Indoor Plants that Repel Bugs

Indoor plants that repel bugs

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The rapid increase in bug borne illnesses is prompting many people to consider various strategies to repel bugs. This is causing many people to look for indoor plants that repel bugs. Thankfully there are several indoor plants that repel bugs such as Lantana, Fever Tea, and Lime Basil.

Get the Plants

This article will highlight plants that have been scientifically proven to repel bugs. However if you just want to know what plants to buy that is fine too, :-). Check out the links below for a quick shopping list.

Herbs are famous and proven to help with everything from seasoning dinner to medical treatments. To repel bug reach for a fresh potted basil plant. If you want to take your bug repelling herb garden to the next level try the Click and Grow, no green thumb required! The set comes with basil, tomato, and lettuce seeds. This will help you grow indoor plants that repel bugs and create a salad!

  • Grow Fresh Herbs and Vegetables Indoors: energy-efficient LED grow lights ensure your plants thrive no matter the weather
  • Get Started Right Away: Just drop in the included plant pods, fill the water reservoir, and plug the self watering planter in - your herb garden starter kit is good to go
  • Explore New Plants: Choose from over 50 pre-seeded plant pods for your herb garden like cilantro, basil, lavender, wild strawberries, thyme, and even chili peppers

Indoor Plants that Repel Bugs

In 2002 a study was conducted to validate if indoor plants that repel bugs actually work. The researchers placed plants believed to repel bugs in a hut with a human subject and then plain wild grass in another hut with a different human subject as a control group. Once the plants and human subjects were in place mosquitoes were released in the hut. The researchers concluded that the some of the plants believed to repel bugs did reduce the number of mosquito bites. The plants that provided the most benefit were Lantana, Fever Tea, and Lime Basil. Its important to note these were live plants, not oils or incense.

The only modification to the live plants was busing a few leaves of each plant five minutes prior to the start of the study. Selectively bruising small portions of the plant increased the amount of natural oils and scents emitted by the plant. Lets take a closer look at each of these and see how they can be implemented as part of your DIY pest management strategy.

Indoor Plants that Repel Bugs - Lime Basil

Basil is native to tropical regions of Africa and Asia. Thanks to its appealing flavor and medical uses its now found in herb gardens around the world. There are over 35 different varieties of basil. In addition to repelling bugs basil to known to be anti-inflammatory, fight cancer, contain antibacterial properties, help fight viruses, and is an adaptogen. Basil is especially compelling since many people already keep indoor herb gardens. Using this information you can now try basil for cooking and to repel bugs! The wide availability of basil makes it a great answer to indoor plants that repel bugs.

indoor plants that repel bugs basil

Basil Repels bugs

Most bugs find food through various chemical signals. All plants and animals emit what scientists call volatile chemicals or VOC. VOCs are liquids that evaporate easily. Example of VOC is our breath. There are various compounds such as traces of isoprene and pentane that can be found in our breath. bugs detect these VOCs or odors and follow them to a potential food source ( us! ). The challenge then in simple terms is, to hide our various chemical odors from bugs.

plants that repel mosquitoes

A google search for “indoor plants that repel bugs” provides almost a million results. Most of these are personal recommendations of what various gardeners and home owners feel have worked for them in the past. Very few of the results provide scientific research to backup their claims.

The purpose of this article will be to identify potted or live plants that can live indoors that repel ticks, mosquitoes, fleas and other bugs. There are volumes of articles and studies confirming the effects of essential oils or natural plant products that repel bugs, however there is less research on live plants that repel bugs.

Natural Bug Repellent for the Garden

The concept of companion planting has been practiced for generations by farmers and home gardners. The goal is to plant two or more plant species in close proximity to each other which bestow different benefits to each other. The benefit most gardners look for in companion gardening is utilizing plants that repel insects that are harmful to their primary crop. An example of companion plants that repel insects is Tomatoes and garlic. When garlic is planted near tomatoes the garlic protects the tomato plants from red spider mites. For additional information on companion planting take a look at and Both provide in depth explanation of companion planing and all associated benefits. While the benefits of companion plants are fairly well respected they apply to gardens and fields not potted plants.

Plants that Repel Bugs - Lantana

Lantana is a type of perennial flowering plant native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa. Throughout the eastern and gulf coasts of the United States the Lantan is considered a dangerous weed due to its poisonous leaves. However Lantanas are known to attract birds and butterflies and are thus well suited for butterfly gardens.

lantana repels bugs

Plants that Repel Bugs - Fever Tea

The Fever Tea plant (also known locally as the Lemon Bush ) is native to south Africa. It grows us to 6 feet tall and is used throughout Africa for medical purposes and to repel bugs. Further evidence of the bug repellent properties of the Fever Tea plant can be seen in a 2010 patient awarded to the South African government for Fever Tea extract. Studies on this process and extract have found it to be as effective as DEET. Additional information on Fever Tea can be found at

fever tea repels bugs

Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada

An Ineffective Bug Repellent

Ironically one of the most popular live plants that is believed to repel bugs is proven to be ineffective. Throughout the United States home improvement stores and garden centers market the citronella plant as an effective mosquito and bug repellent. believing this claim is understandable as the plant seems to have a strong citronella odor. However a 1996 study confirmed the citronella plant does not repel mosquito’s. The authors concluded “There was no significant difference between citrosa-treated ( citronella plant ) and nontreated subjects.” Fortunately there are other plants that have been shown to repel bugs. Gardner’s call these companion plants.

citronella do not repel bus

Summary of Indoor Plants that Repel Bugs

Its important to note that the plants referenced in this study did not eliminate bug bites, they reduced them. That means pots of Lantan, Fever Tea, and lime basil need to be part of multi pronged pest management strategy.

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