10 Best Plants That Repel Squirrels 2022 [Plants Squirrels Hate]


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List of the Best Squirrel Repellent Plants For Getting Rid of Squirrels 2022

Red squirrel
Squirrels aren’t scared to enter private dwellings in search of food and shelter, and can quickly become a nuisance! Peter Trimming, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Practically a permanent fixture in urban parks and gardens, this skilled rodent will not hesitate to approach private dwellings in search of food and shelter. Vegetable beds, rows of fruit trees, and even flower patches may be favorite haunts. You’ll find them running atop fences, climbing your tallest trees, and expertly balancing on electricity lines as though they are tight rope exhibitionists. Squirrels are fascinating creatures indeed, but they can quickly turn into nuisance visitors!

If you’ve sighted squirrels in your area, it would be prudent to plan your selection of plants with their preferences and dislikes in mind. Keep in mind that a hungry squirrel will graze on all sorts of plants and possibly wreak havoc on your spring flower beds. They love to dig out newly planted bulbs! Squirrels will gather and hoard as much as they can to secure their winter food stores.

Luckily, there are a few types of plants that these critters absolutely hate. These can be planted in strategic areas of the garden to dissuade foraging individuals from stealing your bounty of greens. If you’ve begun to notice missing crops, stolen fruits, disturbed soil, and empty bird feeders, consider amping up your garden’s defenses by cultivating the plants listed below.

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1) Daffodils (Narcissus spp.)

Daffodils in bloom
Daffodils have a strong scent that deters squirrels and are in bloom from late winter to spring. Alan Cleaver from Whitehaven, United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Native to the Mediterranean region

These elegant perennial bulbs have a bloom time that lasts from late winter to spring, followed by a period of summer dormancy. If your garden contains many species that bloom in early spring, daffodils that are planted around them may provide some protection from squirrels. The strong smell of the flowers can serve as an effective deterrent, so they should be planted close to one another to amplify their scent’s strength.

Known for their hardiness in a wide range of climate conditions, daffodils can complement the theme of almost any type of garden or home. Bulbs can be arranged in clumps along the base of trees or in rows next to structural borders. They can also be used to fill in the gaps in between summer-interest shrubs. This way, year-round color and growth in the garden can be maintained.

Even during summer, dormant daffodil bulbs may dissuade squirrels from foraging extensively. They can be used as a natural repellent when planted around bulbs of other flowers that are sought after by rodents. As a plus, daffodils can repel deer as well. Easy to nurture, this group of plants certainly has functional uses apart from their stunning ornamental features.


2) Alliums (Allium spp.)

Allium plants
You should plant alliums in nutrient-rich soil if you want them to effectively deter squirrels and other animals. Нацку, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Native to the Northern Hemisphere

Onions, garlic, leeks, and scallions – this wonderful genus of plants has won the world over for their culinary uses. Though not everyone can agree on the appeal of their flavors, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has no reaction to their scents. With scent profiles that are a shock to human senses, it’s no surprise that alliums are great at keeping scent-sensitive squirrels away!

As these are root crops that grow perfectly well in vegetable gardens, alliums can be placed around patches of tomatoes, carrots, and other juicy fruits that squirrels love. They’re sure to halt every squirrel’s foraging foray as even small injuries to their foliage and bulbs, let alone a strong gust of wind, can induce the release of an overpowering scent wave.

The chemical compounds that provide them with their odors are largely derived from a group of cysteine sulfoxides. The production of these may vary depending on the sulfur content of the substrate. In controlled conditions with zero sulfur content, alliums can actually lose their pungency! To ensure that your alliums are effective repellents, make sure they are planted in nutrient-rich soil.


3) Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Common snowdrop in bloom
Common snowdrop is most toxic in its bulbs. H. Zell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Native to Europe

This herbaceous perennial is famous for its dainty, solitary flowers. Seemingly nodding in gentle gusts of wind, the blooms are so white and clean that they resemble tufts of snow. They are borne on dark green, arching stalks that grow to just 10 inches (25 cm). A recipient of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, this species naturalizes easily and can multiply on its own. It requires little maintenance and is fairly resistant to all sorts of critters, including squirrels!

The common snowdrop has shoots that emerge from bulbs. These can be planted densely to establish a clustered appearance of blooms in late winter to early spring. Clusters look best in rock gardens, next to ponds, at the base of large trees, or in border plantings with full sun to partial shade exposure. Note that the foliage does die back towards the end of spring. Consider cultivating summer-interest plants alongside your snowdrops.

Grazers generally keep away from this plant due to its mildly toxic properties. Phenanthridine alkaloids are present in its leaves and stems but are most concentrated in its bulbs. Keep watch over your pets whenever they come close to snowdrop patches. Symptoms of ingestion include abdominal issues, nausea, disorientation, and seizures.


4) Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)

Hyacinth flowers
Hyacinth has dozens of ornamental variants that bloom in late winter or early spring. Leonora (Ellie) Enking / CC BY-SA 2.0

Native to Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Southwest Asia

H. orientalis is an herbaceous perennial that comes in dozens of ornamental cultivars! Many horticulturists in cold-weather regions look forward to its late winter or early spring blooms each year. Practically all pastel shades are accounted for by the dense floral spikes of this species. Inflorescences can have flowers that number up to 100! The most popular cultivars are often “forced” to bloom much earlier than they normally would for holiday interest.

The fragrance of hyacinth makes it highly attractive to honey bees, yet repulsive to squirrels! Like many other fragrant plants, it contains toxic alkaloids as well. These are largely concentrated in the bulb, which should not be ingested. Interestingly, hyacinth seeds, which take on the form of black grains, are dispersed by ants. This method, called myrmecochory, allows the seeds to germinate in the ants’ burrows.

To use this species as a natural squirrel repellent, plant the bulbs in areas of the garden with susceptible plants. You can also create flower beds dedicated to hyacinth cultivation along your garden’s points of entry. You’ll find that the yearly blooms are the most rewarding aspect of their cultivation, and their capacity to repel critters is simply a secondary benefit.


5) Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the valley plants with white flowers
Lily of the valley is a flowering plant with a sweet fragrance, and favors woodlands. H. Zell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Native to Asia and Europe

A flowering plant that favors conditions in woodlands, lily of the valley is known for its delicate, bell-shaped flowers. Blooming in springtime, these are usually oriented downward. They emit a sweet fragrance that may sometimes be imitated by French perfumeries. Don’t be fooled by this plant’s charming flowers, however, as it can form aggressive and troublesome colonies. It spreads via a network of underground rhizomes, with new shoots emerging through the ground each spring.

If located in North America, this species may not be the best option for repelling squirrels due to its potential for invasiveness. It can be used throughout Europe, outside of the Mediterranean region, as long as its spread is kept under control. Lily of the valley thrives best in partial shade and alkaline substrates with an elevation of up to 1,500 meters.

Of course, this modest species harbors a handful of potent toxins as well! Scientifically referred to as cardenolides, they are poisonous to both animals and humans. All of the plant’s parts, including its red berries, contain the compounds. Ingestion of these may result in an irregular heart rate and abdominal problems.


6) Geraniums (Geranium spp., Pelargonium spp.)

Geraniums in pots
Geraniums are colorful plants that can be planted in pots to fill in areas that need texture and color. Photo from Max Pixel

Native to South Africa

Geraniums belong to a fairly large group of plants and are distinguished by their five-petaled, distinctly veined blooms. The most popular types are greenhouse cultivars with colors that cover the spectrum from blue to red. Some of these are recipients of the RHS Award of Garden Merit. There are two types of geraniums, with “true” or “hardy” geraniums being classified under the Geranium genus. Species under Pelargonium are close cousins and may be referred to as “zonal” geraniums.

Unsurprisingly, it isn’t the vibrance of geranium flowers that turns away squirrels. It’s the scent emitted by their oils. Geraniums are known for having a rosy or citrusy scent with warm green, earthy, or peppery undertones. Pelargoniums tend to be more fragrant and are extensively used to replace rose oils in bath products and perfumes.

Geraniums can be grown in pots and used to fill in areas that are in need of texture and color. Multiple shoots of differing varieties can be planted alongside one another to accentuate differences in floral features. These pots can be situated pretty much anywhere in the garden, or even your front porch or a windowsill, where they can receive morning sun and afternoon shade.


7) Snake’s head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)

Snake's head fritillary bulbs
Snake’s head fritillary has stunning, unique petals with a pattern similar to a checkerboard. H. Zell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Native to Eurasia

With morphologically fascinating and unique flowers, snake’s head fritillary can catch the eye of any keen observer. This stunning species is distinguished by the checkerboard or snake-like pattern of its petals. From a distance, the flowers resemble a snake’s heads, especially as they are oriented at a downward angle. Like many other squirrel-repellent plants, the shoots of F. meleagris also arise from bulbs.

While the resemblance to a snake can be menacing enough to an unsuspecting squirrel, it’s the plant’s pungent odor that truly repels them. A horticulturist has likened the scent to that of a fox! Moreover, this species contains toxic compounds, such as Imperialine and Tulipalin A. Ingestion can cause severe gastrointestinal tract problems and may even result in cardiac arrest. Physical contact with these compounds can cause dermatitis.

That being said, snake’s head fritillary can be perfectly safe to have in a garden as long as you are aware of its chemical features. Make sure to cultivate it in areas that domesticated animals would have trouble getting to. To make it an effective repellent against squirrels, it should be placed along corridors of potential entry for wild animals. Make sure the bulbs are cultivated in a well-draining but regularly moistened substrate.


8) Marigolds (Tagetes spp.)

Tagetes erecta flowers
Marigold flowers emit a strong fragrance that deters squirrels. Sixflashphoto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Native to the Americas

Marigolds are commercially cultivated all throughout the globe. They are known for their bright yellow to orange flowers, with those of some cultivars having a particularly strong fragrance. The most popular species include French marigold (T. patula), Mexican marigold (T. erecta), and signet marigold (T. tenuifolia).

A key decoration in many Central to South American festivities, marigolds are strung as garlands and can even be used to add color and complexity to many dishes. It must be noted that their roots produce antibacterial substances called thiophenes, which are sulfur-containing compounds. These may aid the plant in repelling nematodes and other pests. Nonetheless, the feature that most likely turns off squirrels is the fragrance emitted by marigold flowers.

The most popular marigold species are annuals with a lifespan of less than a year. Once their flowers are completely spent, the shoots begin to die off. Still, they have a remarkable self-capacity for self-seeding and will readily germinate the following year once ambient conditions are desirable. Bear in mind that some species can grow profusely enough to become invasive in countries outside of their native range.


9) Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Peppermint plant
Peppermint can spread quickly, given the right conditions. You should grow it within pots if you want to restrict its growth. Image by photosforyou from Pixabay

Native to the Middle East & Europe

This hybrid mint plant has won the world over, becoming a classical ingredient in many flavorful concoctions. Its parent species are watermint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Menta spicata). A vigorous grower, it is a great addition to any herb and vegetable garden, especially as it emits a strong fragrance that many potential grazers find repulsive.

As the plant’s scent is derived from its essential oil, even cotton balls that are soaked in peppermint extract may be used to repel squirrels. These can be strung onto shrubs around the garden, especially areas with young bulbs that need additional protection from pests. Peppermint can also be grown in pots and regularly relocated next to susceptible seedlings.

Peppermint has the potential to spread quickly in optimal conditions. In regularly moistened, well-draining, and rich soil, runners just underneath the soil’s surface can form an extensive network, resulting in an invasive colony in no time. For peace of mind, restrict growth to within pots.


10) Goldenrods (Solidago spp.)

Pollinators on goldenrod flowers
Goldenrod’s yellow blooms attract many pollinators, but also deter squirrels! Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

Mostly native to North America

With dozens of species thriving in meadows, prairies, farms, and even boggy environments, goldenrods are widespread plants. Outside of the Americas, they need to be cultivated with care as they can quickly spread to become invasive species. They are often unjustly accused of being sources of allergens. The real culprit is usually ambrosia (ragweed), with which goldenrods bloom at the same time.

Commonly cultivated Solidago species include S. canadensis, S. rigida, S. caesia, S. virgaurea, and S. riddellii. Their leaves can be brewed into an herbal tea to treat inflammation, rheumatism, and muscle spasms. Depending on your garden preferences, you are likely to find a perfect plant among goldenrod’s many cultivars and hybrids. The yellow blooms attract many pollinators, including bees and butterflies.

Goldenrods function as squirrel repellent because of their taste rather than their fragrance. This means that these plants may be less effective as deterrents because squirrels that are unfamiliar with their unappealing flavor may still approach them. To give off an anise or licorice-like scent, the leaves of goldenrod have to be injured or crushed.

 

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