How To Keep Squirrels Out of Potted Plants

How To Keep Squirrels Out Of Potted Plants

If you reside in an area where squirrels live, there’s a good chance you’ve come across them in the garden.

During spring and summer especially, these furry animals are busy burying their food and making a mess of the garden beds and potted plants that you’ve worked all year to grow.

Although they can’t do any serious harm, squirrels can rewind a lot of your gardening work, and if they become overrun it can be a real problem.

Rather than setting traps or hurting them, there are loads of ways you can learn how to keep squirrels out of potted plants so they’re no longer an issue.

So, how do you keep squirrels out of your potted plants?

A few options for keeping these tenacious animals away are choosing plants that they dislike, using natural repellants like cayenne pepper, or creating a barrier so they can’t get to the dirt.

The number of squirrels, your location, and the types of plants you have will all dictate what the best approach is, and you may need a few tries to get it right.

Squirrels are certainly cute but they’re not something you want to find digging in your prized potted plants.

With this guide and some easy suggestions for how to keep them out of there, you’ll be able to keep your plants happy and healthy without having to worry about harming the wildlife in the process.

Why Do Squirrels Love Pots?

Why Do Squirrels Love Pots?

Squirrels are natural-born diggers and if there’s some fresh dirt laying around, they’ll find out.

Potted plants are so appealing to them because it’s soft and easy to dig, and they don’t have to work very hard to get as deep down as they need.

The main reason squirrels dig is that they’re trying to store food which is why you see them predominantly working away before winter.

The squirrel will carry an acorn or two to the pot, dig a few inches down, and store away their treat to return to later, leaving you with a few surprises to find every now and then.

Not only do the pots represent a great spot of dirt for them to dig in, but they sometimes feast on the treasures growing on the plants.

There’s nothing tastier than ripened fruits and vegetables, herbs, bulbs, and certain species of plant, so you’re giving them access to a smorgasbord of treats as well.

How to Keep Squirrels Out of Potted Plants

To beat the squirrels at their own game, you have to be just as sneaky as they are.

There are lots of ways to deter a squirrel from your potted plants and none of them require anything cruel or will physically harm the animals, so check out some of the better options.

Choose plants that they hate


Although they might not seem like it, squirrels are picky eaters. A squirrel visiting your garden will probably want to sample everything available so it helps to plant things that they don’t like the taste or smell of.

Some common flower choices that will keep squirrels at bay include lilies, marigolds, daffodils, geraniums, and alliums, just to name a few.

Not only will your pots look beautiful but they won’t be appealing to these furry animals either.

Use a natural repellant

The internet is awash with anecdotes from gardeners who have come before you and dealt with problem squirrels in their potted plants.

With that experience, there are loads of natural solutions that people have put in their plants that have successfully kept away squirrels.

Some options include coffee grounds, cayenne pepper, dishwashing liquid, vinegar, and peppermint oil, sprinkled around the base of the plant.

Place non-lethal traps

Trapping a squirrel might sound like a scary idea but you don’t have to hurt them in the process.

There are some great tutorials out there that show you simple and effective traps you can set in the garden for squirrels specifically. Once they’ve been captured, you release them again in the wild away from your home.

This works best with another method in place so that the squirrels don’t just continue to return to your garden.

Create a barrier

If you’d rather make sure a squirrel can’t get to your plants at all, you might consider putting up a barrier.

This could be as grand as a full fenced area that they can’t climb or something to cover your plants like chicken wire or mesh.

It would have to be built in a way that allowed the plants to get sunlight and water, as well as grow, so don’t make it too crowded.

Get creative


Rather than filling your pot plants with strange ingredients and smells they don’t like, you can create a visual distraction instead that will steer them away.

Squirrels aren’t interested in shiny and bright objects so you could hang things like a colorful pinwheel that turns in the wind or a dangling old CD.

These will scare them off, similar to how a scarecrow works in a garden.

Use garden sourced thorns

Making use of other things growing in your garden is a great idea when you’re trying to keep pests away.

One especially helpful plant could come from something with thorns, like a rose or blackberry vine.

Take a few clippings of the thorny stem and stick it upright in your potted plants. A squirrel will come sniffing around and sense danger from the sharp thorns and hopefully go away.

Create a mystery predator

Squirrels rely on their keen sense of smell to direct them where to dig and they’ll naturally avoid anywhere that a predator might have been.

If you want to use this to your advantage and don’t mind being a little gross, you can leave some dog fur or clippings of your own hair in a pot plant to deter them.

They’ll get a whiff of the scent and assume that predators are around and look elsewhere to bury their acorns.

Dealing with critters and pests of any kind usually isn’t as simple as a one-trick-fix.

Squirrels are pretty cunning and they might figure out a way around your repellents or traps, so you must be prepared to spend some energy and wit coming up with a solution.

This is a matter of trial and error, and in some cases, using more than one method at a time will get the best results, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Keeping Plants Free From Furry Friends

Keeping Plants Free From Furry Friends

As cute as they might be, squirrels are a nightmare for anyone with a garden, and especially if you have a treasure trove of potted plants laying around for them to enjoy.

Whether they’re hiding treats for winter deep down in the soil or having a midnight feast on the fruits and vegetables you’ve worked hard to grow, it can be a real hindrance finding them in your garden.

Luckily, there are lots of cruelty-free methods for keeping squirrels away so they take their mischievous ways somewhere else but be prepared for some trial and error to get it right.

Eventually, you’ll be able to protect your plants from the local wildlife and ensure that no squirrels steal the plants, fruits, and vegetables you’ve worked so hard to grow.

Related Questions

Potted plants are a great way for beginner and expert gardeners alike to keep their greenery in a happy home.

Whether it’s squirrels that are causing issues or something else in the garden, we’ve answered some commonly asked questions about how to maintain a potted plant.

Is Soapy Water Bad For Plants?

Soapy water should only ever be used in an emergency to water a potted plant and not as a regular watering method.

The ingredients found in detergents and soaps aren’t ideal for plants but may be applied directly to the leaves as a natural method of removing bugs and pests.

Why Do My Potted Plants Have Yellow Leaves?

Yellow leaves are a common symptom of stress in plants, usually caused by lack of water or insufficient sunlight.

If your potted plant has yellow leaves, remove them from the plant so that they don’t continue to affect it and look at adjusting its growing conditions so that it gets sufficient light and water.

Are Squirrels Beneficial in the Garden?

Although squirrels serve a purpose in nature by carrying seeds and dropping them, they can wreak havoc in a standard background garden.

They like to burrow in potted plants, dig up the soil in garden beds, and eat ripened fruit and vegetables that have taken many months to grow, so you should keep them away however possible.


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