Snakes are important parts of an ecosystem, as well as every other living being, but they might become unwanted guests in your garden. Walking outside and finding them crawling across the floor is not an appealing sight. And even the harmless ones might end up acting in self-defense, and a strong snake bite is something we’d all like to avoid.
We’re presenting you with a foolproof guide on making them stay as far away as possible without killing or harming them. Get to know the best plants that repel snakes and keep your garden safe and slither-free.
What Do Snakes Hate?
Although beneficial to gardens for taking care of other pests and doing rodent and slug control, snakes can become a problem themselves.
The thing snakes hate the most are strong scents. They are highly sensitive to smell and rely on it for hunting, so anything too strong will disorient them and repulse them. This highly developed sense is a mechanism to make up for bad eyesight.
What Smell Do Snakes Hate?
Strong and disrupting smells like sulfur, vinegar, cinnamon, smoke and spice, and foul, bitter, and ammonia-like scents are usually the most common and effective smells against snakes since they have a strong negative reaction to them.
It is important to note that the smells snakes find unpleasant vary from the conditions the snake was submitted to after hatching. This means foreign smells are considered unpleasant but said foreign smells are not universal. For example, if a snake is used to the smell of smoke, it won’t be considered a bad smell for that particular animal and might not affect it.
Plants that Keep Snakes Away
Snakes can become a problem, especially in warmer months, but they vary both in danger and in behavior. So, it’s important to know what plants keep snakes away and which are best for each type of snake.
Also known as garter snakes, they are not venomous and are considered friendlier than the others, as they tend to avoid humans and feel less threatened.
Kaffir Limes (Citrus hystrix)
Kaffir Limes are native to China and Southeast Asia and are known for their rough fruits with a strong aromatic citrus smell. This scent confuses the snakes, so plant some around the area and supplement it with scattering peels, leaves, or old fruits. This plant’s stems are covered with thorns that deter many animals from approaching, snakes included. The leaves can also be used for culinary purposes and essential oils, and it bears fragrant pinkish-white flowers.
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
With greenish silver leaves and woody roots, this tall and strong-scented plant can be considered invasive. Snakes avoid places where they’re present, as it works as a visual repellent as well as an odoriferous one. Its blooms are reddish and attract butterflies.
Green Chiretta (Andrographis paniculata)
Also known as King of Bitters, this might be one of the best-known plants to repel snakes. It has bitter-tasting roots and leaves, a strong unpleasant smell that can irritate snakes’ skin, and anti-venom properties. It is also repellant to other pests and is often used in alternative medicine practices. Native to India and Sri Lanka, it has slender dark-green stems and lance-shaped leaves with a glossy finish and blooms small pink flowers arranged in panicles.
Yucca (Yucca spp.)
This genus is characterized by shrubs with pointy leaves with great ornamental value. These shrubs are also able to keep snakes away, as they are repelled by their sharp pointy leaves. This plant’s downside is the need for a bigger growing space compared to other alternatives.
Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
Due to their toxicity and foul skunk-like smell, snakes will stay away. Its scent is so strong it’s also unpleasant for humans and pets, controlling many other pests and invaders. It has large and wide leaves and appears to grow downwards instead of upwards, making mature plants hard to dig up and remove from your garden. It can be used to treat infections, insomnia, and anxiety.
Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium)
This is the best among plants that keep snakes away. Also known as thorn apple, it exudes a foul, bitter smell and has sharp leaves that might injure snakes’ skin. It is invasive and is considered dangerous due to its toxicity and hallucinogenic nature, which affects humans and livestock. It should be placed around snakes’ common or potential hiding places.
This plant’s smell is very repulsive to snakes, and they keep their distance from its planted area. On its own, Tobacco is not particularly strong and needs other plants to support it.
All spiky and thorny plants tend to be a natural repellant of snakes, making Cacti perfect choices. Growing different types of Cacti around your house will protect it, as well as create a beautiful ornamental landscape. Large Opuntia species are good picks, as well as Echinocactus grusonii.
Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea)
Although not related to Garlic, its leaves and flowers’ stems will exude a garlicky odor that repels snakes. It bears rosy lavender flowers that have a pleasant smell and tend to attract pollinators like bees. This plant is a great choice due to its effectiveness and low maintenance.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
As part of the garlic and onion family, Chives emit a strong oniony smell that will keep snakes away. It is sturdier and has lower maintenance than garlic and onion while lasting many years if grown in the right conditions. It even adds ornamental value to your garden with pale purple globular flowers.
Copperhead snakes are venomous but don’t tend to discharge venom when biting humans, making them less dangerous than other lethal snakes.
Marigold (Tagetes spp.)
Native to the Americas, Marigolds are flowering plants with vivid colors and a strong and deep root system that exude a bitter and unpleasant odor. They’re one of the most used plants that snakes hate as they’re very effective, especially with small, younger snakes. Some varieties also have musky-scented leaves, and they keep other pests away while attracting pollinators.
West Indian Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Native to Southeast Asia, this snake repellent can also prevent other bugs, ticks, and mosquitoes. It has a citrus-like fragrance and long bluish-green leaves that arch due to their lightness. Cutting and spreading bundles around the area will increase efficiency. This plant is low maintenance and can be used in culinary as seasoning.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Native to Iran, Central Asia, and South Asia, this plant exudes a strong scent due to the presence of sulfuric acid. Intact plants might not be pungent enough to work, so smashing some garlic cloves is advised. It is already present in organic insecticides, and it’s effective against other pests.
Onion (Allium cepa)
Much like Garlic, it has a high content of sulfuric acid, the compound that causes us to cry when we cut one, making it highly effective. Native to Asia, planting this in your garden will give you the bonus of having an indispensable culinary ingredient always at hand.
Rattlesnakes are the most dangerous snakes of the three we’re discussing, with strong venom that is not considered deadly but can cause serious medical complications.
Clove Basil (Ocimum gratissimum)
This aromatic herb can repel snakes due to its strong scent, which is unpleasant to snakes. It is considered one of the most effective plants to keep snakes away but is more effective when in the form of essential oil.
Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)
Also known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue, the long yellow leaves with a vertical green stripe are sharp, posing a threat to snakes and other reptiles since they can damage their skin. It is low maintenance and is highly valued as an ornamental plant, making it a great addition to any garden.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Known for its use in alcoholic drinks like absinthe and vermouth, its silver leaves have a strong, bitter, and musky scent that keeps snakes at bay. The best way to use it is by turning it into a tea mixed with salt and garlic and spreading it around the area.
Indian Snakeroot (Rauvolfia serpentina)
Native to east Asia and India, it is also known as Devil Pepper or Serpentine Wood. This shrub has upright shoots with bright green leaves, and its white flowers bloom in spring. It is used to treat non-venomous snake bites but can also combat snake venom. It has sedative effects and is linked to treating mental disorders such as schizophrenia and paranoia.
Other Natural Repellents
Besides the primary barriers of plants that repel snakes away, natural solutions can and should be used as supplements, such as:
- Essential oils — like Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, or Clove, mixed with water and sprayed around the area.
- Mothballs — place them around the perimeter, and their pungent smell will repel snakes.
- Vinegar — mix it with water and spray often.
- Caffeine — sprinkle coffee grounds or instant coffee granules.
- Spices — chili powder and cayenne pepper work the best.
- Chopped onions or garlic mixed with salt — make a paste and place bits of it around the area.
It is important to note that both the plants and these natural repellents help but are not 100% effective, as such a solution doesn’t exist. Animals are unpredictable and unique, and some will be more susceptible than others.
How to Choose Snake Deterrent Plants for Your Yard
Here are some tips on how to make your yard snake-proof.
- Food supply — first and foremost, try to avoid abundant food for snakes. This means the plants you choose could also repel animals such as mice, rats, and slugs, making your garden less favorable for snakes.
- Identify the type of snakes that frequent your yard the most and choose plants accordingly.
- Mix many plants — the perfect anti-snake garden should have a good mixture of different types of snake-repelling plants, as well as reducing plants that might attract snakes.
- Create thick barriers — if you only grow a row of these plants, some snakes might not get too affected, but a solid barrier of multiple rows.
- Choose plants that will thrive in your local weather and overall environmental conditions. This will ensure plants will be healthy and exude strong scents.
What Is the Best Snake Repellent?
There is no winner, although some close candidates might be Jimson Weed, Marigolds, and Clove Basil. Mixing several snake-repellent plants and other natural repellents is the best way to ensure no snakes will crawl around your garden.
What Keeps All Snakes Away from Your Home?
It is impossible to keep all snakes far from your home, but a good mix of several effective plants that deter snakes and reduce factors such as food supply (mice and rats, slugs, and others) will drastically reduce the probability of these reptiles lurking around.
Does Lavender Repel Snakes?
No scientific evidence supports it, but Lavender is widely considered to repel snakes. Its essential oils are somewhat similar to those of clove and cinnamon, although it might not be the most effective choice.
Does Lemongrass Repel Snakes?
Yes. Lemon Grass is known to be an effective snake repellent due to its strong citrusy fragrance. It is also effective against other pests.
Does Mint Plant Attract Snakes?
Peppermint oil, and in general, minty fragrances, are considered snake repellents, as they hate its strong scent. It is also considered a mice repellent, making the food supply scarcer for snakes around your home.