Do lemon scented geraniums deter flies?

(June 01, 2016)

We receive quite a few emails each year asking this question. 

Here's an email from Paul and Sue and our reply is below:

Hi Annie & Guy, we would like to establish a good stock of lemon scented geraniums. We have just returned from holiday in South Africa. On one hot sunny afternoon we were playing golf with friends - their local caddy lived in a poor area and his neighbour was not particularly careful with rubbish so he was plagued with flies. At one particular point on the golf course there was a large bed of lemon scented geraniums - the caddy picked a large bunch to take home because he said 'they keep the flies away'. We live in Norfolk in a rural area next to a farmer's field - when there are cabbaages growing or muck spreading we also get flies - we would like to try to grow lemon scented geraniums as a natural fly deterrent. Have you heard of the fly deterrent effect? Which would be the best variety?

Our email Reply:


Basically…it is a bit of a myth although we do have Customers who buy lemon scented types each year as they believe that it does deter flies. One lady buys a large quantity of Graveolens (rose/lemon) from us each year and mind blowingly puts these in hanging baskets around the inside of her house!!?? Just cannot imagine even one Graveolens in one hanging basket as it makes such a large plant. The lady and her husband swears that it works so who are we to say different.

Type Citronella is the one that lots of people order, which explains why it isn’t showing as being available on our website. This type always sells out really fast. We won’t have any more ready now until around the end of May. Have a read through the main details page:

On the basis that the lemon types deter flies, if this is true, I would say that any of the stronger scented ones would do a similar job to Citronella. Possibly that is! I would suggest that you read through the main details page of each type and this will explain the scents/aromas and this would help with making a selection. Flies apart, the Scented Leaf group is amazing and well worth growing.

If all else fails I do possess a bottle of strong horticultural poison which would wipe out the cabbages in just one dose. Could be a different kind of solution!! :0) I also find that ‘Jungle’ insect repellent spray works well…on me that is and not the plants. Just thought of another remedy and that is to soak cloves of garlic in water for a few days. Strain off the liquid and use as a foliar spray around the garden – majority of insects do not like this.

Hopefully I’ve provided some inspiration of some description.

All the best
Annie (& Guy)

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