How to Keep Squirrels From Digging Up Flower Pots and Bulbs

Updated: Feb. 16, 2024

Squirrels can do damage in the garden. Get expert advice to keep squirrels out of flower pots and stop them from digging up bulbs.

How to Keep Squirrels out of Flower Pots

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You’ll have to get creative to stop squirrels from digging in your pots.

“How do I keep squirrels out of the plants in my flower pots?” asks Stacey Lauderdale of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Melinda Myers: Squirrels are often destructive pests of container plantings. They have grown accustomed to humans and have all day to find ways to overcome barriers. It will take a variety of tactics, some luck and persistence on your part to keep them away and win the battle. Try covering new plantings with fine netting or floating row covers that allow air, light and water to reach the plants. These barriers may discourage the squirrels from digging and send them off looking for other dining locations. The squirrels may lose interest and move on. Once plants are established, remove the covering and monitor for squirrel damage.

Groundhogs can be a problem in the garden, too. Get expert tips to deter them.

Some gardeners report success with cayenne pepper. Look for repellents labeled for squirrel control. Use them before the critters start digging, apply as directed and reapply as needed. Scare tactics may also help, such as motion-sensitive sprinklers and pinwheels. If one approach doesn’t work, try another. It can be a tough battle. Do your best to be patient and persistent.

Check out top-rated squirrel baffles and squirrel-proof bird feeders.

Stop Squirrels From Digging up Flower Bulbs

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Get expert garden advice to keep critters from digging up your flower bulbs.

“Every year I plant daffodils and tulips. Before the ground freezes, something digs them up and leaves the bulbs near the hole. What can I do?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Caroline Hatley of Barnstead, New Hampshire.

Melinda Myers: Most animals leave daffodils alone. Try planting them away from crocus, tulips and other critter favorites to prevent accidental digging. Some gardeners have success treating the bulbs with commercial or homemade repellents before putting them in the ground. Or you can physically protect tulips and daffodils with a flower bulb cage. Place the bulbs in the cage, plant at the proper depth, then cover the bulbs and cage with soil. Another solution: Make your own barrier. Dig a hole for planting, set bulbs in place and cover with an inch or two of soil. Lay chicken wire over the top and sides of the bulb planting, then fill the remainder of the hole with soil.

Backyard Tip: If something’s digging up your bulbs, squirrels are the usual suspects, but other culprits might be skunks, voles or rabbits. See if you can identify the tracks around the hole. Also, grow these deer-resistant bulbs for spring blooms.

Next, find out if safflower seeds deter squirrels?