46 Oils to Use on Your Indoor Plants and Why

While repellents can work wonders on pests, they sometimes harm the plant itself. That being said, what are some natural oils that can be used on indoor plants?

Some of the oils that are beneficial and safe to use on indoor plants are rosemary, peppermint, citrus oils, lavender, cedarwood, Eucalyptus, and Neem Oil. Several other oils also act as a natural pest repellent and keep the plants happy and healthy.

Here is more information on the oils listed above and how they help and can be used, and also other oils and the benefits they can provide for indoor plants.

Essential Oils

#1: Rosemary

Rosemary has a remarkable ability to attract pollinators. It also works really well at keeping cats from peeing on plants and keeping mosquitoes, moths, flies, and ticks away. Rosemary will even take care of insect larvae. Also, for outdoor plants, Rosemary has a knack for attracting butterflies which is always a fun sight to see!

#2: Thyme

Thyme helps against quite a few pests as well. It primarily is effective against caterpillars, beetles, chiggers, and ticks. Also, for an additional benefit, the smell of Thyme helps with memory and concentration!

#3: Clove

Clove oil is wonderful at breaking things down. As a result, it does a phenomenal job working against any fungal growth. As for the repellent aspect of Clove, it is more effective on aphids, cockroaches, ants, and wasps.

#4: Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is another favorite among the ways to naturally repel against pests. Because of how strong it is, Eucalyptus is quite effective. It is especially powerful against midges, sandflies, and ticks.

#5: Cajeput

If garden mites are managing to take a hit at indoor plants as well as outdoor plants, then Cajeput can be incredibly helpful in taking care of that problem.

#6: Tea Tree

Tea Tree is specifically known for getting rid of ants, ticks, and flies, and also breaking down any fungal growth on the plant.

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#7: Lavender

Lavender attracts pollinators, particularly bees, and it also appeals to butterflies which can be really fun!

If you’re using Lavender for this purpose, here’s a fun tip that can be used as an alternative option: place the Lavender Oil at the tip of a popsicle stick, and then place that stick in the pot’s dirt right next to the plant. It is amazing at repelling insects too, particularly chiggers, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, moths, spiders, and ticks, but it typically is used as a more general repellent.

#8: Fennel

Fennel smells fantastic, and as a result, it is really good at attracting pollinators.

#9: Catmint

Catmint is particularly helpful in attracting pollinators, but the mint aspect can be useful in repelling bugs.

#10: Yarrow

Yarrow smells absolutely fantastic, so it is no wonder that it attracts pollinators. Keep in mind though, its blue color will definitely show on the plant.

#11: Hyssop

Hyssop has a sweet smell that attracts pollinators, specifically bees. It also is very good at protecting your plants against slugs and snails if those are common in your area.

#12: Marjoram

Marjoram can benefit by attracting pollinators, specifically bees.

#13: Helichrysum

Although relatively unfamiliar as far as essential oils go, Helichrysum can be a fun oil to use on plants as it smells good and attracts pollinators.

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#14: Basil

The main benefit for Basil, similar to several previously mentioned essential oils, is that it attracts pollinators.

#15: Sage

Sage has a unique smell that attracts pollinators, but it also helps repel a handful of pests. The bugs that Sage is most effective against are chiggers, cutworms, flies, and ticks. Also, the smell of Sage helps with alertness, and also grief and depression, so feel free to enjoy that when it has been applied on the indoor plants!

#16: Melaleuca

Melaleuca serves to help with fungal growth on plants. It is super effective for that purpose, however, keep in mind that sunlight on the leaves may cause the leaves to burn if the concentration of the Melaleuca is too much.

#17: Orange

Orange gives the plant an enjoyable smell and is very appealing to bees and butterflies. It is perfectly safe to use on plants and can be very fun to use!

#18: Cinnamon/Cinnamon Bark

For the purposes here, cinnamon and cinnamon bark are pretty interchangeable as they have the same effect on indoor plants and acting as a repellent. Cinnamon Bark works against silverfish, cockroaches, and dust mites.

#19: Peppermint

If the indoor plants are struggling due to harm caused by fleas, lice, spiders, and/or ants, peppermint is a fantastic option! It also really helps with mealybugs, aphids, beetles, caterpillars, flies, moths, and plant lice for when those are managing to get in the house and harm those plants.

Another major benefit is that Peppermint is incredibly handy in working against and protecting indoor plants (and also the inside of the house itself) from rodents such as mice, rats, and squirrels that are coming into the house. Applying Peppermint on indoor plants can also help in other ways such as reducing headaches and migraines, so that’s a bonus!

#20: Spearmint

Spearmint has an incredibly similar effect to Peppermint. It is wonderful to use against all sorts of pests! It also, like Peppermint, helps tremendously with headaches and migraines, so don’t hesitate to apply some on indoor plants!

#21: Cedarwood

Cedarwood is a wonderful option for a natural repellent. It works against aphids, mealybugs, lice, moths, slugs, and weevils. Hopefully, those aren’t making it inside the house, especially the slugs, aphids, and weevils, but on the chance that they do, Cedarwood is the way to go! On a different note, Cedarwood is famous for having a calming effect by helping with stress and tension, so having that smell in the house can help in other ways too!

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#22: Sandalwood

Sandalwood may be less likely to be used for indoor plants, but if weevils are creeping in and harming the indoor plants, Sandalwood is safe for the indoors and on plants, so it is certainly a good option to explore.

#23: Patchouli

Patchouli is one of the essential oils that aren’t as commonly known, but depending on the pests that are taking a toll on the indoor plants, Patchouli could be helpful. Gnats, specifically fungus gnats, and weevils are mainly what Patchouli is used as a repellent for.

#24: Arborvitae

Arborvitae, similar to Patchouli, is another essential oil that is less common or popular. However, it can work really well against mosquitoes which can be helpful, especially since it brings no harm to the plants either.

#25: Lemongrass/Citronella

Citronella is made from Lemongrass. It keeps away just about anything! Some even believe it to be the most effective repellent there is. Citronella works especially well against gnats, spiders, chiggers, fleas, mosquitoes, flies, ticks, mealybugs, and ants.

Another benefit is that the smell of Lemongrass and Citronella relieves stress which is likely why it also reduces headaches.

One important thing to note about lemongrass oil is to make sure and dilute it with water before using on your plants. When using lemongrass oil on houseplants, it is essential to dilute it properly to avoid causing any harm to the plants. A good ratio for diluting lemongrass oil is to mix 10-15 drops of the oil with 1 quart (approximately 1 liter) of water. Additionally, adding a small amount of mild liquid soap to the mixture will help the oil blend with the water.

Before applying the diluted lemongrass oil mixture to your entire plant, spray a small, inconspicuous area of the plant and monitor it for 24-48 hours. If there are no signs of damage, such as yellowing or wilting, you can proceed to spray the rest of the plant.

#26: Geranium

Geranium is an essential oil that is primarily used on plants to help them grow and be healthy.

#27: Frankincense

Frankincense follows the same pattern as Citronella, and Geranium. If a goal is to help an indoor plant grow, thrive, and look happy and healthy, Frankincense is a good route to go for that endeavor.

#28: Neroli

Neroli is made from orange blossoms, and as a result, it has an incredible ability to attract pollinators.

Essential Oil Quick Facts

Essential OilBenefitsPests Repelled
ArborvitaeRepels pestsMosquitoes
BasilAttracts pollinators
CajeputRepels garden mitesGarden mites
CatmintAttracts pollinators, repels pestsAphids, ants, beetles, cabbage moths, squash bugs, flea beetles
CedarwoodRepels pestsAphids, mealybugs, lice, moths, slugs, weevils
Cinnamon/Cinnamon BarkRepels pestsSilverfish, cockroaches, dust mites
CloveFungal growth preventionAphids, cockroaches, ants, wasps
EucalyptusRepels pestsMidges, sandflies, ticks
FennelAttracts pollinators
FrankincensePromotes growth and health
GeraniumPromotes growth and health
HelichrysumAttracts pollinators
HyssopAttracts pollinators, repels pestsSlugs, snails
LavenderAttracts pollinators, repels pestsChiggers, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, moths, spiders, ticks
Lemongrass/CitronellaRepels pestsGnats, spiders, chiggers, fleas, mosquitoes, flies, ticks, mealybugs, ants
MarjoramAttracts pollinators
MelaleucaFungal growth prevention
NeroliAttracts pollinators
OrangeAttracts pollinators
PatchouliRepels pestsFungus gnats, weevils
PeppermintRepels pestsFleas, lice, spiders, ants, mealybugs, aphids, beetles, caterpillars, flies, moths, plant lice
RosemaryAttracts pollinatorsMosquitoes, moths, flies, ticks
SageAttracts pollinators, repels pestsChiggers, cutworms, flies, ticks
SandalwoodRepels pestsWeevils
SpearmintRepels pestsSimilar to Peppermint
Tea TreeRepels pests, fungal growth preventionAnts, ticks, flies
ThymeRepels pestsCaterpillars, beetles, chiggers, ticks
YarrowAttracts pollinators

Essential Oils Combinations

#1: Thieves Oil or Shiny Leaves

Thieves Oil is a mix of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary. It is a pretty efficient repellent, and it also does a wonderful job at making the plant’s leaves look nice and shiny.

#2: Bye, Bye Bugs

This essential oil combination is a combination of orange, rosemary, clove, and peppermint. It is roughly about 10 drops of each of the oils in water and then topped by thieves oil. This combination is commonly used to take care of pests such as aphids, flies, and beetles.

#3: Garden Insect Deterrent

This combination is incredibly similar to the Bye, Bye Bugs combination. It is a concoction of 10 drops of Rosemary, 10 drops of Clove, 10 drops of Peppermint, and 10 drops of Thyme in water. The only difference between this and this previous one is the use of Thyme instead of Orange. Both work really well, so feel free to use whichever of the two is preferred.

#4: Magic Growth

The Magic Growth is a combination of frankincense, geranium, and lemongrass (although, Citronella would be an acceptable substitute for lemongrass oil). As shown by the name, this mix of essential oils contributes really well to the growth of indoor plants.

#5: Purify

An easy way to keep sickness out of the house (or in other words, another version of an apple a day keeps the doctor away), is to use citrus oils. Add some citrus oils to the water in the watering can, and the plant will smell great, and the people living and coming in and out of the house will be happy and healthy. The citrus smell is always nice and refreshing. This can also be done with lavender and peppermint.

#6: Wash

When it comes to washing an indoor plant, a helpful tip is to add Lemon oil to the dish soap being used. The soap tends to work better when that is done. Keep in mind though that the dish soap should be gentle and non-toxic. Also, be soft when applying the dish soap and Lemon oil duo to the indoor plant.

#7: Fungal Growth Protection or Tea Tree Fungicide

To put together this concoction, use a gallon of water, 4 tbsp. of baking soda, and 2 tbsp. of Tea Tree Oil. Other essential oils can be used as a substitute, but Tea Tree will be the most effective. This combination is as effective as it can get when it comes to combatting and protecting against fungal growth.

#8: Plant Fungus Suppressant

Essentially, this combination is a total of 4 ounces of water and 25 drops of Melaleuca. Whenever fungus is growing on the plant, this will do the trick!

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#9: Pollinator Attractor Spray

This is another super easy combination to use. It is 4 ounces of water with 6 to 8 drops of Orange oil. Butterflies and bees love this stuff!

#10: Fruit and Veggie Wash

This combination essentially is just an addition to what people already typically do. Vinegar is commonly used to clean fresh produce, and adding 6 to 8 drops of either the Lemon oil or the Orange oil makes it an even stronger (and perhaps better smelling) fruit and vegetable cleaner.

#11: Indoor Plant Natural Spray

This natural spray is made by putting 20 drops of Thieves oil, 20 drops of another citrus oil, and Castile soap inside of water making up a total of 16 fluid ounces. This helps with the overall health and care of the indoor plant. When applying it, dust the leaves first. It is typically recommended to do it every 5 to 7 days but do so as needed.

#12: Herbal Spray

For this spray, use either a single oil or any combination of oils into a spray bottle with water from the following: Basil, Peppermint, Lavender, Rosemary, and Sage. The recommended combination is Peppermint and Rosemary. This herbal spray will help with pests in a general manner.

Other Types of Oils for Indoor Plants

#1: Neem Oil

Neem oil has an ingredient called azadirachtin that has the potential to be dangerous to humans. Clarified Neem Oil doesn’t have azadirachtin, so try to use that. If you do use regular Neem oil, be careful not to inhale it or get any on the skin.

That being said, the chemical works really well for repelling insects. The oil starves insects and prevents them from laying eggs. If using a Neem Oil ready-to-use spray, the insect will suffocate instantly. Applying Neem oil in a diluted form just helps prevent pests. Combining two tablespoons of Neem Oil with a gallon of water works incredibly well against aphids.

#2: Garlic Oil

The majority of pests are not a fan of garlic oil, particularly cats and mosquitoes.

#3: Pine Oil

Pine Oil is typically used on outdoor plants because of what it helps repel, but it is still safe to use indoors. It is primarily used to protect plants from fleas, ticks, slugs, and snails.

#4: Horticultural Oil

Take anywhere from 2 tbsp. to 5 tbsp. of Horticultural Oil and combine that with a gallon of water. It is fine to use on plants, but it not safe for skin, so wear gloves when handling it and make sure to keep children and pets safe when using it. This works especially well against aphids.

Oils are a wonderful way to protect and invigorate your plants while also positively affecting you and your family. The next time you need to use a pest repellant, consider using essential oils first.

29 thoughts on “46 Oils to Use on Your Indoor Plants and Why”

  1. Hi Bill! Great article; very informative and with many good recipes and suggestions! I’m hoping to dissuade a new rescue cat from chewing on the leaves and peeing in the soil of my large fiddle leaf fig houseplant while also nurturing the plant into better health. If I were to use the Magic Growth recipe, do I spray it onto the leaves? Or do I add it to the watering can?
    Could I also stick peeled garlic cloves into the soil without hurting the plant?
    Many thanks!

    1. Put about 10 drops of each oil, frankincense, geranium, and lemongrass, in a 16 oz spray bottle and fill the rest of the way with distilled water. You will then want to spray the mixture on your plants. Geranium is a decent cat deterrent and garlic can work too, but I would use the garlic sparingly because too much can harm the microbiome of your soil.

  2. Hi Bill, awesome information! I love plants and eo’s so win-win. I have a 4oz spray bottle. How many drops of eo would you recommend? And is distilled water necessary for plant use or is tap sufficient? Appreciate you!

    1. Hi Shelia,
      It really depends on what oil you are using and for what purpose. If you are doing something like the Magic Growth recipe, it would be 2.5 drops of each essential oil in a 4oz bottle filled with distilled water. Other combinations will be different ratios. There is an element of experimentation too. You can start more conservatively with your oil/water ratios and adjust them to your preference to get the results you desire.

      I prefer distilled for these sprays vs tap. I personally don’t want anything else in the spray besides pure water and the oils. If you want to use tap water, I think that will be fine also.

      1. Hi Bill! What would be a good mix in a 24oz bottle for growth, insect prevention and cat deterrent.
        We use young living oils.

        1. Hi there! I’m happy to help you create a 24oz (approx. 710ml) spray bottle mix using Young Living essential oils that promotes growth, repels insects, and deters cats. Here’s a suggested recipe:

          Fill the spray bottle with 24oz (710ml) of water.
          Add 12-15 drops of Peppermint essential oil. This oil has insect-repelling properties and is also known to be a cat deterrent.
          Add 12-15 drops of Rosemary essential oil. It has insect-repelling properties and can also help promote plant growth.
          Add a few drops (about half a teaspoon) of mild liquid soap or natural surfactant. This will help the essential oils mix with the water.
          Shake the bottle well before each use to ensure the oils are well dispersed. Remember to always test the spray on a small, inconspicuous area of the plant first, and wait for 24-48 hours to check for any adverse reactions before applying it to the entire plant.

          This mixture should help you keep insects away, promote growth, and discourage your cat from getting too close to your plants. However, be cautious about overusing the spray, as essential oils can be potent and may harm your plants if applied excessively. Always monitor your plants for any signs of stress or damage after using the spray.

    1. Hi Jessica, A diffuser will work just fine with plants but make sure you aren’t drowning them in oil. Too much of a good thing isn’t good.

      In regards to pets, you do need to watch out for certain oil if you have a dog or cat. Here is a list of oils to watch out for if your pet will be around your plants when you apply oils.

      Not good for cats:
      Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Oregano, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Pine, Sweet birch, Tea Tree, Thyme, Wintergreen, Ylang Ylang

      Not good for dogs:
      Anise, Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Garlic, Juniper, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Pine, Sweet birch, Tea Tree, Thyme, Yarrow, Ylang Ylang

    1. Hi Kim,
      I would stick with olive oil. It provides protection from plants as well as providing vitamins to the plant. Use it sparingly though.

  3. I’d love to know if essential oils associated with human healing, cell growth, antioxidants, etc, will assist in plant growth, transplanting trauma, etc. any chance the “growth” mixture will work to that effect?

    1. Hi Vance,

      Thanks for the question! I haven’t done any direct comparisons with beneficial oils associated with human healing vs plant use. I would say, however, that any oil that helps protect against pests and imparts a small number of vitamins to the plant, will promote healthy plant growth. The Growth mixture is one that will do just that.

  4. Hi Bill,

    I have a new puppy who keeps trying to chomp my large fiddle leafs leaves, What would you recommend I put on the plant that will be safe for it and deter the pup?


    1. Hi Irene,

      Give lemon juice a try. Dogs dislike the smell and taste of lemons. Spray your puppy’s favorite plant with lemon juice and it should deter him/her from chomping on it. I hope that helps!

  5. Absolutely Amazing information! Thank you for sharing.
    Can I spray lavender and lemongrass directly on my tomatoes?

  6. Hi there,
    What awesome information, thank you.
    I’ve had a problem with fungus gnats, do you have any advice about the best way to apply the oil please? I notice patchouli is good so I’ll get some of that, it’ll remind me of my youth!!

  7. hi, my peace lily’s leaves are droopy. i transplanted it. it still is not doing well.
    What do you recommend? i even took a piece with the root and put it in just water.
    Thank you
    Isabel Orosa

    1. Hey there! It seems like your peace lily is going through a bit of a tough time after being transplanted. Droopy leaves are a common sign of stress, but don’t worry – there are a few things you can do to help it out.

      First, check the soil and make sure it’s not too wet or dry. Peace lilies like soil that’s consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Also, be careful not to overwater the plant.

      Peace lilies love bright, indirect light, so make sure your plant is getting enough of it. If you’re worried about the humidity, you can mist the plant with water or put a tray of water near it to help.

      Lastly, give the plant some time to recover. It can take a few weeks for a transplanted plant to bounce back, so be patient and keep taking good care of it.

      As for the piece of root that you put in water, it might grow into a new plant eventually, but just be careful to change the water frequently and keep an eye on the root. Once it develops some good roots, you can transfer it into soil.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  8. Hi there,
    Can I use lemongrass oil mixed with water to water plants? My soil is polluted with termites that are eating the roots.
    With best regards


    1. When using lemongrass oil on houseplants, it is essential to dilute it properly to avoid causing any harm to the plants. A good ratio for diluting lemongrass oil is to mix 10-15 drops of the oil with 1 quart (approximately 1 liter) of water. Additionally, adding a small amount of mild liquid soap to the mixture will help the oil blend with the water.

      Before applying the diluted lemongrass oil mixture to your entire plant, spray a small, inconspicuous area of the plant and monitor it for 24-48 hours. If there are no signs of damage, such as yellowing or wilting, you can proceed to spray the rest of the plant. Use the spray sparingly and only when needed, as overuse may harm your plants.

  9. Hi Bill. I need your help! I love having house plants but they always are dying on me. I’ve seen some leaves being chomped on by my cats and I’ve also seen a few gnats and maybe fungi. Please help! The oils I have are eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass and citronella. Which is best?

    1. It sounds like you’re dealing with a couple of different issues: cat-related damage, gnats, and potential fungal problems. Here’s how you can address each one.

      1. Cats : Some plants are harmful to cats. Cats may chew plants out of curiosity or if their diet lacks something. To protect your plants, get cat-friendly ones like catnip or cat grass for your cats to chew instead. Citronella oil can deter cats but can also be toxic to them, so use it carefully.

      2. Gnats : To manage gnats, let your plant soil dry between watering, as gnats are attracted to damp soil. You can also spray a mixture of water and either eucalyptus or lemongrass oil on your plants, which can help keep gnats at bay.

      3. Fungi : If you suspect a fungus problem, try watering your plants less frequently. You can also create a spray from lavender oil and water to tackle the fungus, but remember to test it on a small part of the plant first.

  10. Hello! Is there any oil that will stop frogs from living in my potted plants, that I put outside during spring and summer?

    1. Honestly, there isn’t solid proof that essential oils can keep frogs away from plants. While they might deter some pests, we don’t really know if they work on frogs.

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