10 Cat Repellent Plants (Ways to Keep Cat Out of Your Garden)

Last Updated on June 13, 2022 by Gary Stephen

Before you rush out to buy sonic repellers, water repellers, or a rottweiler, to keep cats away, you can first try and keep them at bay with certain scents. And perhaps, also expand your garden with beautiful plants in the process! So what type of plants can act as cat repellent?

Cats are quite picky about where they do, well, pretty much anything. So if the area doesn’t smell right, it might just be enough to keep them at bay.

10 Cat Repellent Plants

Whether you have stray cats wandering around your neighborhood or your own pampered kitty sneaking out of the house at night, a cat can do some serious damage to your garden. You don’t want them in there – at all. Although they are not as bad as rabbits, they can be quite destructive little critters when they want to be. And their little ‘surprises’ will do nothing for your compost, unfortunately. 

1) Catnip

Let’s start with the least obvious.

Free photos of Flowers

Instead of repelling the cats, how about luring them away from your precious orchids and encouraging them to stick to another patch in the garden? Catnip can easily be used in that capacity! Simply pick out a patch where you won’t mind the cats frolic around in, plant the catnip and watch those cats meow with purrfect delight.

Although catnip can be tricky to get started from seed (you’ll have to boil them and then freeze them to soften their casing before they will sprout), they are pretty easy to manage once they’re up and going. What’s more, catnip can also be used in tea!

2) Scaredy Cat Plant

cat repellent plants Scaredy cat plant

This plant lives up to its name and then some. Few cats or dogs (or people for that matter) can stand the smell of the Coleus Canina – it smells quite distinctly of urine. Despite being quite pretty they can keep most cats out of your yard, and possibly even a cat burglar with a sensitive nose.

What’s even more wonderful about them is these plants are low maintenance. So, after planting them you won’t have to worry about them too much, except maybe staying downwind.

3) Lemongrass – one of cat repellent plants

Free photos of Lemongrass

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), can also stop cats from ruining your garden. Although it smells divine to you, to cats the citrus smell is enough to drive them crazy, and they’ll stay well away from your petunias. What is extra nice about these plants, is the herbs can be used in Asian dishes or even certain teas.

A cat repellent with an extra use to boot!

They are a little finicky about where to plan them. They don’t like their feet wet, so keeping them in clay-type soil is ideal. But they still need lots of water. So they might be a bit more maintenance than most gardeners would like.

4) Rosemary

cat repellent plants Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a surprisingly effective cat repellent and a delicious herb for any dish! They are easy to keep (they prefer a dry climate), don’t need a lot of fertilizer and you can start one up from a cutting! They are pretty effective to keep cats out of the garden, so definitely worth a shot if you live in the correct climate-type.

Rosemary is a very easy plant to keep. They prefer sandy soil and will need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight, but they don’t have high demands for upkeep.

5) Curry Plant

Free photos of Italian immortelle

Don’t get too excited about the name. The Curry Plant (Helichrysum angustifolium) is unfortunately not used in your favorite Indian dish. But these plants do smell distinctly of Curry. It could be an interesting way to spice up the garden. Cats can’t stand the smell, and the Curry Plant is quite a tough little guy to keep. If you like the smell of curry, then this might be the ideal one for you.

6) Lavender – one of cat repellent plants

Free photos of Lavender

Lavender (Lavandula varieties) has a beautiful aroma, which can instantly turn a simple garden into a perfect meditation spot. However, cats find the smell appalling.

They come in a wide range of types, from tall bushes to low shrubs. You can find evergreens, different shades of the lavender plant, and different potencies of scent. Each species will thrive in different climates, so try and figure out where you want to plant the lavender, and then try and pick a type that suits the climate.

7) Pennyroyal 

Pennyroyal cat repellent plants

Another herb you can use in your food is of course the minty Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium). It’s a tiny mint-plant with probably the highest potency of scent and flavor you’ll find in the species. It can be used in teas, food and, of course, it deters cats from your gardens.

Although all mint plants work overall, the Pennyroyal is the best because of its strong scent. They do prefer shady spots as opposed to intense direct sun. So they can be effectively placed on the borders of your garden.

8) Citronella

cat repellent plants Citronella leaves

In those hot-humid climates of Virginia and Minnesota, we often have problems with mosquitoes. As a deterrent, you can plant some Citronella (Pelargonium graveolens citrosa) to keep both the cats and mosquitoes at bay.

It is best to use this plant only in the warmer states. They don’t like the cold much and will quickly perish. They’re also not fond of too much fertilizer.

Also, they’re only effective when they can be agitated. Meaning they need to be touched or brushed to ensure they release their scents. Most people plant them on garden paths to ensure they are touched quite often. But if this is too much of a hassle, rather skip this one and try one of the other 10 plants.

9) Common Rue – one of cat repellent plants

Like the Scaredy Cat Plant, the Common Rue (Ruta graveolens) has a urine smell that keeps cats, and some neighbors (if you’re lucky), well away. It is a beautiful plant to put in any garden, but be careful, they are quite poisonous if eaten by humans, cats, or dogs. Rather don’t add it to the garden if you have kids.

It is best to plant rue first as an indoor plant, and then move outside after the winter. They do take some time to germinate, and giving extra protection is ideal.

Free photos of Yellow meadow rue

10) Geraniums

Geraniums (Pelargonium varieties) are very pretty, their scent is divine and they bloom all year round. What is not to love? Cats probably have a few reasons, they can’t stand them, so that’s another bonus!

cat repellent plants Cranesbill

They’re also quite tough and won’t need as much water as your other plants do. They do well in containers and they come in a wide variety of colors. An almost perfect plant to keep cats out of your garden!

Other ways to keep a cat out of the garden

Sometimes the odor barriers just don’t work, and you need to be a bit more forceful in your approach. Don’t reach for the BB gun just yet. Here are a few tried and true methods to keep a cat out of your yard.

1) Scarecrow Sprinkler

Cats hate water, and a very effective way of keeping a cat out of your garden is to spray it with the hose. They won’t quite forgive you, but they’ll steer clear of the garden patch in no time. A nifty device to do just that when you’re not around is the Scarecrow Sprinkler. You turn it on at night and when it detects movement, will give the intruder a splash of water in the face.

Harmless, and effective!

2) Cat Stop

Another way to keep cats out of your yard is with sound. Although their ears are not as fine as a dog’s, a cat has some seriously fine hearing, and they don’t like high-pitched noises. The Cat Stop has a motion sensor, and once it picks up any movement in the garden will release a high-frequency sound that will make a cat scatter for the hills.

Some dogs will have a bad time with this device. If you have dogs, perhaps rather go with the sprinkler – it won’t agitate them as much.

Wrapping up about Cat Repellent Plants

To be honest, we love our cats, but they can be a menace to any garden. It is always a hassle to stop them from leaving surprises in the bedding. But these mentioned solutions are easy, safe, and kind to the cats, telling them in a firm but kind tone, they’re not exactly welcome in certain parts of your wonderful garden. And if you feel bad for chasing your kitty out, just be sure to give them a cuddle and a treat when going back inside.

Gary Stephen
Gary Stephen

Hi, I am Gary Stephen. I have been gardening for a long time. Gardening gives us much benefits and pleasure. Many of us desire to have a garden, but it cannot fulfill the desire for the proper guide or instruction of gardening. So, I am eager to help them. For this purpose, I have developed the MyGardenPlant.com website to make a garden with the proper guide. So, you will get me beside you if you want to know anything about gardening.