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5 Tricks to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Plants

Squirrels giving you gardening woes? Try these tricks to keep squirrels out of your plants and garden.

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5 Tricks to Keep Squirrels Out of Plants, keep squirrels out of garden
Every spring and summer an epic battle goes on in my backyard:
The Gardener versus The Squirrel

I often lose, but I’m getting more savvy every year and learn new tricks to beat back these little pests that like to dig up my flowers, eat my plants, root through my flower pots, and make general chaos of our patio area.

Today I’m going to share 5 tricks to keep squirrels out of your plants and garden that I have picked up in the last few years of gardening.

These work best with container gardening, which is what I mostly do on our back patio, but several of these can be applied directly to your bed gardens.

Plant flowers squirrels don't like
1. Plant flowers that squirrels don’t like.

It can’t really get more basic than that.

To really make sure the squirrels leave your garden alone simply plant flowers they don’t like because of either their taste or their smell.

These flowers include alliums, crocus (tomasinianus variety), lilies, marigolds, hyacinth, daffodils and, from personal experience, impatiens, geraniums, columbine, and the squirrels seem to leave my begonias alone though I have heard that they are not against eating them also.

If you have flowers that you love to plant that the squirrels love, too, try one of these other tricks to keep them at bay.

chicken wire and stakes to keep squirrels out of plants
2. Lay chicken wire or plant stakes just under the dirt.

The idea with laying chicken wire or garden stakes, upside down,  in your containers is that it prevents squirrels from being able to dig.

Thus no holes in your pots where they have tried to bury food plus they can’t get to your flowers to dig them up.

You can also bury plastic forks tine side up.

None of these will do any good if what they are after is the plants themselves though.

Chicken wire over flower pots containing bulbs or covering your flower beds containing bulbs can also prevent squirrels from digging them up.

This is one trick I’m itching to try out.

I just get so excited when I get new flowers that I forget to put the chicken wire into the pot first.

dog hair to keep squirrels out of plants
3. Human or dog hair as a deterrent. 

It may sound a little gross, but putting your hair clippings or your dog’s hair into your flower pots will keep the squirrels away.

Squirrels have an acute sense of smell and will stay away from the scent of predators.

I trim my own bangs and have sprinkled the cut-off hair on top of the soil of my potted plants.

Worked like a charm! But only for so long. Eventually the smell will fade away, and you will have to add more.

Also, if you’re thinking this will look visually displeasing, you’re not adding huge clumps of hair to the pots.

Adding scattered clippings to the soil will not be visible to guests admiring your flowers.

You can also sprinkle used coffee grinds to deter squirrels from your pots.

cayenne pepper to keep squirrels out of plants
4. Spice them out with cayenne pepper!

Sprinkle cayenne pepper on your soil and even on your plants to keep the squirrels away.

One lick of their paws and your flowers are safe.

At least until it rains. Then you will need to reapply.

This is my current favorite method of deterring squirrels from my flowers.

I think of them getting cayenne pepper on their little paws and it burning their poor greedy little mouths. I’m mean like that.

I have also read that you can make a spray mixture of cayenne pepper + dishwashing liquid + water to safely spray on your plants to keep the squirrels away.

I have not tried this myself. Simply sprinkling the pepper around is good with me.

Also use caution with this method if you have pets that can access the cayenne pepper.

My dogs stay out of my potted plants, but I’m less likely to use this method in my flower beds where they sometimes wander into.

bone meal to keep squirrels out of plants
image source
5. Add bone meal to your soil.

Again with the scent thing.

Squirrels don’t like the smell of bone meal and will stay out of your containers and garden beds if it is sprinkled on the soil.

You will have to reapply periodically, especially after a hard rain, but it  a great fertilizer for your plants so its really a double win.

Also try using blood meal.


You work hard on your garden!

Make sure you can enjoy it.


Do you have any tips or tricks to keep squirrels out of your plants?
I would love to hear them! I’m always looking for new ideas to try.

Don't let critters in your garden get you down, build an enclosed garden greenhouse to keep them out!
See the enclosed garden we finally built to keep our vegetables away from the squirrels!

The war with the flowers continues on…

>> See where I party! <<


More gardening tips…

install-rain-barrel water-plants-less

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Wayne (Croydon)

Sunday 7th of August 2022

Hi everyone I have a small garden that does not get any sun, maybe only a few hours each day. So I decided to plant, (or not) plant: artificial fake plants etc, bought online and gardening centres, B&Q etc. There really very colourful all year round, only I have just completed my 8X6ft garden to all its glory and it looks tranquil now to relax in the city life...Only yesterday 7th August the Squirrels around the area pulled up my hard work of a few pot plants that I had completely potted in their fake pots and buried them with different types of stone to make them look good, so no soil anywhere, only a few pots with mint, thyme, etc have real soil in for growth. But the buggers dug a few up, also I have 5 hanging baskets in full colour and they have tried their luck on these too, costing me £20 each made up for me, by someone on Shpock who is retired and makes to order, Squirrel has attacked one of them. I know there plastic and probably give off a smell at first, but what can I try to potentially spray on all the plant's pots and hanging baskets and planter boxes created? Something I can make and spray from a bottle would be ideal as would take a matter of 5 minutes to carry this job out.....Thank you in advance.


Sunday 15th of May 2022

Cayenne pepper does NOT work for me. We have a tall patio fence with narrow slates I sprinkle cayenne pepper in between the slates and all around the fence and they boldly walk right on the cayenne pepper without a problem. I also sprinkle the pepper around the plants and they still come around.


Tuesday 26th of April 2022

I just came in from examining all of my spring plantings ( potted, not ground ) and they are all completely destroyed. from discovering the abuse they were taking in the beginning, I used irish spring soap, pepper flakes, cayenne, cinnamon, a spray made with tabasco, peppermint, garlic, netting and a particularly useless commercial spray. I have lost all of my usually lovely flowers plus a lot of time and money. I used to feed the squirrels until they took to my flowers. is there nothing that will allow me to have one of the things always brought pleasure ? I loved gardening and the flowers that resulted from it, but right now I feel hopeless that anything will work. anyone ?


Friday 20th of August 2021

To Ms Jo regarding animal cruelty…protecting our food sources & plant life becomes a struggle to survive for some folks! And for some of us the bushy tailed rats (squirrels) like to hang out after eating our plants & find other things to gnaw on such as house soffit & anything they can eat until they’ve eaten their way thru & moved into our attics! Oh the sounds of scampering playing sounds in the middle of the night! Or how about when thy eat the wiring in your vehicles that you don’t drive daily? Just saying that sometimes we have to do what we have to do! No cruelty intended! Hence this article of controlling destructiveness as effectively & humanly as possible!

Michele McDonald

Saturday 21st of August 2021

Thank you, Sandie. I second all of that.


Friday 20th of August 2021

I stopped reading comments upon realization that people are cruel toward wildlife just trying to live their best life. Forks? Pepper? Traps that kill them? We need to coexist without causing harm and if you folks don't understand that you've got some bd karma coming your way. Shame on the author for enjoying cruelty.

Michele McDonald

Saturday 21st of August 2021

This author certainly does not enjoy animal cruelty, but I do enjoy my flowers and vegetable garden and will do my best to prevent them from being destroyed. Obviously I am not alone in that endeavor. Please continue to feed the squirrels as you please, I will not cater to them.

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