15 Plants That Repel Squirrels (Protect Your Garden!)

Squirrels can be quite cute when they’re out in nature. But when they cause damage to our plants and gardens and start to hide in our homes, it can quickly become an issue. Don’t worry, though—with the right choice of plants, you can easily chase squirrels away!

The 15 plants that can be used to repel squirrels are:

  1. Star jasmine
  2. Daffodils
  3. Lemongrass
  4. Peppermint
  5. Bougainvillea
  6. Snowdrops
  7. Ornamental onions
  8. Garlic
  9. Lantana
  10. Elephant ears
  11. Epazote
  12. American barberries
  13. Catmint
  14. Bleeding hearts
  15. Lavender

Depending on your environment and the common species in your area, squirrels can sometimes be desperate enough to eat anything. There are a few plants that they’re less tolerant of, however, so read forward to learn what they are!

1. Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

Star jasmines emit a sharp flowery aroma that squirrels find unpleasant. The vine-like growth of Star Jasmine can be usefully placed on fences and screens to repel squirrels and discourage them from climbing.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance

Best Grown in: Ground or containers

Origin: Asia

Also known as confederate jasmine, this climbing plant is great if you have fences or walls that squirrels frequently climb on.

Star Jasmine Flowers
Sans Attaches (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Trachelospermum Jasminoides Flowers

Star Jasmine grows fast and has a rich, floral smell that bees and birds find attractive. Squirrels, however, find the fragrance repulsive.

It can tolerate being grown in the shade and does not require more than 5 hours of full sun.

So this pretty vine is ideal for those struggling to find squirrel-resistant plants that thrive in heavy shade.

2. Daffodils (Narcissus jonquilla)

Daffodils are highly effective in repelling squirrels due to the toxic compound named lycorine. Grow daffodils near low garden beds to help prevent squirrels from eating vulnerable plants.

Repelling Mechanism: Toxicity

Best Grown in: Ground or containers

Origin: Northern Europe

Although pretty, daffodils contain highly toxic alkaloids called lycorine that are lethal if eaten in large amounts. Every single part of the daffodil has this compound, but the bulbs have high concentrations of lycorine.

Daffodil Flower
Jacques Zuber (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Narcissus Jonquilla Flowers

You can take advantage of this and grow these flowers with delicate, low-growing crops. Daffodils only grow to be 1–2 feet high but they can make a great squirrel-resistant border.

Their bulbs are commonly mistaken for onions, however, so be absolutely certain you do not accidentally consume these! Be sure your pets and little ones stay away from it and it will serve as a wonderful deterrent against scavenging squirrels.

3. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)

When bruised or trimmed, lemongrass releases an extremely strong aroma that helps repel squirrels. Prevent this plant from growing rampant by keeping it in containers and placing it around the garden perimeter to dissuade unwanted squirrels.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance

Best Grown in: Containers or confined spaces inground

Origin: India

The smell of lemongrass is very similar to, you guessed it, lemon. This perfume will be overwhelming for many pests such as squirrels and ticks.

Just keep in mind that this plant has a grassy-like growth. On the bright side, it can be harvested and used in cooking.

Lemongrass Leaves
Angelina Caussé (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Cymbopogon Citratus Leaves

However, lemongrass tends to grow quite aggressively and is best kept in containers.

You can trim this plant to your heart’s content to regularly release its warm scents and discourage squirrels from drawing close to your property.

4. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Peppermint can be used to protect plants and homes from squirrel damage. This plant is highly effective in repelling squirrels by overwhelming them with its minty fragrance. Grow peppermint strictly in containers to prevent aggressive growth.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown in: Containers

Origin: Europe

If you’ve been trying to grow a pest-free garden, you’re probably familiar with this one.

Peppermint has a ridiculously strong and minty scent that is known to irritate the sensitive noses of squirrels. The essential oils of peppermint are also an incredible squirrel-repellent, which we’ll talk about in a bit.

Peppermint Leaves
Robin Eddi (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Mentha x Piperita Leaves

This is one of the best squirrel-resistant plants to grow because it grows easily and does not harm the squirrel in any way. It simply repels them with its overwhelming smell!

As a member of the mint family, though, peppermint needs to be grown strictly in containers to prevent it from growing too wildly in the garden.

5. Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spectabilis)

Although a popular shrub, bougainvillea plants grow prolific quantities of thorns that are effective in controlling squirrels. This plant is best grown as tall hedges encircling houses to discourage squirrels from disturbing the thorny barriers.

Repelling Mechanism: Thorns

Best Grown in: Ground

Origin: Brazil

Also known as the paper flower, this gorgeous plant blooms delicate-looking flowers in every season save for winter. Its long and sharp thorns, however, can be found all over the stems for the entire year.

Established Bougainvillea plants can grow over 15 ft (4.57 m) tall, making them ideal for hedges. I see bougainvillea often used as a border and never get tired of it.

Bougainvillea Flowers
Mata William (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Bougainvillea Spectabilis Flowers

Squirrels are relatively smart creatures and will quickly learn to stay away from this plant to avoid being pricked.

Grow bougainvillea outdoors beside some walls leading up to the roof or grow it all around your house as an attractive hedge.

6. Snowdrops (Galanthus spp.)

The bulbs of snowdrops are poisonous when consumed and will help discourage squirrel damage. Snowdrop flowers are also extremely fragrant and are best grown in low-lying beds to help repel squirrels.

Repelling Mechanism: Toxicity and fragrance

Best Grown in: Ground or containers

Origin: Europe or Asia

Popular for its dainty and snow-white blooms, the bulbs of Galanthus flowers are commonly said to be overpowering in scent.

Squirrels have a habit of digging things up to eat or burying their stash of nuts. Hence, they’re likely to be repulsed by the fragrance and taste of a snowdrop bulb once they discover it.

Snowdrop Flowers
Ruediger Persch (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Galanthus Flowers

The flowers themselves are also wonderfully scented but are toxic if eaten due to its presence of poisonous galantamine. This will further discourage squirrels from disturbing anything in your yard.

As a bonus to their beauty, these flowers are only 10 inches (25.4 cm) tall or so, and will easily be found by ground squirrels.

7. Ornamental Onions (Allium)

Ornamental onions, or alliums, contain intense odors and toxins. Because of this, they are extremely useful in repelling squirrels. Grow allium by tree lines or use its pungent petals as a natural deterrent.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance and toxicity

Best Grown in: Ground or containers

Origin: North America

What if I told you onions were pretty?

These bulbs are known as ornamental onions because of their onion and garlic-like odors. Squirrels have an excellent sense of smell, so alliums can be used as powerful deterrents.

Not only do these plants have off-putting scents for squirrels, they are also bitter when eaten. Their flowers grow in orb-like clusters with a pungent smell of onion.

If you’d rather not have onion-scented flowers in your garden, you can instead cut them to scatter their petals across the ground and help keep squirrels away.

Alliums can grow in containers but they are best planted in large amounts directly in the ground where squirrels have been sighted. You can also grow it near the tree line.

8. Garlic (Allium sativum)

Many commercial repellents contain garlic as an active ingredient, making garlic plants highly effective in repelling unwanted squirrels. Garlic can also be used in its oil form and used with other ingredients to create a natural deterrent spray for pests.

Repelling Mechanism: Oil and fragrance

Best Grown in: Ground or containers

Origin: Asia

These odorous members of the onion family are great at deterring grazers and insects with their powerful smell. There’s a reason garlic plants are sometimes called the stinking rose.

While some folks may not be a fan of it, this is a terrific plant to grow at home for both its squirrel-repellent abilities and its flavor!

Garlic Flowers
Fabrice Fabrice Riegert (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Allium Sativum Flowers

You can plant garlic in full sun out in the garden or in the backyard to help discourage squirrels. Garlic oil is also a great alternative and can be used with other effective but more pleasant-smelling ingredients, such as lavender.

Easy and Natural Squirrel Repellent

To create your own DIY squirrel repellent spray at home, collect the following ingredients:

  • 20 drops of peppermint oil
  • 20 drops of garlic oil
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of cayenne powder

Stir the ingredients together in a bowl to make sure everything is mixed well.

You can substitute these ingredients with other things such as garlic granules and fresh peppermint leaves. But the cayenne pepper is essential, so be sure to use it!

Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and fill the remaining space with warm water. You’ll notice how strong the smell is, which is exactly what you need to help deter these critters.

Spray this mixture around your potted plants, your garden, pipes, and wherever else you find it necessary. Squirrels are less likely to disturb your home after smelling something so pungent!

★ How to: Make Homemade Repellent Spray (Good for Rats, Mice, Squirrels, Bugs, Cats, Deer & Insects)
YouTube Video – Homemade Repellent Spray

9. Lantana (Lantana camara)

Lantana plants produce unpleasant odors when bruised and grow bitter berries that squirrels seldom enjoy eating. To help repel squirrels, plant lantana directly in the ground in backyards or grow it in containers near vulnerable crops.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance and taste

Best Grown in: Ground or containers

Origin: Mexico

If you live in Florida, you’re probably familiar with this! Lantana plants provide a fun and tropical air to whatever environment they’re grown in.

What’s even better, though, is that its foliage releases an unpleasant aroma when they are crushed and its berries are extremely bitter in flavor.

Lantana Flowers
Mimi Chatain (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Lantana Camara Flowers

The squirrels will not be harmed if they eat this, although they will find its bitterness extremely unpleasant and learn not to eat anything else.

Grow these with care, however, as lantanas tend to grow very quickly and are even considered an invasive species in New Zealand and Australia.

10. Elephant Ears (Colocasia esculenta)

When consumed, elephant ears can cause severe mouth irritation for squirrels. These tall plants can be grown alongside other plants to prevent squirrel damage. Cover seedlings and vulnerable growth with taro leaves to help repel squirrels from disturbing them.

Repelling Mechanism: Severe irritation upon consumption

Best Grown in: Ground or containers

Origin: Eastern Asia

Although taro leaves are commonly used in cooking, they can be painful to eat if they are eaten raw, making them resistant to squirrels.

Since elephant ears can grow over 3 ft (0.91 m), they can be strategically placed near trees that squirrels damage frequently or grown next to tall peppers and tomato plants.

Elephant Ear Leaves
Dieter Albrecht (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Colocasia Esculenta Leaves

Should a squirrel attempt to eat its large and alluring foliage, it will face extreme irritation in the mouth. The leaves of elephant ear plants can also be gathered to cover more vulnerable seedlings.

11. Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides)

Epazote plants are highly pungent and can help mask the scent of other plants frequently attacked by squirrels. Terpene and ascaridole are natural compounds in epazote that squirrels will find unfavorable. Grow epazote in containers to prevent it from spreading and to help repel squirrels.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance

Best Grown in: Containers

Origin: South America

Also known as Jesuit’s tea, Epazote is a particularly smelly plant with an odor that packs quite a punch.

If you find your tomatoes and spinach frequently attacked by squirrels, epazote may be an ideal companion plant for you.

Epazote Leaves
Yannick Rideau (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Dysphania Ambrosioides Leaves

Natural compounds such as ascaridole and terpene can be found in the essential oils of epazote. These compounds are responsible for the plant’s unpleasant smell.

Squirrels will easily detect the objectionable smell of epazote and will completely overlook other plants because of how pungent the odor is. This is great if you don’t want to stop planting your favorite crops but still want to keep squirrels away!

12. American Barberries (Berberis canadensis)

American barberries are useful in repelling squirrels due to their sharp and narrow thorns. For optimum use, grow barberry hedges around homes and gardens to prevent squirrels from entering.

Repelling Mechanism: Thorns

Best Grown in: Ground

Origin: North America

Squirrels grow coarse whisker-like hair called vibrissae on both their heads and limbs and are highly sensitive to thorny plants.

Because of this, squirrels will find it quite painful to climb thorny American barberries.

Long and sharp thorns can be found all over the stems of American Barberries.

Barberries are great grown as hedges if you’re having trouble stopping pests like deer and squirrels from going into your yard and disturbing your plants.

However, because of how painful it would be to touch this, it would be best to keep it away from areas high in traffic with pets and people.

13. Catmint (Nepeta cataria)

Catmint is an aromatic plant that can be used to help repel squirrels using its smell. It can also be grown to attract cats and further control squirrel numbers through predatory control and prevent them from returning.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance and attractive to predatory animals

Best Grown in: Ground or containers

Origin: Europe

Catmint is a terrific candidate for squirrel-free homes. Not only does catmint have its own lingering aroma that squirrels will dislike, but catmint is also attractive to cats.

If you’re okay with having cats around (I certainly am!), you can enlist the help of felines to help scare off curious squirrels. This can be done by growing catmint.

Catmint Flowers
Fred Meier (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Nepeta Cataria Flowers

Cats rarely ever turn down the opportunity to hunt nearby rodents, so you can use this to your advantage.

14. Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)

Because of how toxic this plant is upon consumption, bleeding hearts are effective in preventing squirrels. All parts of this plant are toxic, so it can be grown in gardens to help repel squirrels. However, pets and children must be kept away to prevent them from consuming the plant and vomiting as a result.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance and toxicity

Best Grown in: Ground or container

Origin: Asia

These popular blooms are known as “bleeding hearts” because of their arching branches adorned with pink and heart-shaped flowers.

Known for their showy floral display, bleeding hearts can easily be used both as the focal point of your garden and as a tool to keep squirrels at bay.

Bleeding Heart Flowers
Kevin Merrell (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Lamprocapnos Spectabilis Flowers

Bleeding hearts emit a fragrance that pests like squirrels will quickly pick up. Its toxic plant parts, however, are even more useful in keeping hungry squirrels away.

With that in mind, try to keep nibbling pets away. Toxic compounds such as isoquinoline alkaloid can potentially be lethal to dogs if they are consumed, so keep that pup safe!

15. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender is commonly cultivated for its rich smell that squirrels cannot tolerate. Natural compounds like linalool can be found in lavender and are highly effective in repelling squirrels. Plant lavender around the garden to prevent squirrels from entering.

Repelling Mechanism: Fragrance

Best Grown in: Containers or ground

Origin: Mediterranean

Lavender has a sweet aroma that most people find pleasant. However, for squirrels it can be used as an effective deterrent.

This repelling aroma is due to the presence of linalool, which is a natural compound that scent-sensitive squirrels will easily detect and find unattractive.

Lavender Flowers
ALFONSO CARRION (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Lavandula Angustifolia Flowers

This is a great alternative if you’re looking for harm-free ways to keep a multitude of pests away from your home such as squirrels, ticks, and more.

>> Want a pest-free garden? Check out our article here on plants that repel ticks.

Lavender grows well in containers and can be placed all around the yard next to vulnerable bulbs and plants that squirrels frequently attack.


Do squirrels plant trees?

Squirrels frequently bury nuts and seeds for future consumption. However, there are many cases where the squirrel is unable to retrieve it, which allows the seed to grow in the dirt. This is especially common in winter, when squirrels become more desperate for food.

Are squirrels aggressive?

Squirrels are not aggressive animals and will run away from humans in most cases. However, if the squirrel is desperate and unable to flee, it may become hostile and attempt to bite. This is very rare but should always be reported immediately to medical authorities for proper care.

Summary of Plants That Repel Squirrels

There are very few plants that desperate squirrels will not eat. However, there are some plants available that squirrels are more likely to avoid either due to their toxicity, fragrance, or thorns. Some plants, such as catmint, are also highly attractive to predatory animals.

Other helpful squirrel-repelling plants include star jasmine, daffodils, lemongrass, peppermint, bougainvillea, snowdrops, ornamental onions, garlic, lantana, elephant ears, epazote, American barberries, bleeding hearts, and lavender.


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