Keep This Gorgeous Plant Near Your Home To Discourage Sneaky Lizards

If you have lizards that sneak into your home or like to call your patio home, you may want to consider placing herb-of-grace, also known as "Rue" or Ruta graveolens. This is an ornamental herb noted for its strong, pungent scent — one that's significant enough that it keeps lizards away. This short shrub has small but beautiful flowers, ranging in color from yellow to a pink or even blue tint. The simple leaves are a vibrant green. While it may look like a charmer for its simplistic elegance, this ornamental herb has a scent that's noted to keep various pests away.

This plant's Latin name, "Ruta graveolens," gives away the benefit here, as it means "strong scent." The strong odor is enough to repel lizards and Japanese beetles, among others. The herb isn't safe to consume by people or pets and can cause skin irritation in some people, as noted by the NC State Extension.

Lizards are pests that have strong olfactory receptors. Their sense of smell is sensitive enough that the strong odor from these herbs will irritate the lizard enough to go in the other direction, though it doesn't cause harm to it in any way. Once you learn how lizards really affect your garden and how to get rid of them humanely using scent, you may not have to worry about what's lurking on your patio.

How an herb can ward off lizards

Lizards use their tongue to pick up on scents in the air around them. When their tongues jut out, they're picking up the tiny scent particles in the air, drawing them back in, and placing them on the roof of the mouth. This allows the lizard to pick up on scents that could be food. Those sensory cells also allow the critter to detect threats or a potential mate that's nearby. But most of the time, they use this sense when they're on the lookout for food, and when there's a strong scent like this present, two things typically occur. 

The first is that the scent isn't attractive or interesting to the lizard, and therefore, it's not likely to approach that area. The scent works as a turn-off. Second, the strong smell of this ornamental herb is powerful enough to block the scent of other scents in the area, such as food. In both cases, having this plant near your home discourages the reptile from coming towards the home. Not all people like the scent of this plant either, though, and it can discourage some humans as a result.

Keep in mind this type of natural repellent against lizards isn't going to work well in an area that's already infested heavily with lizards. A heavy infestation near your home (or in it) may mean it's best to call in an exterminator to remove the critters for good.

How to get the best results for using herb-of-grace

Using herb-of-grace as a way to prevent the infestation of lizards in your home means being proactive. At the start of the season, make it a point to remove all of the food sources nearby, including smaller bugs. You don't want to draw in the lizards for any reason.

Then, purchase and plant herb-of-grace at various entrance points to your yard. They tend to grow to about 3 feet tall and spread outward readily, often like a taller creeping groundcover. They do best in moist soil, though they can handle somewhat wet conditions. They also thrive in organic, balanced soil as well. Place several plants at various points in your yard every few feet for the best bet. Herb-of-grace needs full sun to part shade, though, which can limit some areas.

You can also place a few other tools nearby to support your efforts to repel lizards naturally, including garlic gloves, portions of fresh onion, and clovers. These strong scents also deter lizards and may be a bit easier to place and maintain in shade areas. You can also use other humane ways to get rid of lizards, including trapping and releasing them. Other strong-smell scents, like lemongrass and eucalyptus, may be alternative options for those who don't find herb-of-grace a pleasant odor to keep near the home's windows.