22 Plants That Repel Bugs, Flies & Other Unwanted Insects Away

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Creepy crawlies! Ughhh! 

Who likes them, right? And if you’re reading this article, you certainly don’t have any affection for them. So, what’s the best way to get rid of them?

That’s a subjective question, to be honest. If you want a quick and effective solution, spraying insecticides might be your best bet. But, we all know how harmful these chemicals can get. 

And that brings us to the healthier solution – plants which repel bugs. Sure, they might not be as effective as insecticides. But, if you don’t want to harm your life as well as the environment, you should consider these heroic, bug fighting plants.  

Now, let’s find out which plants will work best for you.  

Plants That Repel Bugs, Flies & Insects

Ornamental Flowers

  1. Marigolds

It’s the unpleasant smell that keeps the tiny-nibblers away from your backyard. And most of the insect repellents contain a powerful ingredient called Pyrethrum, which is generally found in Marigold. It has a very distinct smell that helps repel mosquitoes, aphids, and also the cute little rabbits. And the best part is that these flowers make the landscape look more attractive.

The roots of marigold plants are popular among farmers for repelling nematodes, but it might take about a year to show any positive effect. Moreover, they release a compound called limonene that is known to deter or slow down whiteflies usually found hovering around tomato plants. So, if you want to grow fresh tomatoes, don’t hesitate to plant a few marigolds around.

Plus, you can place the potted marigolds somewhere near the mosquito-entry points, such as windows and doors, or anywhere in the outdoors where you generally spend time. 

  1. Chrysanthemums

These flowers might not repel mosquitoes as much, but they help in keeping away a host of other bugs and insects like ticks, aphids, roaches, spider mites, fleas, etc. Chrysanthemums are pretty useful even when it is used as an insect repellent. That’s why you’ll find it to be an essential ingredient in several pet shampoos, aerosol bombs, and indoor sprays.

It might be quite comforting when you’re assured that you don’t need to engage in any chemical warfare for fighting back against those insects. Because you just need to place these insect-repelling plants outside or inside your house strategically. This way, you can enjoy the outdoor areas or even keep the windows open without having insects buzzing around.

In short, chrysanthemums contain a compound called pyrethrum that can kill jumping and flying insects. And without any doubt, these blooms look pretty gorgeous against any background, which makes a great addition to any home or garden.

  1. Alliums

The dramatic Allium giganteum is a member of the strong-smelling Allium family. It comes with dramatically round flower heads, which adorn stalks of up to 6 feet height. 

Alliums hold the reputation of repelling many different kinds of insects, be it the rust fly in your carrot patch or aphids on the rose bushes. So, you not only get to enjoy the beauty but also have a thriving garden that is free from pests or unwanted insects. 

These flowers release a strong fragrance, which is generally disliked by mosquitoes, so you’ll never find them around such plants. As mentioned above, they also repel numerous insects, which are known to destroy vegetable gardens such as cabbage worms, slugs, carrot flies, and aphids. 

Finally, the plants that generally benefit from having this flowering plant around are potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, kohlrabi, and carrots. 

  1. Petunias

Petunias make a beautiful addition to any garden; thanks to their lovely purple hue, which adds a burst of color to your vegetable bed. It also helps repel some of the insects and pests that might bite your vegetables. Moreover, petunias can repel aphids, tomato hornworms, squash bugs, leafhoppers, and asparagus beetles. 

Most farmers use petunia as a staple in every vegetable farm because it’s considered to be one of the best natural pesticides. They are popular mainly because they are available everywhere, and its bright hues make any space look beautiful. 

On top of that, it requires very little maintenance, which is a great advantage considering that you don’t have to look after the plant now and then. As long as you plant them in sunny areas, you’ll have them standing tall in your garden beds, containers, or even hanging baskets.

  1. Nasturtiums

Planting nasturtiums with your cucumber and tomato plants is an effective way to fight off squash bugs, wooly aphids, cucumber beetles and whiteflies. Moreover, the flowers, especially the ones that belong to the yellow blooming categories act as a trap for aphids. 

And this is one of the plant varieties that benefit all the vegetables around. Nasturtiums release an airborne chemical, which repels predaceous insects that might otherwise plague vegetables like – cucumbers, tomatoes, kohlrabi, kale, broccoli, collards, radishes, and cabbage. 

This makes it an ideal choice to plant nasturtiums along the edges of your vegetable gardens. Whether you plant nasturtiums in containers around the patio, along flower beds, or the vegetable garden, this easy-to-grow flower will protect the surrounding plants from unwanted visitors.

  1. Common Lantanas

Lantana flowers are known for having a potent effect against mosquitoes, which sounds like a winner for most homes. If you have been keeping away from the backyard with a fear of having to deal with mosquito bites, then you can rest easy when you have lantana plants around. 

The plants are easy to grow in the tropical climate, and these flowers can attract butterflies as well. But if you are planning to grow several lantana plants in your garden, then you should keep your pets away. Because it can be highly toxic for animals if they even put in their mouths, let alone eat it. 

However, it’s best to keep these plants in containers or hanging baskets in the patio because this way, you can keep your entertainment areas free from mosquitoes. 

  1. Geranium

If you love growing herbs and flowers for not just their appearance, but also for the beneficial properties, then you should keep a spot for geraniums. It can repel a variety of insects, and geranium also has been a popular ingredient in a ton of natural over-the-counter mosquito repellant sprays.

When you grow this flowering plant in the garden, you can enjoy your garden both in the morning and evening. These plants grow fast, and they like sunny, dry climates, which is also the right time to harvest new crops. The lemon-like fragrance from this flower can repel many typical pests such as beetles, slugs, snails, etc. that can damage plants. 

This is why geranium is often used as a companion plant for many fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes and cabbage. 

  1. Tansy

Tansies makes for an attractive choice if you’re looking for a plant variety to keep away squash bugs, mosquitoes, cucumber beetles, flies, moths, Japanese beetles, and more. This is a huge plant, and it can grow to up to six feet tall, though it mostly reaches up to three feet.

The biggest drawback of having this plant in your garden is that it requires frequent maintenance as it grows quickly. Most people generally prefer planting it near cucumbers and squash because it works great as a companion plant and helps to ward away some of the worst predators.

Plus, you can also plant it around your other vegetables or flowering plants. But if you do have livestock on your property, then this shouldn’t be on your list because it can be fatal to your animals. Even if you plant these away from the animals, the seeds might spread across the field and grow wild in their pasture lands.

  1. Four O’Clocks

Four O’Clocks are known to be the favorite food for Japanese beetles, but because of its poisonous foliage, these insects can hardly complete their meal. These flowers can attract and kill unwanted insects with their scent. Thus, it gives a clearer picture as to why it’s considered to be an excellent bait flower to place on the corners of your vegetable garden. 

But, you should note that these plants are also poisonous for animals and humans, so choosing safe locations to plant them is essential. 

  1. Floss Flowers

While they might not be the most powerful repellant, these beauties produce a powerful fragrance that butterflies and hummingbirds love. Floss flowers contain a chemical compound called coumarin, which is commonly used in bug and mosquito repellant sprays. 

The unwanted visitors in your garden, like mosquitoes, cannot generally tolerate the smell of this chemical, which is also present in sweetgrass. These small, fuzzy flowers are a great addition to any flower bed or can be used as an edging plant. 

They produce white, blue, and pink blooms during the summer and fall seasons. Moreover, they can easily complement any bouquet, so if you have fertile soil around your property, then don’t hesitate to plant these around. 

Herbs

  1. Mint

Planting mint in the garden works as a repellent for mosquitoes as well as insects. But if you’re planning to grow mint in the garden from seed, then it can be a daunting process. You can opt for the potted plants and then grow it in your home. 

Because mint is best grown in small to medium-sized pots rather than planting it on the ground because it tends to spread aggressively. Mint is generally not planted with other plants because it’s pretty dominant and can take over the other plants. 

And it not only works as an excellent insect repellant, but you can also use the leaves while making different beverages. The aromatic properties found in mint leaves are present in the stems and flowers. You can also extract the aromatic oil from the leaves and mix it with witch hazel or apple cider vinegar for making a mosquito repellant. 

However, if you can strategically place a few containers of mint on the patio or in the garden, then you can keep the nearby plant’s pest-free.

  1. Lavender

There is no denying that lavender makes for a beautiful flowering plant and is generally a welcome addition to any garden. Not only does the purple color look gorgeous, but it also adds a pleasantly sweet fragrance to clothes, drawers, and homes.

Even though most of us love the calming and soothing fragrance of lavender, it dissuades gnats, flies, mosquitoes, and other unwanted insects. You can plant this herb in the sunny areas of your backyard or garden to keep it pest-free. 

On an exciting note, you can place a tied bouquet somewhere inside or in the entryway of your home to keep the flies outdoors. This way, you’ll not have bugs, flies, or mosquitoes invading your outdoor dinner party and other entertainment areas.

And you can also hang a few dried flowers in your wardrobe for repelling moths, which will keep your clothes smelling fresh for long. For faster results, you can place a few drops of lavender oil in the diffuser as it works as a mosquito repellant. 

  1. Lemongrass

Lemongrass is native to Asia and widely known as citronella plants. It’s an ornamental that can grow up to 3 feet wide and 4 feet tall within 4-5 months. By now, you must have come across citronella candles while looking for ways to get rid of mosquitoes in the house. 

Citronella is basically a natural oil that is found in lemongrass. The common belief is that this natural oil can help you get rid of mosquitoes with just the smell alone, which mosquitoes dislike entirely. Lemongrass serves the function well when you plant them near the walkways and in locations close to your seating areas. 

You can also plant citronella grass in large planters so that you can move it around easily for pest control. Moreover, this grass also comes with a host of culinary uses, so the fragrant narrow leaves can be used for salad dressing and to add flavor to other dishes.

  1. Basil

Basil is one of the many herbs that you can use for making an insect repellant to ensure that your summer fun isn’t disturbed by any pesky insects. The basil insect repellent will not just help in keeping the stinging bugs away, but will also surprise you with its pleasant aroma and can be grown inexpensively and quickly.

Making this spray won’t be much of a hassle if you follow a few simple steps. You just need to pour about 4 ounces of boiling water into a container that can hold about 4 to 6 ounces of fresh basil leaves. After which you need to let the leaves steep for a few hours before removing the leaves to squeeze out its moisture. 

Then take 4 ounces of vodka to mix it thoroughly with the basil-water mixture and voila! Store in the refrigerator and use it whenever you’re going outdoors. 

Plus, the oils in basil can repel flies, thrips, and mosquitoes. So, you can plant it around your vegetable garden to allow them to protect your fresh produce.

  1. Lemon Thyme

Known as Thymus vulgaris. This is one of those handy herbs that requires minimal maintenance to thrive naturally in any surrounding. For instance, it can adapt easily to rocky or dry, shallow soil, so it’s not difficult to have it thriving in your herb garden. But do ensure that you get it planted in a spot where it receives sufficient sunlight.

And don’t expect the plant itself to move away from the pesky mosquitoes with its citrus smell. To do this, you need to crush a few leaves and rub it between your palms for releasing the chemicals. Before rubbing the crushed leaves on your body, it’s advisable to check whether the natural properties of this plant won’t have any adverse effects.

To understand your tolerance level, you can rub a decent amount on your forearm to check for any allergic reactions. If there aren’t any signs of an allergic reaction, then you can safely go about enjoying this natural mosquito repellant whenever you’re in the outdoors. 

  1. Rosemary

If you’re looking to plant a small herb garden for cooking, you might have already selected rosemary to be the number one essential. Well! The good news is that this beautiful herb can also repel flies and mosquitoes. Rosemary has a pungent smell that can drive away cabbage moths and other bugs from the garden.

It does reasonably well in hot, dry weather and can be set in various places around the vegetable garden. Additionally, you can grow rosemary in containers, which makes it easier to shape these plants into ornamental pyramids. 

You might have also heard about rosemary oil, which is the most potent version for adding flavor to your meals. On the other hand, putting a few drops of this essential oil in your diffuser can move away flies and mosquitoes from the room. 

  1. Sage

Sage is another perennial that you can easily plant into landscaped beds or place it in planters on a patio. It has been a staple in creative kitchens and home herb gardens, so you must be a bit aware of its insect repellent properties. 

Sage contains a powerful odor that insects generally abhor, both when the leaves are crushed and while it’s still on the stem. Moreover, if you’re planning to gather around a fire, then you should try burning a few of these sage leaves.

 It will not only give a very soothing incense when they burn, but it’s also unpleasant enough for most species of insects. To be precise, most insects generally repel the scent, and as long as you’re seated near the smoke, you don’t have to worry about mosquito bites. 

  1. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves might be one of the most popular ingredients in soups and spaghetti sauces, but the exciting part is that they can be used to repel insects. If you can sprinkle a few dried bay leaves around the house, then you’ll understand how effective it is for repelling off unwanted insects like ants, cockroaches, and fleas. 

It’s believed that the pungent scent of bay leaves is what helps in warding off the pests from your home. You can place a few of these leaves on the countertop, around trash cans, and under cabinets and appliances. But then after a few days, the bay leaves might lose its efficacy as the pungent scent of bay leaves might wear off. 

So you can keep your home clean by replacing the leaves every week without having to worry about using any toxins. Plus, bay leaves are said to be as powerful as some commercial insecticide sprays, which is an added advantage. 

  1. Catnip

We are sure your feline friends will be glad to know that catnip is an insect deterrent! Although catnip is considered to be an herb, you won’t find anyone eating the leaves. This plant is a member of the mint family and contains a chemical called nepetalactone. The odor that it gives out does attract cats but repels insects like flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, and deer ticks.

It is also a very easy plant to grow and doesn’t require any maintenance other than a bit of watering. You can either plant them from seeds or saplings during spring or fall, which are the best seasons to see them bloom. 

They don’t generally grow more than 3 or 4 feet tall, and it gets covered with beautiful purple flowers. So it serves the aesthetics of the garden and comes with great functional use too.

  1. Parsley

Despite being a very healthy food source, this plant also serves your needs of keeping away insects from the garden. Parsley has a pretty unique quality as it attracts predator bugs, which are predators to other insects. We understand that this might sound a bit scary, but it plays a pretty fair game.

For instance, when you have a snail crawling its way forward to your plant, you will have some other type of bug there to stop it. Plus, beetles don’t like parsley; thus, if you can manage to sprinkle a few parsley leaves on your vegetable bed, it will help repel harmful insects. 

Farmers generally prefer to grow parsley along with tomato plants, and that’s not because it’s a great companion plant. But this is because the wasps which are attracted by the parsley leaves will help in killing the hornworms which otherwise destroy tomatoes. 

Carnivorous Plants

  1. Venus Flytrap

This carnivorous plant thrives in acidic soil but does require good drainage and moderate sunlight. It eats many small insects, as long as they are small enough to fit inside the trap comfortably. This allows the leaves to close tightly to keep the digestive fluids inside and without having to deal with any bacteria.

At the end of the digestive process, which takes about three to seven days, the trap then reabsorbs the digestive fluid before opening. Although these are carnivorous plants, they can go for approximately two months without eating insects. 

And it’s best to grow them outside, so the plant will get enough insects to eat them naturally. But for faster and more effective results, you can also check out an affordable pest control service. 

  1. Pitcher Plant

Pitcher plants belong to the largest group of carnivorous plants, and they surely do look quite exotic when planted in the garden. They require little care such as watered from time to time so that it can catch its prey for food. Pitcher plants can lure insects into the U-shaped pitcher, which is a specialized leaf with a combination of color, fragrance, and nectar.

Once the insect is inside the pitcher, it finds itself on a slippery surface with thousands of downward-facing hairs. Then, the insect either falls or slips into a small pool of water. And once they land in the water, the insect will die of exhaustion while it tries to escape. 

These plants can attract mosquitoes and bugs, and as a result, you’ll be having a pest-free home. You can have this plant in any spot in the house because it just requires adequate water and sunlight to thrive. However, the insects that fall prey to pitcher plants are bees, beetles, wasps, ants, slugs, flies and snails, to name a few. 

Final words

To find the best alternative, you should measure the amount of space that you want to dedicate to these insect-repelling plants. 

It will help you understand which popular herb or flowering plants you can accommodate in your garden. And the best part is that you don’t have to battle any longer to keep insects out of the garden or the house because these plants serve the purpose well. 

Now that you have come to the end of our guide, we hope it has helped you find a few plants that will suit your needs ideally!

Till next time!

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