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How to Keep Squirrels From Eating Your Flowers

A close-up photo of a squirrel eating a yellow flower.
George Pachantouris/Moment/GettyImages

It's spring and your rose bush is full of buds, promising a sumptuous June blooming season—but wait. What are all those clipped stems? Didn't they used to have buds on them?

Yes, they did. Because squirrels like to eat flower buds. And they dig up flower bulbs. And they'll dig up pretty much anything else they feel like it in your flower garden—and your entire landscape.

To keep squirrels from eating your flowers, take quick action. However, they may take quicker action, so it can be an uphill battle.

Will Squirrels Eat My Flowers?

Yes, unfortunately, although flowers are not their favorite meal. They are more likely to just chew on your flowers on their way to some other more delectable tidbit. They may chomp on your flower's seedheads if the flowers have already withered, sunflowers in particular. They also find the young flowers on squash, such as zucchini, quite irresistible.

They also like to pull up and chew on seedlings, so you may find young flower plants in pieces on the soil or missing from the garden altogether. If your flowers are in pots, squirrels may dig into them—making a mess in a pot is one of their favorite pastimes! This is usually because they are stashing nuts, but they may also be seeking flower bulbs for a tasty treat.

Using Squirrel Repellents

Many commercially available squirrel repellents feature capsaicin, the compound that makes hot peppers hot. You can also make your own or just buy cayenne pepper in bulk and dust your flowers with it. To make a spray, squirt some Tabasco sauce into a quart spray bottle, add water and about a teaspoon of liquid detergent, which will help the spray adhere. Spray this on your flowers; then reapply after a rain or irrigation if your flowers get wet.

You might also find products with peppermint oil, vinegar or some combination of these. If you choose to create homemade versions, be careful with vinegar because its acidity can harm delicate plants—so try it on a few leaves first. You can also spray white vinegar, diluted 50/50 with water, onto some other object and place it near your flowers.

If using peppermint oil, soak cotton balls in it and place them around plants. Again, replace these periodically to ensure they remain effective.

Installing Barriers

You can try installing barriers around your flower beds, but this will quickly become expensive, and many gardeners find them unattractive.

Squirrels can maneuver through very small openings, so find some wire that has, at most, 1-inch holes, and make a fence at least 3 feet high. Sink this into the ground at least 6 inches, and bend the top 6 inches out at a 90° angle to dissuade climbing squirrels from scaling it.

Squirrels dislike the glimmer and shine of aluminum foil, so you could cover your pots or flower beds with foil, poking holes so the flowers can grow.

Making Your Yard Unattractive

While you probably can't deter every squirrel from coming into your yard, you can at least make it as unattractive to squirrels as possible.

  • If you have bird feeders, use hot pepper-laced bird food, easily available at bird food supply shops. The hot pepper doesn't bother the birds, but the squirrels won't be attracted to it.
  • Dogs and cats can be effective in dissuading squirrels to hang out in your yard, so if you have pets, they might help.
  • Cleaning up falling fruit or other sources of food from under trees and around your yard in general may help.

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