During the warmer months, you enjoy spending time outdoors. However, insects like flies can be very annoying. Unless you want to spray fly sprays and pesticides around constantly, many people start to look for more natural alternatives like plans that repel flies. Many of these plants have a scent that they give off when you brush by them and crush the leaves. Flies and other pests will move away from the smell and try to get to more appealing targets. However, there are thousands of plants available, and narrowing down which ones are the best plants that repel flies can be a challenge.
However, I want you to enjoy your time outdoors. No matter if you’re working in your garden or building raised planter boxes, having the right plants around can make it a more pleasant experience. They can make your landscaping more beautiful while keeping the flies away, and I’ve picked out an extensive list for you. Not only will I tell you how these plants and flowers keep the flies away, but you’ll get pictures so you can see if they go well with your landscape aesthetic or not.
If you’re growing tomato plants or cucumbers and you spend a lot of time tending them, plan Nasturtiums around them to help get rid of flies, cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and wooly aphids. The flowers on this plant will act like a natural aphid trap when they bloom. They release an airborne chemical that repel insects that could make a meal out of your vegetables, especially cabbage, radishes, broccoli, cucumbers, and kale. Plant them along the edges of your garden. They’re easy to grow, and they’ll adapt to growing in containers with well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. They also come in bright colors like red, yellow, or orange and bloom until the fall.
Marigolds are an excellent plant that repels flies, and they produce an unpleasant scent that wards them away. It also works well on rabbits. This plant has an ingredient called Pyrethrum, and this is what produces the odor. The marigold’s roots are also popular for helping to repel nematodes, and they release a compound called limonene that can deter whiteflies and keep them away from your tomatoes. Potted marigolds are easy to put anywhere you don’t want flies and mosquitoes like by entry points to the house, on tables outside, or lining your porch. They come in bright colors and are very hardy. All they need is full sun, well-draining soil, and routine watering to flourish.
Marigolds by E. Strathmeyer / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
3. Four O’Clocks
This plant that repels flies has a sinister secret. It’s a main food source for Japanese beetles, but all of the foliage on this plant is highly poisonous. It kills the beetles and flies very quickly and efficiently. The flowers attract unwanted insects and kill them too. This makes it a great bait flower to plant around your patio or vegetable garden to protect the area. However, it’s also highly toxic to both humans and any domesticated animals that get into it, so keep it in an area where your kids or pets won’t stumble into it. Place it up high away from highly populated areas in your yard.
Four-o’clock by Toshiyuki IMAI / CC BY-SA 2.0
Chrysanthemums are a popular plant that repels flies, and it also repels a host of other pests like roaches, aphids, ticks, fleas, and spider mites. This is why you find them in several pet shampoos, indoor spray, and aerosol bombs. All you have to do is place your plant in a sunny area in a pot with well-draining but rich potting soil and let them go to work. They produce a compound called Pyrethrum that is toxic to flying and jumping insects. They also produce eye-catching blooms with darker foliage that make them a welcome addition to any landscape, and these plants will bloom well into the fall months.
Chrysanthemums by Rody09 / CC BY-SA 2.0
This is an attractive plant that repels flies that will also get rid of squash bugs, cucumber beetles, mosquitoes, and Japanese beetles. This is a very large plant that can easily grow up to six feet tall, but you can prune it to keep it under three feet tall and wide. It needs a lot of maintenance to prevent it from taking over an area. However, it’s fatal to animals like livestock, so keep it away from them. The seeds can spread and grow across your yard if you’re not careful. Plant it in an area that has rich soil, and it likes full sun. However, it can tolerate partial shade.
Common tansy by 42recorder / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Lantana flowers have a very potent effect against flies and mosquitoes. They grow very easily in a tropical climate, and they’ll attract pollinators like butterflies to your yard. They do best in hanging baskets or containers, and they’ll spill down the sides. Keep them away from your pets because they’re highly toxic if your pet even puts their mouth on them. They come in several colors ranging from orange and pink to purple and red. You get little flower clusters on thinner stalks with dark green foliage. They like full to partial sun with a well-draining but rich soil. Make sure to water them regularly, and they can’t stand cold. They also like higher humidity levels.
Lantana by Carol Von Canon / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Not only is lavender a beautiful flowering plant that repels flies, but it’ll add a sweet scent to the area every time you brush by it. You’ll get green foliage with purple spikes for flowers, and it repels flies, gnats, and mosquitos due to the smell. Plant it in an area that gets plenty of sun and has a well-draining soil. You can even tie up small bouquets of lavender and hang them in your home to keep the insects away, and lavender is one plant that dries very well. Lavender oil also works well in a diffuser to keep the pests at bay. Lavender won’t take over, so it’s safe to plant by other flowers.
Lavender by Tony Donnelly / CC BY-SA 2.0
This plant that repels flies is very bright and cheerful, and it can grow year-round if you plant it indoors. Geraniums are great plants for beginners because they’re very hard and difficult to kill, and they can adapt to a huge range of light conditions. The soil should drain well, but they grow in all-purpose potting mix without a problem. You can plant them outside, in hanging baskets, or in containers. They produce a lemon-tinged fragrance that repels flies, snails, beetles, and slugs. It’s a popular companion plant for cabbage and tomatoes, and you can deadhead it to encourage repeat blooms. They come in shades of red, burgundy, purple, yellow, orange, and white.
Geranium by Peter Stenzel / CC BY-ND 2.0
9. Lemon Thyme
This is a very hardy herb that doubles as a plant that repels flies. It’s low-maintenance, and it can thrive in almost any environment. It grows well in dry, rocky, and shallow soil, but it does need full sun. You have to crush a few of the plant’s leaves to release the citrus scent to repel the pests, and the scent will linger around for hours. You’ll get dark and lime green foliage on slender stalks and small, oval leaves with this plant, and it does very well both indoors and out. As a bonus, it’ll grow all year-round under the correct conditions, and you can use it in cooking.
Lemon Thyme by Andrea_44 / CC BY 2.0
Planting mint around your yard or in your garden gives you a powerful natural repellent for flies and mosquitoes. Mint is one plant that repels flies that is best planted in medium or small pots rather than out on the ground because it’s a very aggressive grower. It can take over any other plants around it unless you watch it and prune it accordingly. Mint has a very strong taste and scent associated with it, especially when you crush the leaves, stems, and flowers. It’s popular for flavoring teas, and you should mix it with apple cider vinegar or witch hazel to get the full fly-repellent effects.
Mint by Nate Steiner / CC0 1.0
If you’re looking for a more dramatic plant that repels flies, try Allium. This is a very strong-smelling plant that produces eye-catching round flower heads that sit on thin stalks up to six feet high. It can repel a host of different insects from flies to aphids and mosquitoes. They grow well alongside tomatoes, potatoes, kohlrabi, cabbage, and carrots. This plant doesn’t need a lot of care once it establishes itself. However, it prefers a rich soil with moderate watering. Plant it in an area that gets full sun to partial shade. Since it grows so tall, it does well in the back of your garden or against your home.
Allium by Rob Hodgkins / CC BY-SA 2.0
Basil is a plant that repels flies and works well in several different dishes. It’s a herb that’s popular in insect repellents, and you can grow large quantities of it very quickly. You can make a fly spray by pouring four cups of boiling water into four to six ounces of basil leaves. Spray it around to repel mosquitoes, flies, and thrips. This is a deep green herb with slender stalks and oval-shaped leaves. It thrives in a host of different lighting conditions with semi-moist soil that drains well. You can dry it and use it in cooking, and it’s very popular in Italian cuisine. It’s easy to grow from cuttings.
Basil by Avi / CC BY-SA 2.0
13. Floss Flowers
Floss Flowers aren’t the most powerful plant that repels flies, but they’ll make up for it by attracting a huge amount of hummingbirds and butterflies to the yard. They have a chemical compound called Coumarin, and this is a common ingredient in mosquito and bug repellent sprays. You’ll get smaller, fuzzy flowers that make a fantastic addition to any garden bed with deep green foliage. They bloom during the summer and fall months to give you blue, white, or pink blooms. They do need fertile soil with a lot of nutrients, but they can tolerate partial shade to full sun. Floss Flowers look fantastic in bouquets and cut flower arrangements too.
Floss Flower by farkomer / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Parsley is a very healthy food source and a plant that repels flies. It has a unique quality associated with it because it will attract predatory bugs that eat other insects. It repels snails, flies, and beetles from any area you plant it in, or you can sprinkle it around. Wasps are attracted to parsley, so keep this in mind when you plant it if you have someone allergic to their venom. This plant needs a rich soil, but it’ll grow in an all-purpose potting mix as long as it stays moist. It needs full sun to partial shade, and it’ll grow in larger clumps that you can snip off and set around.
Parsley by Richard / CC BY 2.0
15. Bay Leaves
Bay leaves are extremely popular ingredients in spaghetti sauces and soups, but it’s also a plant that repels flies. You can easily sprinkle a few dried leaves around your home or patio to see how it gets rid of flies, cockroaches, ants, and fleas. They do have a very pungent smell associated with them, but it only lasts a few days if you use the dried version. The good news is that bay leaves are relatively easy to grow in full sun or part shade, and they do well under artificial light. Keep the soil moist and snip them off as you need them. They can be as powerful as some commercial-grade repellents.
Bay leaves by Eljay / CC BY 2.0
Catnip is one plant that will attract all of your feline friends to it, and it’s also a great plant that repels flies. It’s considered to be a herb, and it’s a member of the mint family. It has a chemical compound called Nepetalactone, and this is the compound that attracts the cats while repelling deer ticks, cockroaches, flies, and mosquitoes. It’s very easy to grow, and it won’t need anything but occasional watering for it to do well. They get around three to four feet tall, and catnip can produce purple flowers to add to your landscape design. You can also dry it and sprinkle it around your yard as a repellent.
Catnip by Samantha Forsberg / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
17. Pitcher Plant
This is a carnivorous plant that repels flies that has a very exotic look. You won’t have to provide much care for this plant except water from time to time because it’ll catch flies and other insects for food. They have a U-shaped pitcher full of nectar that contains downward-facing hairs and a slippery surface. The flies will die of exhaustion before it gets back out. It does need full sun to survive, and you will want to make a point to keep the soil relatively moist. It does very well planted in hanging baskets, and it works for bees, wasps, beetles, ants, flies, slugs, and snails.
Pitcher Plant by Mack Lundy / CC BY-SA 2.0
18. Venus Fly Trap
This is another carnivorous plant that repels flies, and it also repels ticks. It needs acidic soil to thrive with good drainage. You also want to put it in a place that gets a moderate amount of sunlight. This plant will eat several different small insects as long as they can fit into the trap. Once they do, the leaves close tightly before the plant’s digestive fluids break down the insect for nutrients. They can go up to two months between meals, and they’ll slowly open back up when they finish digesting the first fly. They do well both indoors and out, and they grow in small clumps with mouth-like leaves.
Venus fly trap by jen / CC BY 2.0
This is a perennial plant that repels flies, and it can easily slip into landscaped beds. It does well in containers set around your porch or patio too. It’s a staple in herb gardens, and it has a powerful scent that insects avoid. It produces this scent when the leaves are on the stem, but you can also pick them and crush them to get it to release it. Burning sage leaves is also effective. Sage requires slightly moist soil that drains very well, and it likes a decent amount of sunlight. It has a deeper green coloring to it with larger leaves, and it doesn’t get very high at full maturity.
Sage by BellaEatsBooks / CC BY-NC 2.0
Most people who have small herb gardens for the express purpose of having fresh herbs on-hand to cook with most likely already have this plant that repels flies in it. Rosemary is an eye-catching herb that releases a strong scent that insects hate. It does very well in dry and hot climates, and it likes full sun to partial shade with a slightly sandy soil. It’s easy to grow this plant in containers, and you can shape the plant into an ornamental pyramid to add interest. Rosemary essential oil is also very potent, and you can add a few drops to a diffuser to keep the bugs away.
Rosemary by Akirikku / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
This plant that repels flies is native to Asia, and it’s a citronella plant. This is an ornamental species that can easily grow up to three feet high and four feet wide in just under five months. Citronella is a natural oil that you’ll find in this plant, and the smell can repel both flies and mosquitoes. It works well planted by seating areas or walkways. It also does well in larger planters that you can move around as you need to. It has fragrant and narrow leaves in a bright green color that can be used in soups, salads, and other dishes both fresh and dried.
Lemongrass by odonata98 (Kimberly Reinhart) / CC BY-ND 2.0
Petunias make an excellent xeriscaping idea, and they’re a colorful plant that repels flies. They have a very nice hue that adds a burst of color to any landscape, and they do well in containers, hanging baskets, or in flower beds. They can repel a host of insects due to the smell, and many people plant petunias in vegetable gardens as companion plants to keep their crops healthy. They need very little maintenance to thrive, and you want to make sure they have a very sunny area to grow in. They like rich soil that drains very well and minimal water.
Petunia by Maureen Barlin / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
This is another very potent plant that repels flies, and you should be very careful if you choose to use it for anything other than a decorative plant. Rubbing fresh cuttings of this plant will release the oils that you can rub on your clothing, but you don’t want to ingest it. It’s a low-growing plant that does well in your vegetable gardens or in containers, and it’s a member of the mint family. They’ll become invasive if you don’t prune them back or pull them out in the fall, and they like partial shade with rich but well-drained soil. Water them regularly for the best results, and keep them away from your pets.
Pennyroyal by Melissa McMasters / CC BY 2.0
If you’re looking for a plant that repels flies and repels rabbits, try wormwood. This is a very easy to grow plant that is beneficial to your garden, and it contains a compound called Resinous particle that is a natural insecticide. You can pick it fresh and rub it on your clothing to keep flies away. It’s also effective when you dry it and hang it up. It has a long history of medicinal use, but it has nasty side effects when you ingest it in large quantities. Grow it in a place that gets full to partial sun with a rich but well-drained soil. Also, make sure to water it routinely.
Wormwood? By Mats Linander / CC BY-SA 2.0
Rue is a plant that has a very strong scent, and this is why it’s one of the plants that repel flies. It’s usually best to leave this plant in a natural environment because it has potent properties. If you have an allergy to it, rubbing the leaves against your skin can cause blisters. It will grow to around two-feet high, and this plant will offer blue-green leaves. It tolerates a host of soil conditions, including poor soil with ease. You should start it from seed in the spring so it can reseed every year. It likes full sun to partial shade,
African rue plant by Oregon Department of Agriculture / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
These 25 plants that repel flies can add an attractive and eye-catching element to any yard, patio, or garden space around your home. You can mix and match these plants that repel flies to create a lush and full landscape that has flowers and greenery from the early spring months until late in the fall. I invite you to take a look and see which plants will suit your landscape design best while keeping those pesky flies away.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.