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How to keep Squirrels out of Flower Pots

Published: 18th February, 2015

squirrelsAre you fed up with squirrels digging up your potted plants? Spring is on its way and it’s the time of year when the battle between gardener and squirrel commences. Squirrels can cause a lot of damage in plant pots and the garden and I’m sure many of you have gone out to tend to your carefully planted containers only to find chaos, with pots knocked over, bulbs gone & plants & flowers uprooted and lying half dead next to the pots. On investigation of the remaining soil in the pot you may have found buried whole peanuts or even wrapped chocolates! The squirrels have visited….

How to stop them

Here are a few tricks to stop these pests from becoming a serious nuisance. These work best with container gardening but they can also be applied directly to small areas of your garden beds. The most obvious way to stop squirrels in their tracks is to put physical barriers in their way… Try covering the surface of the pot with attractive rocks and stones. Henry Street Garden Centre sells a good variety of decorative cobbles and rocks that the squirrels won’t be able to budge and yet they’ll enhance the appearance of your garden containers. A very economical solution is to stick bamboo skewers in your pots with the pointy ends upwards. The squirrels will be deterred by the sharpness of the points and your plants will be left alone to flourish! Try laying chicken wire just under the top level of soil when planting bulbs to prevent squirrels from digging them out. Remove it when shoots appear. One of the most commonly used tricks to keep squirrels out of potted plants is to put something in the pots that the squirrels won’t like. Mix in fresh, strong smelling coffee grounds with the top layer of soil. The odour is repellent to squirrels but does them no harm. Make your own Hot Pepper Spray. They do not like the spiciness at all and having come across it once, they will try their hardest to avoid it. You can make pepper spray by combining a couple of teaspoons of washing up liquid with a small bottle of hot pepper sauce and water> Put it into a plastic spray bottle to apply. Commercial pepper sprays are also available specifically for keeping squirrels away from plants and gardens. If you don’t want to actually spray your plants, sprinkle hot red pepper flakes or powder in the soil around the plants to keep squirrels away. Of course you’ll need to repeat this regularly, especially after each time it rains. Bone meal is also pretty repulsive to squirrels. Usually made from the blood of pigs and cows it is a natural fertiliser high in nitrogen and ammonia, and has a strong bloodlike scent that scares off squirrels. The added bonus is that you will be adding nitrogen to your soil at the same time! There are products on the market such as ‘These work by taking advantage of the squirrels fear of its predator and encourages them to well and truly keep their distance. It has been reported that the same thing applies to human and animal hair. It does sound gross but you don’t need huge clumps, just a few strands sprinkled on the top of your pots each time you cut your hair or brush your dog. Whatever method you deploy we wish you luck! If you have found something that works particularly well that we have not listed here, please do tell us about it! What methods have you used to keep these pesky animals away from your growing plants? www.henrystreet.co.uk

14 thoughts on “How to keep Squirrels out of Flower Pots

    • Matt

      I am in a similar situation. I have tried many things including electronics to scare them off. They are as my neighbor says “they are ballsy.” They yell at my cat and don’t fear his dog. I am starting to bury spiky things and I hope it works.

    • Carol

      I’ve tried 3 kinds of repellents and pointy sticks. No go. I’ve just bought chicken wire and made giant cages. We will see.

  • Laurie

    I tried really strong coffee grounds in my pots and the squirrels haven’t touched them. I also tried the bamboo skewers in another pot and no squirrels either. Thanks for the advice, I don’t like the thought of using cayenne or pepper spray because I’ve heard the squirrels can get it in their eyes and possibly blind them or put them in pain, so I was excited when these two options worked. Thanks!

  • Louise Perry

    I put shiny, metallic plastic Easter eggs in my pots. So far, so good. (Of course, my grandchildren think we’re having an Easter Egg hunt!)

  • Liz

    I put some seedling trays outside to harden them off for a few hours today. The trays were in the driveway. Something ate some of the smaller seedlings, but the weird thing is that a lot of the dirt was missing, too. It wasn’t anyway, it didn’t get spilled next to the trays, it was gone like something ate it. Was this squirrels? Birds maybe?

  • Barb

    Pepper spray or powder didn’t work for me either. Human hair was a deterrent until I stopped cutting my husband’s hair. We’ll try the chicken wire. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Marcy

    Similar to the bamboo skewer trick, but a little longer lasting, I have had good luck with galvanized nails or metal garden staples. Stick them in the pot pointy side up and it seems to deter the little varmints. I have not tried those anti-cat prickly pads that are sold, but I imagine those might also work. The downside to all these, of course, is that they detract somewhat from the beauty of the flower display in the pots. But then, of course, so does a pot with dug up plants strew all over!

  • Katie

    I put fresh coffee grounds on the soil around my potted plants last night and things look good this morning. The little varmints usually hit nightly. I hope it continues to work.

  • Kathy Robertson

    I am using strips of aluminum foil to keep them out. So far so good. I am also putting some of my dog’s hair on top of the soil. Maybe one of these will work.

  • Sharon

    Last summer, i put bamboo skewers. Pointed end facing up. This definately made a differance. Got them at the dollar store and used a whole bunch! Got so tired of going on my porch to see my window boxes all torn up. Its definately worth a try

  • I. M. P.

    Does any one know: If human hair cuttings work, might sprinkling a little bit of male human urine on the top soil of potted plants keep the squirrels from digging the soil up? [But I wouldn’t want to do this if the patio would end up smelling like a latrine! ]

  • C roberts

    I have used cayenne pepper, bone meal and purchased critter ridder. None of it worked. I covered the dirt with stone, used moth balls and I grated Irish spring soap on the dirt. None of that worked either.
    They just keep digging. I planted geranium and marigolds and mint. They dig all of it up so I am going to try skewers but I don’t hold much hope. The flower boxes and planters are pretty close to being destroyed. They have also chewed a hole in the side of the shed and chewed up my garden cloth. This is very frustrating and there doesn’t seem to be a resource to find out how to get rid of them. Help!!

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