What Plants Keep Copperhead Snakes Away?

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: December 5, 2022
© Zarko Prusac/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points

  • Copperheads are known for their terracotta coloring and crossbands which are darker at the exterior but lighten towards their centers.
  • They are also known for their venom and rather painful bite.
  • Fortunately, there are a plethora of botanical solutions for keeping them at bay including marigolds, West Indian lemongrass, yucca, and many more.

Copperheads are known and feared for the pain of their bites even more than their venom. Despite their non-aggressive natures, a copperhead is not a snake you’d want to stumble across. According to research scientist Henry M. Parrish’s article published in 1967, after rattlesnakes, copperheads bite more people in the US than any other snake each year. This amounts to a shocking average of 2,920 copperhead bites in the US annually.

If those figures terrify you, we’ve got great news: there are various plants that can keep copperhead snakes away. In addition to keeping snakes away, these plants – like other plants- release oxygen into the air and suck up carbon dioxide. In addition, some plants on this list have very useful and tasty fruits.

Without a delay, let’s get right into discovering what plants keep copperhead snakes away.

1. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Mother-in-law’s tongue keeps copperheads away.

©Andri wahyudi/Shutterstock.com

Apart from having a really unique name, the mother-in-law’s tongue is one of the most effective plants that keep copperhead snakes away. The mother-in-law’s tongue gets its name from its long rootstocks which are sharp and pointy like the tongues of mothers-in-law.

Snakes do not like the look of this plant and will not venture near it. The mother-in-law’s tongue is also called Saint George’s sword. It is very easy to grow and doesn’t require frequent tending. This makes the mother-in-law’s tongue one of the most efficient plants that keep copperhead snakes away.

2. Garlic

Garlic contains high levels of sulfonic acid that give it its smell.

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If you thought that garlic was only good on bread and in seasoning, prepare to be amazed. Garlic contains high levels of sulfonic acid that give it its smell. While most humans like it, snakes do not and will go out of their way to avoid it.

Garlic is really efficient because you do not actually need to plant it. Mixing crushed garlic and salt is one of the most popular DIY tricks to keep copperhead snakes away. Simply spread the mixture around your surroundings. Some alternatives to garlic are onion and society garlic. These plants work just fine to keep copperhead snakes away.

3. Mugwort

Mugwort is a perennial plant that keeps copperhead snakes away.

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Also known as chrysanthemum weed and sailor’s tobacco, mugwort is a perennial plant that effectively keeps copperhead snakes away. Mugwort is more commonly known for its use as a bitter-tasting tonic. Copperheads do not like to be around it or smell it, so they avoid it. 

Mugwort is considered a weed and is pretty easy to grow even for newbies. It can adapt easily to various soil conditions and requires only sunlight and moisture to grow. However, it is important to know that some parts of the plant contain a substance called thujone. If consumed in large amounts, thujone can be toxic.

4. Yucca

Having pointy and sharp leaves that snakes do not like, yucca plants are excellent copperhead-repelling plants.

©Zarko Prusac/Shutterstock.com

Yucca plants are an excellent genus to consider if you’re looking to keep copperhead snakes away. Just like mother-in-law’s tongue, they have pointy and sharp leaves that snakes do not like. They make wonderful house plants because of how easy they are to maintain. They grow slowly and are pest and drought-resistant.

If you’re planning on planting yucca outside of your home to keep copperhead snakes away, you’ll need a lot of space. They grow very broadly and aren’t afraid to take up space.

5. Green Chiretta

Green chirettas’ bitter-tasting roots are used as herbs to treat illnesses.

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Popular for its bitter roots, the green chiretta plant is known to keep copperhead snakes away. Its bitter-tasting roots are used as an herb to treat a wide array of illnesses. However, it is the plant’s leaves that come into play when it comes to keeping copperheads away. Its leaves are known to irritate snakes’ skins.

Copperhead snakes avoid green chirettas as the plant’s leaves make their skin itch and swell. This makes green chiretta one of the best plants that keep copperheads away. Chirettas are grown from their seeds. They need lots of moisture to grow but aren’t picky about soil conditions.

6. Kaffir-Limes

Like all citrus plants, kaffir-limes contain a prominent citrusy smell that interferes with copperheads’ sense of smell.

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Kaffir-lime trees are excellent copperhead-repelling plants. Kaffir limes, like all citrus plants, contain a prominent citrusy smell. The smell of citrus confuses snakes by interfering with their sense of smell. Copperhead snakes make sure to avoid kaffir-limes.

Kaffir-limes grow on trees and take years to grow, so it is not practical to plant kaffir-limes for urgent use. Instead, make use of kaffir-limes, peels, leaves, and even its juice. Spread them generously around your home to keep copperhead snakes away.

7. Marigold

Are Marigolds Poisonous - Marigold flower
Marigold plants have roots that effectively keep copperheads away.

©EQRoy/Shutterstock.com

Not only does the marigold plant have flowers with aesthetic qualities, but it also has roots that effectively keep copperhead snakes away. Marigold roots grow deeply and have a really prominent and strong odor. Copperhead snakes do not like this smell, so they generally avoid marigold plants.

Marigold plants are very easy to grow by seed. You can start by growing them indoors and then transplanting them in favorable weather. These plants are annuals – they live and die in a year. However, more often than not, they come back each year due to their ability to self-seed. 

8. West Indian Lemongrass

One of the most popular copperhead-repelling plants is the west Indian lemongrass.

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The west Indian lemongrass is one of the most popular copperhead-repelling plants. They are widely grown and are even considered weeds in many parts of the world. Lemongrass also works effectively to keep copperhead snakes away. However, copperheads aren’t the only creatures that avoid the west Indian lemongrass. Bugs, mosquitoes, and ticks also avoid it.

The west Indian lemongrass requires very little maintenance and is fairly easy to grow.

How To Identify A Copperhead Snake

The Copperhead’s scales are keeled, and their eyes have vertical pupils that make them resemble cat’s eyes.
Copperheads are medium-length, thick pit vipers that measure from 20 to 37 inches and weigh anywhere from 0.5– 0.8 pounds.

Copperheads measure from 20 to 37 inches and weigh anywhere from 0.5 – 0.8 pounds. They have thick bodies and ridged or keeled scales. One of their most distinctive features is the crossbands on their tan to pinkish-tan colors. These crossbands alternate on either side of their bodies and are divided at the midline.

Keeping Copperhead Snakes Away with Plants

If you want to keep copperhead snakes away, every plant on this list will get the job done. However, to get them to work better, it’s a good idea to plant more than one species. Consider a combination of mother-in-law’s tongue and yucca or garlic, society garlic, and onions. Be sure to plant more than a single plant or shrub if you want to effectively keep copperhead snakes away. Remember that despite copperheads’ venom and fangs, they are an important part of the ecosystem. If you suffer from ophidiophobia or simply want to get rid of snakes in your environment, planting snake-repelling plants is much better than killing them.


The Featured Image

Yucca rostrata also called beaked yucca
© Zarko Prusac/Shutterstock.com

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