9 Incredible Plants That Repel Flies (No Need for Chemicals) — The Practical Planter

9 Incredible Plants That Repel Flies (No Need for Chemicals)

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.

Why not put your houseplants to work? Choose some that are known to repel flies and send them right back outside.

Types of Flies

We’re not just talking about the usual houseflies 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. All of the plants below can help deal with any of these pests.

Plants that Repel Flies

A number of aromatic plants will do a great job keeping flies at bay. Many of them thrive indoors and can be part of your indoor or outdoor garden. Here are some of the best:

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.

Basil comes in dozens of varieties, with many unique scents like lemon, cinnamon, and licorice. Any of them will work for insect control (not just flies, but even spiders and mosquitoes as well), and you can use fresh leaves in your cooking too.

2 – Tansy

Not only with the smell of tansy repel most flies, it will 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. So you do need to care for your plant well enough that it will bloom indoors for you.

Tansy is also different that it is 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. Another note about tansy is that it will self-seed very 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 sunny in the morning and then lower light for the rest of the day.

Water enough so that it doesn’t dry right out, usually just when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. Soil should be lose and drain excess water quickly.

Keep your plant pruned (use excess leaves in tea or cooking!), or it will outgrow its container very quickly. You’ll still probably have to split and repot occasionally. When choosing a variety of mint for a houseplant, select one with the strongest scent you can. Spearmint is a good choice.

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 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 are trying to keep out whiteflies, then you should try to add a few marigolds to your indoor garden. 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. Even if you don’t have any whiteflies, the scent of marigolds can repel many other insects too.

6 – Lavender

As usual, lavender is 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 choose from English, French or Spanish lavender for growing inside. The French is probably easier to keep but the English strain is more aromatic and can be more effective for fly control.

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 are not left soggy.

Be prepared to deal with a 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 lavender. 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 air flow. 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. On the other hand, you can’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.

Citronella is also often incorrectly labeled, which won’t help your search either. A true citronella plant will have long leaves and look a lot like a pot of grass. If you find a “citronella” that has leaves that resemble parsley, it’s a scented geranium which is also somewhat aromatic though not at strong as a real citronella plant.

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Once you have an actual citronella, you have to have a very sunny place for it and constant warm temperatures. Once winter hits, add a grow light to keep it happy until the longer days are back.

9 – Venus Flytrap

Can you have a discussion about plants and fly control without a mention of the classic Venus flytrap? Believe it or not, this is actually a possible houseplant option that would add a little interest to your indoor garden as well as helping with flies. This isn’t your typical indoor plant and it will need some special care. Even so, it can be a very fun addition to your home and they really do eat flies.

You’ll need to focus on two things to keep your plant thriving: humidity and soil acidity. Venus flytraps need very 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 is a good idea.

Just remember that keeping plants under glass also means they heat up very easily. Keep them out of direct sun, which is fine because they prefer indirect light or even a little shade anyway.

The soil needs to be much more acidic than usual, 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.

Are Your Plants Attracting Flies?

When you start putting a plan together to rid your home of flies, the last thing you want to be doing is attracting them into the house too. Thankfully, there aren’t many plants known for drawing houseflies, so you probably won’t have to worry too much about that.

On the other hand, whiteflies are a different story. These small pests feed off plant sap, and can be attracted by your indoor garden. Hibiscus and poinsettias are two notorious houseplants that will bring in whiteflies. If you happen to grow tomatoes indoors, they can be a problem too.

Besides the plants, what else might be bringing flies into the house? Open garbage and exposed food are big attractants for flies, particularly overripe fruit in the case of fruit flies. 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 all of your windows can be a big help, and try not the leave doors open any longer than necessary. A screen door may also help.

Other Ways to Repel Flies

Besides your collection of houseplants, you can take a few other natural approaches to reducing your household fly population. Spraying toxins all over the house isn’t the best idea.

Though diatomaceous earth (DE) is often recommended for ants or spiders, this is one area where it won’t help very much. It works by coming into contact with an insect and damaging its exoskeleton. So it’s perfect for crawling insects but not flying ones. What else can you try?

Flies of all kinds are very vulnerable to sticky traps, if you can find the best places to put them. Hanging ribbons of glue tape are 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,” especially 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.

Specifically for fruit flies, you can do wonders with a very 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?

Buzzing flies are a nuisance but are these various flying pests an actual danger or hazard in the house? When it comes to houseflies, there is a potential health risk by letting them have free reign in your home. Because they are 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 though, and you can have quite an infestation of them if you don’t take steps immediately. Clouds of fruit flies can be pretty disturbing.

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 are only interested in your plants. If you have enough of them, their sap-sucking ways can start to harm your plants.

So keeping fly populations down in the home is important for many reasons, not just to keep the irritating buzzing at bay.


7 Herbs That Deter Flies Naturally!

I have always disliked flies. I just didn’t know how much until we moved to acreage and began to raise chickens and goats. An irritation with flies turned into a hatred of them. It was a giant battle to keep them out of the kitchen. I even hired a couple of my children as hit men. a penny a fly.

That probably would have worked pretty well except I failed to figure in the over-zealousness of children. After a few days of rampant fly swatting which included locations like the warm platter of cookies, the dog, and Dad’s head it became apparent that either we would need protective gear or another solution should be found.

Protective gear can be hot in Texas in the summer. We opted for another solution.

Herbs That Repel Bugs

There are herbs that repel flies as well as other pests. They tend to grow easily, are drought resistant, and are often dual purpose. Who knew?

It works. Here are some of the best herbs for repelling insects of all kinds. Order a few seeds when you are checking out your seed catalogs this winter and plant some eco-friendly, dual purpose insect repellent. Herbs seem to work best if they are moved around once in awhile. It brings the oils to the surface of the leaves and releases more of what it is that the pests don’t like. Just brushing against a growing plant or stirring up the leaves of a dried one should do it.

There are about a million kinds of basil and new varieties being introduced all the time. Basil is a beautiful fragrant plant that grows easily in most climates. It even tolerates the dry, Texas heat pretty well.

Most people know fresh basil is delicious in pesto, tomato based dishes, and salads but did you also know that it is one of the best ways to keep flies out of your house? Just plant basil next to the doors, use as a foundation planting mixed in with your flowers, or plant in containers. The flies will stay far away.

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You can grow basil in containers by your picnic table or on your patio and cut a nice size bunch of it to decorate the blanket with when you go to a remote picnic spot. As an added bonus, mosquitoes don’t like it either. Choose your favorite, all the basil that I have tried works equally as well.

You can grow bay outside in the summer but you will need to bring it indoors during the winter months. You can buy dried bay leaf at the store if you find you are unable to grow it; the dried variety that you put in stews and soups works as well as the fresh for keeping pests away. You can put one bay leaf in fifty pounds of wheat berries or organic white flour and it will keep the weevils out of it. If you don’t happen to buy flour in those quantities you can add a bay leaf to a smaller sized container with similar results. Other items that it will protect are:

  • Barley
  • Cornmeal
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Rice

Most cereal products will be just fine for months with the bay leaves to protect them. Scatter a few leaves on the pantry shelves to repel moths, roaches, earwigs, and mice. Flies seem to hate the smell of bay leaves, too. Who knew they had such sensitive olfactory nerves?

Lavender smells wonderful and if you have never used lavender buds in cooking you should give it a try. In small amounts it adds a wonderful floral and citrus flavor to baked goods, meats, and even vegetables. Lavender also repels moths, mosquitoes, and fleas.:

  • Hang a bundle of it in your closet or lay a few sprigs of it in with the out of season clothes you are storing.
  • Grind it to a powder and sprinkle it on your pet’s bedding.
  • Grow it in containers on your patio to repel mosquitoes.
  • Grow it in your kitchen garden to keep rabbits out of your lettuce and spinach.

Mint, catnip, and pennyroyal planted around the foundation of your house can keep both ants and mice out of your home. Neither of these pests seem to like the smell and all but the most determined will head to a better smelling yard. You can also place shallow bowls of the dried mint leaves in your pantry to discourage mice. Pennyroyal is also repugnant to fleas, ants, flies, and mosquitoes. Just be careful of it because large amounts of pennyroyal can be toxic to pets and children. You can place dried pennyroyal on your pantry shelves and it will keep ants away. Just a quick warning about mice. They love anise. Keep anise in jars or it will draw mice to your pantry no matter how much mint you have out! You can use anise to bait live traps with excellent results.

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, not only for cooking and grilling but because it has a number of uses medicinally and as a household herb. As it grows it repels mosquitoes. Try planting it around your patio or any area that you use in the evenings to keep the air smelling fresh and the mosquitoes on someone else’s property. Rosemary also repels cats, so planting it around the kids sandbox is a good idea. You can use rosemary springs under the cushions to keep the cats off the furniture but beware — the oils in the rosemary can stain the cushions. Be sure they are the one sided type.

6. Sweet Woodruff

Sweet Woodruff has long been used to deter carpet beetles and moths. Just lay it beneath wool carpets (or other types). It may also deter ants. An added benefit is that it releases a sweet scent when you walk across your rugs.

Tansy is another little known herb that repels flies, ants,fleas, moths, and mice. Its flowers resemble marigolds or yellow Bachelor’s Buttons and it makes a great foundation planting. Tansy was traditionally used by churches as a strewing herb in the Middle Ages.

Original, Green, and Frugal

Herbs were the original household cleaners, disinfectants, and bug repellents. They had been used for thousands of years with good results before humankind came up with toxic chemicals in a can. These herbs are not only better for the environment; they actually improve the environment. Herbs continue to work for you when you have finished with them and discarded them to the compost heap. They enrich the soil, add nutrients, and some (like Valerian) attract beneficial earthworms. Next time you are tempted to reach for the fly spray, reach for the basil instead.


How to Get Rid of Flies Naturally

Whether you are indoors or outside, flies can be a huge nuisance, and therefore you are probably looking for natural ways to get rid of flies. Well, you’ve come to the right place. This article will show you how to get rid of flies without chemicals, including how to make a fly trap, as well as tips and preventative measurements that will help you to keep gnats away from your house and garden.

Common Types of Flies

The house fly is the most common fly species found in human habitations and has spread all over the world. The female house fly lays batches of about 100 eggs on decaying organic matter, garbage or feces. Adult flies feed on a variety of liquid or semi-liquid substances (as well as solid materials which have been softened by their saliva). House flies carry pathogens on their bodies and in their feces which can cause food contamination and thus can transfer food-borne illnesses.

Another common fly is the fruit fly which is a common pest in homes, restaurants, and other places where food is served. The fruit fly is also considered a pest due to its tendency to infest places where fruit is found. Getting rid of fruit flies can be difficult, as larvae may continue to hatch in nearby fruit even as the adult population is eliminated.

When the flies are outside you can at least go inside to get away from them. When they invade your space inside, however, you then face many problems with hygiene, cleanliness, and overall aesthetics of your home.

Many modern bug and fly repellents use chemicals and pesticides that do more harm than good, especially if you use them in your kitchen – a common place for flies to hang out. However, there are natural ways to deter flies without using chemicals.

Here are five of the best natural options to get rid of flies and keep them away.

How to Get Rid of Flies Naturally

Method 1: Zip Lock Bag and Water

This method of fly repellent might seem crazy, and you definitely won’t believe it until you try it, but it works really well to naturally get rid of flies in your house, office, and pretty much anywhere else.

To deter flies from coming into your house, take a gallon sized Zip Lock or generic brand (just make sure that it closes tightly) and put at least four pennies in the bag and then fill it halfway full with tap water. Squeeze out the rest of the air, seal the bag, and tie it around your home, focusing on putting it near the windows.


How It Works: Ever wonder why you can’t seem to get a fly with a fly swatter? It is because they have many, many eyes that allow them to see you move in slow motion. That bag of water with pennies in it is also in their eyesight, and that’s the problem. The sun and lights will reflect off of the water and the pennies, making it look like your space is filled with hundreds of disco balls – sending those flies looking for the nearest exit.

Method 2: Cloves and Lemons

If you want your home to have a fresh smell while getting rid of flies, try out this fly repellent! While you will have to replace it every so often, it will definitely do double duty.

Cut a lemon into halves and insert 5-10 cloves into each of the lemon half. You should place a cut lemon (2 halves) in each room that you want flies to leave, focusing in on rooms like your kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms.

How It Works: The smell respells flies. You will definitely smell the cloves, which means that the smell will be rather intense for the flies in your house – and they hate the smell! They also don’t like the smell of lemons. You will also start to notice when the smell fades, so you will want to replace this every so often.

Method 3: Jar Repellent

This fly repellent is for someone who doesn’t want their company to know that they have a fly problem in the house. Instead, it just looks like a beautiful candle or decoration sitting on the shelf.

Take a shallow jar (small mason jars work best) and put two cotton balls at the bottom. Cover those with about 3 tablespoons of vanilla extract. Then, place FRESH mint and sage over top and seal with a cheesecloth. Place the fly repellent near your problem areas and watch them work their magic. You should replace these about once every week and a half for maximum results. You will get rid of flies in your house in no time.

How It Works: Flies hate overwhelmingly sweet or strong scents. The combination of sage, mint, and vanilla overpowers their senses and has them running. Think about how you feel when you pass the perfume department at a store, you don’t want to hang around long either!

Method 4: Fruit Fly Trap

If your problem is specifically fruit flies, your best bet is to trap them, not try to send those persistent pests away!

This fruit fly trap is one of the best natural ways to get rid of gnats. To set the fly trap, fill a small glass bowl with either some sweet wine or sugary juice and a small piece of fruit – bananas work very well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band. Poke a few holes in the top, and your fruit fly trap is complete.

Soon, you will start to see lots of flies floating around in that juice. You will be surprised just how many you find!

How It Works: While fruit flies are drawn to your rotting fruit because of the smell, they are actually looking for somewhere to lay their eggs! They will go toward this sweet and rotting combination in hopes to find somewhere great – and then they will get trapped inside and drown. Killing fruit flies is a bit gruesome, but it works when you have swarms of them. It will usually only take one trap to kill all the fruit flies. Another trap you may want to use is an apple cider vinegar (ACV) trap which I’ve mentioned in my article on how to get rid of drain flies.

Method 5: Fly Paper

This is another fly trap that will help you to get rid of flies outside and in your house. You know those sticky traps that everyone used to have that were always disgustingly full of flies? This is the natural version of that!

Make your own fly trap by taking brown paper bags and cutting them into strips that are about 1.5-2 feet long. Make a thick syrup of equal amounts of sugar, honey (or corn syrup) and water, stirring until well combined. Brush the syrup on the strips and allow them to sit until they are tacky so they don’t run. Hang them anywhere in your home or outside and watch the flies accumulate.

How It Works: This fly trap works in two ways. First, it attracts any flies that do like sweet smells and tastes and locks them onto the paper. For those flies that do not like the sweetness, it will repel them. Place these strips near your doors and windows for the best results.

Method 6: Essential Oil Fly Repellent Spray

Essential oils make a great fly repellent and are good to keep away not only gnats, but also spiders, ants and mosquitoes. Good essential oils that repel flies include lavender, citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint, neem, cinnamon or tea tree oil.

Add up to 5 drops of essential oil and up to 5 drops of natural dish washing liquid to 1 qt. (1 l) of water. The dish washing liquid breaks the essential oil molecules in the water, thus making the mixture more consistent. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake it well. Reapply the natural fly spray every couple of days near the windows and entrances to keep flies at bay.

If you are interested to learn more about essential oils you can find useful information in my e-book Magical Aromatherapy. This book will help you to discover the power of essential oils and the most effective ways to use them.

How to Get Rid of Flies – Preventative Measures

There are some general and basic principles that will help you get rid of most type of flies and keep them away from your house as well as outside:

1. Eliminating food source and breeding grounds – flies like to lay their eggs in or close to food sources so keep all fruit stored away and don’t leave any source of food sitting out. When you eliminate food sources, the flies will stop breeding in that area and will quickly move somewhere else.

2. Sanitation – flies are attracted to garbage, waste and drains, so keep your premises clean and dry (flies love humidity). Dispose garbage on a regular basis, place it at a location quite away from your house and keep the garbage covered. To sanitize your drain mix equal parts of white vinegar and boiling water and pour down the drain daily and keep the area around the drain dry (you can find more uses for white vinegar in my article 10 Surprising Household Uses for Vinegar).

3. Don’t over-water your plants as over watering is also a major cause of welcoming flies in your area as they love humidity.

4. Use window and door screens to keep the flies away while still enjoying the fresh air.

Flies can be a big problem, but that doesn’t mean you have to break your natural lifestyle to make them disappear. These natural methods will help you to get rid of flies and will allow you to live a pest free life – you might even catch more than flies!


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