14 Flea Repelling Plants and How to Use Them Correctly

Summer brings pretty flowers into bloom with a riot of colors ranging from pink and red to white and everything in between. Unfortunately, summer is also the time when the flea population explodes. These tiny bloodsuckers can be a huge nuscience, especially if they make it into your home. But, did you know that there are flea repelling plants out there? While professional pest control is usually the best way to remedy a flea invasion, these plants can help prevent them from coming back.

Adding a few of these flea repelling plants to your garden, flower bed, patio, or deck is a great way to ward the pests away, and we’re goin to list out 14 great options that are easy to grow, pretty, and definitely worth a look.

1. Basil

Different varieties of basil are great for helping to keep fleas out of your yard, and it’s fantastic in cooking. Not only will this flea repelling plant attract pollinators and bees, but it’s completely safe to have around your pets. You can also grow one type of basil plant that goes well in a tea and offers more benefits other than flea repellent.

We love using basil in pesto, and it’s a very nice herb to have both indoors in containers and outside in the garden. Beneficial insects will flock to the flowers on this plant, and you can let them go to seed. This play will self-seed very easily, or you can easily save the seeds and plant them next spring.

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Basil is a very popular herb in Italian cooking, but the scent is also excellent for repelling a host of bugs. Basil by Avi / CC BY-SA 2.0

2. Catnip

Catnip is a fun dual-purpose flea repelling plant that is safe to have around your pets. If you have a cat, they may love this plant too much! Just like any other member of the Lamiaceae family, catnip comes with a unique smell that fleas don’t like. You can also dry out this herb and use it in a tea to help you slip off to sleep. Also, catnip is roughly 10 times more effective than DEET, and this is a powerful chemical that you find use in a range of insect repellents.

This flea repelling plant also contains nepetalactone, and this is an essential oil that gives the plant the unique odor. It can be up to 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitos than DEET too. This is a perennial that grows between three and four feet tall. It does have a strong smell to it, just like regular mint does. It’s very easy to propagate from cuttings, seed, root division, and air layering. Unlike the majority of the mint family, this plant loves full sun. It’ll also grow in virtually any soil or climate.

3. Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum flowers are an older favorite flea repelling plant that will keep a range of insects out of your home. You’ll get very decorative, pretty flowers that you can plant in the ground to grow a flowery bush or in a pot. You can even dry the flowers and use them to make tea to drink. However, you should only have this plant if you have dogs. If your cat happens to get into it and eat large quantities, it can be toxic.

4. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a very memorable flea repelling plant due to the smell. It’s considered to be an invasive species in many parts of the world today, but you still find it planted as a nice addition to many yards. One big benefit of this plant is that fleas have the smell, and it’s perfectly safe to have around your pets.

You can use the leaves of this plant to make a very strong herbal tea, and a lot of people hang the leaves up in the bathroom to smell it when they take a shower. If you live in an area that is at a higher risk for wildfires, you may want to skip this plant. It has a much higher oil content that makes it more flammable.

5. Fleawort

Fleawort is a weed that you want to have if you’re after flea repelling plants. The plant’s name actually refers to several different weed-like herbs that commonly get lumped under the plantain weed name. The plants make great ground cover as they sit low to the ground, and they look like tiny lettuce bunches. You can use them in a tea or eat them in a salad, and the tops will flower in the summer months to add small color splotches.

6. Lavender

Lavender is a favorite flea repelling plant of many gardeners. It’s very easy to grow, and it can attract a host of butterflies and bees. Moths, mosquitos, and fleas all hate this plant. As long as you remember to do routine pruning on your plant, the lavender plant  will keep growing. There are over 20 species in the Lavendula genus, and you can choose from many sizes and shapes.

This flea repelling plant is very hardy, and this perennial has a woody base with very pretty, fragrant flowers. Lavender propagation from seed can be a slow and hard process, but you can try taking some tip cuttings or air-layering them. Lavender prefers to be in a sunny location in well-draining soil. It does very well planted in pots and in the garden, and it’s a safe one to have around your pets.

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Lavender is an extremely aromatic plant that releases fragrances each time you brush up against it, and it has a royal purple flower. Lavender by Amanda Slater / CC BY-SA 2.0

7. Lemon Balm

As the name suggests, lemon balm offers a very citrusy, rich scent that most people adore and insects avoid. The plant is an excellent mosquito repellent, and it makes a nice extract for bug spray. This flea repelling plant also works on ticks because they hate citrus scents. They won’t come near you if you have it on. It’s a weed-like plant that can spread rapidly, so it does best in containers where you can monitor and control the growth so it doesn’t take over.

8. Lemongrass

Lemongrass has a very pleasant scent to it, and it’s a very popular ingredient for cooking with. Mosquitos and fleas hate the scent, and it’s another plant that you can break down to make an extract to create your own bug spray. As a bonus, you can use this spray yourself or spray it on your pets. Lemongrass is an ornamental, pretty herb that likes full sun locations.

Some varieties of this plant can grow taller than traditional lemongrass, and the growth gets kickstarted when you plant it in warmer climates. This is the species that people use to make citronella oil, and it gets used in insect sprays and repellents. You can rub citronella oil on your arms and legs to repel bugs, and it makes a wonderful cup of tea if you boil it.

Citronella is a great herb that has a wide following for the ability to repel bugs. The plant does very well when you have it in containers, and you can easily keep a few on your outdoor patio to keep bugs away. It’s safe to have around your pets.

9. Marigold

Marigolds deserve a spot in every garden due to how multifunctional they are. They work to deter many insects that want to eat your plants, so it’s common to dot them amongst your crops. Marigolds are flea repelling plants due to their aroma, and they’re a very bright and pretty addition to your space. This is a very hardy plant that is safe to have around pets.

The flowers will need to get pruned on a regular basis to encourage new growth and blooming. There are seeds in the flowers that you can pull out when the flower is about to die and use them to grow more marigolds in your yard.

9. Mint

A lot of people tend to grow mint varieties in their gardens to prevent their pets from getting fleas, and you’re spoilt for choice. You can try peppermint, spearmint, orange mint, chocolate mint, and many more. All of these flea repelling plants are safe to have around your pets, and the smell can transfer to your pets as they brush against the mint plant’s leaves. You can also harvest some of the leaves to use in your dishes when you cook. All mint varieties can be weedy, and they will spread very easily and aggressively if you give them a chance.

Growing your mint in pots is a great way to prevent it from taking over, but it loves to spread. If you want to plant it right in the ground but want to contain it, you can dig in root guards that contain the plant. However, many people let it spread as it makes a very nice groundcover to help control the weeds. It’s also very easy to grow as long as you put it in a partially or fully shaded location that stays consistently moist.

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Mint has a very sharp fragrance to it that is extremely recognizable, and it will quickly take over a space if you don’t contain or prune it regularly. Mint by Nate Steiner / CC0 1.0

10. Oregano

This is a very standard herb that many people grow in their kitchen herb gardens. This flea repelling plant is another member of the mint family, and it’ll repel many types of insects. Also, if your pet happens to start eating your oregano, it can help with their digestion. It makes a wonderful tea when you feel a cold coming on.

11. Rosemary

Rosemary is a fan-favorite when it comes to flea repelling plants, and it doubles as a herb for culinary use. Rosemary can grow into an impressive bush when you plant it into the ground, and it’ll attract both butterflies and bees while repelling biting insects. Also, when your pets rub up against your rosemary plants or bush, they’ll smell very nice.

Rosemary is an evergreen plant, and this means that it’ll look fantastic all year-round in every planting zone. It likes loose, well-draining soil with full sun. Sage and rosemary grow very well together, so you can easily combine the two to boost your flea-repelling power.

12. Rue

Rue is another flea repelling plant that was popular before special sprays and powders were widely available. The plant does very well planted in sunny locations, and it’ll bloom with yellow flowers that attract pollinators and bees. It’s not toxic to cats, but cats usually aren’t fans of the plant’s smell. This is why many people plant it as a cat deterrent as well as a flea deterrent. It can get up to two feet tall, and it makes a fantastic companion plant for raspberries and other fruiting plants. The whole plant has oil glands covering it, and this is why many people aren’t fond of the smell either.

You can easily propagate it from cuttings, seed, and root division, and it tends to grow nicely if you plant it and leave it alone. You do want to keep it away from sage, basil, and cabbages to prevent it from smothering them. You can use this plant to make your own flea repellent by boiling water and infusing the leaves. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes before pouring the cooled infusion into a spray bottle and putting it around your plants or garden. You shouldn’t spray it directly on yourself or your pets because it can cause rashes.

You can dry rue by hanging it upside down in cupboards, pantries, or sheds. It’ll help repel moths, fleas, cockroaches, flies, and silverfish. Some poultry keepers have rue in the chicken coop. You can either dry it, chop the leaves and feed it to your chickens, or you can grow it by the coop so they eat it by themselves.

13. Sage

This flea repelling plant adores sun, and it’s a multifunctional plant that is very easy to grow. Sage can be grown to make incense, teas, and repel fleas. The plant won’t spread as well as mint and lemon balm, so you can usually grow it right in the ground without worrying about it taking over.

This is a perennial that tops out between two and four feet high. It likes to be in well-draining and loose soil, and it dislikes having wet roots. Good drainage will help you avoid root rot. Sage does very well in cooler climates, and you should protect it from the sun. It’s one of the best companion plants you can have in your garden, and it will help repel other insects that could eat your tomatoes, onions, cabbage, or other vegetables. You do want to keep it away from cucumber and basil plants.

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Sage is a soft-looking plant with a silvery green coloring to it that does very well in pots and containers. Sage by BellaEatsBooks / CC BY-NC 2.0

14. Venus Flytrap

To successfully grow this flea repelling plant, you want to use a pot that has very good drainage with a 1:1 mixture of peat moss and gardening sand. You should water it with only rainwater or distilled water, and it needs 12 hours of direct sunlight a day. The venus flytrap needs to be fed bugs by hand if they can’t get them on their own. It’s not a safe plant to have around your pets, and it can help eliminate fleas, flies, ants, spiders, beetles, and slugs.

You should note that these aren’t the most practical flea repelling plants to have, and they can be tricky to keep alive and happy, even for the more experienced gardeners.

Other Ways to Repel Fleas

Along with the 14 flea repelling plants we touched on earlier, there are few other things you can do to help repel the fleas that are safe to use around your pets. We picked out popular options below.

Diatomaceous Earth

We very highly recommend using diatomaceous earth if you haven’t yet. It’s a very popular addition to gardens and potted plants, and it has several great benefits attached to using it. Fleas hate it, so this is another bonus.

Electronic Flea Comb

A lot of the plants on the list are multifunctional and you can use them for both culinary purposes and out in the garden. However, sometimes, you need a little more help than you’re getting. Buying and using an electric flea comb is one way to boost your chances of getting rid of the current fleas and stopping them from coming back.

Common Places to Put Flea-Repelling Plants

You can easily space the flea repelling plants we listed out along the edges of your patio or outdoor area, or you can use them to protect your vegetable crops and stop insects from eating them. You can pick and choose which plants you want to use based on what your end goal is. We advise you to experiment a little bit and see which ones work best to help protect your home and pets from fleas.

Around the House’s Entrances

The back patio and the front porch can easily get dressed up nicely and made to be much more enjoyable when you add in a few flea repelling plants. Placing your plants by your home’s entrances can help lock the fleas outside where they belong.

Around the Foundation

Another way to keep fleas out of your home is to plant your flea repelling plants around your home’s foundation. You should avoid putting invasive plants like mint in this area because they can quickly get out of control.

Around Windows

Did you know that fleas are capable of jumping up to seven inches high? All it takes is a few jumps for them to make it in your window and get inside. You can try using window pots that you pack full of flea repelling herbs to keep them outside.

Anywhere Your Pet Frequents

Fleas love using animals as their main food supply, and controlling a flea infestation usually comes down to keeping fleas off of your pets. This is why you should consider planting flea repelling plants where your pets spend a lot of time outdoors. However, you want to avoid putting toxic plants anywhere that your pet can get to them. This is why you should avoid planting the following if you have pets:

  • Citronella
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fleawort
  • Pennyroyal/Fleabane
  • Rue
  • Sweet Bay
  • Tansy
  • Wormwood

It’s also a good idea to put any invasive species in pots because it makes them portable enough to move them around where you need them. Also, the pots help to contain the plant’s spread, especially mint.

Other Ways to Quickly Get Rid of Fleas

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Since fleas can’t survive higher temperatures, using a steam cleaning and washing your bedding on hot water will go a long way in destroying the infestation. Steam Cleaning by pixxiestails / CC BY 2.0

We advise against relying 100% on flea repelling plants to help control your flea problem. The plants are more of a preventative measure that can help once the fleas make it into the house. However, you’ll need to do a deep clean to keep on top of them. The following are tips to help you get rid of fleas inside and outside to use in tandem with your plants.

Tips for Getting Rid of Fleas Indoors:

  • A steam cleaner with a higher heat setting with soap can do a lot to help kill the fleas. You should steam everything from your carpets and drapery to your rugs and furniture.
  • If you decide to use fog or sprays, you should do multiple sprays because new eggs can hatch after the first round.
  • Move the couches and tables to help you reach any dark places with your vacuum or broom because fleas adore dark places.
  • Sweep the floors daily and vacuum every other day or so, including your rugs and furniture. This is especially important if you have rugs that have a tall nap.
  • Wash your pet’s and your bedding in hot water and dry them on the hottest setting your dryer has.

Tips for Getting Rid of Fleas Outdoors:

  • Cedar chips from most types of cedar trees work well if you spread them in areas where your pets like to lounge and hang out in the yard. You should also put cedar chips near the garden plants and flowers.
  • Keep the grass on the short side and make a point to rake it often. Instead of composting, bag and seal any clippings because fleas will thrive in your compost bin or pile.
  • Nematodes are very small worms that you can buy that will help regulate the flea population by eating the things the flea likes to eat. They also eat gnat larvae and fungus.

Bottom Line

Planting flea repelling plants and herbs is a nice preventative measure to help you avoid a full-on flea infestation, but it’s not a foolproof solution for keeping them at bay. Regular pest control treatments are the best way to ensure that you stay pest-free all year round, but the plants are a nice addition.

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