bugs and other flying insects from coming into your yard.

If citronella plants aren’t available for you, you can get a candle infused with citronella essentials. Candles with citronella are popular during the summer. Many stores sell citronella candles along with the instructions on how this plant is capable of keeping mosquitoes away.

The oil is also widely used as antibacterial and antifungal ingredients in many commercially sold hygienic products.

Lemongrass is an ornamental plant that can grow up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It thrives well in a warmer climate either in container pots or in ground that has well-drained soil.


5) Mint

a green mint plant in front of a white background

Mints are famous for containing aromatic oils, both fresh and dried. All varieties of mint have components that repel all kinds of bugs, particularly mosquitoes, and it also has a natural spider repellent.

It thrives quickly on the ground, making it best to grow in container pots or hanging planters on your porch, as they only need minimal care. It also loves plenty of sunlight and moist soil.


6) Rosemary

A branch of rosemary full of leaves.

Rosemary is a shrub that is widely known for its ability to grow tall. People trim it into decorative shapes while most chefs love it for making lamb, beef, and other various dishes.

Aside from that, releasing the smell of rosemary is quite the effective insect repellent. Many prefer extracting its essential oils and making a homemade spray to enjoy its optimum benefits.

And here’s how to prepare rosemary spray:
  • Boil 1 cup of dried rosemary in a quart of water for 20 to 30 minutes
  • Strain the liquid into a half-gallon container containing a quart of colder water.
  • Seal the container with a cap and store in a refrigerator.
  • Pour adequate amount into a spray bottle and use it as an insect repellent when going outdoors. 
  • Discard the remaining liquid in the refrigerator if it no longer smells of rosemary.

7) Sage

Newly harvested sage in a pot.

Like rosemary, sage can also repel mosquitoes by tossing its leaves into the fire. Its scented smoke keeps insects away.

Making homemade repellents incorporated with rosemary, mint, and apple cider vinegar is also efficient in keeping bugs from entering your space.


8) Lemon Thyme

Lemon thyme in full sun exposure.

Crushing a few leaves of lemon thyme can release a citrus scent that can repel insects. You can gradually crush its leaves in your hand while relaxing and watching a sunset on your patio.

Thyme can make a beautiful garden border or an excellent ground cover for its small shiny green leaves. This tolerant plant does well in partial shade and rocky soil. Aside from that, it is also a great addition to your marinade.


9) Rue

Rue in a garden bed.

Rue which is composed of disinfectant qualities will repel many types of insects. It does well even in poor soil and is a great companion to perennial plants. Its aromatic scent keeps flying insects away.

However, this strong-scented woody plant can cause slight blistering and other allergic reactions when the leaves rub onto your skin. You can enjoy its maximum benefits if you know the plant’s correct usage, especially with its oil extract.


10) Wormwood

Wormwood planted in a garden bed.

Wormwood contains a resinous substance used as a natural insecticide. Rubbing the plant onto your skin or your clothing keeps flies away.

Dried bundled leaves placed in closets or under shelves can discourage insects from coming near.

Wormwood is also famous for its medical use for over centuries now. However, some countries banned the use of wormwood in beverages due to its potent components that can cause adverse effects if ingested in large quantities.

If you are highly sensitive to plants or allergic to any, be sure to consult a doctor before using wormwood to avoid side effects.


11) Nasturtium

Nasturtium with red-orange flowers.

Nasturtium plants are easy to grow in containers or on a trellis. Its scent repels aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, beetles, and loopers effectively. They naturally protect anyone from flies whenever they thrive. Just be mindful that when maintaining this plant that it loves plenty of sunlight and water.

Aside from repelling pests away in your garden, many chefs used nasturtiums as a delectable garnish for various dishes. It’s pepper-like taste flowers are packed with 10x the vitamins of lettuce.


12) Alliums

Alliums in full bloom.

Alliums are known as a broad-spectrum natural insecticide. It is best at repelling many insects that are attacking vegetable gardens, particularly aphids, carrot flies, and even slugs and cabbage worms.

It also keeps aphids away from rose bushes. Other plants that benefit the proximity of alliums are vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, carrots,  kohlrabi, and peppers.

Even small growing herbs like garlic, chives, leeks, and shallots can benefit when planted closer to alliums.


13) Marigolds

Marigolds with red-orange flowers.

Various types of marigolds repel aphids, mosquitoes, and even rabbits. Its roots are great to repel nematodes, but it takes about a year to come into effect.

Marigolds are proven to have the ability to release limonene, which is a component that repels whiteflies from flying around tomatoes.


14) Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemum in a flower bed with pink flowers.

Pyrethrum is the component chrysanthemum has that repels insects in your vegetable garden.

It repels spider mites, roaches, ants, ticks, silverfish, beetles, lice, fleas, bedbugs, bugs, and nematodes.

Pyrethrums is best for killing flying and jumping insects, and are known as one of the most potent ingredients in pet shampoos and indoor sprays.

However, because it is carcinogenic to humans, proper care should be taken in using them. Make sure you know the risks before using them.


15) Geraniums

Geranium in a pot with flowers in pink.

When in bloom, geranium flowers that have the lemon-like scent keeps bugs away. It is also best in repelling leafhoppers, and pelargonium citrosum, a particular variety of geranium that is known for its traits in repelling mosquitoes.

Geranium likes plenty of sunlight and warm climates. It thrives well both in flower beds or vegetable gardens.


Final Thoughts

Overall, growing several plants that repel flies in your backyard or inside your home can be an excellent approach to protecting your household from insects.

The aromatic scent of these various plants either by crushing their leaves or making it into a liquid spray can ward off pests away.

Is there anything I should add? Don’t hesitate to share your opinion, I hope this list of plants I’ve shared will help you fight back against flies and various insects, either in your home or in your garden.

Try to experiment and please feel free to share with us your experience in the comment section below.

About Benita Abucejo

Hi there! My name is Benita Abucejo. What can I say? I truly love spending my days in the outdoors, specifically in the garden. Gardening has always been a strong passion of mine since I was a little girl. It has brought me so much joy and happiness that it is definitely safe to say that I will be a gardener for life. For a period of time, I was able to work with people who are into home gardening and I found it to be quite beneficial to my physical health, as well as my mental well-being. Here at Seasonal Preferences, I am going to share with you my experience and ideas so that you can fulfill yourself with the same satisfaction and happiness. Of course, if you have ideas, I would love to hear those as well! Being creative in the garden can really be quite fascinating so let's share our experiences and be the best gardeners we can be. With that being said, thank you for dropping by and please leave me a comment on one of my posts if you would like to get in touch!

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