Did you know that you can add beauty and fresh oxygen to your indoor environment while keeping insects away at the same time? Many houseplants serve as natural insect repellants, so by adding them to your home, you can deter pests while making your home look and smell better.
Here is a list of 17 houseplants that will keep bugs and pests at bay.
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A chef’s favorite, basil adds flavor to soups, pastas, and salads. It is easy to grow, and it smells great. However, that same fragrance we enjoy is disliked by many insects, including those annoying houseflies. Place a pot both inside and just outside your front door to keep flies away.
2. Cast Iron Plant
The Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior) can thrive with neglect, and it will keep pests away. That’s a nice combination if you don’t have a green thumb.
Your cats will thank you if you have this natural insect repellent around the house. According to the American Chemical Society, the essential oil in catnip, called nepetalactone, is 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.
Catnip also repels cockroaches. This attractive plant grows well in bright sunny indoor locations. (Warning: Kitty may want to climb into the pot.)
4. Chinese Evergreen
The Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) has green variegated leaves and pretty white flowers that feature bright berries. Insects do not like this plant, which can handle low-light conditions and even a bit of neglect. The Chinese evergreen is toxic to pets, so be sure to keep it out of their reach.
You can grow chives indoors and outdoors to liven up your baked potatoes and other recipes with flavor. Another benefit is that the smell of chives helps chase away flies, aphids, and Japanese beetles.
With their prolific flowers, mums are pretty to have around the home. They also help purify indoor air by removing toxins. Additionally, chrysanthemums repel all kinds of insects, including ants, roaches, ticks, fleas, silverfish, lice, and bedbugs.
Citronella, also known as the mosquito plant, does just what its nickname implies. It drives away nasty mosquitoes. Citronella, which is found in lemongrass, is an ingredient in many insecticides and bug repellents.
Place pleasant-smelling lemongrass near doors and windows where mosquitoes can enter your home. You can also crush a citronella leaf and rub it on your skin to keep mosquitos away while you are outdoors.
8. Coleus Blumei
This plant has lovely and colorful leaves that make it a nice touch to your indoor garden. However, those pretty leaves are tough enough that insects stay away from them. Coleus is another plant that can be harmful to pets.
The tall, leathery leaves of the dracaena repel insects. Dracaenas come in many varieties, including yellow or cream and white with burgundy edges. These plants prefer humidity, so they are good for keeping insects away from your kitchen or bathroom.
The jade plant (Crassula Arborescens) has smooth, fleshy leaves that are filled with a sap that insects detest. Jades grow quickly when placed in a sunny window, and you can easily propagate more plants with the cuttings.
The jade plant can also be toxic to pets, so keep them away from your furry friends.
You may already know that the fresh smell of lavender can reduce stress and promote sleep. However, that same scent drives away moths, beetles, mosquitoes, fleas, and even mice. Place a lavender plant near your entryways and try dried lavender in your closets.
The strong scent of marigolds annoys mosquitoes, rodents, and rabbits. Try using these cheerful flowers in indoor window boxes to keep insects from finding their way into your home.
The aromatic oils from mint are some of the best natural mosquito repellents. Place this fragrant herb in your window sills to discourage flying and crawling bugs.
Rosemary is a staple of many Mediterranean recipes, and its hearty aroma is said to improve memory and cognitive thinking. However, many insects, including silverfish and moths, hate the smell of this easy-to-grow herb. Plant some indoors and outdoors to keep unwanted visitors away.
Sage bushes are easy to grow, and their lovely lavender spikes look pretty in the garden. Indoors and outdoors, the distinctively scented plant drives insects away.
16. Snake Plant
Often called mother-in-law’s tongue, the snake plant (Sansevierias) is an easy-to-grow houseplant that features tall leathery leaves in yellow, cream and green variegated patterns. The leaves grow upright and can reach several feet in height. Bugs dislike the tough leaves and stay away from them.
17. Venus Flytrap
Venus flytraps are carnivorous plants that will trap insects in the tiny hair inside their “mouths.” When a fly, gnat or other bug lands on the open leaves, touching one of these hairs, the leaf responds by closing over and around it. Then, the plant digests the insect. (Yuck!) Venus flytraps can grow to be about six inches tall, and they do well in an indoor environment.
Now that you know some plants that will aid in your home pest control, you may want to know another benefit of growing more houseplants. They can help make the air inside our homes cleaner. Research from the Environmental Protection Agency reveals that indoor pollutant levels can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels.
These indoor pollutants come from a variety of sources, including molds, pollen, bacteria, pet hair, cleaning chemicals, and personal hygiene products. Additionally, outdoor contaminants, including vehicle exhaust, factory fumes, and garden chemicals can enter our homes through door and window openings. We also can track them inside on our shoes and clothing. Airtight, energy efficient homes and offices make the problem even worse.
The three main indoor pollution culprits — formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene — can cause eye irritation, nasal congestion and headaches, and breathing problems. However, there is some good news. Many common houseplants can absorb these harmful irritants while producing fresh oxygen for our homes at the same time.
Here’s a list of houseplants that can clean the air.
NASA, which has researched indoor air contaminants for space missions, calls houseplants a key part of “nature’s life support system.” In fact, houseplants are aboard every space mission for their air-cleaning properties.
Tips for Growing Indoor Plants
If you want to enjoy the benefits of healthy indoor plants, here are some basic tips.
The Right Lighting
Just as you do with your outdoor plants, you need to match houseplants with their light requirements. Some need direct sunlight from a south-facing windowsill. Others prefer the softer light of an east-facing window. Still others need less light intensity altogether.
As the seasons change, so do indoor light patterns. You may need to adjust your plants’ locations accordingly. Plants receiving too little light can have dull green or yellowish leaves. They also tend to grow long and leggy rather than full and compact.
The Right Container
Not all pots and planters are the same. Be sure your containers offer enough growing room and drainage for your plants. Houseplants may need to be transplanted as they grow.
The Right Soil
Plant your houseplants in potting soil that is meant for indoor use. Indoor potting soil allows for a balance of nutrition, moisture, and aeration that is best for an indoor environment.
The Right Amount Of Moisture
Overwatering and underwatering can be the causes of many failed gardens. Like your outdoor patio plants or hanging baskets, indoor container plants require careful monitoring of moisture levels. Here are a few tips for watering indoor plants.
- Water the entire root ball, allowing excess water to drain out through holes in the bottom of the pot.
- Standing water in the plant tray that remains for more than a day or two can lead to root disease. Remove it.
- Allow soil to partially dry before the next watering.
- To check moisture, poke your finger into the top two inches of the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. If it feels moist, hold off. You also can tell moisture levels by lifting the pot. Drier pots are lighter in weight than wet pots.
The Right Amount Of Nutrients
Small space and frequent watering mean houseplants use up their soil nutrients more quickly than outdoor garden plants. You can replace these essential compounds with fertilization.
The Right Temperature
Indoor air tends to be drier and more drafty than outdoor air. Aim to keep your houseplants away from heating vents and drafty areas of your home. Plants that like a lot of humidity can do well in bathrooms and kitchens. Misting can work well on some plants, but over-misting can increase the chance of certain foliage diseases.
The Right Conditions
Indoor air can get dusty, and accumulated dust on foliage can hinder plant growth by blocking light absorption. Be sure to clean houseplant leaves on a regular basis to prevent dirt build-up.
With warmer weather here, it is natural that we will be spending our time tending our outdoor plants. However, keeping a thriving array of indoor plants is a good idea any time of year. They help us breathe better, and they can help us control pests.
Need more convincing? Scientists believe houseplants can actually improve our moods. For example, in a 2008 study, Dutch researchers found that patients with indoor plants in their hospital rooms reported significantly lower stress levels than patients in rooms without them.
If you don’t own any houseplants, what are you waiting for?
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