No one likes pests. They are the worst part of the summer. People argue that sweating or seeing your energy bill is terrible. What can beat a constant buzz in your ear or something crawling up your neck? The smell of chemical anti-pest sprays, that’s what. Did you know that there are houseplants that smell great and repel insects too? Well, there are, and we are going to tell you everything!
Natural Pest Control
While they are not as effective as bug sprays and other chemical solutions, plants can act as natural insect repellants. Some plants release smells we love, but insects don’t care for at all.
For example, eucalyptus, mint, citronella, lemongrass, basil, rosemary, lavender, and boldo all smell fantastic and repel insects. You can brew most of these aromatic herbs for tea or make DIY insect repellant to apply to your skin.
Aboriginal Australians crush eucalyptus leaves and rub them on their skin to avoid mosquito bites. All cultures used plants to solve this problem way before we invented insect-repellant lotions and sprays.
Also, check out, Houseplants That Bring Good Luck
Natural vs. Synthetic Insect Repelling Solutions
Plants release pheromones and smell compounds into the air, which repel insects. These compounds get used in commercial insect repellants. For example, lavender contains the compound known as linalool, which is effective against mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, ants, and fleas.
Contrary to popular belief, these are also chemicals. Even water is a chemical made from hydrogen and oxygen. The difference is that these chemicals are naturally formed inside plants. Thus they fit harmoniously with nature within our lives.
On the other hand, synthetically manufactured compounds are rarely so inherently ambiance conscious. When constructing chemicals in a lab, we value results above all else. That means we throw the environment or things like smells out the window.
When Do You Use Both?
You can opt for a hybrid approach if your insect problem is overwhelming. For example, two hundred and thirty-one cases out of the total seven hundred and thirty-one cases of West Nile virus in 2020 happened in California.
For places like that, we recommend a complete tactical all-round defense plan, including:
- Wearing full-length clothing with your pants tucked into your shoes or socks
- Crushed eucalyptus, lavender, or basil rubbed on your exposed skin
- Mosquito repellent on your exposed skin
- Bug spray all windows, doors, and behind curtains
- Strategically placed insect-repelling plants all over the house
Where to Place Your Houseplants That Repel Insects
Once you get your new favorite plants, you’ll want to put them where they will work the most effectively.
Luckily, plants need sunshine, and insects usually try to enter near windows anyway. Plants like lavender and rosemary love the sun! If your windows are air-tight, ensure that the plants are placed near all the doors.
Plants that can survive low light should be placed in the corners of your house, particularly ones less frequented. These are hubs for spiders and critters. Mint wins in this category. Don’t forget your bathroom!
Not only is it a great place to put houseplants that desire a lot of humidity, but it is also where insects are likely to enter your home. You can be adventurous and get a carnivorous houseplant.
You may read that you need to place one kind of plant in one place to get the best effect. That is simply wrong. All the phytochemicals released by these bug repellant plants add together and never cancel each other out. You can place them around in any mix you prefer.
Houseplants That Repel Insects
We have prepared a list of insect-repelling plants for you to choose the ones you like most. We also shared special tips on how to take care of these plants and their other uses.
After you go through this list, you will confidently be able to raise a plant and use it to its optimal potential.
There are actually forty-seven known plants found in the lavender group. The most common is known as Lavandula angustifolia or “true lavender.” These are herbaceous shrub-like plants with fuzzy leaves.
The trichomes on the leaves and the flower petals contain lavender essential oil. 25% to 35% of the phytochemicals found in this essential oil is linalool, a potent insect repellant.
This chemical is released into the air along with its pleasant lavender smell. However, if you want a more concentrated effect, you can crush the leaves, mix them with water, and spray the solution around. This DIY project is a great activity to combine with regular plant pruning.
Native to the Mediterranean, lavender is relatively easy to grow so long as it gets six to eight hours of full bright sunlight. Gardeners experience more success planting it indoors since you can protect it from cold drafts in the winter.
As far as watering is concerned, lavender is drought resistant and reacts poorly to overwatering. You should only fertilize your lavender plant once a year.
The best soil composition for lavender is well-draining, slightly sandy, and alkaline soil. You can buy prepared lavender potting soil from your nearby garden center or DIY your own mix.
We recommend only experienced gardeners attempt the latter since you do not want your hardy plant sitting in soggy soil.
You should dip your finger in the soil to see if it is still moist. If it is, then do not water it again yet. We recommend using a terra cotta pot since it dries out quickly and drains well.
Believe it or not, lavender and mint come from the same plant family. Mentha or mint is a group of thirteen to twenty-four species that exist all over the world’s temperate regions.
This shade-loving, perennial herb is usually favored for kitchen gardens or grown covering. This multipurpose herb has been used for centuries as fresh and dried in food, brewed as tea, cosmetics, and in traditional medicine.
The oil in its leaves contains a strong insect-repelling chemical. The same smell we love is what drives insects mad. Mint oil is known to kill any insects directly it comes into contact with, especially wasps, hornets, ants, and cockroaches. Mint is your MVP since it is shade tolerant. You can place it anywhere you like in the home.
Your mint plant would be grateful for a wider pot to spread more. It loves water. No plant ever wants to sit in soggy soil, but mint likes it quite moist.
If you stick your finger in the soil that seems too dry, you should water it. When your mint starts to wilt, you can likely chalk that up to under-watering.
This group of evergreen shrubs to trees is native to Australia and a staple in the adorable koala bear’s diet. The plants do not naturally grow anywhere other than in Australia. However, its lumber and fragrant leaves raised its demand, cultivated in many places.
As a true tropical plant, it requires eight to ten hours of bright sunlight to grow. The scent from its oil-producing leaves is refreshing and similar to menthol. Water the eucalyptus plant when you notice the top third of the soil mix dried up. Do not overwater the plant.
Eucalyptus trees are fast growers, which means a lot of pruning. That’s great for us since we’ll get more material for decorations or craft DIY insect repellent.
You can crush the dried leaves, stuff them in tea bags, or tie them in cheesecloth. These little aroma packets will surely drive away the bugs and simultaneously make the room smell great.
Nepeta cataria is another group in the mint family. Are you starting to notice a pattern, folks? It was common in Eurasia but has established itself in the American and New Zealand ecosystem.
The plant is brewed as a tea for its relaxing effect, but it is most famous for its impact on two out of three cats. Some cats love catnip to the extent that they will never look at any other plants in the home.
That makes them a great sacrificial plant for the rest of the plant collection. The damage inflicted to the plant by cats nipping at, rolling on, or playing with it, releases more phytochemicals into the air.
So your cat and catnip are a natural insecticide team. As far as spatial effectiveness is concerned, catnip is more effective on mosquitoes and cockroaches than Deet.
If your cat is a bit too loving, you can cover the base of the plant with some chicken wire. The stems and leaves will grow out of the holes, but the structurally integral part of the plant will stay intact.
They need plenty of sun and careful watering. Do not water them too often unless the soil has become completely dry. Prune any old branches to make sure that new branch growth is prioritized. You can fertilize every few months to replenish the plant’s soil nutrients.
Any home chef loves to keep some basil handy. Fresh or dried, it is terrific for Italian food like pizza, pasta, garlic bread, or soup. The soft herbaceous annual plants are grown for their delicious tender ovate light green leaves.
The leaves contain linalool and methyl chavicol. Linalool is the same insect-repellent compound found in lavender plants. This factoid is not surprising since even basil is from, you guessed it, the mint family!
The sweet smell of basil will fill your home less than a month after planting basil seeds in loamy potting soil and providing them with plenty of warm light. Once the seedlings are ready, harvest a few since even the stems are delicious at this point. Let the rest grow with regular watering.
They like moist soil, but never forget that overwatering leads to root rot. Watch the leaves. If they look perky and hydrated, you’re doing everything okay. The moment they start wilting, water them immediately.
You’ll have decided to plant an entire kitchen herb garden indoors when we’re through with you. Rosemary is an evergreen shrub, a fragrant flowering herb used in many dishes.
It can survive harsh climates and drought. That makes it an excellent plant for newly greening thumbs. The oil in its leaves and flowers contains 10% to 20% camphor, among other phytochemicals. Camphor is a powerful insecticide and repellent.
We extract the oil through steam distillation. However, its smell is enough to drive away insects like moths and red fire ants.
To take full advantage of the rosemary, trip some branches to dry and crush them into a coarse powder. Fill that powder in tea bags and place them in different corners of the house, your closet, and dressers. The smell is fantastic, and moths won’t nibble on your clothes.
To successfully raise rosemary indoors, you must remember that it does not like overwatering but does like humidity. You should water it twice a week if the soil is dry, but you must place a drainage tray under the pot and fill that with water.
This way not, the plant doesn’t sit in overly soggy soil but gets to absorb water from the air.
This Mediterranean plant enjoys sunny days and well-draining soil. Not only will you impress your friends next time you cook. Your home will smell great and be bug-free.
We prepared a little table to help you decide what plant to use.
|Common Name||Scientific Name||Insect Repelling Phytochemical|
|Eucalyptus||Eucalyptus L’Hér||Non phytotoxic extract|
Some plants enrich your senses by looking, smelling, tasting, and feeling great and repelling insects in your home. Many members of the Lamiaceae family, also called the mint or sage family, are potent against insects and are perfect for growing indoors.
Whether you are a mint, lavender, or basil person, or if you prefer a tree-like eucalyptus instead, there is a natural insect solution here for you. You can take advantage of the natural scent of the plant or make DIY repellants using pruning cuts.
You may also like the following house plant articles:
- Why Do House Plant Leaves Turn Yellow?
- How Often Should I Water a Houseplant?
- Why is My Potted House Plant Moldy?
- How to Get Rid of Gnats in a House Plant Soil?
- Can You Be Allergic to Houseplants?
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.