How to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Potted Plants

Squirrels can be deterred from damaging potted plants through the use of physical barriers, scent deterrents, loud noises, and chemical repellents. Wire mesh and plastic bird netting work great for physically keeping squirrels out. Repellents like coffee grounds, cayenne pepper, and certain flower bulbs will drive squirrels away. Loud noises and noise traps made of aluminum will startle squirrels away. Lastly, you can use physical traps to remove squirrels from your garden.

How to keep squirrels out of your potted plants

7 Ways to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Potted Plants

Squirrels can be deterred through a variety of methods. Below, we will discuss the most common methods and how they keep squirrels out of your plants.

Chicken Wire

A physical barrier of chicken wire around your outdoor plants can keep squirrels out. This is perhaps the most effective method of forming a physical barrier to keep squirrels at bay. Simply place the wire mesh over open pots to prevent squirrels from digging through the soil surface. Use this chicken wire to make an effective squirrel barrier for your garden beds.

Cayenne Pepper

A deterrent made from cayenne pepper can make a great squirrel repellent. Cayenne and other natural repellents drive squirrels crazy while being safe for many plants. Cayenne tastes terrible to squirrels and they will avoid places that have this smell and taste. To make your own squirrel repellent, use this recipe:

  • Scoop 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of petroleum jelly into a bowl.
  • Mix 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of cayenne pepper powder into the petroleum jelly with a spoon.
  • Spread a thin layer of the cayenne substance on the edge of your pot and the plant stem.

This simple solution is rain-resistant and long-lasting. Plus, you probably have the ingredients around the house.

Squirrel Feeder

Squirrels will avoid your plants if they can get free food elsewhere. Squirrel or bird feeders will provide a steady food source to keep them out of your plant pots. Bird food, such as sunflower seeds, easily distract pesky critters, including arboreal squirrels and ground squirrels. This squirrel feeder can occupy and feed the squirrels in your backyard, so they’ll have no need to go after your plants.

Blood Meal

Blood meal is a rich fertilizer that smells terrible to squirrels. Adult squirrels cannot stand the smell of ammonia. Because blood meal is high in ammonia, it is particularly unpleasant to squirrels. Simply fertilize your soil with this type of meal and you won’t have to worry about squirrels and chipmunks digging in the dirt. Use this organic blood meal fertilizer to grow your outdoor garden and keep away squirrels.

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Coffee Grounds

Like blood meal, coffee grounds smell awful to squirrels and they won’t go near it. A couple of tablespoons spread on top of your potting soil will easily deter these pesky animals. It’s best to spread used coffee grounds to deter pests. Coffee grounds that have been used to make hot coffee are more acidic, which makes them more likely to ward off squirrels.

Sonic Deterrent

Squirrels are clever critters but loud noises scare them away easily. You can set some aluminum foil noise traps that will startle squirrels when the wind blows. Windchimes and empty soda cans clattering together can work just as well. You can also step up to these solar-powered rodent deterrent stakes. Stake systems are great for scaring away gophers, ground squirrels, and chipmunks that love to dig up potted plants.


A squirrel trap can be a good last resort to protecting your plants from squirrels.  Use non-lethal traps to capture squirrels for re-release. Place the traps throughout your vegetable garden with bait. Use this non-lethal squirrel trap to catch squirrels for release. To prevent squirrels from returning to your garden, release them in a wooded area at least 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from your home.

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What Kind of Plants Do Squirrels Hate?

Alliums, daffodils, geraniums, hyacinth, and lilies of the valley are all flowers that squirrels can’t stand. Plant these flower bulbs throughout your garden to deter these furry critters. 

  • Alliums
  • Daffodils
  • Geraniums
  • Hyacinth
  • Lilies of the valley

In general, while these plants can work to deter squirrels, they’re rarely effective alone. You may want to combine the repellent power of these flowers with some of the other suggestions above. Remember that repelling squirrels may require a combination of different techniques.

Will Smell Keep Squirrels Out of Potted Plants?

Smell is a great way to keep squirrels away from plants in pots. Natural squirrel deterrent sprays and squirrel repellent work by weaponizing bad odors against squirrels. Products that are high in ammonia, like blood or bone meal, work great for this. Also, squirrels can’t stand bitter smells, so things like used coffee grounds can keep your plants safe.

  • Squirrels are very sensitive to smell and can easily be deterred with the right scents.
  • Blood meal, coffee, and hot pepper spray all work wonders at deterring squirrels.
  • Choose ammonia-rich or bitter-smelling items to keep squirrels away.

Hot pepper spray can also work well. Although this technically works by taste, the scent of pepper spray can deter squirrels once they realize how painful peppers are to eat.

What Can You Use to Keep Squirrels From Eating Your Potted Plants?

The best way to deter squirrels is through physical barriers, bad scents, loud noises, and traps. Here are just a few of the many potential techniques to keep squirrels out of your flower pots:

  • Chicken wire will physically protect your flower pots.
  • Smells like coffee and blood meal will deter squirrels.
  • Cayenne pepper will make your plants taste terrible, which drives squirrels away.
  • Sonic deterrents like windchimes and tin cans scare squirrels off.
  • Traps can be used to catch and release squirrels far from your home.
  • Squirrel-repelling plants can be scattered throughout your garden.

It may require a combination of different techniques to protect your garden. With a little patience, you’ll find the right combo for your outdoor plants. Then, your potted plants will be able to grow in peace.

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