7 houseplants that keep bugs away

Whether you’re throwing a full-blown barbecue or sipping a glass of something iced on the patio, welcoming guests into your home is one of the best parts of summer. However, as soon as you throw open the windows and allow the breeze to flow through the house, you’ll probably find that you have a few unwelcome visitors buzzing around too.

If you’ve found yourself fighting the presence of gnats and midges as the temperatures continue to soar, don’t despair – houseplants that keep bugs away are an environmentally friendly (and much less pungent) way to end the battle.

Here, the experts at thejoyofplants.co.uk share their top picks for a pest-free home.

houseplants that keep bugs away
Getty Images

7 houseplants that keep bugs away


Basil has proved an effective solution to pest control since ancient times, with the oil the plant contains and its intense aroma discouraging unwanted flies and mosquitos away. Make basil a staple of your indoor herb garden to create your own natural insect repellent.


Lavender is a popular scent, so having it around the home is never a bad idea (though it might be worth growing a pot on a windowsill or balcony door if you’re an allergy sufferer). It isn’t just the sweet smell that makes this a great plant – lavender oil is known to take down bugs including flies, beetles and even fleas! If you’re dining alfresco, pop a pot on your garden table and eat around it; it’s a decorative way to keep bites at bay. These are also loved by bees, so a great way to keep giving our pollinators in need a helping hand too.


Rosemary is an extremely versatile plant, most commonly known for its flavour and adding the finishing touch to a range of culinary recipes. However, its less known quality is as an insect repellent with its strong smell driving unwanted bugs away. Keep an entire plant in your kitchen, readily available to use whilst cooking and ward off those pesky gnats and midges.

houseplants that keep bugs away
Getty Images

Lemon balm

With pretty, white flowers and a fresh lemony scent, it may be hard to believe that lemon balm can be an insect repellent. However, the plant contains high levels of a compound called citronellal which lucky for us, bugs find extremely unpleasant! Instead of spending money on toxic repellents, purchase a lemon balm plant for a natural alternative whenever you need it.


Sage is commonly used to add flavour to culinary dishes, however due to the strong fragrance it emits and oils it produces, the plant is extremely useful in repelling mosquitos and flies. All you need to do is take cuttings from a sage plant kept in your home, ensure the leaves are dried out then burn them when you’re entertaining outdoors to create your very own, effective insect repellent.

Common marigold

Not only do the vibrant yellow or orange flowers of a common marigold plant brighten up your home, they also keep it free from mosquitoes, flies and the like. Its natural scent successfully repels all gnats and midges, offering a natural and cost-effective alternative to mosquito sprays.

Carnivorous plants

The most famous green carnivore is the Dionaea, or Venus fly trap, but there are plenty of plants who would be happy to munch down on the bugs in your home. Carnivorous plants lure their prey with their scent and colour to catch and digest them. Equal parts creepy and cool, kids will love these plants and they’ll look great in the home.