squirrels flower pots

How to Keep Squirrels Out of Potted Plants, Flower Pots and Planters

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Is there anything more frustrating than having a squirrel invade your potted plants or flowers? These little creatures can be relentless in their quest to get at the food inside, and they can completely destroy your plants in the process. 

If you’re looking for ways to keep squirrels out of your potted plants and flowers, read on. We’ve got some tips that will help.

If you are like us, you love growing plants in pots and raised beds. The extra control you can get regarding the soil you use and the extra protection you can get from pests with an elevated growing space is nice. 

Plus, you get to save your lower back from bending over as far! 

But unfortunately, potted plants are not entirely safe. Cunning squirrels can still access your plants despite having planted them in pots. So if you have begun to notice an influx of squirrel activity in your container plants, keep reading. 

Why Do Squirrels Dig in Flower Pots? 

Squirrels dig in flower pots because they are under the impression that something important lies beneath the soil. In some cases, they are incorrect, but frequently, there is indeed something attracting the squirrels and chipmunks.

Squirrels dig in flower and plant pots when looking for food. The plants you are growing, especially bulbs, can attract squirrels. The potting soil you use may also be making squirrels want to dig. Soil mixes that utilize fish emulsion can be tantalizing. 

In late fall, squirrels may also be digging to bury their nuts for the winter. Consequently, throughout the winter, into the spring, squirrels may be searching to uncover the caches of food they have hidden.  

How Do I Stop Squirrels from Eating My Flowers?

Unfortunately, squirrels do not just think flowers are for looking. They also like them for eating. So if the flowers you have been planting get ravaged by squirrels, the smartest thing you can do is refrain from planting that variety of flowers.  

Some flowers attract squirrels more than others. So the best thing you can do is plant species of flowers that squirrels typically dislike. Examples of pretty flowers that squirrels avoid are: 

  • Daffodils 
  • Jonquils
  • Kaiser’s Crown or Crown Imperial
  • Marigolds
  • Snow crocus 
  • Alliums

Otherwise, if you must continue to plant varieties of flowers that attract squirrels, you can take plenty of other measures to plant what you want and protect it. 

What Stops Squirrels from Digging in Potted Plants?

If you’ve ever had a squirrel digging in your flower pot, you know how frustrating it can be. They can make a huge mess and ruin your flowers in just a few minutes. So, what stops squirrels from digging in flower pots?

Protective Barriers

It may be the case that plants started growing in pots in the first place to get better protection from pests such as squirrels. We’re sorry that your preventative tactic has been foiled if that’s the case. It happens to the best of us. 

The good news is that there are some additional protective barriers you can try out to stop squirrels from digging in flower pots. Chicken wire is often the most effective. You can arrange a barrier of chicken wire mesh secured in place with wooden stakes to discourage squirrels from coming in. 

An effective netting strategy is what keeps squirrels away from plants.

Pungent Squirrel Repellent 

Squirrel repellents are another effective strategy for keeping squirrels out of your flower pots. Squirrel repellents rely on pungent aromas that squirrels would rather avoid. This is effective for getting rid of squirrels naturally and organically.

There are plenty of products you can buy from your local nursery or garden center when it comes to squirrel repellents. However, squirrel repellents are also very easy to make with ingredients you already have around your home. 

Hot peppers, for example, cayenne or red pepper, can be mixed into water to create a sprayable solution. Hot pepper sauce, garlic, scented dish soap, and vinegar are other examples of smelly items that you can put in a spray bottle to repel squirrels. 

When spraying homemade squirrel repellent, always remember to reapply after rainfall and watering. It’s also a good idea to vary the repellents you use to prevent the squirrels from becoming accustomed. 

Scary Squirrel Deterrents

Squirrels are skittish animals. They can be easily scared away if you use the correct deterrents. Colorful garden spinners and reflective items like CDs, pie pans, and aluminum foil have scared squirrels. 

Ultrasonic sound deterrents, decoy predators, and the scent from your pet’s urine and fur are also good things to incorporate into your garden to deter squirrels. 

Keep a Tidy Garden

Squirrels are opportunistic feeders. So if you take away the opportunities for food, they’ll be less tempted to come into your garden. The best way to do this is to keep a tidy garden. 

  • Always harvest on time, and never leave behind edible plant material
  • Rake up acorns, nuts, and berries
  • Trim the trees and bushes
  • Secure your garbage cans
  • Clean off the BBQ and outdoor furniture after cooking and eating outside. 

Consider Consulting a Professional

If all else fails, it may be time to consult a professional. Pest-control professionals will be able to devise a custom prevention plan to protect your vegetable garden from squirrels. If trapping is necessary, they will be able to humanely trap and release the wild animals according to local animal control ordinances and laws.  

Do Coffee Grounds Keep Squirrels Away?

Yes, it is believed that the bitter taste and aroma of spent coffee grounds keep squirrels away. However, the effectiveness of coffee grounds as a squirrel repellent will depend on the amount and frequency you use them.

Using coffee grounds as a squirrel repellent is also nice because they’ll add valuable nutrition to the soil as the grounds biodegrade.  

How to Keep Squirrels Out of Deck Planters

Besides applying the strategies mentioned above such as using deterrents to scare squirrels away, scents to repel squirrels, and having a barrier, netting or wire baskets to keep them out, you can also mix ground cayenne pepper, crushed garlic or something that is spicy in the potting soil to keep squirrels out of planters.

How to Stop Squirrels from Digging Up Plants

Gardens are for digging – but not for squirrel-digging. Stopping squirrels from digging holes and otherwise terrorizing the plants in your garden can feel like an intimidating undertaking. 

But with patience and a prevention plan that utilizes some of the tactics we mentioned above, you can drastically curb the squirrel activity in your garden. 

And remember, the more varied your plan can be, the better. Utilize multiple tactics at once. Switch up your decoy predators. Vary the repellents you spray. Be persistent.

What Other Animals That Dig in Flower Pots Overnight?

We stigmatize squirrels or the havoc they can wreak in the garden. 

However, if you notice that your garden is under attack overnight, it might not be squirrels. Of the more nocturnal animals out there, skunks and deer are some heaviest nighttime feeders. 

If you suspect skunks or deer are the culprits, the good news is that some of the strategies you use to keep squirrels away may still be effective. However, you may need to modify your plan to better accommodate new pests.


Do coffee grounds keep squirrels away?

While some people believe that coffee grounds can deter squirrels due to their strong odor, there is limited scientific evidence to support this claim.

What smell keeps squirrels away from plants?

Squirrels are known to have a keen sense of smell, and certain scents such as peppermint, garlic, cayenne pepper, or predator urine are believed to repel them from plants.

What is the most effective squirrel deterrent?

The effectiveness of these natural deterrents may vary, and physical barriers such as fencing or netting are often considered the most effective means of keeping squirrels away from plants. Additionally, motion-activated sprinklers or ultrasonic devices can help deter squirrels from entering specific areas.

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*image by SilkhavenPublishing/depositphotos

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