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Adding plants to your interior decor is an excellent way to rid your home of unpleasant odors and create a natural environment. On the other hand, indoor greenery can also bring in unwanted pests, and some leafy species can even be harmful to your pets. 

So how do you pick household plants that won’t cause havoc in your home? Read on!

Household Plants and Pests 

If you’re new to being a plant parent, you may not know that your green friends might bring in unwanted visitors such as ants and gnats. It’s not necessarily the type of plant that attracts pests, but rather the growing conditions. High humidity (common here in Florida) and lack of air circulation is the perfect breeding ground for annoying bugs. 

Fortunately, some plants repel bugs! Let’s take a look at which household plants you can buy to prevent bugs from invading your home. 

Household Plants that Repel Pests


The lavender flower has a beautiful color and lovely scent. What’s more, these stunning flowers relieve stress. The scent used to make essential oils, fabric softeners, and perfumes is the same fragrance that bugs dislike. 

Put potted lavender near windows and doorways to rid your home of moths, mosquitoes, and fleas.  


Citronella is one of the main oils extracted from lemongrass to make insecticides. The scent of citronella is pleasant and refreshing to humans and perfect for repelling mosquitoes. If you live near water, or anywhere mosquitoes thrive, place potted lemongrass near windows and doorways. 


Rosemary is a herb that doesn’t have a fragrance until crushed or heated—but it’s another one that mosquitoes don’t like. Rosemary plants can be grown successfully indoors or outdoors, and they’re easy to maintain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that rosemary stems can be placed between clothes in the closet to ward off moths as well.


Marigolds are hardy, bright orange flowers easily found at your local home improvement store. The scent of these blooms repels not only pests but rodents too. Place potted marigolds where there’s plenty of sunlight and air. 


Chrysanthemums come in stunning pastel colors of purple, pink, orange, and yellow. Beyond their visual appeal, these flowers also repel cockroaches, ants, bedbugs, fleas, and silverfish.

Mitigating Pests When Buying Plants From a Nursery

When you’re looking for plants at a nursery, inspect them thoroughly for bugs before purchase. Look for mealybugs, whiteflies, and scale insects under leaves and in the potting soil. If you accidentally bring pests into your house, the bugs could infest and damage your other household plants. 

Do Houseplants Attract Bugs or Flies?

Houseplants do have the potential to attract bugs and whiteflies. These crawling and flying pests are attracted to the moisture inside the soil. Overwatering or leaving puddles of water around the area will attract insects, so water only as necessary.

How to Get Rid of Pests on Your Houseplants

There are organic insecticides you can use, but also a few at-home solutions you can try: soap and water, a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, or neem oil. Simply spray the leaves and soil of your houseplants to kill the bugs. 

Household Plants and Pets 

While we’re on the subject of houseplants, it would be a shame to forget our fur-kids. When buying plants for your home, make sure they’re safe to have around your pets. Cats love to gnaw on leaves and some dogs too! Here’s how to avoid disaster. 

Household Plants That Are Toxic to Pets

The following household plants are considered to be toxic to domesticated animals, in varying degrees: 

 Mildly Toxic:

  • Fiddle Leaf Fig
  • Spider Plant
  • Pothos
  • Peace Lily
  • Philodendron
  • Calla Lily

Moderately Toxic:

  • Dracaena
  • Jade Plant (sometimes known as a Dwarf rubber plant)

Severely Toxic:

  • Sago Palm
  • Easter Lily

These plants, if ingested, can cause everything from vomiting and gastrointestinal distress to liver failure and breathing problems, according to the ASPCA. Some are toxic only to cats but not dogs, so make sure to double check the list for the pet you have.

Indoor Plants That Are Safe for Pets

There are other beautiful plants you can have at home that are 100% safe to have around animals, including: 

  • African violet
  • Hibiscus 
  • Staghorn fern 
  • Parlor Palm
  • Peacock Plant
  • Boston Fern 

Don’t give up on your indoor oasis simply because of a few pesky bugs. Check your indoor plants regularly, and keep the area around the pot reasonably dry to avoid attracting gnats and ants. Choose a few that repel bugs in the first place, and you’ll be set!

Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.

Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control