Nobody likes cockroaches, unless of course, you are a frog or a lizard! And once you notice one or two roaches around the home, you can guarantee that there are more hiding away where you can’t see them.
There are many ways to get rid of these pesky insects, but in this article we will focus on a natural way of deterring them from hanging around: plants that repel roaches.
Most of these plants are also super easy to grow and allow you a way to repel roaches without chemicals or pesticides. So no excuses now… let’s do this naturally!
Disclosure: We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. This does not impact our reviews and comparisons. All opinions are our own. We pride ourselves on keeping our articles fair and balanced. For more info see our disclosure statement.
Advantages of Using Herbs to Repel Cockroaches
If you have a young family or pets, then it is only natural that you try and minimize their exposure to dangerous chemicals. While these products are necessary under some circumstances – Pesticides, roach repellents and insect sprays are all full of nasty ingredients that you should avoid using if possible.
Plants, on the other hand, are an all-natural solution with a host of additional benefits to your home.
When used indoors, these living plants don’t just repel bugs, they also help clean your air. In addition to using carbon dioxide, plants also filter other toxins from the air while putting out clean oxygen.
Outdoors, these plants provide a beautiful focal point in your yard while providing beneficial insects like bees and butterflies with food and shelter.
Plants To Use as a Natural Roach Repellent
The following plants can be used to deter roaches from coming into your home.
Osage oranges, also known as horse apples and hedge apples, are neither oranges nor apples. Rather, they’re a member of the mulberry family that produces large, ugly, grapefruit-sized fruits that cockroaches abhor.
The reason for this distaste may lie in the fact that these strange fruits have a potent, astringent odor somewhere between citrus and cedar.
Research into how effective Osage oranges are against roaches is scant, but the few studies on the fruits and their extracts had positive results. Anecdotally, this method also got high praise and was even featured in a New York Times article.
Assuming you can find some Osage oranges, they are impressively easy to use. Simply place the whole fruits around the home where cockroaches like to roam. The perfumey scent from a single fruit is enough to repel roaches from the entire room.
Also known as mums, chrysanthemums are gorgeous flowers with a long growing season. They also happen to have some pretty powerful insect repelling capabilities.
The reason is that these beautifully cheerful plants contain pyrethrum, a potent chemical known to attack the nervous system of insects. To get fatal anti-cockroach effects, you’d have to pulverize and chemically extract the substance from the mums.
Luckily, you can get the repellent effects from chrysanthemums simply by growing them outside near your foundation or inside near windows.
One widely held belief in the natural pest solutions community is that cockroaches don’t like the smell of cucumbers. While science hasn’t been able to identify why this would be, there is enough anecdotal evidence out there that this may be worth testing out in your own home.
The plants themselves don’t smell strong enough to be effective in repelling roaches. Instead, use the peelings of the fruit—which has an abundance of cucumber scent—to ward off insects.
Place cucumber peelings around your window sills and other places cockroaches tend to congregate. Change them out every couple of days as the peels dry up.
East Indian Lemongrass
Lemongrass, or Cymbopogon flexuosus, is a grass species often grown as an ornamental plant in the garden. But, it is also cultivated for its essential oil, which has many uses, including as an insect repellent.
Many studies, including this one looking specifically at the german cockroach, have proven lemongrass essential oil is effective at repelling insects. At high concentrations, it is deadly to roaches. At lower concentrations, it simply repels them away.
Plant lemongrass around your foundation to keep roaches from entering your home. Or spray lemongrass essential oil mixed with soapy water around window sills, entry points, and hiding spots.
Another floral odor that repels cockroaches with some effectiveness is lavender. This popular purple flower comes in many varieties with different hardiness levels, which means you can likely find one that will grow well in your climate.
Plant lavender outside your home to keep roaches from coming in. Inside, use lavender essential oil diluted with soapy water and spray it around entry points.
Many plants produce citronella or citronella-like oils. The most common is the lemon-scented geranium. While this plant is commonly called the “citronella plant,” it doesn’t actually produce any citronella oil.
However, it may still be moderately effective in repelling insects due to the potent lemon-citrus odor it puts off.
On the other hand, Citronella grass does produce citronella oil and is the plant most commonly cultivated for citronella oil extraction. Closely related to lemongrass, this type of grass is also highly effective in repelling cockroaches away from foundations and exterior entry points.
For repelling roaches inside the home, opt for concentrated citronella essential oil. You can use it around entry points and other problem areas to keep cockroaches from coming back.
Nasturtiums are well-known in the gardening community for their ability to repel insects that harm vegetables. The same properties that make this colorful flower effective for pest control in the garden, can also help with cockroach numbers inside the home.
Plant these beautiful, viny plants near exterior entrance points or pot them up and place them around your home where roach management is needed.
Closely related to the chrysanthemum, pyrethrum flowers (Tanacetum cinerariifolium) also produce the highly effective insecticide chemical pyrethrum. These flowers look very similar to daisies with white petals and yellow centers.
Oleoresin, the commercial form of pyrethrum, is extracted from pyrethrum flowers cultivated specifically for this use. This means when you buy this insecticide at the store, you are effectively buying the end product of this flower.
To skip the middleman and add some beauty to your home at the same time, start with the source by planting pyrethrum flowers around your foundation. You can also pot these effective cockroach repellents and grow them inside to make your home less desirable to bugs of all kinds.
Marigolds are another long-time friend of the veggie gardener that may also be effective in the fight against cockroaches. These festive orange and red flowers produce a chemical called alpha-terthienyl, which has been proven to have insecticidal effects on many species.
How effective this chemical and, more specifically, live marigold plants are on cockroaches remains to be proven. But, given how easy these beautiful plants are to care for and how pretty they are to look at, we don’t see a real downside in giving them a try. Plant them around your home or pot them up and place them in a sunny location inside.
Grab some fresh mint leaves and boil them in a cup of water. Let the solution boil until the water changes to a greenish color and there is a minty aroma.
Allow the solution to cool and then pour it into a spray bottle.
Spray this solution around the house in the areas where you have noticed roaches and anywhere they may hide.
Ideal places to spray your mint insect repellent:
- Under appliances (ovens, dish washers, etc.)
- Any cracks where roaches may use to access your house
- In corners of rooms
- In kitchen cabinets
- Where food is stored
Do bay leaves keep roaches away? Well, as with any natural remedy, that answer can be somewhat contentious and can depend on numerous factors. But in our experience, yes – bay leaves do keep roaches away.
Bay leaves contain compounds that are known to repel insects such as eucalyptol.
Simply place fresh bay leaves around the kitchen, behind appliances, near entry points and any other areas where cockroaches are likely to hang out.
Rosemary is another herb that can be used to repel roaches simply by placing pieces of it around the house.
All you need is to cut your fresh rosemary sprigs into 2-3 inch long pieces and once again put them wherever roaches are likely to go.
Want a solution that is backed by science? Well, a study by Iowa State University has concluded that the essential oils in catnip is more effective at repelling roaches than DEET (a commonly used insect repellent) is!
Once again all you need to do is place a few leaves around the house in the obvious places and this wonderful herb will keep roaches away.
Last but not least in our list of herbs that keep roaches away is Garlic. Seriously, cockroaches HATE garlic.
It is super effective at keeping away those dirty roaches.
All you need is some garlic powder – sprinkle it around the infested areas and leave it!
Alternative Ways To Repel Roaches
If none of the above options work, then you might want to consider using diatomaceous earth. We have a great guide on how to use this handy product here.