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How to Repel Cockroaches with Plants

Updated on September 9, 2014
German cockroaches are common in the U.S.
German cockroaches are common in the U.S. | Source

Learn which plants repel cockroaches naturally.

Other than being unsightly, UC Davis reports that cockroaches can transmit salmonella, staphylococcus and other bacteria and viruses as they travel through your home. If you want to avoid using pesticides in and around your home, keeping the area clean and using natural plants as repellents will help cut down on these unwanted visitors. In fact, "There are really no commercial cockroach repellents,” reports Chris Peterson, a researcher at Iowa State University, making natural plants one of your best options for repelling cockroaches.


While catnip (Nepeta cataria) may entice cats, it does repel roaches according to a study from the department of entomology at Iowa State University. Specifically they don’t like the nepetalactone chemical found in catnip. You can sprinkle dried catnip around the exterior of your house, or boil the leaves to make a tea. Put the tea into a spray bottle and spray it around the outside of your house. Catnip is part of the mint family and can be grown easily outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7. It prefers full to part sun and produces white and purple flowers in the summer.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves from the bay tree (Laurus nobilis) naturally deter many unwanted insects including cockroaches. Like catnip, you can leave the bay leaves in areas you find the roaches, such as kitchen cabinets, and around the outside of the house, or brew as a tea to spray the areas you want to keep roaches out of. Also known as the Greek bay tree, these bushy trees grow in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11. In colder zones, you can grow as a potted plant indoors.


The same team at Iowa State University also found that cockroaches don’t like hedgeapples. Also known by the common name osage orange (Maclura pomifera), hedgeapples are a common naturally growing hedge plant in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. People in the region have long used the fruit to repel insects by placing them around windows and doors. It’s compounds in the fruit that work to repel insects such as cockroaches.


Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium) produce pyrethrin, a common natural pesticide known to kill roaches and other insects. The pyrethrins are mostly found in the flowers themselves. Planting chrysanthemums in the garden and in pots around the house can also help repel the cockroaches from your home and garden. Chrysanthemums can survive in most any zone in the U.S. As potted plants, they can be brought inside during the winter. When grown in the ground outdoors, a thick layer of mulch will protect the roots.

Keep in mind that with any of these natural cockroach solutions, since you are not killing the roaches, they will still be a constant nuisance. However, if you use these plants and plant parts regularly around your home, you should have fewer roaches in your home.


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    • blundermom profile image

      blundermom 3 years ago from United States

      I wish I had read these tips earlier! My apartment complex is having cockroach issues, and we're actually getting a visit from the exterminator tomorrow. After the extermination, I will definitely buy some of these plants to keep future infestations out of my flat!