Repel Nuisance Flies With These 8 Patio Plants

Nothing ruins porch or patio time like nuisance flies, so discourage bugs by growing plenty of these bug-repelling patio plants around your outdoor space.

by Rachel PorterJune 21, 2022
PHOTO: Matteo Badini/Pexels

Hobby farms are magnets for nuisance bugs. And nothing spoils eating outdoors more than flies. Several chemical remedies can help with the problem, however, they all come with some risk to yourself, your kids and your animals. We all want to get back to nature, though. And finding plants that naturally repel flies is a great solution.

Flies Are Formidable Foes

Flies are not only obnoxious—they spread many types of germs. So, for starters, make sure to keep your porches and patios clear of food and chicken (or any other type of) feces to cut down on the presence of flies. 

But beyond avoiding flies, you can also repel them. Plants are a great way to do that, too, because they work 24 hours a day.  Sprays, foggers and even essential oils are temporary solutions. Plant power works all day everyday by emitting aromas flies find repugnant.

All of these plants have added benefits beyond repelling flies, too, whether as herbs for your kitchen, use as potpourri or skin-protecting qualities. Let’s look at eight easy-to-find plants that will work hard for your patios and porches.


Rue is an antiviral, antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory herb. Best mixed in with skin products, rue provides benefits for itchy, blemished or infected skin. It has a very pungent scent that pests do not like.

Rue grows in zones 4 and higher. It prefers full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. 

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Touted as one of the best companion plants, marigolds grow easily in containers and gardens and actually improve the soil content as they grow. They attract pollinators and repel several pests other than flies.

Marigolds thrive in all USDA plant hardiness zones between summer and frost. And they love full sun.


Containers are a great way to grow mint on patios and porches. The perennial grows without abandon, so controlling their size with containers is a great way to harness the plants. Peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, apple mint, mojito mint—any mint will repel flies, with the benefit of use in teas, cocktails, lemonades and more.

Mint grows well in shade, so for those areas you don’t have full sun, mint is a great choice!

Read more: Mint is seriously cool!


Summer heat is perfect for growing rosemary. This plant is beautiful and edible, and it returns each year. You can buy rosemary as a “trailer” for containers or a “thriller” that stands tall.

Best in full sun, it will also tolerate partial shade. All plant hardiness zones have a variety that grows well in the area. Some varieties will grow year round. 


Growing in full sun to part shade, basil is a great, non-fussy plant. Technically it is an annual, but if left to go to seed in a container it will come back for you. Part of the mint family, basil boasts an impressive power.

Basil requires full sun and thrives in zones 4-10.


The oil made in catnip has proven 99 percent effective in repelling stable flies. Catnip oil is used with soy and paraffin wax to make pellets to spread in a cattle feedlot. Growing this plant around porches and patios is a powerhouse repellant for flies.

Zones 3-9, hot weather and full sun are the combination for great catnip. 


Who doesn’t love this amazing herb? It has culinary benefits with an intoxicating aroma that attracts humans, but repels flies. However, growing lavender is an art. Grow this one around the perimeter of your porches and patios, but not where you will be watering other plants often.

Lavender has a conundrum of being low-maintenance yet extremely picky, and people often go wrong with overwatering. Zones 5-9 can all grow “hardy” lavender with a few varieties that can do well in zones 3 and 4. 

Read more: Lavender is a true joy to grow in the garden.


Most people know citronella repels mosquitos. But it is no different for flies. The lemony scent is too strong and overloads their senses so they can’t eat. Citronella is only a perennial in zones 9-11, but it grows well in all other zones in partial shade.

Citronella can be crushed and rubbed on your skin to deter flies and mosquitoes as well

Positioning these plants around your porches and patios is a great defensive step in your fight against flies. Always remember if you intend to eat the herbs, research the safe amounts and ways to ingest.