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Last updated: May 8, 2023
Squirrels and gardens are not a good mix. Not only do these mischievous rodents like to eat some types of flowers and vegetable garden staples, but they will readily uproot a plant to hide an acorn for winter.
If you have squirrels damaging your plants, one of the easiest solutions is to plant more plants, which may seem counterintuitive. As long as you pick the right types of flowers, this trick can be incredibly effective.
In this article, I will introduce you to 9 plants that repel squirrels so you can keep these critters away from your veggies and get them to stop digging in your flower beds.
Top 9 Squirrel Resistant Plants
Out of the many plants and flowers that squirrels seem to avoid, these are the nine most effective at repelling them to keep them.
All these plants can be planted around the edges of gardens or near your favorite flowers or produce to keep squirrels away.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that squirrels try to avoid these stinky plants. Alliums, which include onions, garlic, chives, and leeks, have a scent strong enough to drive many types of pests out of the garden.
It is not the flowers of these plants that release this smell, but rather the greenery and root bulbs. These plants contain a high concentration of cysteine sulfoxides, a chemical with a pungent odor derived from sulfur.
When the plants are disturbed or broken, this scent is readily released, which is why squirrels are careful not to dig near them. Alliums are easy to grow from bulbs and make a great boundary plant for flower and veggie gardens.
Hyacinths are a great choice if you’re looking for a fragrant plant that smells good to people while keeping squirrels away. Not only do these bulbs produce a stalk full of gorgeous flowers, but those flowers have a deep, perfume-like scent that you can smell dozens of feet away.
While humans tend to enjoy this fragrance, squirrels apparently do not. This may have something to do with the potent scent overwhelming their senses or blocking their ability to smell nearby predators. Or it may be that clues in that scent tell them this plant is poisonous.
Hyacinth bulbs contain oxalic acid, a known toxin that affects most mammals, including humans, squirrels, dogs, and cats. The bulbs are so irritating that even handling them can leave sensitive people with skin rashes. For this reason, squirrels don’t generally dig near hyacinth bulbs and will go out of their way to avoid the flowers.
3. Lily of the Valley
For a plant that will add some delicate beauty to your garden while stopping squirrels in their tracks, the Lily of the Valley is the way to go. These gorgeous, white spring blooms hang like bells from thin stems over lush green leaves. They have an equally delicate scent somewhere between fresh laundry and jasmine.
With a smell that is anything but overwhelming, it surprises many to learn that these dainty flowers are enough to make squirrels think twice about moving through them. The reason likely lies in the subtle clues about the makeup of the plant that are released in that scent.
Do note though that these flowers are toxic. While they can be attractive to us humans, they have much the opposite effect on squirrels. These critters won’t risk digging near them and will avoid them and the plants around them while foraging.
Geraniums, which include a variety of species that span the color spectrum, have long been celebrated for their fragrant leaves and flowers. Some species are used in the perfume industry to create oil extracts.
Some geranium species have a distinctly citrus-like scent, while others smell of mint, pine, and even rose. Squirrels are known to have a distaste for citrus and mint odors, so these varieties tend to work best to repel them.
Planting these beautiful flowers around your vegetables or at the edge of the garden can go a long way in helping keep squirrels at bay. Note that all geraniums are poisonous to squirrels, as well as to cats and dogs.
These bright, cheery yellow and orange flowers have been used around the world for everything from burial rituals to perfume manufacture. The latter fact makes them so useful as squirrel deterrents in the garden.
Scented species put out a pungent, musky odor that can easily overwhelm the sinuses. This odor is so strong that even bugs will avoid climbing on the marigold’s foliage. For this reason, these flowers are frequently planted as companions to many vegetables, especially nightshades, as a means to keep nematodes away.
To take full advantage of this flower, we suggest using it in your vegetable garden to keep squirrels away from your produce, as well as to repel squirmier pests.
As I mentioned above, squirrels are known to dislike the smell of mint. In fact, this essential oil is commonly used to coat cotton balls and in spray solutions to keep these rodents from munching on veggies. For longer-lasting protection that will also make the bees in your yard very happy, try planting mint instead.
There are many species of mint to choose from, including lemon balm, peppermint, chocolate mint, and spearmint. All work well to offend squirrels’ delicate noses and keep them away. And all produce tiny pink, purple, or white flowers that bees go mad for.
Be warned, however, that mint is a prolific plant. Give it enough room and the right conditions, and mint plants can take over your entire yard. This is great if you hate squirrels but not optimal if you want to grow other plants. Keeping your mint in pots or well-edged beds is a must to contain it.
Daffodils are another spring bloom with a sweet, mild scent that manages to keep squirrels at bay. That’s because, like other bulbs in the Amaryllidaceae family, these plants are poisonous.
Their toxic nature doesn’t just stop at the bulb but extends into the leaves and flowers. This might explain why squirrels appear to stay clear of them.
Planting daffodils among your other spring bulbs is a great way to protect them from being dug up and feasted on over the winter. And once the plants bloom, they’ll continue to act as a defense for the flowers and vegetables around them.
The Snowdrop, or Common Snowdrop, is a beautiful white flower that is easy to grow and propagate. It makes a gorgeous boundary flower for any garden, and it’s also reasonably effective at keeping squirrels from hopping into those gardens and digging holes.
That’s because the bulbs of this plant contain phenanthridine alkaloids which are mildly toxic to most mammals. Squirrels know by scent to keep away from them. When planted in a line along the edge of your garden or in a circle around your favorite tomato plant, they can help keep squirrels from causing damage.
The best part is that these delicate flowers spread rapidly on their own, further fortifying the boundary of your garden with each year that passes.
9. Snake’s Head Fritillary
This flower comes with a unique name and an even more unique look. Deep purple downturned flowers adorn thick yet wispy pale green stems. The petals have a distinct scale-like patterning, hence the name.
While they do somewhat resemble a snake poised to strike, that is not why squirrels keep clear of these plants. It is actually the smell and their underlying chemical makeup that leaves critters running for the hills.
The Snake’s Head Fritillary has a striking, pungent odor that somewhat resembles the skunky scent of a fox; a predator squirrels avoid at all costs. If this weren’t enough to keep them away, this flower is also toxic and can cause skin reactions when contacted. Savvy squirrels know to keep clear of these serpent flowers, which bodes well for you and your garden.
Scents and smells that keep squirrels away.
Do any of these grow well in South Florida?
Yes, Alliums, Geraniums, Marigolds, and Mint can grow in South Florida’s hot and humid climate.