Plants that Repel Fleas and Ticks – Your Guide to a Pest-Free Yard

Paul West/ Backyard Gardening

As a homeowner, you know how frustrating flea and tick infestations can be. These persistent pests cause itchy irritation when they bite you, your children, and your pets. You may have tried chemical pesticides to keep them away, but worry about exposing your family and furry friends to synthetically produced insecticides. Really, you want to know about plants that repel fleas and ticks so you can have a natural solution for your backyard.

The good news is there are natural solutions to prevent fleas and ticks without harsh chemicals! Certain plants contain compounds that safely and effectively repel these annoying insects. Growing these organic repellents in your yard creates a pest-free outdoor space for enjoying time with family.

Key Takeaways:

  • Citronella, marigolds, lavender, catnip, and garlic effectively repel fleas and ticks when planted strategically.
  • Repellent plants are safer, eco-friendly alternatives to chemical pest deterrents.
  • Place plants densely around likely pest entry points and infestation hot spots.
  • Maintain plants through pruning, deadheading, harvesting to sustain repellent effects.
  • Layer natural defenses like beneficial insects with repellent plants for best protection.

Why Repellent Plants are Better Than Chemicals for Control

Before covering the optimal natural plants for deterring fleas and ticks, it helps to understand why plant-based solutions are preferable:

  • Avoid health risks of chemicals. Synthetic pesticides and insecticides can be absorbed through the skin and paws, causing toxicity. Repellent plants are non-toxic organic options.

  • Protect beneficial insects. Chemicals kill indiscriminately, while repellent plants just make the area uncomfortable for fleas and ticks. Bees, ladybugs, and butterflies are unharmed.

  • Reduce environmental impact. Chemicals leach into soil and groundwater, polluting ecosystems. Repellent plants don’t cause these issues.

  • Lower cost and hassle. Pesticide applications are ongoing expenses that require labor for spreading. Plants provide long-term, low maintenance deterrence.

Now let’s cover the top plants for repelling fleas and ticks, so you can cultivate a natural safe zone!


Citronella Plant

This clump grass contains the well-known insect repelling compound citronellal, used in many commercial fragrances and lotions. Growing citronella creates an uncomfortable barrier that fleas and ticks don’t want to cross.

For optimal results, plant citronella around the perimeter of your yard, especially in likely pest entry points like garden edges. The sharp lemon scent deters neighborhood pests from even entering your turf. Prune the grass every few weeks to promote growth and maximize citronellal oil production.

Citronella thrives best in moist soil and partial sun to full sun exposure. Amend the planting area with compost to enrich the soil. Make sure the citronella has adequate drainage.


Marigold Plant

With their bright orange and yellow blooms, marigolds are a cheery garden plant that also deters fleas and ticks. The pyrethrum compound contained in marigolds is commonly used in natural pet shampoos and sprays to kill fleas and repel ticks.

For optimal flea and tick control, plant marigolds strategically around play areas for children and pets, as well as areas prone to infestation like woodlands. Choose compact marigold varieties ideal for edging beds and borders. Deadhead spent blooms regularly to encourage new flower production which sustains the repellent effects.

Marigolds grow well in average to poor soil with full sunlight. Work compost into the soil before planting to improve drainage and nutrient content. Water marigolds when topsoil is dry.


Lavender Plant

With its soothing floral scent and purple flowers, fragrant lavender is a lovely addition to any garden. But fleas and ticks hate it! The essential oil components in lavender like linalool make bugs scramble.

Grow lavender plants around outdoor living spaces like patios, decks, and play areas. You can also dry lavender flowers to make sachets for placing around your home. Prune plants in spring and late summer to prevent woody growth and encourage new shoots.

Lavender thrives in well-draining and slightly alkaline soil. Amend soil with lime if needed to raise pH. Lavender needs at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Allow soil to dry between watering.


catnip plant

While cats go crazy for it, catnip repels and deters fleas and ticks. The active chemical nepetalactone confuses and overwhelms insects’ senses. Dried catnip can be used in sachets, sprays, and powders. Growing catnip plants also helps repel pests.

For optimal effects, grow catnip in areas vulnerable to infestation and where pets frequently play. Cut back plants by 1/3 after flowering to extend the growing season. You can harvest leaves every few weeks. Catnip grows best in loamy, well-draining soil with full sun. Water when topsoil becomes dry.


plants that keep away fleas and ticks - Garlic

The potent sulfur compounds of garlic have insect repelling properties effective against fleas and ticks. Planting garlic around your landscaping can create an uncomfortable perimeter protecting your yard. Crushing garlic and applying the juice topically to your pets can also temporarily repel pests.

For best results, choose hardneck garlic varieties which have higher sulfur content. Plant individual cloves in the fall about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Garlic thrives in loamy, well-draining soil kept moist. Harvest bulbs when leaves start browning in summer.

Strategically Place Plants for Maximum Effect

Now that you know the best natural flea and tick repelling plants, how should you incorporate them into your yard? Here are some tips:

  • Plant repellent plants densely around likely pest entry points like fences, garden edges, and woodlands. This creates barrier zones.

  • Intersperse repellent plants throughout gardens, play areas, and high-traffic zones. The more exposure, the better!

  • Plant in strategic locations based on each plant’s characteristics. For example, low-growing marigolds for edging play areas, and tall lavender as living fences.

  • Combine different repellent plants together to amplify the flea and tick discouraging effects.

  • Maintain the plants through pruning, deadheading, harvesting, and other care to sustain repellency.

Natural Prevention Without Harsh Chemicals

With some planning and strategic planting, you can keep your yard pleasantly free of fleas and ticks without using a single harsh chemical! Here are some tips:

  • In addition to repellent plants, deploy natural deterrents like diatomaceous earth, nematodes, and beneficial predator insects.

  • For existing infestations, use organic methods like soapy water, neem oil, or food grade diatomaceous earth rather than pesticides.

  • Check pets, kids, and yourself regularly for ticks during peak seasons. Promptly remove any found ticks.

  • Keep grass cut short and tidy any brush or debris where pests could hide.

Cultivating flea and tick repelling plants is an affordable, eco-friendly way to create a safe, enjoyable outdoor space for your family. Avoid turning to harsh chemicals that risk your health and the environment. With the right plants keeping those irritating bugs at bay, you can relax and soak up the sun flea and tick free!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do repellent plants keep fleas and ticks away?

Compounds in the plants like citronellal, pyrethrum, and linalool overwhelm and confuse fleas and ticks, making them avoid areas where the plants grow.

Where is the best place to plant flea and tick repelling plants?

Focus on likely pest entry points like fence lines, nearby wooded areas, as well as play zones and high traffic areas in your yard.

How often do I need to maintain the plants?

Prune, deadhead and harvest the plants regularly to encourage new growth that will sustain the repellent effects. Do maintenance at least monthly.

Can I create my own repellent products from the plants?

Yes! You can make powders, sprays, sachets and more with dried and crushed parts of the repellent plants.

How long until I see results after planting repellents?

The plants should start deterring fleas and ticks within a few weeks. Combining plants provides faster and better coverage.

Do repellent plants also keep away other pests like mosquitoes?

Many of the plants deter a wide variety of insects in addition to just fleas and ticks, helping make your yard more pest-free.

Further Reading

Paul West
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About Paul West

Longstanding and passionate about really having family fun in the backyard. I'm no expert but I've picked up a thing or two along the way!