Green Plants

During warmer weather, flies buzzing around can put a damper on enjoying the outdoors. Certain plants contain natural properties in their scent, oils or compounds that deter flies. This article covers the best plants and herbs to repel flies, along with tips on effectively using them.

Why Flies Are a Nuisance ?

Before getting into specific fly deterrent plants, let’s look at why flies are so problematic:

  1. Flies are attracted to humans and animals due to smells and carbon dioxide we exhale when breathing. Any area where there’s people or pets becomes a target.
  2. Flies feed on decaying matter and waste. They pick up diseases and can contaminate food sources by landing repeatedly.
  3. The buzzing and swarming of flies is annoying and distracting. They invade barbecues, picnics and outdoor relaxation areas.
  4. Using plants to repel flies is an organic, non-toxic solution that avoids the downsides of chemical sprays and traps.

Herbs That Repel Flies

Many culinary and aromatic herbs contain essential oils, aromas and compounds that naturally deter flies:


The scent of basil makes flies steer clear. For maximum effect, crush fresh leaves frequently to release more odor. The basil can grow in garden beds, containers or pots around patios and decks.


This flowering herb has multiple benefits, from its calming fragrance to repelling flies. Brush up against lavender plants to release more smell. And lavender grows in herb gardens, borders and containers.




The camphor-like smell of rosemary drives flies away. Rubbing foliage maximizes scent release. Plant rosemary bushes right around patios and entertainment spaces.


Spearmint, peppermint and other mint varieties strongly repel flies with their potent scent. Bruise mint leaves often for more aroma. Planting mint in clusters near outdoor living areas is a good choice.


Citronella oil from lemongrass is a natural fly repellent. Crush stalks to amplify the aroma. Combine with mint or basil for added impact.

Flowers That Deter Flies

Certain flowering plants contain compounds in their blooms, leaves or stems that flies don’t like:


Marigolds give off a scent as they bloom that repels flies, mosquitoes and other flying insects. For best results, liberally plant marigolds in potted arrangements, garden beds and planters.


Both potted and garden mums have pyrethrum properties in flowers and foliage that flies avoid. Place pots around patios and plant garden varieties around lawns.


With dozens of scented varieties, geraniums emit powerful fragrances from leaves and blooms that keep flies away. Grow in container gardens on decks or patios.


These popular annuals give off a subtle odor from abundant blooms that helps deter flies. Plant profusely in hanging baskets by doorways and seating areas.


Make Your Own Repellent Sprays

For maximal protection, you can make natural fly repellent sprays:

  • Steep crushed basil, mint, catnip and rosemary in boiling water. After cooling, strain and add to a spray bottle. Mist patios, yards, picnic tables, etc.
  • Combine several drops of lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils into water and witch hazel. Transfer to a spray bottle and apply lightly to skin and clothes.
  • Boil fresh rue, citronella and lemongrass in water to extract oils. Let cool, strain and pour into a spray bottle. Spray areas where flies gather frequently.
  • Reapply these homemade repellent sprays every few days or after rain. Ensure spray bottles are sealed tightly during the time you use them.

Plants Repel Flies

Tips for Effective Fly Control

When using plants to repel flies:

  • Crush or brush leaves and stems often to renew aromas. The effects diminish over time.
  • Cluster different herbs and flowers together for combination effects.
  • Replant annuals like marigolds, petunias and alyssum regularly for fresh flowers.
  • Cut back plants like mums and monarda after flowering to encourage new growth.
  • For potted plants, move containers around to follow gathering and dining areas.
  • Try different herbs and flowers to see which grow best and have the strongest scents in your climate.


With the right mix of plants and homemade repellent sprays, enjoy your yard and outdoor living space free of annoying flies this season.

By p ly

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