It is three weeks since a six-month-old baby died from a snake bite in Mpugwe village, Mukungwe Sub-County in Masaka District.
The mother of the baby had gone to remove clothes from a line in the backyard only to be confronted with the scene of her baby playing with a snake on returning to the veranda.
You cannot mind a baby 24 hours a day. So how can people make sure snakes do not stray into their homes and gardens?
Hakim Barbara, a compound designer and gardening consultant with Mukwano Tree Planting Association, a collection of nurseries along Mukwano Road in Nsambya offers advice on some snake-repelling plants.
He recommends The Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria Trifasciata Laurentii) or the Variegated Snake Plant, the Pink Agapanthus (Tulbaghia Violacea) and the tobacco Plant.
The Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
The plant is so named because of its sharp leaves. According to Barbara, snakes don’t like its appearance.
Propagate it by division. Divide a leaf off the plant down to its roots. The disadvantage with using cuttings to propagate it is that you are likely to lose the variegation (pattern).
“Weed around it and water thrice a week. It doesn’t need a lot of water, since it is a succulent. There is no need to mulch it,”Babara advises.
A seedling costs Shs5,000 to Shs10,000. It will take three months to get firmly fixed in the soil and will last forever.
‘Snakes will start fearing it the moment you plant it in your garden,’ Babara affirms.
The Pink Agapanthus and the Tobacco Plant
“Snakes don’t like their scents,” Babara says.
Tobacco is propagated from seed, the Pink Agapanthus, by division. The Pink Agapanthus is of the onion family. Zulus plant it around their homes to deter snakes.
‘Remove weeds by hand. The Pink Agapanthus keeps water in its leaves and roots, so you need to water it only once a week. Water the Tobacco Plant once a day,’ Babara cautions.
Don’t prune or mulch them. The Tobacco Plant seedling costs Shs5,000; the Pink Agapanthus seedling costs Shs1,000, while the variegated one costs Shs3,000.
The Tobacco Plant will take two months to mature, while the Pink Agapanthus will take three months. Both last forever.
Planting such snake-repelling plants around your house and the boundaries of your garden will ensure incidents like the one that occurred in Masaka do not happen again.