Low Maintenance Plants that are Known to Repel Flies

how plants that repel flies

In this article I’ll share 18 flowers and plants that are known to repel flies.

Not only that, I’ll give you a totally free downloadable info graphic at the end that will highlight the information in the article in graphical form so you can use it as a quick reference when needed.

For each of the plant you’ll learn:

  • Why they work
  • Where to purchase them
  • And how to get the best results from the plants

But for those in a rush, I’ve surmised the main points for each of the 18 products in the table below.

That being said, I highly recommend reading the entire article as I’ll show you exactly how the best places and combinations of plants in more detail (no one else does this) and what pitfalls and gotchas to avoid.

PlantChemicals found in plantsScientific name
Marigoldpyrethrum and terpenes like d-limonene in its petalsTagetas patula
Chrysanthemumscontains pyrethrum, which attacks the nervous systems of insects Chrysanthemums
Painted Daisy PerennialspyrethrumTanacetum Pyrethrum
White TansypyrethrumAchillea ptarmica
NasturtiumsTropaeolum majus, minus or pellophorum
Wormwood/Artemisiaresinous particle Artemisia absinthium
Citronella Grass and Lemongrasscitronella, a powerful insect repellent Cymbopogon winterianus
Bay LaurelsgeraniolLaurus nobilis
Lemona number of terpenes such as gerianol, d-limonene, linalool and perillaldehydecitrus limon
Mandarin or Mandarin Orange, Valencia OrangelimoneneCitrus reticulata
Hog’s Fennel or Masterwortd-limonenePeucedanum ostruthium
Pennyroyald-limoneneMentha Pulegium
Eucalyptus (Trees and Plants)linolool and limonene Eucalyptus citriodora
Cedar (Bonsai Plants and Trees)Pinaceae abitoideae
Black Walnutgeraniol, a natural fly repellentJuglans Nigra
Alliumspowerful scents Allium giganteum
BeebalmgeraniolMonarda fistulosa
Venus Flytrapbio mechanical acid trapDionaea muscipula

p.s. If you do want to learn more about the chemicals that these plants contain natural then we have a short article explaining them. It’s a good companion article to this one and definetly worth a read.

What Chemicals are in plants that repel Insects?

18 Plants (and Trees) That Repel Flies

Most of the following plants will repel flies, though some will actually trap and kill them. 

1.  Marigold

The French Marigold (Tagetas patula) is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family and is a strong fly repellant due to the concentration of pyrethrum and terpenes like d-limonene in its petals.

Aztec Marigold (Tagetas minuta) and African marigold (Tagetas erecta) both have d-limonene, a deadly compound for flies, in their petals. For these reasons, marigold petals, fresh or dried, can often be used as fly repellents indoors.

There are hundreds of varietals available all over the world. Marigolds are widely cultivated and an easily grown bedding plant.

If planted to protect vegetable plots or patio arrangements, marigolds can be planted along with Nasturtiums and Daisies – being safe for humans and dogs.

Marigolds are annuals, but some varieties of marigolds (including some common Tagetas varietals) are perennials. They are easy to care for as long as they get some sunlight – they can grow in poor soil as long as there is adequate drainage. 

Marigolds are available, either seed or potted, in Garden Centers and online retailers.

2.  Chrysanthemums

Bright pots of chrysanthemums will brighten up any outdoor seating areas, but they have the additional benefit of being strong insect repellents.

Chrysanthemum contains pyrethrum, which attacks the nervous systems of insects. Chrysanthemums are also considered great companion plants for vegetable patches.

Dried chrysanthemum petals can be used to extract pyrethrum, so you can hang them indoors to continue repelling flies and other bugs.

Mums do need at least three hours of sunlight a day, though. While you may be able to save the plants over the winter by winterizing them outdoors or bringing them in, you may need to let mums go if they have lost their blooms.

They will be great in the lining of your patio and as companion flowers in your vegetable garden in the summer. If you love hanging out on the patio, or barbecuing, potted mums may be just the solution for you.

They will not harm you or pets such as dogs – though cats are allergic to excessive quantities of pyrethrum.

Mums are widely available at Garden Centers of major retailers such as Walmart and Costco, as well as nursery and flower shops where you can buy blooming plants and seeds and at online retails.

3.  Painted Daisy Perennials

Painted Daisy perennial plants are strong fly repellents. They also contain pyrethrum – in fact, one scientific name for Painted Daisy is Tanacetum Pyrethrum.

As such, they are great plants to plant around your vegetable patches or in pots along your patio. These bright violet, red, yellow and pink flowers, usually with a yellow center, are brilliant to look at and safe around food. 

Painted daisies grow outdoors in the summer and can be transplanted indoors during frost.

They are low maintenance, growing in ordinary, well-drained soil, though they do need regular watering. They are typically planted in groups, sometimes along with marigolds and nasturtiums, a powerful combination.

Painted daisy seeds or potted plants are available at Garden Centers, seeds are available at Amazon and other online retailers.

4.  White Tansy

The White Tansy (Achillea ptarmica), also known as sneezewort, sneezeweed or European pellitory, is a strong insect repellent since it contains pyrethrum, an active insect repellent which can kill flies at higher concentrations.

Tansies are perennial, though they need plenty of sun – which means that they tend to bloom in late spring. The plants are drought resistant when established, though removing dead foliage in the Fall will help.

The plant tends to seed and spread around the landscape once established. They are infill plants, which means they can be placed in tandem with other, blooming plants.

For maximum effect on flies, it’s important for their flowers to bloom. Even dried petals of tansies can be used to repel flies.

However, tansies should be kept away from children and pets, and certainly never consumed – it irritates the skin and mouth. When using close to people, they should be kept in higher areas, out of reach.

White Tansy seeds or potted plants are available at Garden Centers at Walmart, Target etc.

5.  Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus, minus or pellophorum) secrete a chemical into the air that instantly repels bugs and flies.

The bright orange red blooms are pretty to watch, but these are wonderful companion plants (e.g. with marigolds and chrysanthemums) that will play nice with any type of vegetation and protect them from infestation. 

Nasturtiums can be either annual or perennial, with succulent stems and tuberous roots. They grow well in the sun, often in poor soil (as long as its moist and well drained).

Some varieties are creepers that spread over fences and railings. They tend to be hardy, though a couple of popular species from Chile tend to require more care and may remain dormant for a number of years before triggering into bloom.

Nasturtiums originated in South and Central America but have been naturalized in North America. Nasturtiums can be bought at local nurseries or online through Amazon.

6.  Wormwood/Artemisia

Easy to grow in your garden, Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), also known as absinthe, contain a resinous particle (what?) which is a natural fly repellent.

Artemisia is the genus that wormwood, sagebrush and tarragon all belong to. Dried wormwood leaves near doorways, windows or inside rooms also work well against flies.

Wormwood can be used safely around eating areas since its non-toxic.

Wormwood is easy to grow and a friendly plant in the garden. It can be placed around other plants and can be placed closed to food, since it is edible and non-toxic.

Ingesting in large quantities can present a problem, though, so be careful to warn children.

Wormwood can be found at your local plant nursery or online through Amazon.

7.  Citronella Grass and Lemongrass

Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon winterianus) are grasses that are found in the Upper Midwest zones in the US. They contain citronella, a powerful insect repellent that will keep flies away.

Citronella grass looks similar to lemongrass (which also contains citronella) but it’s distinguished by its reddish colored stems and blades, while lemongrass is all green.

Both citronella and lemongrass are frequently used in natural outdoor settings, such as patios, to repel mosquitoes and flies. Citronella and lemongrass are perennials that can also be grown in planters indoors.

Citronella extracts are used in candles and lamps, and dried grass can be used for a while as repellent. Both citronella and lemongrass are available in nurseries and garden centers, as well as online retailers like Amazon.

8.  Bay Laurels

A Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis), also known as Grecian Laurel or simply Laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region.

This plant is rich in geraniol, a powerful fly repellent, as well as linolool.

Bay laurel works best as an insect repellent when several leaves are gathered together and placed in close proximity to an outdoor eating area, or near home entrances or windows.

One big advantage is that they are edible to humans. Usually, one or two plants or trees will produce a sufficient number of foliage to serve your needs.

Bay laurels need moist, well-drained soil (with occasional fertilizer) and some sunlight. They can be grown indoors but be aware that they will need bright light and also misting from time to time.

Bay laurels can be found at your local nursery or through online retailers like Amazon,

9.  Lemon

Lemon trees (citrus limon) contain powerful insect repellents – a number of terpenes such as gerianol, d-limonene, linalool and perillaldehyde among them.

The small, evergreen sweet lemon tree is from India and the Mediterranean and its fruit is not overly acidic, but sweet. The Eureka lemon, common in supermarkets, is widely available in North America.

Lemon trees, especially the potted varieties, do need some care – they need constant watering but good drainage. Fertilizer use is also highly recommended to grow lemon plants in a pot.

Lemon peels and rinds can be used as powerful fly repellents, and lemon essential oil is a staple of many DIY home remedy concoctions. The trees, peels and rinds are non-toxic to humans and pets, so they can be kept around food.

As mentioned above, sweet lemon trees are naturalized in North America, with varietals such as “Bonnie Brae” being grown in Southern California, in the San Diego area. Other lemons, including Meyer and Ponderosa, are also freely available at nurseries, garden centers and online.

10. Mandarin or Mandarin Orange, Valencia Orange

Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata) and Valencia or Blood Orange (Citrus sinensis) are both rich in d-limonene, which in concentrated form not only repels flies, but is deadly to them.

The color of blood orange comes from chrysanthemin, the same chemical compound that gives chrysanthemums their coloration.

Originally from the Mediterranean, blood oranges are now grown liberally as a perennial in the Southern US – being in season from December to March in Texas and from November to May in California.

They typically grow in such tropical or maritime climates when the nights are cool without being frosty or frigid.

To grow blood oranges, the soil must be kept moist – watering every two to three days – till the trees get mature. Fertilizer use is recommended, especially with potted plants.

In the garden, the area around should be weeded regularly since the orange tree requires to draw as much nutrition as possible in order to produce the right balance of taste and nutrition in the fruit.

Orange zest or dried orange peels strewn around the house will keep it free of flies. The trees, peels and rinds are non-toxic to humans and pets, so they can be kept around food.

Orange trees are freely available at nurseries, garden centers and online.

11. Hog’s Fennel or Masterwort

Masterwort (Peucedanum ostruthium), also called Hog’s Fennel, contains d-limonene. Native to Central and Southern Europe, Masterwort has been widely naturalized in other countries, including North America.

Hog’s Fennel is a perennial which typically flowers from July to September. The plant is self-fertile and suitable for all types of soil, including alkaline and saline soil.

It does prefer moisture and plenty of sunlight – it does not grow in the shad. It prefers maritime climates.

Materworts should typically be grown outdoors. They should not be kept close to where people congregate or eat, since they may provoke dermatitis or other skin rashes in some people.

Hog’s Fennel can be bought in nurseries and online at retailers such as Amazon.

12. Pennyroyal

By Raffi Kojian - http://Gardenology.org, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12734737

European Pennygrass or American Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium) contains d-limonene, a deadly toxin for flies.

They are also toxic to humans, so extreme care should be taken to not ingest pennyroyal in any meaningful quantity, or let it rub against your skin.

They should not be left near food – more than 10 ml of concentrated Pennyroyal oil can be fatal. In general, it is known to cause liver and kidney damage, as well as nervous system damage.

Pennyroyal should be grown in pots and in limited quantities, ideally away from where children and pets could reach them – this minimizes the invasiveness of the plant, which in turn makes for a safer environment. This perennial plant can be grown in full sunlight or partial shade.

 You can buy pennyroyals in nurseries or at online stores.

13. Eucalyptus (Trees and Plants)

The Eucalyptus plant or tree (Eucalyptus citriodora) contains linolool and limonene in its leaves and is considered to be an excellent fly repellent.

However, eucalyptus essential oil is the best way to get rid of a persistent fly infestation, since it’s much more concentrated.

A few drops of eucalyptus oil rubbed onto your skin will do wonders in terms of keeping flies and other bugs away from you.

 Eucalyptus is a perennial that can also be grown as an annual with regular pruning. It requires moisture but well-drained soil. They can be grown outdoors for sure – especially eucalyptus trees – but also indoors as a potted plant as long as it gets sunlight (at least indirectly) for several hours a day. They do not require fertilizers to grow.

Eucalyptus plants can be found at local nurseries. Eucalyptus essential oils have become a hot commodity recently and can be easily procured with at retail stores or online.

14. Cedar (Bonsai Plants and Trees)

Natural cedar wood (Pinaceae abitoideae) is a coniferous tree common to the Upper Himalayas and the Mediterranean, which has been naturalized in many places throughout the world, including North America.

The trees have evergreen leaves and the bark especially has thick resinous oils that serve as a strong insect repellent that can either kill flies, or simply keep them away. Moist or dry cedar bark can be used indoors to repel flies. 

Cedar trees could be grown in the garden, but many ornamental uses are also common, including as bonsai plants.

They are hardy trees that were initially used to higher altitudes but can be cared for in a home or garden setting by taking care to not overwater them – the soil should dry out between each watering.

They do not need fertilizer, and once mature, require very little care except mulching a couple of times a year. 

Unfortunately, cedar trees do represent a fire hazard – the same oil content tends to make them highly flammable during hot, dry weather.

Cedar plants are available through garden centers, nurseries and online retailers.

15. Black Walnut

Black Walnuts (Juglans Nigra), or the Eastern American Black Walnut are relatives of English Walnuts, are extensively found in North America.

They possess geraniol, a natural fly repellent, which infuses the leaves, stems and fruit husks with a spicy odor which is absent in the nut itself.

They tend to be expensive, since the wood is precious, and trees take up to 35 years to mature enough for the wood to be harvested.

Black walnut fruits sprout irregularly (i.e. not necessarily every year) in the summer and autumn months – with the husk typically falling in winter. If planting in your back yard, make sure to have open spaces around. They are typically not grown indoors. 

The plant is non-toxic to humans and pets. They can grow to heights between 10 and 20 feet and create a canopy when mature, so barbecue pits and picnic benches can be placed beneath them.

Black walnuts can be found at nursery stores, garden centers and online retailers.

16. Alliums

Alliums are a flowering form of garlic and onion, powerful scents for sure. Allium giganteum, or Giantic Onion, is widely found in Central and Western Asia.

Alliums repels a wide range of insects, including flies due to its strong fragrance.

Alliums are perennials, typically, that can grow in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sunlight. They are typically garden plants that produce a rich lilac purple bloom.

For best use, they should be used as a border background and planted in groups of at least 5-7 bulbs each.

Aliums are available at garden centers and online retailers like Amazon.

17. Beebalm

By Takkk - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11495244

Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa), also known as purple beebalm, horse-mint or wild bergemont, is a wildflower in the mint family that contains the powerful fly repellent geraniol.

This plant is often used as a honey plant (to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds) or a garden ornamental in bee and butterfly habitats. There are several subspecies, famous for their white or purple blooms.

Beebalms grow in the summer months. They prefer a well-drained site and fertilizer rich soil – they do not do well in wet conditions. They can grow in full sun or partial shade, they spread more rapidly if grown in partial shade.

While beebalm is pleasant to smell and non-toxic to humans and dogs, they should not be placed around seating and eating areas – since you are likely to be bothered by bees.

Beebalm is readily available for sale at nurseries and online retailers like Amazon.

18. Venus Flytrap

The Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is one of the most potent weapons that are available to householders against flies. It occupies longleaf pine habitats in North and South Carolina and is available throughout North America.

This plant is ideal for potting, either outdoor or indoors, and can be kept away from sunlight. The main thing they need is plenty of moisture.

The floral red interior and rims lined with sensory hairs emit nectar to entice flies and other insects.

These same hairs trigger a response when they feel a fly brush against them. The mouth snaps shut, acidic fluids bubble up and digest the fly alive.

Placing one or two Venus flytraps, which can be placed close to food and humans, around your outdoor seating area will reduce the fly population. They can be found at nurseries, garden centers or online through Amazon.

Use of Essential Oils from Plants

In addition to using the fresh plants or their dried leaves, zest, peels and rinds, many essential oils are extracted from lemon, orange, eucalyptus, cedar and a number of the other plants on this list.

Powerful natural fly repellents can be made from them. For example, a mixture of 15 drops of peppermint oil, 15 drops of tea tree oil and 7 drops of lemon oil, mixed in with 2 cups of water, creates a powerful spray and cleaning solution that will both repel flies and kill them if they come in contact with surfaces that have been rubbed with the mixture.

In Conclusion …

As the discussion above shows, many plants can be used as natural repellents to keep our homes and gardens free of pests and bothersome insects like flies.

Though some display toxicity and should not be placed in areas that are readily accessible, many are benign to humans and pets (especially dogs).

As such, bright and cheerful blooms and pleasant odors can be infused into your patio and garden surroundings along with the blissful absence of flies.


As promised, here’s the link to the free ant diy trap guide – click here.

If you want to learn more about various insects, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:

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All the best


Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

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