Best snake repellent plants – 15 plants to keep these reptiles away from your yard

Add these snake repellent plants to your yard to keep them at bay and create an anti-snake zone in your outside space

Snake in plant
(Image credit: Patricia Gee via Getty Images)

You should consider adding snake repellent plants to your yard if you live in an area where you can typically find these unwelcome reptiles. They love damp environments with dense foliage and are also commonly found in sunny rock gardens.

Although many snakes are not venomous or a threat to humans and animals, just having their presence so near to your home can be hugely unnerving, so it makes sense to deter them where possible. Like mosquito repellent plants, fly repellent plants and mouse repellent plants, planting snake repellent plants can be the most environmentally friendly ways to do keep these unwanted yard visitors away.

With a strong sense of smell – or at least their ability to gather molecules which they then run past their Jacobson’s organ – there are many natural scents snakes simply can’t stand, and many fragrant plants that will deter them. Discover the best snake repellent plants in out expert list below.

Snake in grass

(Image credit: Kristian Bell via Getty Images)

15 snake repellent plants to protect your yard

From aromatic herbs and fragrant flowers to plants with prickly foliage, there are many species to grow that will keep snakes away and add interest to your yard. Discover our expert list of plants that possess the power to keep your plot snake-free.

1. Holly

Holly berries are lovely festive decorations but are dangerous to pets

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Dania Delimont)

Just as when you are trying to get rid of slugs, think of ways to make the ground uncomfortable for snakes to slither over – this can include plants. 

The most obvious of these snake-repellent plants is holly. You show grow holly low to the ground to deter snakes, but you can also clip mature bushes once a month and scatter the spiky leaves around the areas that snakes are frequenting in your yard.

'Holly tree also has a strong smell that can potentially deter snakes,' notes Nicole Carpenter pest control expert and President of Black Pest Prevention.

You can grow holly is US hardiness zone 5 to zone 9.

Nicole Carpenter
Nicole Carpenter

Nicole Carpenter started working at Black Pest Prevention when she was in high school. She continued working there while attending N.C. State University and is now the President. She advises on pest control in backyards and helps with pest control in Charlotte and serves both North and South Carolina.

2. Marigolds

calendula Indian Prince flowering in summer

(Image credit: JL Roodt / Shutterstock)

We already know that marigolds keep bugs away thanks to their pungent scent. Both French and American marigolds possess a strong spicy scent and tightly ruffled red, yellow and orange blooms that also keep snakes well away. 

‘These bright, lovely flowers look innocent, but marigolds’ roots grow deeply and aggressively,’ says the team at Mo Plants. ‘These sturdy roots are the snake repellents. They emit a strong odor that repels snakes, gophers, and moles. They can also reach wherever a snake might be burrowing and hiding in, so the smell will reach deep into the soil.’ 

A tender annual these readily available plants are happiest in sun and will thrive during the warmer months across US hardiness zone 2 to zone 11. You can grow marigolds from seed, and keep them producing new flowers – and repelling snakes – for longer by deadheading regularly. Marigolds are great to plant to attract butterflies, too.

3. Allium or Flowering Onion

Purple flowering allium blooms

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jacky Parker Photography)

Thanks to their high sulfonic content and pungent smell, onions are very effective at keeping snakes at bay. 'Having a strong scent, plants like garlic and onions can deter snakes and other pests,' notes Nicole. 

Fortunately, they are striking flowers too, with the best varieties of allium bulbs producing lavender and deep purple pom-pom blooms perched atop of straight stems to bring drama and color to the late spring yard. They can be grown in US hardiness zone 3 to zone 9.

Scatter them in the flower border, amongst ground cover plants or grow in shallow dish shaped planters for an eye-catching display. One word of warning, though, the wide strappy leaves are less than lovely and the perfect spot for hiding slugs and snails, so do keep them away from precious and delicate salad leaves and bedding plants. Or be prepared to get rid of slugs and get rid of snails regularly.

4. Lemongrass


(Image credit: GettyImages)

Lucky enough to live in US hardiness zones 9-11 or warmer climes? Then you can grow lemongrass, and add it to your list of wasp repellent plants, too. 

Lemongrass originates from the sunshine, humidity and warmth of Sri Lanka and southern India, and has a reviving citrus fragrance that is guaranteed to keep snakes well away. 'As any other plant that emits a strong scent, lemongrass can disorient snakes and make it difficult for them to hunt,' says Nicole.

In these zones you can leave lemongrass in the ground all year round – just adding a little mulch for protection in zone 9.

If you live in zone 8 or below, and you are still keen to give this plant a go, then you will have to lift and store the plant indoors over winter

5. Mother-In-Law's Tongue

front yard wall with snake plants

(Image credit: Living Gardens Landscape Design)

Also called sansevieria or ‘snake plant’, it’s the sight of this plant’s tall and twisting sword-like leaves that snakes find off-putting. Whether it’s because they find the sight threatening in some way or due to the sharp leaf edges, these tough, perennial plants will thrive outdoors in warm climates. 

Preferring temperatures of 70℉ and above, they will tolerate slightly cooler conditions but no lower than 55℉, so are perfect for growing in US hardiness zones 10-12. 

Place in a bright spot but do avoid strong, direct sun as this can scorch the leaves. They are not particularly fussy with soil either but do dislike sitting in wet, boggy ground as this leads to root rot.

6. Wormwood or Mugwort


(Image credit: Rizky Panuntun via Getty Images)

The charm of wormwood or artemisia may appear to lie in its fine silver, feathery foliage but did you know that snakes can’t abide its astringent scent? 

'In addition to its bitter scent, wormwood can affect snakes indirectly by reducing the number of food sources in your outdoor area and making it a less attractive area for snakes,' notes Nicole.

Easy and quick to grow in a sunny, well-draining spot in US hardiness zones 4-9, it’s perfect for surrounding your deck or porch with to keep these unwanted visitors well away. 

Reaching heights of around 2ft (60cm) and with a spread of 3ft (90cm) this hardy perennial forms attractive textured mounds. It can lose leaves over winter during particularly cold spells but will shoot again the following spring. 

Parts of the plant have been used to create the liquor Absinthe but is more commonly known for treating various digestive problems.

7. Pink Agapanthus

Pink agapanthus

(Image credit: Jasenka Arbanas via Getty Images)

A member of the onion family, agapanthus is a stately plant with fountains of pink trumpet-like flowers that look stunning in spring and early summer. Thanks to its strong aroma, it will also keep snakes at bay.

A fast growing and clump forming perennial, it can reach up to 3ft tall (91cm) and will thrive in US hardiness zones 7 to 10. Avoid placing in wet, waterlogged soil as this will cause the bulbs to rot.

8. Garlic

butterfly on garlic chive flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As with onions and alliums, garlic contains high quantities of sulfonic acid which gives off a strong smell that snakes do not like. 

You can grow garlic for culinary and medicinal use, but these bulbs also have attractive flowers which are particularly tasty sauteed or added to salads. Known as scapes, these white spherical blooms can be picked at bud stage or when they are fully open.

Discover when to plant garlic in your zone for best results, and how to store garlic to keep it fresh for cooking.

9. Snakeroot Plants

Snakeroot plant

(Image credit: Albin Raj via Getty Images)

Often called the devil pepper, the bitter leaves and roots of this herbaceous perennial discourage snakes from coming near. 

'Snakeroot contains harmful chemicals that can affect the heart, making the area around these plants less appealing to snakes,' says Nicole.

A word of caution: due chemicals in the plant – namely reserpine and tremetol – this tall plant with its small, white, long-lasting flowers is highly toxic to snakes but also harmful for animals, particularly horses and goats. 

A native to north America it is commonly found in wood areas and produces coarse toothed leaves with pointed tips, not unlike stinging nettles. It grows best in US hardiness zone 3 to zone 8.

10. Yellow Alder

Yellow alder

(Image credit: Ravinder Kumar Getty Images)

With its cheery buttercup-like flowers that bloom continually in US hardiness zones 9-11, this low-growing shrub is great for ground cover and deterring snakes. 

'Yellow alder can be a good natural pest repellent and your garden can benefit a lot from it,' says Nicole. 'It can affect snakes indirectly by repelling other pests and rodents snakes feed on,' she adds.

Preferring full sun or partial shade, this small shrub also has attractive oval shaped foliage with deeply serrated edges. 

Happy in rich, moist yet well-draining soil, it can grow rapidly and spread freely and become invasive if left unchecked. The prolific number of blooms are attractive to butterflies.

11. Basil


(Image credit: Getty Images)

Best grown from seed at regular intervals throughout spring and summer, this tender annual herb has a strong smell that we find inviting, yet snakes cannot stand. 

You can grow basil from seed, indoors and out. It requires constant heat to grow and dislikes sitting in wet compost, where if left it will quickly rot. The soft and tasty leaves also scorch very easily so make sure your crop is positioned out of direct sun.

Harvest individual leaves by picking them off, rather snipping several plants with scissors, as this will promote fresh, new growth. And learn how to prune basil at the right time to prolong its life.

12. Lavender

lavender shrubs

(Image credit: mammuth / E+ / Getty Images)

As with other plants in a fragrant garden, lavender has a strong scent that will disturb the sensitive sense of smells of snakes and repel them.

'Lavender has a pungent smell snakes don’t like and would rather avoid it than cross through it to enter your garden. This makes them a good anti-snake fence,' says Nicole.

You can grow lavender in US hardiness zones 5 to 10. Many choose to grow lavender in pots because it's one of the best container plants for pollinators and can bring wanted critters to your yard while keeping snakes away.

13. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus planted in a sunny backyard

(Image credit: Nathalie Dupont / Getty Images)

If you're looking for trees for small gardens that will keep snakes away, consider a fragrant eucalyptus tree.

'Eucalyptus emits a strong smell year-round which makes it a long-lasting solution compared to other plants with a strong scent like marigolds or lavender,' notes Nicole.

It's strong scent is why many people also use eucalyptus to keep insects out of the house

It grows best in US hardiness zones 8-11 and does well in pots, making it a good snake repellent in container gardens.

14. Daffodils

Daffodils flowering in the spring sunshine under a tree

(Image credit: Getty Images/Peter Mulligan)

A springtime favorite, daffodils have a scent that can keep different creatures out of your yard. When it comes to repelling snakes, experts note daffodils do so indirectly.

'Narcissus varieties do not directly repel snakes. What they do is repel rodents snakes feed on. The fewer food sources in your yard, the lower the likelihood snakes want to be there,' says Nicole.

You can plant daffodils in US hardiness zones 3-8 in a nice sunny position. Incorporate them into borders to create a rodent and snake repellent barrier.

15. Rosemary


(Image credit: DuKai photographer via Getty Images)

Arguably the best part of having a herb garden is the variety of fragrances it brings to your yard. Among those fragrances is rosemary - a staple herb to grow in US hardiness zones 8-9.

The strong scent of rosemary can help deter snakes, although it can be a good idea to grow rosemary moderately or in pots to avoid encouraging snakes with their foliage.

'Rosemary has a dense foliage which can serve as a shelter for snakes,' warns Nicole.

Grow snake repellent plants in your yard


How do I snake-proof my yard?

Alongside filling your borders and pots with snake repellent plants, cutting back the lower limbs of shrubs, trimming any long grass and clearing up piles of leaves, logs, or brush will also help reduce cover and their likely hiding places. 

Fill in any existing holes or burrows with firmly packed soil and reduce moist areas or puddles, as these are particularly attractive to snakes. Free ranging pets are also a great way to deter snakes as their frequent wanderings can put these reptiles off from taking up residence.

There are a range of plants that you can grow in your backyard to repel snakes. Strong scents will discourage these unwanted reptiles from entering your garden. If you're interested in welcoming other critters to your yard, you might be inspired by our expert list to wildlife garden ideas.

Jill Morgan
Contributing Editor

Jill Morgan has spent the last 20 years writing for Interior and Gardening magazines both in print and online. Titles she has been lucky enough to work on include House Beautiful, The English

Home, Ideal Home, Modern Gardens and Although much of her career has involved commissioning and writing about reader homes and home improvement projects, her

everlasting passion is for gardens and outdoor living, which is what she writes about for Homes & Gardens. 

With contributions from