Fly-repelling plants: how to get rid of flies naturally

Fly-repelling plants: how to get rid of flies naturally

Flies are relatively harmless, but they can be quite annoying. We will show you some plants that can deter flies from your house.

Flies can be extremely annoying, regardless if it is the really big blue bottles or just some tiny fruit flies. One has to wonder sometimes if flies can sense when they can bother us the most. Flies are, in principle, pesky rather than harmful or dangerous, but the thought of where the fly might have sat before it landed on your arm or snacks, can be a little unsavoury.

Flies have an excellent sense of smell. This means that there are certain scents that are unpleasant to them. The essential oils of certain plants often have a deterrent effect on them. In this article, we have listed some plants that keep flies away.

Trees that repel flies

Have you ever noticed that walnut trees (Juglans regia) are often planted around seating areas in parks? And that it is also common to plant walnuts on farms? The reason for that is simple: the essential oils of the walnut tree keep insects such as flies, bugs or moths away. The next time you are standing under a walnut tree, you should pay attention to how many insects are buzzing around – there won’t be many. Walnut leaves emit fly-repellent substances; if you crush the leaves a little and rub them on your arms, mosquitoes and flies won’t bother you for a while.

Chestnut trees (Castanea) also belong to the fly-repelling plants. To be more precise: the chestnut’s fruits are effective at keeping fruit flies away and can therefore be used in the kitchen. For this reason, if you see some shiny chestnuts lying on the ground during a walk in autumn, take some of them home with you. Place them into your fruit bowl and you will be amazed at the result – the fruit flies will avoid the bowl. You can also put chestnuts next to your biodegradable waste to keep the flies away from there as well. For more information on fruit flies and how to get rid of them, you can read this article.

Herbs against flies

Garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) can be easily recognised by its round leaves and bright orange flowers. It is an extremely robust plant that grows quickly, even when cultivated in a shady place. The nasturtium is a real allrounder, as it doesn’t only repel flies with its scent but also snails. In this article, you can find more snail-deterrent plants for your garden.

When we talk about flies in this article, we are also including several different mosquitoes. These small insects are best kept away with lemony scents. Herbs such as lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora) or lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) fall into this category. These fragrant herbs are both suitable to make refreshing teas, to season various dishes or to repel flies.

Aromatic mint plants are also among the herbs that can be helpful against flies. They can also be used in teas and many different dishes. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is particularly effective as it does not only repel flies, but also mosquitoes. But don’t be surprised if you get some feline visitors in your garden. Cats cannot be deterred with catnip – quite the contrary, they are attracted to the herb as if by magic. These furry animals love to roll around in the plant and nibble on it. After all, catnip didn’t get its name by chance.

Read here to learn more about the most refreshing mint varieties you can grow in your garden.

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)can also be used to ward off flies. It can easily be kept in a small pot on your windowsill where it can emit it’s refreshing scent, thus, keeping away any annoying insects. However, the typical peppermint aroma is only released when the plant is injured. Therefore, you should pluck off some leaves and rub them between your fingers from time to time. Dried peppermint shoots on the windowsill are also great for repelling flies.

Lavender (Lavandula) is not only calming and has a pleasant scent, but it is also helpful for repelling flies. Its wonderful purple flowers attract bees and butterflies, while successfully keeping flies away. The lavender’s essential oils are the reason for that. However, you should always make sure that your plant is placed in a sunny spot with protection from the wind. Lavender can also be kept on the windowsill where it also wards off insects.

Among the Mediterranean herbs, there are also many plants that deter flies. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) for example, is not only supposed to keep flies and mosquitoes away but can also ward off wasps. However, basil is very particular when it comes to its demands for water. On the one hand, the plant must not get too wet, but on the other hand, basil does not tolerate dryness well either. Other than that, a dry and sunny place is all a basil plant needs in order to grow well. To benefit from the plant’s fly-repelling properties, place it in a pot on your windowsill or balcony and the pesky insects will leave you alone.

You can find detailed instructions on how to plant herbs here.

Ornamental plants that deter flies

Geraniums (Pelargonium) with their colourful flowers are a classic plant for the balcony. Watering them regularly and placing them in a sunny spot is often enough for the plants to bloom in a variety of gorgeous colours. The geraniums’ scent deters many insects, including flies. If you would like to know how to plant geraniums, read here.

Another plant that deters flies very effectively is the marigold (Tagetes). Its yellow to orange flowers are a stunning addition to every garden bed and will keep many insects away with their scent. Unfortunately, though, marigolds attract snails. But you can turn this attribute into something positive! You can attract all the snails to this one plant and thus protect the rest of your garden. From this point of view, marigolds have two benefits: these plants deter flies and other insects and attract snails at the same time.

The tansy’s (Tanacetum vulgare) yellow umbellifers often grow at the wayside. Even though the plant is nice to look at, its scent has a repellent effect on many insects. So, to keep the irritating flies away, you could put a bouquet of tansies in your living room. Calendulas (confusingly also sometimes referred to as marigolds; Calendula officinalis) have a similar effect. If put together in a vase with marigolds (Tagetes), you can double their fly-deterring effect. In the garden, the plant is not only great for keeping away flies but also to attract bees, bumblebees and other pollinators. It is also commonly used as a medicinal herb for wounds or dry skin.

If you are looking for other bee-friendly plants to grow in your garden, read here.

Carnivorous plants against flies

Another type of plant that can help get rid of small, annoying flies are carnivorous plants. They don’t scare them off, but simply eat them. Carnivorous plants can work in different ways: with hinged traps, pitfalls or sticky traps. They can usually only kill smaller mosquitoes but not the bigger houseflies. Nevertheless, many people are fascinated by carnivorous plants, which we totally get.

One of the most popular carnivorous plants is the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), which catches its prey with the help of a folding mechanism. Its trap lobes can catch insects, such as flies or ants, by snapping shut very quickly when triggered. This is why the Venus fly trap is particularly suitable if you are having problems with larger types of mosquitoes: when the prey sits on the lobe, the trap closes and catches the mosquito. The insect is then digested by the plant.

Unfortunately, the plant can only ever catch one mosquito per trap and is therefore not suitable to combat a whole plague of insects. After a maximum of seven catches, the individual trap lobes of the Venus flytrap die off. Another problem is that the plant’s prey cannot be larger than a third of the size of the lobe. If the insect is bigger, digestion takes too long, and the plant will die from a surplus of nutrients.

Tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthes) are another kind of carnivorous plant which catch their prey with traps. There are about 100 different Nepenthes species which all form “pitchers” that insects fall into. Those pitchers contain acidic fluid which decomposes the prey and provides the plant with nutrients.

Sundews (Drosera) demonstrate the third way in which carnivorous plants can catch their prey and help us get rid of annoying insects. They use a slightly different system to capture their prey: the leaves are covered in adhesive glands on which the prey gets stuck.

All of these carnivorous plants are therefore both practical and also beautiful ornamental plants.

Vegetables that keep flies away

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are a staple in most gardens. Not only are they delicious, but their scent also repels various insects, including flies. Mosquitoes are also not fond of tomatoes and are deterred by the plants’ aroma.

Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) also repel flies with their intense scent. These legumes are great for our digestion and can be cultivated either in the garden bed or in a pot.

Fly-repelling plants at one glance

We have summarised all the plants that keep flies away for you here:

  • Walnut
  • Chestnut
  • Garden nasturtium
  • Lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon grass
  • Mint, peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Geraniums
  • Marigold
  • Tansy
  • Carnivorous plants
  • Tomatoes
  • Beans



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