Are you constantly reaching for a fly swatter in your house? You’re not alone!
Having flies buzzing around your head can be endlessly annoying, and it can be any time of year when they decide to make themselves at home too.
So, why not put your houseplants to work? Choose some that are known to repel flies and send them right back outside!
What Flies Can Plants Repel?
We’re not just talking about the usual house flies here.
Though they are the main flying pest in the average house, you can also use houseplants to repel fruit flies and even moths.
Small whiteflies can be an issue in the home too, in particular if you have a large indoor garden that attracts them.
That’s why the list of plants below can help deal with any of these pests!
9 Plants that Repel Flies
A number of aromatic plants will do a great job keeping flies at bay. Many of these options thrive indoors and they can easily be part of your indoor or outdoor garden.
From experience, here are some of your best options:
1 – Basil
A healthy basil plant will look great in a sunny kitchen window, offering a nice aroma to the room while also keeping out stray flies.
Along with direct light, your basil will need regular watering, and a little spritz from a misting bottle occasionally wouldn’t hurt. They aren’t that finicky though, and if the soil does dry out on top, it should be fine.
As an annual, basil will put up small stalks of flowers in the late summer so it can go to seed. To keep your plant living longer, snip out the flowers as soon as they start to develop.
Additionally, basil comes in dozens of varieties. With many unique scents like lemon, cinnamon, and licorice.
And the good news:
Not sure which variety to get? Urban Leaf’s Basil Seed Collection will give you plenty of options, with 6 different varieties of basil seeds that you can grow indoors or out.
2 – Tansy
Not only does the smell of tansy repel most flies, it’ll give you clusters of pretty yellow flowers to brighten up your home!
Unlike most of these aromatic plants, it’s the flowers that produce the scent rather than the leaves—which means you do need to care for your plant well enough that it blooms indoors.
Tansy is also different in that it’s not a culinary herb whatsoever. In fact, it can be irritating to the skin and should not be kept if you have kids or pets that might have access to it.
As for care, tansy just needs several hours of indirect light and regular watering. It’s quite tolerant of poor treatment. Nifty, huh?
Another note about tansy is that it’ll self-seed rather easily and is known as an invasive plant in some areas. If you do start to grow it, make sure you keep your houseplants out of the garden.
3 – Mint
Mint can grow quite large, so you’ll need a good sized pot and lots of space with at least 4 hours of bright sun or even indirect lighting. The best situation would be to keep it sunny in the morning and then lower the light for the rest of the day.
Water enough so that it doesn’t dry right out either; usually just when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. Soil should be loose and drain excess water quickly too.
Keep your plant pruned (use excess leaves in tea or cooking!), or it’ll outgrow its container quite quickly. You’ll still probably have to split and repot occasionally.
As for choosing a variety of mint for a houseplant, select one with the strongest scent you can. Spearmint is a favorite of mine!
4 – Sweet Woodruff
When grown out in the garden, sweet woodruff is a low-growing ground cover with small white flowers.
It’s not common as an indoor plant but it would work nicely in a hanging basket where you have the room to let the tendrils spread out and dangle.
It’s a pretty aesthetically-pleasing plant if you ask me!
Luckily, it’s not a high maintenance plant either. Sweet woodruff needs indirect light, or even low light, and water just when the soil dries out.
5 – Marigold
If you’re trying to keep out whiteflies, try adding a few marigolds to your indoor garden and watch the difference!
Though they do better as outside plants, you can probably manage a pot or two of them if you provide enough light.
Not only do they need a full day of light, they prefer warm temperatures as well. You can let them dry out a bit between waterings too.
And let’s say you don’t have any whiteflies, the scent of marigolds can repel many other insects, including mosquitos, tomato bugs, and squash bugs.
6 – Lavender
Lavender simply had to be on our list of pest repellent plants!
The strong floral scent is just perfect to keep away flies, moths, as well as mosquitoes, ants and even spiders.You can also choose from English, French or Spanish lavender for growing inside.
The French variety is probably easier to keep but the English strain is more aromatic and can be more effective for fly control.
You can find English Lavender plant seeds on Amazon. I find this is a great candidate to repel flies in your home!
That said, lavender will need a lot of light, and if you find your plants aren’t blooming enough, add a lamp to brighten things up. There needs to be good air flow around the plant (but not cold drafts), and you must pot lavender in loose soil so that the roots aren’t left soggy.
Be prepared to deal with a quite large plant though. If you have the right conditions, you can end up with a pretty big pot of lavender after just a season or two.
Pruning in the fall can help but you can probably count on some repotting in your future with this one. If you divide this perennial up into smaller plants, you can keep it under control and add more lavender pots around the house.
7 – Rosemary
Like with lavender, you need a place that has a lot of sun as well as good airflow. Otherwise, your plants can develop mildew.
For light, either find a window that offers full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours a day, or plan on keeping your rosemary plants near a lamp.
These are picky plants in terms of watering too. The soil needs to drain well and the roots can’t sit around in soggy soil. But you shouldn’t let it dry right out either.
If you can get the care just right, a pot of rosemary will add some fly-repelling aroma to your indoor garden.
8 – Citronella
Known best as a mosquito repellent, the lemony citronella plant will help with other sorts of flies too. It’s not that common as a houseplant though so you might have difficulty finding one.
A bit of advice:
Citronella is also often incorrectly labeled, which won’t help your search either. Though a true citronella plant will have long leaves and look a lot like a pot of grass.
If you find a “citronella” with leaves that resemble parsley, it’s a scented geranium which is also somewhat aromatic though not as strong as a real citronella plant.
Once you manage to get your hands on an actual citronella, you need to store it in a sunny place where there’s constant warm temperatures.
When winter hits, add a grow light to keep the plant happy until the longer days are back.
9 – Venus Flytrap
We can’t talk plants and fly control without the mention of the classic Venus flytrap!
This isn’t your typical indoor plant either as it’ll need some special care. Even so, it can be a rather fun addition to your home and they really do eat flies.
You’ll need to focus on two things to keep your plant thriving, though: humidity and soil acidity.
Venus flytraps need relatively high moisture content in their surroundings and are often kept in glass terrariums to maintain that environment for them. Their soil can be moist but not soggy. A little misting would be good.
Just remember that keeping plants under glass also means they heat up very easily. Keep them out of direct sun—which will be fine because they prefer indirect light or even a little shade anyway.
The soil needs to be much more acidic than usual too, and most Venus flytraps are planted in a potting mix that is mostly peat moss. Use distilled water to keep the soil from losing its acidic edge.
Can Your Plants Attract Flies Instead of Repel Them?
Thankfully, there aren’t many plants known for drawing houseflies, so you probably won’t have to worry too much about this concern.
On the other hand, whiteflies are a different story.
These small pests feed off plant sap, and can be attracted by your indoor garden. For example, hibiscus and poinsettias are two notorious houseplants that’ll bring in whiteflies. If you happen to grow tomatoes indoors, they can be a problem as well.
But if it’s not the plants, what else might be bringing flies into your home?
Open garbage and exposed food are big attractants for flies, particularly overripe fruit in the case of fruit flies. So, keep your garbage or compost in containers with tight lids, or store outside as much as possible.
Sometimes, it’s just warmth and light that draw them in – and you can’t do too much about that!
Having secure screens on your windows and doors can be a big help. Try not to leave doors open any longer than necessary either.
4 Alternative Non Plant-Based Ways to Repel Flies
Besides your collection of houseplants, you can take a few other natural approaches to reducing your household fly population.
For starters, though diatomaceous earth (DE) is often recommended for ants or spiders, this is one area where it won’t help that much.
Because DE works by coming into contact with an insect and damaging its exoskeleton. So it’s perfect for crawling insects but not flying ones.
So, what else can you try?
Flies of all kinds are vulnerable to sticky traps, for instance, if you can just find the best places to put them.
Starting with hanging ribbons of glue tape: This alternative works fine, though can get awkward if you need to put them up in parts of the house where people walk around a lot.
Another choice is the sticky “window trap”—which is ideal if you suffer from the cluster flies that appear in the spring. A sticky film is attached right to the window glass, and it captures any flies that fly up to the glass.
And our final choice—specifically for fruit flies—we have: a natural vinegar trap.
Add about a half inch of apple cider vinegar to a drinking glass, and then set a funnel into the mouth of the glass (with the opening pointing down into the glass).
Fruit flies are attracted to the fermented vinegar, easily fly down through the opening, but then can’t find their way back out again. Many will get stuck in the liquid and drown, or you can just take the funnel off outside and let them loose. Up to you!
Are Flies a Health Hazard? Do You Have to Get Rid of Them?
Buzzing flies are a nuisance but are these various flying pests an actual danger or hazard in the house?
When it comes to houseflies, for example, there’s a potential health risk by letting them have free reign in your home.
Because they’re attracted to and eat rotting food or garbage, they carry a large number of bacteria and pathogens everywhere they go.
Fruit flies can transmit disease too, but are less of a health risk.
They reproduce extremely quickly as well, and you can have quite an infestation of them if you don’t take steps immediately. Clouds of fruit flies can be pretty disturbing, trust me!
Fortunately, moths themselves are harmless. It’s their hungry little larvae that do the damage.
When the moths lay their eggs, they hatch into grubs that eat all types of fabrics as well as many dry goods you find in the pantry. If you want to stop the grubs, you need to stop the moths.
And lastly, the whiteflies that directly target your houseplants won’t be much of a problem anywhere else in the house since they’re only interested in your plants.
If you have enough of them, their sap-sucking ways can start to harm your plants.
So, yes, keeping fly populations down in the home is important for many reasons – not just to keep the irritating buzzing at bay.
What is the best plant to repel flies?
There’s no one particular plant that excels at repelling flies—if anything, they all make for pretty great contenders!
The ones on our list, and others like Catnip, Sage, and Lemonbalm, not only smell nice enough to deter flies and other insects, but they’re also easy to take care of.
What smell do flies hate the most?
Flies are usually adverse to powerful scents that most of us are naturally drawn to. Lovely smells, such as mint, clove, lavender, citrus, and eucalyptus are just few to mention.
What keeps flies away naturally?
No one wants to fill their home with harsh chemicals! Natural remedies to get rid of flies would work wonders in such cases.
You can create a misting spray of watered down cayenne pepper or opt for a cinnamon-y refresher as well. Either spices will make for optimal natural repellents!
Swatting flies away no longer has to be a problem with a colorful collection of household plants and an arsenal of natural, homemade bug sprays up your sleeve!
Pick from my favorite 9 houseplants one that you know you’ll take care of easily and would love the smell of. And if your bug problem persists, go the extra mile with additional measures, such as sticky tape and vinegar.
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.