Flea and ticks season is upon us. Plant these garden plants to keep them far away from you and your pets.

Now that the weather’s warmer and the ground is wet with rain, it’s time to start thinking about protection from irritating and dangerous external parasites. You and your pets are going to be spending more time outside, so you need to be on alert, especially when it comes to two blood-sucking pests like fleas and ticks. External parasites can carry and transmit diseases to humans and animals, so it’s important to remain diligent to avoid health issues. While it may seem like chemical pesticides are the only answer, you can actually turn to a few key garden plants to help deter fleas and ticks. It’s better for the environment (and a whole lot prettier!).

fenced in garden
Credit: Bob Stefko

About Fleas and Ticks

Many people make the mistake of thinking fleas and ticks are in the same family. Fleas are insects while ticks are arachnids, more closely related to spiders. Fleas are noticeably smaller than ticks, but both can be difficult to spot on the skin. Unlike ticks, fleas are known to cause home infestations.

Both pests feed on blood and cause an irritating bite that leaves behind a red mark on the skin. Fleas can transmit tapeworms and certain types of ticks can transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These diseases can cause serious health issues if left untreated. The warmer months of the year are known as flea and tick season—both pests prefer moist, humid areas.

As overall temperatures rise across the United States, both fleas and ticks pose a larger problem for humans and pets. Ticks, in particular, are spiking in population, resulting in more reports of tick-infested disease.

Plants That Deter Fleas and Ticks

Like other garden pests, fleas and ticks are deterred by plants with particular smells. By planting these plants in your garden, you can cut down the number of pests entering your yard and avoid problems like infestations and disease.

rosemary plant
Credit: Bob Stefko


Many fragrant herbs are good options for natural tick and flea repellent. Herbal essential oils are often used in eco-friendly pest repellents. Rosemary, in particular, has a scent so strong that you can sprinkle sprigs around the garden to keep pests at bay. This herb also repels aphids, mites, and flies.

wormwood Artemisia absinthium Powis Castle
Credit: Dean Schoeppner


Wormwood, also known as Artemisia, is a compact ornamental perennial that has dense, silver foliage. The leaves are aromatic and deter fleas and ticks from your garden. Besides being a repellent for ticks, fleas, and moths, it can be used to make tea and is the main ingredient in absinthe.

silver white garlic cloves in dirt and mulch
Credit: Bill Hopkins


Garlic is part of the Allium family and has been used in the kitchen for centuries. Although we love the flavor that garlic adds to our food, fleas and ticks dislike the smell and taste of this plant. You can spread crushed garlic cloves around the perimeter of your yard to stop fleas and ticks (and even deer!) from entering your space.

You may already have these plants in your garden or raised bed—if so, you're already one step closer to a safe, pest-free yard. If not, try working them into your garden plan this year. Doing so will help keep your family and pets safer during the warm summer months.


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