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30 Plants That Repel Flies (To Finally Get Rid of Them!)

Flies can be found in almost every part of the world. Not only can they be annoying, but flies can also bite us and our pets and spread diseases! Fortunately, there are plants we can grow in our gardens and homes to help repel them.

These are the 30 most effective plants for repelling flies:

  1. Camphor trees
  2. Catnip
  3. Chamomile
  4. Chinese juniper
  5. Citronella grass
  6. Eucalyptus
  7. Lemon balm
  8. Lemon thyme
  9. Lemongrass
  10. Neem
  11. Painted daisies
  12. Pennyroyal
  13. Rue
  14. Tansy
  15. Vetiver
  16. Wormwood
  17. Yarrow
  18. Basil
  19. Cinnamon
  20. Clove
  21. Laurel
  22. Lavender
  23. Peppermint
  24. Rosemary
  25. Sage
  26. Thyme
  27. Sundew
  28. Butterworts
  29. Purple pitcher plants
  30. Venus fly traps

There are more than 100,000 species of flies in the world, and very few people actually like them. But I doubt that you are one of them. To finally get those pesky flies to buzz off, check out this list of fly-repelling plants I’ve compiled for you to grow at home!

17 Outdoor Plants That Repel Flies

The 17 plants that repel flies are:

  1. Camphor trees
  2. Catnip
  3. Chamomile
  4. Chinese juniper
  5. Citronella grass
  6. Eucalyptus
  7. Lemon balm
  8. Lemon thyme
  9. Lemongrass
  10. Neem
  11. Painted daisies
  12. Pennyroyal
  13. Rue
  14. Tansy
  15. Vetiver
  16. Wormwood
  17. Yarrow

If you’re struggling with keeping house flies out of your yard and garden, I got you. Just continue reading to see what plants you can grow outside to help keep the flies away!

1. Camphor Trees (Cinnamomum camphora)

The essential oils of camphor trees are highly effective fly repellents and are commonly used in insecticides. Camphor trees spread aggressively and must be grown in pots.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil, fragrance, and production of pesticide

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: Japan, Taiwan

Camphor components can be found in numerous deterrents against flies, which you’ll quickly learn as you go through this article. You can take it a step further and even try to count how many times it’s mentioned.

As you can imagine, the concentrated oils of camphor are effective in killing flies and their larvae. When crushed, the leaves and twigs release the smell of camphor and repel flies.

Camphor Leaves
Antoine Abarnou PlantNet (cc-by-sa) – Cinnamomum Camphora Leaves

Although it is a very hardy tree, keep it out of the ground to ensure it does not compete with native plant species. As useful as this tree is, it’s considered an obnoxious weed in Australia and invasive in Florida.

Grow camphor in a pot indoors or keep it on the lawn!

2. Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Catnip plants produce large quantities of a chemical named nepectalone, which is effective in repelling flies. The essential oils of catnip can also hinder the egg-laying process and deter up to 79% of houseflies.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil, fragrance, and production of pesticide

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Europe or Asia

Catnip can grow wildly at times and might attract some cats to your yard but it’s worth it. To many insects, including flies and mosquitoes, catnip is an irritant.

Its oil alone has been shown to have strong repelling effects against flies. The nepectalone compounds in catnip oil can repel up to 79% of houseflies for 6 hours!

Catnip Flowers
Sarah Hagler (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Nepeta Cataria Flowers

Catnip oil can also reduce fly oviposition, the process of laying or depositing eggs. Because of this, it’s fantastic at lowering the overall fly population and is sure to be helpful for severe infestations.

You can grow this cat-friendly plant in a container and enjoy a fly-free home.

3. Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

Chamomile can help repel flies with its potent aroma and oils. The essential oils of chamomile can be extracted from the plant’s flowers and used to eliminate and prevent fly larvae from fully maturing.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: Europe or Western Asia

These daisy-like plants have a soothing fragrance that flies do not find attractive.

Fly larvae typically conceal themselves in leather-like skin. Inside, they finish their development and become adults, similar to butterflies with cocoons.

Chamomile oils have been tested before, and have been shown to suppress these adult flies from emerging by smothering them. These essential oils are also extremely fragrant.

Chamomile Flowers
Chris Worton (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Chamaemelum Nobile Flowers

This makes chamomile oil a great ingredient for homemade sprays against flies, which I will share with you later on!

Spruce up your walkways with chamomile or use it as ground cover where the crushed foliage can release its calming aromas.

4. Chinese Juniper (Juniperus chinensis)

Flies dislike the smell of pine and are generally repelled by Chinese juniper. Grow established Chinese juniper trees outdoors and keep its strongly scented needles in kitchens and windowsills to repel flies

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: Eastern Asia

I have never seen flies invade rooms with pine-based scents and air fresheners. I’ve learned now, that this is because the smell of pine is usually quite intense for them.

Because of this, the Chinese juniper is a great plant to grow to help keep away flies.

Chinese junipers are evergreen conifer plants with rich pine scents. You can scatter its fragrant needles in your yard or hang them in bunches by windows and in the kitchen, where flies may frequent.

Chinese Juniper Trees
Daniel Barthelemy (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Juniperus Chinensis Trees

It can be grown in full sun but can also thrive with partial shade. It can even be turned into an attractive bonsai!

But flies aren’t the only ones that hate the smell of pine. This plant is also rarely eaten by deer, another common and irritating pest that can destroy entire gardens.

Read more in our article on the 20 plants that repel deer.

5. Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon nardus)

The use of citronella grass and its oil is suitable for repelling flies. Trim its fragrant foliage to combat its wild growth and burn the trimmings to emit its fly-repelling aromas or use its oils in humidifiers to dissuade houseflies.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: Asia

For tropical grass in yards and lawns, consider growing citronella grass. Each of its narrow leaves is perfumed with a citrusy smell that will discourage flies.

Citronella oil also has a reputation for deterring numerous insects. The same oils can be burned in candles or used in humidifiers to release concentrated fragrances around the house and keep flies out.

Citronella Grass Leaves
Daniel Tassini Hochheim (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Cymbopogon Nardus Leaves

If you choose to grow this plant, bear in mind that citronella grass grows fast. You can maintain this growth by trimming it regularly at your desired height and burning the scented trimmings as an alternative to using its oils.

6. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)

Eucalyptus trees can be grown as useful fly-repelling plants. Research shows that eucalyptus oil has a 90% success rate in eliminating fly larvae and preventing adult flies from emerging.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Asia

Eucalyptus is an Australian evergreen tree with blueish-green leaves. Eucalyptus globulus, or blue gum, can help ward off pesky flies with its rich fragrance.

The oils of eucalyptus globulus have been tested as fly repellents before. The results?

Eucalyptus Leaves
Bonilla Pareja Jose Antonio (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Eucalyptus Globulus Leaves

Not only are eucalyptus globulus oils able to achieve larval mortality in just 2 days, they can also stop the emergence of adult flies by more than 90%!

Young eucalyptus trees will be damaged by frost. It’s best to grow this in a container, so it’s easier for you to bring it inside if you always have harsh winters in your region.

7. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Flies find the smell of lemon balm unpleasant, making it an effective deterrent. Its leaves yield tiny amounts of fly-repelling oil. But it is a more effective repellent when steamed or boiled to release its fragrance.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Southern Europe

It’s best to grow this bright member of the mint family in containers to prevent it from taking over your garden.

Lemon balm has a pleasant perfume to it that flies find unattractive. It can also grow in part shade where flies commonly breed.

Lemon Balm Leaves
Marine Seigne (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Melissa Officinalis Leaves

Essential oils of lemon balm can serve as a natural fly repellent, but these are rare and expensive.

The leaves of lemon balm have less than 1% lemon balm oil content and do not produce nearly as well as other plants such as lemongrass. Instead, you can take some cuttings and scatter the freshly cut lemon balm leaves.

Better yet, boil or steam the lemon balm leaves you pick to help release their scent and keep the flies out of your house. This will allow you to make the most of your lemon balm leaves and make up for its lack of oil.

8. Lemon Thyme (Thymus pulegioides)

Lemon thyme has a heavy smell that repels flies. It is a suitable plant to grow as a groundcover or in a pot to prevent flies.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: Europe

The citrusy smell of lemon is one of the few smells that flies hate, so lemon thyme is sure to keep them away.

Lemon Thyme Flowers
Lennaert Steen (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Thymus Pulegioides Flowers

Moreover, this plant is safe to consume and it does not pose any danger to both humans and animals. This is an easy-growing plant that can be used in tea or cooking.

Additionally, it can serve as an attractive groundcover plant for landscaping while it helps you discourage flies from lounging around your house.

Established lemon thyme plants are drought-tolerant, making them low-maintenance. Their flowers are also helpful—attract bees and butterflies to your garden!

9. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)

For a botanical insecticide against flies, grow lemongrass in the ground or pots. Trimmings can be added to compost bins to discourage fly breeding. Lemongrass oil is also effective in repelling house flies and stable flies from attacking pets.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: India

Although lemongrass is not particularly frost-hardy, it will thrive in warm climates and is more likely to survive in high heat. This is a grass-like plant that spreads quickly, it’s best grown in containers.

Lemongrass oil is one of the most effective repellents against house flies and in reducing overall fly populations. It can be grown outside, in your yard, to help discourage flies from entering your home.

If you can’t find ready-to-use essential oils, trim the lemongrass. Then, use its fragrant trimmings in compost bins since house flies commonly use them for breeding.

Lemongrass Leaves
Alda Pereira (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Cymbopogon Citratus Leaves

But for maximum potency, I highly suggest using lemongrass essential oil. Studies have confirmed lemongrass oil is an effective deterrent not just for houseflies but for stable flies as well.

Flies can be a health hazard for humans, we know this. However, stable flies can also be dangerous to animals such as cattle. They suck blood and spread diseases. Stable flies can even attack dogs!

10. Neem (Azadirachta indica)

Neem trees and neem oil are highly effective in repelling flies due to their pungent smell and production of azadirachtin. Azadirachtin, a natural chemical, can inhibit fly feeding and reduce fly populations by preventing pupae from maturing.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: India

Neem: gardeners use it every day to treat their beloved plants and protect them from pests. Another great thing is you can also use it to control houseflies and black flies around the house!

To discourage flies, you can grow neem outside as an attractive tree or grow it inside in a sturdy pot.

Neem Tree
M. Hedayat (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Azadirachta Indica Tree

You might already have neem oil handy. In that case, you’ll be happy to hear that the presence of azadirachtin in neem oil is useful in eliminating fly pupae and preventing adults from emerging.

Moreover, neem oil can also discourage flies from laying eggs and is a great way to help control flies out in the garden or inside your home. Neem can even help with termites too!

11. Painted Daisies (Tanacetum coccineum)

Due to their fragrance and pyrethrin production, painted daisies can be grown to repel and paralyze flies. However, this must be kept away from pets and children to avoid toxic consumption and severe stomach pain.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance and production of insecticide

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: Europe

These flowers might look pretty but they are one of the world’s largest producers of pyrethrin, a chemical that can cause paralysis in flies.

If you’ve ever used pesticides before, pyrethrin might sound familiar. Due to its high efficiency, this chemical is commonly extracted from plants and used in a variety of bug repellents.

But be careful in using large amounts of pyrethrin to control flies, as it has been reported that houseflies repeatedly exposed to pyrethrin eventually develop a resistance to it.

Painted Daisy Flowers
Lee Nahmias (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Tanacetum Coccineum Flowers

You can grow painted daisies in pots and use its fragrance and natural pesticide to combat flies indoors!

Other than that, you could also crush up its bright blossoms into a paste so that its strong scent will more easily spread in your home.

For other vibrant daisy blooms, check out the 45 most colorful daisies.

Keep your painted daisies out of your pets’ and children’s reach though, as they might attempt to eat its toxic flowers and be poisoned by its pyrethrin. This could lead to stomach pain and vomiting.

12. Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)

Pennyroyal plants and oils are effective repellents against flies due to their powerful smells. Its oil is highly toxic for flies. However, pennyroyal oil can be toxic for humans and pets. This plant must only be handled with gloves.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: Mediterranean

Discourage flies by growing this flowering herb in a pot outdoors. Its pretty flowers smell similar to spearmint, another scent that flies dislike.

Additionally, mentha pulegium oil is lethal to houseflies and a great natural option to consider, especially if you have bad infestations.

Pennyroyal Flowers
Antonio Romio (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Mentha Pulegium Flowers

However, the same oil is also extremely toxic to both humans and animals and can even be fatal if ingested, so use them carefully.

Even prolonged contact with the plant itself can be harmful. Wear gloves when handling pennyroyal and keep them away from curious children and pets.

13. Rue (Ruta graveolens)

Prevent flies from laying eggs in compost bins and trash cans by growing rue. The strong scents of rue plants are overwhelming for flies.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Europe

Rue is an evergreen herb with an overpowering scent, both cats and flies will go out of their way to avoid it. The same goes for lavender but I’ll talk about that plant later.

Its pungent smell also makes it an ideal plant to grow near chickens and cattle, where flies may go often.

Rue Flowers
Kai Best (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Ruta Graveolens Flowers

You can also grow rue by trash cans or next to your compost bins to prevent flies from laying eggs in it and making maggots. To double down on this, rue plants will also discourage overly curious cats from disturbing either of these things, which could otherwise attract more flies!

You can easily grow rue in a container and keep it outdoors to protect your yard and furry friends.

14. Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

The presence of camphor in its oil makes tansy plants highly effective in deterring flies. Repel flies by growing them strictly in containers to manage their weed-like growth.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: Europe or Asia

Back in the American colonial period, meat was frequently rubbed and packed with tansy leaves to help repel flies. Some might consider this silly but this method was probably quite effective!

Before you stop to ask why, studies on tansy plants reveal that camphor is one of the active components of tansy oil. Remember, camphor trees are the first plants I mentioned earlier and has a reputation of repelling multiple different insects, including flies.

Tansy Flowers
Peter (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Tanacetum Vulgare Flowers

So, to effectively keep away flies, you can grow camphor-rich tansy at home or use its essential oil! The leaves can be fatal in large amounts if eaten, however, so don’t eat this plant.

Furthermore, it is best to grow tansy in containers, as it is a weed in some states including Washington. Reach out to your local weed district to ensure you can safely grow this plant at home to control fly populations.

15. Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides)

An active compound named nooktakone in vetiver oil and plants makes them suitable fly repellents. It can effectively kill houseflies and has a mortality rate of over 90%.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: India

At first glance, this plant seems very similar to lemongrass. Vetiver grass, however, is much stiffer and can grow root systems deeper than some trees, making it a great choice for gardeners struggling with soil erosion.

If flies are an issue in your backyard, consider growing vetiver to keep flies away with its smell, which they find unpleasant.

Vetiver Leaves
Daniel Barthelemy (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Chrysopogon Zizanioides Leaves

Vetiver oil is a strong repellent, deterring up to 80% of houseflies. It can also kill adult flies and larvae.

This is due to the oil’s active compounds named nootkatone, which can help deter many other bugs like ticks and termites. Overall, it’s a useful plant with multiple different benefits!

For more on termites, read our article on the 13 plants that repel termites.

16. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

Flies find the smell of wormwood unpleasant, so it can be used to repel fruit flies. Discourage flies from flying inside homes by growing wormwood near windowsills and entryways.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Europe or Asia

You might find the name bizarre, but wormwood has unique silver-hued foliage and strongly scented leaves, with aromas that become even more potent when crushed.

Wormwood Leaves
Renaud Brochiero (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Artemisia Absinthium Leaves

You can grow wormwood as a companion plant for fruit trees and other plants to help mask their scents. This prevents unwanted fruit flies from landing on your plants and potentially spreading harmful bacteria in your garden.

Plant wormwood near doorways and windows to help dissuade flies from entering your house.

17. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow can repel flies with its strong fragrance. It can also attract predatory wasps which can deter and eat flies.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance and attractive to predatory insects

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: Europe

Yarrow is a fern-like scented plant with a smell similar to chrysanthemums. Because of this, flies find its aroma overwhelming.

Yarrow Flowers
Regne Concha (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Achillea Millefolium Flowers

Its creamy flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies. Aside from this, yarrows can also help control fly populations by attracting wasps, one of the flies’ most common predators.

Keep your yarrow in pots to prevent it from spreading wildly. Just remember that yarrow blooms are toxic to humans and animals in large amounts and can cause gastrointestinal issues, so avoid eating this!

9 Herbs and Spice Plants That Repel Flies

The 9 herbs to grow to repel flies are basil, cinnamon, clove, laurel, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

Herbs are one of those things some people might forget or view as just seasonings to cook with. However, they can be one of the most powerful plants to grow for a pest-free home!

Here are some kitchen-friendly herbs to plant if you also want to repel flies.

1. Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Basil leaves produce an aroma that flies find unattractive. Houseflies are also repelled by basil oil due to the presence of chemicals such as linalool and methyl chavicol.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Asia

To start, we have basil. This tasty herb has aromatic leaves and is a favorite among gardeners due to how easy it is to grow in containers indoors. But you can also plant them outside.

Another great thing about basil is that its oil works well in controlling flies. Basil oil contains linalool and methyl chavicol that common black flies and houseflies dislike and are less likely to approach.

Basil Leaves
Bernd Datz (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Ocimum Basilicum Leaves

Thrips also find the fragrance and oil of basil repulsive, making it a useful deterrent for even other insects!

Grow basil in a sun-facing window to keep the flies away and use it for your favorite dishes.

2. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)

Repel flies with cinnamon by planting it outdoors or keeping it in pots to overwhelm house flies with its heavy aroma. Cinnamon oil, containing linalool and camphor, reduces the spread of bacteria caused by flies and is a useful stable fly repellent.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: India

Cinnamon coffee, cinnamon rolls—you can find cinnamon in dozens of different recipes. But did you know you could also use it against flies?

The leaves and bark of cinnamon trees are scented and can be too strong for flies to handle. Cinnamon oil, in comparison, is even more potent and can be used to kill flies and their larvae upon contact.

You can attribute this repelling efficiency to the combination of linalool and camphor in cinnamon oil, which both act as antibacterial and antifungal compounds.

Cinnamon Tree
Hugo SANTACREU (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Cinnamomum Verum Trees

Common house flies can carry over 350 types of bacteria and can transmit E. coli.

If you felt gross just imagining this, you’re not alone. With this in mind, cinnamon oil can limit the bacteria that house flies can spread with its antibacterial activities.

But if you’re planning to grow these, remember that these trees are not frost-hardy. To help cinnamon trees survive the winter, grow them in pots and bring them indoors when necessary.

3. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)

Because of their rich aromas and oils, clove trees help repel flies. Clove trees must be 4–6 years old before they can produce oil. To effectively reduce and eliminate flies, grow clove trees in partial shade or use clove oil.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Outdoors

Origin: Indonesia

This tropical spice has been used for centuries in a myriad of ways. Both its leaves and stems are fragrant and unattractive to flies.

Clove Leaves
Claudine Gränicher (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Syzygium Aromaticum Leaves

What’s interesting is that research revealed flies were eradicated immediately upon exposure to clove essential oil. Their overall activity also decreased after being treated with clove oil!

Grown from seed, clove trees can take at least 4 years to bloom flowers and produce their oil. Additionally, clove can be grown in partial shade, which is ideal for those not living in tropical regions.

4. Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

Laurel can repel flies with its oil and pungent aroma. Additionally, the essential oil of laurel can help control flies as it contains fly-repellent chemicals like linalool, eucalyptol, and methyl eugenol.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil, fragrance, and production of insecticide

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Mediterranean

Laurel, or bay, is a popular evergreen commonly grown to produce bay leaves. Bay trees can also be grown as a hedge to maintain privacy and keep flies away with their aromatic leaves.

Cooking isn’t the only thing you can use its leaves for, however. Laurel essential oil is commonly derived from bay leaves and is a pretty useful insecticide.

Laurel Leaves
Alain Bigou (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Laurus Nobilis Leaves

A combination of methyl eugenol, eucalyptol, and linalool can be found in the essential oils of laurel and can help control flies by acting as a deterrent and eliminating them.

Grow your own bay tree and check out our article on how to grow laurel in a pot.

5. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender emits a powerful aroma that overwhelms and deters flies. Its oil is also useful for killing flies in all stages of their life cycle, making it a suitable alternative to chemical pesticides.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Mediterranean

For a great natural solution to control unwanted bugs, including flies, in and around your home, consider growing lavender!

Insects are generally less likely to be attracted to homes growing beds or pots of lavender. The oil of lavender is also extremely effective in killing fly eggs, larvae, and adults.

Lavender Flowers
Ralf Kamenz (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Lavandula Angustifolia Flowers

Having lavender plants is a great and safe way to control flies. Plus, you don’t have to worry about any unpleasant smells, as lavender always smells lovely.

Enjoy its purple blooms all year long by growing it in containers and moving it wherever you would like, to help keep flies at bay.

6. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Peppermint has extremely powerful aromas that flies are repelled by. Use peppermint oil as an effective but natural insecticide to reduce fly populations within 72 hours.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Europe

Peppermint is a great candidate for fly-repelling gardens. Its striking aroma can be refreshing and minty for humans but much too strong and pungent for flies.

I know people who are extremely sensitive to the smell of peppermint though, so use it with caution if you are sensitive to plants with strong smells.

Peppermint Leaves
Günther Radner (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Mentha X Piperita Leaves

Mentha piperita oil, or peppermint essential oil, can also be used to eradicate numerous flies and decrease fly populations in just a few days.

Of course, since peppermint is part of the mint family, you might need to trim it regularly to prevent wild growth. There’s a reason people often warn you to only grow it in pots!

But don’t let the trimmings go to waste. These freshly cut and fragrant peppermint trimmings can be scattered around your yard for a minty and fly-free environment.

7. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

The rich smell of rosemary is unpleasant for flies and will effectively repel them. Grow rosemary in pots or hang sprigs of rosemary indoors to prevent fly infestations.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance

Best Grown: Indoors

Origin: Europe

Rosemary isn’t just your typical, everyday aromatic. It’s also repulsive to flies!

While the smell of rosemary may be pleasant to us humans, the pesky house flies buzzing about in your house might say otherwise.

Rosemary Flowers
Dario Palazzo (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Rosmarinus Officinalis Flowers

Because the evergreen needle-like leaves of rosemary are very fragrant, you can grow rosemary in containers indoors to help deter flies from inside your home.

For more on intercropping, check out the best and worst companion plants for rosemary.

8. Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage is a powerfully scented plant that can repel houseflies. Dissuade flies by burning and hanging fragrant sprigs of sage around the house or using camphor-containing sage oil.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Europe

Similar to rosemary, flies dislike the smell of sage. Its leaves are fragrant and can be used in a variety of ways.

To help deter flies, fresh or dried sprigs of sage can be hung, burned, or placed in the soil of other potted plants to discourage flies from laying eggs.

Sage Flowers
Manuel Hernández (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Salvia Officinalis Flowers

Additionally, sage oil contains camphor and can be used as a natural solution against flies.

However, if you see black insects laying eggs in your potting soil, these might be fungus gnats.

Homemade Fly Repellent

To make a natural and easy fly repellent, collect the following:

  • 20 drops of camphor oil
  • 20 drops of catnip oil
  • 10 drops of eucalyptus globulus oil
  • 10 drops of vetiver oil
  • 10 drops of cinnamon oil
  • 1 teaspoon of neem oil

Combine and shake everything together in a clean spray bottle filled with warm water. You’ll want everything to be nicely incorporated, so make sure to shake and mix this well.

As a result, you should be left with a very fragrant blend of oils that flies will find extremely repulsive to smell. It’s that simple!

This solution can be sprayed on walls, inside clean garbage cans, and in other places where flies and maggots can always be seen.

You can substitute the ingredients here with other high-quality essential oils you have. However, it’s ideal to at least keep the camphor and catnip oil as these two ingredients are the most effective in controlling flies!

9. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Repel flies by growing heavily scented thyme in pots or garden beds. Thyme oil is also a useful fly-repellent.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: Southwestern Europe

Thyme is useful in different ways. It’s bee-friendly, a great companion plant for other crops, and it barely grows more than 12 inches (30.48 cm) so it is ideal for those with limited growing space.

More importantly, though, flies hate the smell of thyme!

Thyme Flowers
Carulla Anna (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Thymus Vulgaris Flowers

Thyme oil has toxic effects on flies. If you’re struggling with drain flies, consider mixing thyme oil with boiling water and pouring the mixture down the drain to kill drain flies and their eggs.

This is an easy-growing plant that’s great in both containers and garden beds where flies may invade.

4 Carnivorous Plants to Control Flies

The 4 carnivorous plants that can help consume and control flies are sundew, butterwort, purple pitcher plant, and venus flytrap.

Carnivorous plants are very helpful in catching and eating unwanted insects like flies.

But before you grow them, bear in mind that carnivorous plants are usually nonselective and might eat beneficial critters like bees or lizards!

Here is a list of the most effective carnivorous plants to grow and control flies.

1. Sundew (Drosera filiformis)

Sundew can effectively reduce fly populations by trapping flies and consuming them. Grow it in pots with bog-like soil indoors to repel and control flies.

Repelling Mechanism: Trapping mechanism and consumption of flies

Best Grown: Indoors

Origin: Tropical Americas

If you haven’t seen this plant before, it might look like something out of a fantasy film. Sundew leaves are covered with dozens of hair-like tentacles that secrete sugary dew drops to attract insects.

There are hundreds of species available but the cape sundew plants will wrap their leaves around their prey to digest and extract more nutrients.

Carnivorous plants are fascinating indeed and can help in lowering fly numbers inside the house.

Its need for nutrient-poor soils and boggy conditions make it hard to grow outside though, so they’re best grown indoors where they can be monitored.

Drosera Capensis: time lapse of eating a fly (in HD)
YouTube Video – Drosera Capensis Time Lapse Eating a Fly

2. Butterwort (Pinguicula caerulea)

Flies are trapped in the sticky glue of butterwort leaves and slowly digested. Grow butterworts in partial shade and use it as a useful fly-repellent plant.

Repelling Mechanism: Trapping mechanism and consumption of flies

Best Grown: Indoors

Origin: Southeast USA

This plant acts like live flypaper that attracts flies by secreting a sweet and extremely sticky mucus to trap them on. Because of this, they’d also be great to use against fungus gnats!

It might be unpleasant to look at and see dead insects stuck all over the leaves but it might bring you relief to see how many flies have been eaten.

When it’s not gathering bugs to digest, its flat and broad leaves can be quite attractive to look at. Butterworts can also be grown in partial shade, where flies may try to hide.

3. Purple Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea)

Purple pitcher plants can repel and consume flies by actively luring them into their cavities for digestion. But use caution to prevent the plants from eating beneficial insects such as bees.

Repelling Mechanism: Trapping mechanism and consumption of flies

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: USA or Canada

Like the other carnivorous plants on this list, purple pitcher plants need moist and swampy soil to survive. They’d be a great addition to water gardens if you’re planning on setting one up.

Its pitcher-shaped leaves form a wide lid at the top and drown insects inside so they can digest them for nutrients.

Purple Pitcher Plant Leaves
Jansen Pieter (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Sarracenia Purpurea Flowers

Even if multiple flies fall in and drown, the purple pitcher plant will only eat what is necessary. So there’s no concern about the plant possibly overeating.

However, these plants could also be a danger to butterflies and bees.

4. Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)

Control and repel flies by growing venus flytraps that consume flies. However, venus flytraps are endangered and cannot be harvested from the wild.

Repelling Mechanism: Trapping mechanism and consumption of flies

Best Grown: Indoors or outdoors

Origin: North and South Carolina

Also known as meadow clams, Venus flytraps are an ever-popular carnivorous plant that can help you by eating flies.

Its folded, bristly leaves will snap close over its prey to trap them inside to slowly digest the insect before the leaf resets.

Venus Flytrap Leaves
Ágnes Vad – Coach (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Dionaea Muscipula Leaves

Keep in mind, though, that each leaf or “mouth” can take up to a week to digest a single fly. As cool as this plant might be, avoid overstimulating its leaves as it will eventually stop responding and will no longer trap prey.

It is also illegal to collect these plants from the wild, as this species is endangered. So be sure to only buy this plant from trusted sources and watch your Venus flytrap eat all the flies in your home with fascination!


What smell do flies hate the most?

Flies use their keen sense of smell to detect things and cannot tolerate certain smells such as mint, pine, basil, lavender, clove, and eucalyptus. These fragrances are typically too potent for flies to handle and can effectively be used to repel them.

Are flies a health hazard?

Flies are attracted to rotting garbage, manure, and decaying matter and can carry bacteria and diseases. Some flies like horse flies are known to bite and spread diseases to animals and humans and must be eliminated immediately to prevent infestations.

Can fruit flies kill plants?

Fruit flies only lay eggs on the surface of fermenting liquids and overripe fruits and are not dangerous to plants. If shiny larvae are seen in potting soils, these are likely fungus gnats rather than fruit flies. Fungus gnat larvae live in wet soil and feed on plant roots and stems which can eventually kill plants.

What shade plants repel flies?

Chinese junipers, lemon balms, and clove trees can grow in partial shade and repel flies. Carnivorous plants like venus flytraps, sundews, and butterwort can also survive in partial shade while helping control flies.

Summary of Plants That Repel Flies

Flies are a common nuisance and can quickly become an issue over time. But some plants can help control flies with their natural fragrance, essential oil, attractiveness to predatory insects, and high production of fly-repellent insecticides.

Plants that have these features and can help repel flies are camphor trees, catnip, chamomile, chinese juniper, citronella grass, eucalyptus, lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon grass, neem, painted daisies, pennyroyal, rue, tansy, vetiver, wormwood, yarrow, basil, cinnamon, clove, laurel, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme.

Other plants such as sundews, butterworts, purple pitcher plants, and Vvenus flytraps can also help reduce fly populations by trapping and consuming flies.


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