Buzz off! Plants that repel flies

Adriana Camilleri

Adriana Camilleri

31 January 2019 


Flies bothering you incessantly? We have a list of plants that are great at fighting off the flying pests

Buzz off! Plants that repel flies

The warmer Australian weather brings with it the awakening of some of the best flowers our climate has to offer including frangipanis and rose of Sharon. Coastal breezes transport wafts of sweet perfumed fruits and blooms through the air as bees and wildlife frolic amongst the season’s offerings. Unfortunately, in Australia, summer also brings pesky flies that can make it a nuisance to spend time in the garden, particularly when entertaining. We’ve undertaken research to bring you the best plants that double up as a natural fly deterrent to be your saving grace this summer so you can get out enjoy the sunshine in peace.


Lavender has been used for many years in gardens due to its incredible fragrance and potent natural oil. Lavender has a calming effect that humans have loved for centuries, however, the opposite can be said for insects. We advise, to gain the most out of lavenders’ potential, to plant it in very sunny areas near your garden entrance or front door to reduce the number of bugs that could find their way inside.


This fragrant plant contains citronella oil, which is a popular ingredient in outdoor candles and most insect repellents due to its bug deterring qualities. Lemongrass is a small shrub that shows off brilliant lime-green vertical shoots that not only look effective in rockeries and as garden bed fillers but can prove useful in the kitchen too thanks to its natural aromatic oils. We advise planting lemongrass either in a pot near the entry to your house or in a sunny position in well-drained soil.


Bay Tree

Bay is a slow-growing shrub which can grow into a medium-sized tree if not trimmed. It is very tolerant of tough conditions and is also useful in the kitchen. Bay trees have a pungent oil contained in their leaves that is unpleasant to any bugs within its vicinity. We suggest planting a bay tree close to your home or entertaining area. Having bay close to rosemary will act as a double bug deterrent because of the two conflicting scents. Ensure your bay tree is shielded from frost but don’t be afraid to overcrowd the soil near to the bay tree as the plant thrives in mix-plant soil. The bay tree also grows successfully in pots and is advised to be moved during the cooler months to under shelter or inside.






Flies absolutely hate basil. Plant this herb wherever you see fit to keep those pesky bugs away. Perfect potted in-between your flowers and veggies, basil adds a fresh garden feel to any outdoor space all the while keeping flies at bay. It has also been proven that planting basil next to other herbs and veggies is beneficial as it can improve the flavour of certain vegetables, particularly tomatoes and asparagus.











Mint is the perfect plant to grow if you are tight on space yet still fighting to reclaim your outdoor space from flies. Mint prefers a smaller growing space, meaning it thrives especially well in pots.


Rosemary is a must in any edible garden. This spectacular herb is the best natural repellent for all annoying insects. We suggest planting a sprig of rosemary between your vegetables whether that be in a veggie patch, in vertical hanging walls or in herb containers. Rosemary has a distinctive oil which is popular in cooking but for insects, it is very unpleasant!


The tall green-stemmed beauty of the tansy is a strong repellent for most bugs. The bulbous yellow heads of the tansy flower make a vibrant addition to any garden bed or kitchen garden. Without any petals, from afar the tansy looks like hovering bumblebees watching over your garden. The tansy is very simple to grow if you have a lot of sunlight. Be mindful of where you plant tansys as they are toxic and should not be in the vicinity of small children and animals.


Marigolds are the most common delicate flower used to border garden beds or interspersed throughout the veggie patch. Easy to grow in sunny locations, the marigold has a scent that deters flies. Gardeners have been known to plant marigolds amongst crops and other foliage to prevent insects from eating them but also because of the plant’s unique properties to spur on growth. You will often find that marigolds are a common accompaniment to the garden rose: together these two plants flourish in shared soil. Marigolds are a must in any garden as they attract bees and other beneficial insects to cultivate a healthy ecosystem. Marigolds are the plants that keep on giving. If you find that your marigold plant is ageing, add the remnants to a compost heap. Marigolds hold essential vitamins and minerals essential for rich soil. For healthy marigolds that pop with vibrant colours, ensure you remove spent flowers, fertilise and water regularly. 

Venus fly trap 

These carnivorous plants trap and ingest insects. If you are looking for an exotic plant like no other, a Venus flytrap is your answer. The Venus flytrap has a long tubular funnel which runs from the top of the plant to the base before the roots. At the top of the funnel is a leaf flap which closes the opening of the funnel once the fly has been trapped. The Venus flytrap funnel is a unique leaf structure which, through a combination of nectar, fragrance and colour, lures the fly into the funnel until the insect finds itself on a slippery surface when the fly will then fall into a little pool of water at the bottom of the funnel. The fly will die here, and the plant will later consume it. Pests for gardens but lunch for the Venus fly trap!


All of the plants listed above are the most common natural fly deterrents. Be mindful that every garden environment is different and therefore what works for one garden may not work for another. Flies are the most common form of annoyance and you’ll find many of the plants that deter flies will also contribute to minimising other unwanted pests like mosquitoes and moths. Using a combination of these plants in your garden will not only protect your plants and yourself from insects but will also add interest and a range of aromatic scents to your outdoor living space.

Comments (4)

Great but... where to buy?

Hi, Great article but where do we buy these plants (or better still, seeds)? I live in Trafalgar, Victoria and I cannot find anyone that stock Citronella grass, Catnip, Tansy and many others. Do you know where these plants/seeds might be available please? Thank you. Kind regards, Garry French
, 12 June 2017

native plants please?

Like the majority of fly species that came with cow dung, festy redcoats, maggot infested salted beef, white man and other agents of environmental devastation of our ancient land, all the species you list here are feral, colonial, invasive European species that have no place in this country outside of an arboretum. Can you please list some species that aren't going to cause any more habitat loss? Hasn't enough of this continent been destroyed since Dr Germ (Sir Smallpox Banks) planted his Sybilic Imperial Roman elms, oaks, planes and rowans in 1770? Patterson's Curse, anyone?
, 6 November 2016

climbing plants that detract flys

Hi I'm looking for a climbing plant that will grow in full sun and cope with wind and sea air that will not attract flys, is there such a plant available? Regards Nicola
, 20 August 2016
Hoselink Response
Without knowing your climate it's hard to say, the best thing to do is talk to your local nursery. Also take a look at what your neighbours are growing, if they are growing a climbing plant successfully you'll know it's suitable for your conditions and then a quick Google search can tell you more about it's fly repel/attraction.

fly and mosy reppelers

Work great. Thank you.
, 14 February 2016

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