Using indoor houseplants to help control insects and pests isn’t a new idea, though it tends to be more common to get rid of flying bugs like mosquitoes.
But do you know that this technique can also be effective for spiders as well?
In this article, I’ll walk you through 7 of the best houseplants to consider to keep their creepy crawlies at bay. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
4 Plants That Directly Repel Spiders
Houseplants can repel spiders in a variety of ways. First, let’s have a look at the plants that will actively deter spiders due to their active ingredients, especially essential oils.
1 – Peppermint
The crisp and unmistakable scent of peppermint is an excellent insect deterrent and can be very effective in discouraging spiders from taking up residence.
Other varieties of mint can also work as a repellent, but peppermint is the most potent choice because it’s easy to maintain and has one of the highest concentrations of peppermint oil among mint plants.
Keep your peppermint plants in a sunny window, and pot them in a well-draining soil mixture. You only need to water them when the topsoil is dry to the touch.
Mint is a well-known fast grower and can take over a garden, so it will do the same indoors. Be ready to re-pot as the plant grows, or try to keep it trimmed down so it doesn’t over-grow its container.
Splitting this prolific herb into multiple smaller parts is another option, especially if you need to spread more mint around the house.
2 – Basil
Another plant that you can add to that sunny window is basil. The aromatic oils in this plant are known to repel most insects, including spiders.
Basil grows just fine indoors as long as you provide it with direct sunlight for at least 4 to 5 hours a day.
Additionally, the plant needs warm conditions to thrive, so it’s best to keep it in a spot that doesn’t get too cold.
Additionally, keep its soil moist and try not to let it dry out because stressing the plant reduces its essential oil yield.
Note: There are many varieties of basil, and you can try any of them for their pest-control qualities.
3 – Lavender
This traditional purple perennial is an outdoor garden staple, and its scent will deter insects even though it’s remarkably pleasant for most people and often used in perfumes
Additionally, lavender has a wide range of health benefits which earned the plant a spot in my post about indoor plants that are good for us.)
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy to grow indoors as other plants on the list, but it’s still quite manageable if you have experience growing indoor plants.
The trick to keeping lavender in good shape indoors is providing good airflow. To achieve this, you simply need to open windows frequently or provide a gentle breeze artificially using a little fan.
During the winter months, you should have a grow light to make sure your plant gets a full day of light even when the days are shorter outside.
Like peppermint, lavender can outgrow a pot in no time, so prune your plants back each year once it has finished flowering to keep things in check.
You can also split larger plants into smaller pots if you want to spread the plant’s lovely scent around the house.
4 – Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is another wide-spectrum deterrent that repels a variety of small pests, including insects and spiders.
The primary reason behind its effectiveness is the potent aroma of eucalyptus essential oils produced by its leaves.
While pleasant to humans, this distinctive menthol-like scent is quite irritating to spiders, prompting them to avoid areas where it’s present.
While some people swear by it, scientific research on the effectiveness of eucalyptus against spiders is somewhat inconclusive, so it’s best to use it alongside other minty plants and not alone.
3 Plants That Indirectly Repel Spiders
Since spiders eat insects, you can try a different approach and focus on repelling these other bugs and depriving the spiders of their food source.
When there is nothing to eat, the spiders will eventually move on by themselves. The next few plant suggestions are intended to work with this tactic.
1 – Citronella
As I mentioned in another article, citronella is best known as a mosquito repellent, but the lemon scent works well to drive away a whole range of flying bugs.
This makes it a good home repellent to clear away any potential spider food. Of course, getting rid of these pests around the house is a nice bonus as well.
One thing to note here is citronella comes in several varieties. Your plant should have long, grass-like leaves, or you may have the wrong kind of plant.
Some varieties of scented geraniums are marketed as “mosquito plants” but a true citronella is far better as a repellent.
These are plants suited for tropical living and will do best indoors if there is a lot of sun and warm temperatures.
Like lavender, a little added artificial light in the winter is a smart move. Fertilizer should also be part of your citronella care routine.
2 – Lemon Balm
If you’re struggling with houseplants because you don’t have sun exposure, go with lemon balm. It’s one of the most forgiving houseplants for a gardening novice and will do fine in the sun or even indirect light.
Additionally, the plant is easy to grow from seed. You can find seeds for lemon balm (as well as other herbs) at Urban Leaf.
The only thing to keep in mind here is the soil, as it needs a well-draining one. Let it dry out periodically before watering.
If you see flower buds starting, you should prune them out immediately. The leaves will lose their aromatic traits and be much less effective after blooming.
3 – Chrysanthemum
The insect-repelling compounds in chrysanthemums are known as pyrethrins and are a common ingredient in many natural pesticides. That sounds like something that could help with your insect problems, doesn’t it?
Keep your mums in a sunny spot but not too bright or it will stop flowering too quickly.
With chrysanthemums, it’s the flowers rather than the leaves that produce the repellents you are after. So as each flower dies back, immediately pluck off the dead blossom to encourage more flowers to come out.
Unfortunately, this will be a short-lived project as mums won’t bloom repeatedly when kept as houseplants. Even so, they can be a great addition to your pest-control plans when you have spiders or other insects to deal with.
You can put them outside for the rest of the season and the natural sunlight rhythms may trigger more blooming in the future, and then you can bring the plants back indoors for more insect duty.
Where to Place Your Spider-Repellent Plants
Spiders usually like to hang out in quiet corners, waiting for their prey. That’s where you should focus your houseplant collection, providing these areas get enough sun to keep your plants healthy.
Hanging baskets can be an effective approach, as you can place your plants near those out-of-the-way ceiling corners that always seem to attract cobwebs.
You can also take a more active technique to repelling spiders with your indoor plants, instead of just leaving them to do their jobs on their own.
Plucking a few aromatic leaves, crushing them, and rubbing their strong oils in the corners or crannies where spiders are a problem will speed up their departure. Crumbled dried leaves (or flowers, in the case of lavender) can also be used this way.
Are Spiders Dangerous?
You should be clearly aware that most spiders that you would find in your house are not dangerous. Many are not likely to bite you, and even if they did, it would not result in more than a slightly itchy “bug bite.”
Unfortunately, trying to provide an accurate visual guide to all possible spider species is a little beyond the scope of this article. The ones you should be most concerned with are the brown recluse, black widow, and hobo spiders.
Knowing how to identify these particular species is a good idea as they are quite poisonous.
There you have it! A brief guide that shows you the best options to consider while looking for indoor plants that repel spiders.
Though seeing spiders in the house can send shivers up your spine, don’t forget that they do play an important role in keeping other insect populations down.
A few spiders in the corner may be doing more good than harm as they catch and eliminate house flies, fruit flies, and other similar pests.
But spiders can definitely be a problem themselves if their own numbers get too high. Just keep it in perspective before you decide to wage an all-out war on them.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.