8 Plants That Will Keep Snakes Out of Your Yard, According to Pest Experts
From flowers to herbs, there are quite a few plants that you probably didn't know repel snakes.
Honey badgers, bald eagles—there's no shortage of foes that definitively conquer the snake. But few are more effective than a specific array of snake-repellent plants, which can be particularly effective in keeping these slithery reptiles out of your yard and garden.
However, there's no one "magic plant" that will ward off all snakes, notes Lindsay Hyland, a gardening expert and the founder of Urban Organic Yield. "Different plants have different properties that may or may not appeal to a certain type of snake, so it really depends on the type of snake you are trying to repel and what kind of environment it is in."
Snake-repellent plants broadly filter into one of two categories, according to Georgina Ushi Phillips, DVM, a writer for The Reptile Room and a Florida-based veterinarian. The first is physical: They're uncomfortable to slither on, so snakes steer clear. The other is olfactory: Snakes avoid them because the smell is offensive. Either will do the trick, but keep reading to hear from pest experts about the best plants to keep snakes out of your yard.
8 Snake-Repellent Plants
1. Snake Plant
There's more than a hint of irony that the snake plant—also referred to as mother-in-law's tongue—is a known snake-repellent plant. Of course, there's its name, but it also looks like a snake itself! This appearance has lent it an almost mythological air, that serpents stay away because they're scared of it.
"It's often suggested that the visual appearance of [this plant] is what deters snakes, but I haven't found any evidence to support that," Phillips notes. Instead, she says it's "likely the sharp and stiff leaves" that drive any snake neighbors hither.
A bonus is that the snake plant is very low-maintenance (it's technically a succulent and a very popular houseplant) and is considered a great choice for plant novices.
Like snake plants, holly plants—which you may recognize for their holiday season-approved red berries and pronged leaves—can keep snakes at bay thanks to the surface of their prickly leaves.
"The unpleasant texture is usually easy enough for snakes to avoid," Phillips says. For additional snake repellent, she suggests spreading holly leaves around your yard.
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The unofficial fall flower, mums—formally known as chrysanthemums—are not just a pretty addition to your yard; they're also a seriously potent snake repellent.
"There are many plants that repel snakes, but the most effective ones are those that contain a chemical called pyrethrum," Hyland says. "This natural chemical comes from the chrysanthemum flower and is deadly to snakes."
Mums will also keep many insects at bay. In fact, according to National Geographic, the chemical "can be extracted and used to create natural insecticides that farmers spray on crops to protect them from mites, ants, and aphids without harming anyone's health."
Hyland also pointed out other plants with strong scents that sent snakes packing, including the marigold, which is a commonly used snake repellent.
"Marigolds release a strong odor that many snakes find offensive, so they will avoid areas where these flowers are planted," Hyland says. Like mums, marigolds do double duty as one of the most popular insect repellants.
"Plant them around the perimeter of your garden or in areas where you want to discourage snakes," recommends Benita Middleton, head gardener at Benita's Garden Services.
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"When building a large garden in an area that is known for its snake wildlife, I always recommend planting wormwood around the edges of the patio or the garden perimeter," Granger McCollough, the founder and CEO of Elite Patio Direct, tells Best Life. "Snakes cannot stand the smell of wormwood."
What's more, since wormwood is fairly large—plants can range from two to three feet in size—it can also physically obstruct snakes in addition to offending their sense of smell. And it's also known to keep bees away.
In pesto, on pizza, and in certain summery cocktails, humans love basil—largely because it smells amazing. But snakes, on the other hand, find it repulsive.
"Snakes cannot stand the smell of basil," McCollough says. "Basil is also able to grow indoors if your snake problem exceeds your patio or garden."
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When it comes to Italian cooking, basil and garlic go hand-in-hand. And as it turns out, they both repel snakes, too.
"Some people believe that the strong smell of garlic repels snakes," explains Middleton. "Planting garlic around your garden or using garlic-based sprays may provide some deterrence."
Another herb that snakes can't stand the smell of is lemongrass. In fact, as Bryan Clayton, CEO at GreenPal, notes, "Its citronella aroma is often used in insect repellants."
Other ways to keep snakes out of your yard.
While plants can help ward off snakes, "If you have a persistent problem with snakes, it may be best to consult with a pest control expert to understand the best course of action for your specific situation," advises Clayton.
He also says that maintaining a clean yard is essential. "Regular lawn maintenance, such as mowing the grass and pruning bushes, reduces hiding spots for snakes. Cleaning up debris, leaf piles, and clutter can also make your yard less appealing to these reptiles."