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Snake Repellent Plants

For most people, snakes are terrifying. Even for snake enthusiasts, a poisonous snake sneaking up on you can be frightening.

Of course, it isn’t the intention of the snake to cause panic. To keep snakes away, you can plant snake-repellent plants.

There are many snake-repellent plants out there. Some repel snakes with their strong fragrance (an example is plants that produce citrus/lemony fragrance). Some repel snakes with their appearance and sharp foliage such as mother-in-law’s tongue and cactus.

If you have a garden, you may want to have some snake-repellent plants since snakes are attracted to the cover provided by gardens.

Table of Contents

1. List of Snake-repelling Plants
1.1 Citrus
1.2 Green Chiretta
1.3 Prickly Pear Cactus
1.4 Holy Basil
1.5 Jimsonweed
1.6 Garlic
1.7 Marigold
1.8 Mugwort
1.9 Onions
1.10 Pink Agapanthus
1.11 Rue
1.12 Snake Plant
1.13 West Indian Lemongrass
1.14 Yucca
2. FAQ
3. Conclusion

Plants That Repel Snakes

1. Citrus

Kaffir Lime plant
Kaffir Lime plant.
  • Family: Rutaceae
  • Scientific Name: Citrus ssp (particularly C. hystrix)
  • Height: Varies
  • Width: Varies
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zones: 9 to 12 (USDA)

Snakes are known to dislike the strong scent/fragrance of lime. One of the best citrus to plant is the kaffir lime also known as makrut lime. This plant bears the botanical name of C. hystrix.

Citrus plants are evergreen woody shrubs that can grow quite tall. They are quite hardy and can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 12, although this depends on the plant. Most citrus plants grow best in zones 9 to 12.

Citrus plants require a lot of sun exposure. Full sun exposure is needed for the plant to thrive.

They can grow in sandy, loamy and heavy soils as far as the soil is well-drained. They can grow in mildly alkaline, neutral, and mildly acidic soils. The citrus tree prefers moisture.

2. Green Chiretta (Andrographis)

Green Chiretta in the wild
Green Chiretta in the wild.
  • Family: Acanthaceae
  • Scientific Name: Andrographis paniculata
  • Height: 12 to 36 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to full shade
  • Hardiness Zones: 10 to 12 (USDA)

Andrographis repel snakes because of their bitter roots, leaves, and foliage.

This plant has several common names including green chiretta, king of bitters, creat, and false water willow. The plant is commonly referred to by its genus name – Andrographis.

This plant is known for its very bitter leaves. This gives it the name king of bitters.

The plant is endemic to Asia, specifically Sri Lanka, and South India. The plant has however been introduced to most of East Asia including the Americas.

The leaves of this plant are used for medicinal purposes and are used to treat bronchitis, flu, cholera, typhus, dysentery, stomach pain, and the common cold. The plant is perennial and reaches a height of a foot to three feet in no time.

This plant prefers a well-drained potting mix and is known to grow in poor soil. The plant grows great and is slightly alkaline to mildly acidic soil. It can however grow in very alkaline to very acidic soil. The soil for the plant should be moist.

King of bitters can also grow in full sun to full shade.

3. Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus.
  • Family:  Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Opuntia
  • Height: 6 to 96 inches 
  • Width: Depends on the species
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zones: 4 to 11 (USDA)

There are countless prickly pear cactus species around. There are over a hundred species.

These cacti can be distinguished from other cacti by the flat pads which are club-shaped and spiny. The spiny nature of this plant keeps snakes away. Various hair-like spines get attached to the skin or clothing when touched.

Prickly pear cacti are mostly native to warm deserts. However, these cacti can grow as north as hardiness zone 4.

Prickly pear cactus grows best in a dry sandy potting mix. As long as the soil drains well, it will grow with ease. The soil shouldn’t hold too much water.

Moist soil can kill the plant. During the winter, the pads will deflate but return to normal during the spring. The soil/potting mix should only be watered when it is completely dry.

This means you should water the plant about once every two or three weeks. If prickly pear cactus is planted outside in a locale that receives a lot of rain, the soil must be porous and drain well.

Prickly pear cactus require full sun exposure. The plant thrives in hot arid areas. They are quite tolerant of cold temperatures. The humidity of the locale must be low or the plant will struggle to survive.

4. Holy Basil

Holy Basil plant
Holy Basil plant.
  • Family:  Lamiaceae
  • Scientific Name: Ocimum gratissimum
  • Height: 24 inches
  • Width: 12 to 24 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zones: 10b to 11 (USDA)

Holy basil has a strong fragrance that drives away snakes. The essential oils of this plant are quite potent. Because of the strong scent of the plant, snakes immediately leave the area where the plant is located.

This plant is considered one of the most potent snake-repellent plants. The essential oils from the plant can also be used to repel snakes. About 12 drops in a liter of water can be sprayed around the house, this should repel the snakes.

Holy basil is also known as Tulsi, clove basil, wild clove, or African basil. Although this herb is very different from basil, it is still a popular culinary herb in West Africa and Southeast Asia. It is also used in traditional medicine in India.

This plant is known as the queen of herbs in Southeast Asia.

You may want to grow the plant in a pot that you bring inside during the winter.

Holy basil requires a lot of sunlight. While it can tolerate some partial shade, it requires a lot of sunlight. The plant needs moist well-drained potting mix or soil.

5. Jimsonweed

Jimsonweed with flower
Jimsonweed with flower.
  • Family:  Solanaceae
  • Scientific Name: Datura stramonium
  • Height: up to 60 inches
  • Width: up to 39 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zones: 6 to 9 (USDA)

Jimsonweed is also known as devil’s trumpet, angel’s trumpet, devil’s snare, jimson weed, or thorn apple.

The plant is known as a hallucinogen but is unlikely to become a drug that is abused because it is unpleasant to take and is very toxic even in small amounts. It can be fatal when ingested or smoked.

The plant requires loamy to sandy potting mix or soil. The soil has to be well-drained. Devil’s snare grows in slightly alkaline to neutral soil.

The plant can grow in both moist and dry soil. The plant requires full sun exposure to grow and thrive.

The hallucinogenic effect of the plant also works on snakes. Snakes find the odor of the plant foul and tend to stay away from the devil’s snare.

6. Garlic

Fields of garlic plants
Fields of garlic plants.
  • Family: Amaryllidaceae
  • Scientific Name: Allium sativum 
  • Height: 12 to 18 inches
  • Width: 8 to 12 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9 (USDA)

Similar to onions, garlic is native to Asia although they grow extensively all over the world. The bulbs of these plants are edible and used in cooking all over the world.

In North America, they are planted from October to November and are harvested from May to June. Garlic needs a month to a month and a half to establish before the ground freezes.

Snakes dislike the smell of garlic. Not only snakes, but many animals also dislike the smell. The smell can be disorienting and as such snakes avoid areas with garlic if they can.

Garlic requires loose well-drained fertile soil and full sun. The soil must have neutral pH as well.

7. Marigold

Wild Marigold
Wild Marigold.
  • Family: Asteraceae 
  • Scientific Name: Tagetes spp.
  • Height: 6 to 48 inches
  • Width: 6 to 24 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zones: 2 to 11 (USDA)

Marigolds are planted in gardens to keep away pests. It achieves this by producing an odor that keeps pests at length.

This odor also effectively keeps snakes away. In addition to keeping snakes away, this plant bears flowers that are gorgeous and colorful.

While marigold is originally endemic to the Americas, it has become naturalized in many places around the world. For this reason, we have subspecies such as the African marigold and the french marigold.

The three most common marigolds are T. erecta (commonly called African marigolds, American marigolds, or Mexican marigolds), T. patula (commonly called French marigolds), and T. tenuifolia (commonly called signet marigolds).

Marigolds are annual herbaceous plants that can reach heights of 6 inches although the average height is between 6 inches to 48 inches. The width of the plant is 6 to 24 inches.

The plant requires well-drained moist soil which is slightly acidic to neutral. The flowers bloom during the summer. Marigold grows in hardiness zone 2 to 11.

Once established, marigolds are low maintenance and mostly pest-free. The flowers bloom throughout the summer.

8. Mugwort

Flowering Mugwort on a hilly landscape
Flowering Mugwort on a hilly landscape.
  • Family: Asteraceae 
  • Scientific Name: Artemisia vulgaris
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Height: Up to 6 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
  • Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8 (USDA)

This plant frightens snakes away using its appearance. Snakes do not like the tall appearance as well as the woody roots of this plant. The plant also has a pungent scent that drives snakes away.

Mugwort is a plant that requires a lot of sun exposure and a well-draining potting mix. The early parts of the growth are the toughest part but once you establish the plant, maintenance reduces significantly.

Growing this plant in dry infertile soils can result in it having a more intensive aroma and may increase the longevity of the plant.

Mugwort can spread very quickly once it is established. mugwort is best grown in full to partial sun.

Mugwort can grow in all matter of soils including high alkaline soils. The potting mix should be well-drained and slightly moist although it grows well in dry soils.

Establishing the plant is the most difficult aspect, keeping the soil slightly moist for young plants. But once the plant is established, it is drought-tolerant.

9. Onions 

Onion plants in a row in a garden
Onion plants in a row in a garden.
  • Family: Amaryllidaceae
  • Scientific Name: Allium cepa 
  • Height: 12 to 18 inches
  • Width: 6 to 12 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zones: 5 to 10 (USDA)

These are the most cultivated species of the genus Allium. Onion is an important culinary ingredient all over the world.

Here it is chopped and is often the main ingredient. Onion oil is used as a pesticide as well. It is also sometimes used as hair oil.

Onion is toxic to many animals such as guinea pigs, cats, and dogs. It is also toxic to snakes.

The oils in onions are disorienting to snakes and repel them.

Onion originates from Central Asia and Iran but is cultivated extensively all over the world.

Onions require full sun to grow. They require well-drained moist loose soil to grow. They are cool weather crops.

Onions are known to be one of the most effective snake-repellent plants.

10. Pink Agapanthus

Pink Agapanthus growing wild
Pink Agapanthus growing wild.
  • Family: Amaryllidaceae
  • Scientific Name: Tulbaghia violacea
  • Height: 6 to 24 inches
  • Width: 8 to 12 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Hardiness Zones: 7 to 10 (USDA)

This plant is also known as society garlic, sweet garlic, or wild garlic. This is a fast-growing plant.

The leaves produce a garlic-scented aroma which drives snakes away. The plant isn’t large and reaches a height of 24 inches. The garlic-scented leaves have culinary purposes as they are ingredients in salads and soups.

Pink agapanthus is endemic to southern Africa. They grow quickly and spread easily. The flowers they produce are large and fragrant.

Pink agapanthus grows best in well-drained loamy soil which is fertile.

11. Rue

Common Rue growing wild
Common Rue growing wild.
  • Family: Rutaceae
  • Scientific Name: Ruta graveolens
  • Height: 24 to 36 inches
  • Width: 24 to 36 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun 
  • Hardiness Zones: 4 to 10 (USDA)

Rue can reach heights of 2 to 3 feet. This plant is an aromatic evergreen herb that requires full sunlight to grow. Rue will grow in partial shade although it will bloom less in shade.

The soil needs to be well-drained and moist. Add perlite, sand, or vermiculite to the potting mix so it drains well. Also, rue is quite drought-tolerant and can grow in even dry and rocky soil.

Also, rue best grows in moderately rich soil although it will still grow in poor soil. The soil should be slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. That means it will grow in neutral soil.

It is essential to mulch the plant during winter if you live in northern parts of the United States or any region with similar climates. The plant lives for about 5 years but self propagates through seeds so it replaces itself quite well.

Fertilizing rue results in the plant producing more foliage but fewer flowers.

12. Snake Plant

Snake Plant leaves in a tropical garden
Snake Plant leaves in a tropical garden.
  • Family: Asparagaceae
  • Scientific Name: Dracaena trifasciata (previous known as Sansevieria trifasciata)
  • Height: 6 inches to 96 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Partial sun/shade
  • Hardiness Zones: 9 to 11 (USDA)

This plant is able to deter snakes because of its shape and sharp leaves which frightens snakes. This is one of the few plants that doesn’t repel snakes using its odor.

The snake plant is one of the most common house plants there is. This plant has several common names including Saint George’s sword, viper’s bowstring hemp, and mother-in-law’s tongue.

Many of these names are because of the shape of the plant. Before 2017, this plant was known as Sansevieria trifasciata.

This plant is very popular because of its sun exposure requirement. Snake plants can thrive in partial sun or shade.

It is low maintenance and easy to establish. It also doesn’t require a lot of attention such as watering or fertilizing.

The snake plant is an evergreen perennial plant that can reach heights of 8 feet although most plants are a few inches to a few feet in size. The snake plant requires a well-drained sandy potting mix and can thrive in slightly alkaline to slightly acidic soil.

The tree’s popular cultivars include Laurentii also known as variegated snake plant, twisted sister, and Bantel’s Sensation.

13. West Indian Lemongrass

West Indian Lemongrass growing in the wild
West Indian Lemongrass growing in the wild.
  • Family: Panicoideae 
  • Scientific Name: Cymbopogon citratus
  • Height: 12 to 24 inches
  • Width: 12 to 18 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zones: 10 to 11 (USDA)

This plant has a citrusy fragrance that drives snakes away. The fragrant/scent produced by this plant resembles that of Citrus limon (lemons).

This fragrance also gives lemongrass its common name. Lemongrass is originally endemic to the Malesian islands of  Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor, and Brunei.

Lemongrass was first introduced to Central America, South America, and Madagascar. Now though the plant grows in subtropics and tropics all over the world.

Lemongrass isn’t hardy to frost and as such is best started in spring. As a plant that is native to the tropics and subtropics, the plant can be difficult to maintain in temperate zones with its hardiness zones being 10 to 11 (USDA).

The plant produces a lot of warmth, humidity, and sun exposure. As far as these conditions are met, the plant will grow in abundance.

Lemongrass requires full sun exposure, a loamy potting mix with neutral pH, warm temperatures, and high humidity.

14. Yucca

Wild Yucca plant
Wild Yucca plant.
  • Family: Asparagaceae 
  • Scientific Name: Yucca gigantea / Yucca aloifolia
  • Sun Exposure: Bright but indirect sun exposure
  • Hardiness Zones: 9 to 11 (USDA)

Snakes stay away from the yucca plant because of the plant’s sharp leaves.

This is a plant that needs bright but indirect sun exposure. Too much light can cause white spots to develop on the leaves and too light sun exposure can cause slow growth.

The plant grows best in loose well-drained soil. The yucca doesn’t require an expensive potting mix. A mix of perlite, coarse sand, and regular potting mix will do for this plant.

Yucca is a low-maintenance plant and overwatering is generally bad for it. During the warm seasons – summer and spring, water the yucca plant once a week.

There should be drainage holes in the potting and the soil should completely dry out before you water it again. During winter, water the plant once every few weeks.

This desert plant requires moderate to low humidity levels and can thrive in a wide temperature range. 

The two popular yucca plants kept include Yucca gigantea (commonly known as Spineless yucca) which grows very large when allowed to and Yucca aloifolia (commonly known as Spanish bayonet or Aloe yucca).

Frequently Asked Questions

Which snake repellent plant is best for cold climates?

Marigold is a plant that grows and even thrives in the hardiness zone of 2a.

In this zone, the minimum average temperatures can be as low as -50 to -40 F (-46 to -40 C). These temperatures are below freezing. Marigolds can grow in hardiness zones of 2 to11.

What are some low-maintenance snake repellent plants?

Low maintenance plant doesn’t require a lot of attention. They don’t need to be watered or fertilized often.

Some low-maintenance snake repellent plants are the yucca plant (Yucca gigantea / Yucca aloifolia), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), the snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata), and the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia).

Many of the plants in this article are low maintenance. 

What are other ways to repel snakes?

Growing a plant takes time. The plant won’t be grown overnight. If you need an immediate solution for pest control, there are many out there.

One solution is the use of holy basil essential oil also known as tulsi essential oil. Mix about 5 to 7 parts of the essential oils in about 100 parts of water. As you can see, you need only a few drops. Healing Solutions Organic Holy Basil Essential Oil is a good choice.

You can then spray this mixture around the areas where the snakes appear or around your home. 

This is a natural solution.

Other solutions include ultrasonic repellents such as Charli New 8X Solar Sonic Repellent and chemical repellents such as Snake-A-Way.


Snakes can be terrifying, especially if they sneak up on you. To help scare off snakes, you can plant snake repellent plants.

These plants use different methods to repel plants. Some such as lemongrass, kaffir lime, and other citrus plants repel snakes using strong scents.

The lemon fragrance of these plants drives snakes away. Others such as cactus repel snakes using their appearance and their prickly nature. 

Planting a few snake-repellent plants will keep snakes away from your garden and homes. It is a natural solution and doesn’t require the use of any harmful chemicals.

Many of these plants such as marigolds, snake plants, and more will also beautify your garden and homes. 

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