Flowers to Keep Squirrels Away
If your favorite plants didn't bloom this spring, the culprit could be a hungry squirrel that ate their tender, young foliage. Catching a squirrel in the act is the best way to know what to blame for your garden woes, but signs of squirrel activity, including missing plants, missing fruits and vegetables, crops with bites taken out of them and flowers that appear to have been eaten, also indicate squirrels helped themselves to your garden goodies. Squirrels commonly dig in garden beds and plant containers, leaving golf ball-size holes in their wake and sometimes uprooting plants.
Battle squirrels by planting more food crops than you'll need so you have enough to share with wildlife. Also, include plants that squirrels dislike, placing them in the parts of your garden you most want to protect.
Squirrels eat certain varieties of bulb plants, especially tulips (Tulipa spp.), which grow as perennials in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. Either plant only bulbs that squirrels find unappetizing, or mix those bulbs among your other bulbs and plants to help deter hungry squirrels. Bulbs squirrels dislike include:
Blooming in hues of yellow, orange and white, daffodils (Narcissus spp., USDA zones 3 through 9) are valued by many gardeners for their bright, spring colors. Squirrels, however, won't touch them. Daffodils grow best in a site with loamy soil and full- to partial-sun exposure.
Ornamental onion (Allium spp_._ and cultivars, USDA zones 3 through 9) produces round flowers. With many cultivars to choose from, you can plant multiple varieties for blooms throughout the growing season. The varieties grow easily with full sun and good drainage.
Fritillary (Fritillaria spp_.), a bulb plant, produces flowers in various shapes and colors. Two species perennial in USDA zones 4 through 8 are plum bells (_Fritillaria persica) and checkered lily (Fritillaria meleagris). Plum bells produces plum-shaped flowers in a deep, almost black shade of purple while checkered lily has intricate flowers with a light, checkerboard pattern. Plum bells prefer full sun, and checkered lily prefers partial shade and moist soil.
Common Snowdrop and Spring Snowflake
When planted in a site with full to partial sun, common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis, USDA zones 3 through 8) produces an early burst of white flowers, blooming from winter through spring. It is used in beds and borders and requires very little maintenance.
Similar in appearance but at 12 inches tall about twice as big as common snowdrop, spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum) does well in damp soil but is slightly less cold-tolerant; it is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8.
- Even bulb plants that appeal to squirrels sometimes can be saved by planting them a bit deeper than recommended and placing mulch on their soil surface.
- Spread chicken wire over the ground where bulbs are planted, and stake it in place to keep squirrels from the bulbs. Remove the wire in spring when the bulbs begin to sprout.
Herbs and Spices
Some herb and spice plants deter squirrels, and they can be planted throughout a garden to protect other plants.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita, USDA zones 3 through 11) has a flavor and scent that squirrels dislike. This simple-to-grow herb does well in wet soil and tolerates drier soil. Plant it in partial shade or full sun. It grows so well that you may wish to keep it in containers to control its spread, especially in areas of the United States where it is considered invasive. Place the containers anywhere you want to deter squirrels.
Garlic (Allium sativum, USDA zones 4 through 11) performs best in full sun but also grows in partly shaded areas. It can survive dry spells but thrives with regular waterings. Allow garlic to overwinter once before harvesting it if you plan to use it for cooking in addition to discouraging wildlife such as squirrels.
If you prefer not to plant garlic, then deter squirrels by spreading garlic powder on the soil around your plants.
Writing professionally since 2008, Michelle Miley specializes in home and garden topics but frequently pens career, style and marketing pieces. Her essays have been used on college entrance exams and she has more than 4,000 publishing credits. She holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting, having graduated summa cum laude.