Will mothballs keep squirrels out of flower pots?

Do you know, watching a squirrel darting around never fails to amuse me – they’re so nimble and agile. I’ve always enjoyed watching them from my window, almost like I’m part of a David Attenborough documentary. With that being said, they can be a real pain for gardeners. They can be known to dig up bulbs, strip the bark of trees and generally wreak havoc. So let’s find out if mothballs deter them from flowerpots:

squirrel repellents

Table of Contents

Will mothballs keep squirrels out of flower pots?

Yes, mothballs repel squirrels from flower pots and other plants simply because of the smell they give off. The active ingredients in mothballs are naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which are both strong-smelling chemicals. As they go from a solid and start to break down, they give off a gas that’s very potent and foul-smelling to them. Mothballs are great but the only downside is that you will need to replace them once per week.

discourage squirrels

Why do squirrels destroy plants?

As the temperature starts to drop and food sources because scarce, squirrels essentially have to prepare their food supplies. This involves storing food away for the winter months, which is known as caching. It’s a process whereby they hide their food in different nooks and crannies, including flower pots.

Potted plants are also an ideal target for them because more often than not the soil is easy to dig up, whereas other locations are commonly more compacted and dense.

Now, this can be exceedingly annoying for us gardeners because they often unearth our hard work. But it’s all part of their natural caching process and there’s not a lot we can do to stop them – except for using mothballs and other types of natural repellents such as cayenne pepper, chilli flakes or lemon peel.

natural squirrel repellents

Are squirrels good to have around?

So, I know I haven’t had many nice things to say about squirrels in this article so far but they’re actually known as nature’s gardeners. This is because they help to spread the seeds of trees and other plants around. So in a way, we should be thankful for their existence.

Squirrels are also great at eating insects, including many that are considered to be pests. So they actually help to keep the insect population under control, which is great news for us gardeners as from time to time, pests pose a massive threat to our flowers and plants in general.

How To Keep Squirrels Out Of Flower Pots

I have briefly touched on a couple of preventative measures that you can take in order to repel squirrels from your flower pots but below I’m going to go into more detail about what you can do:

Organic Methods

Keep your garden well maintained: This includes regularly trimming your hedges and mowing your lawn. Doing so will make it harder for squirrels to access your potted plants as they’ll have fewer places to hide. Another simple thing to keep on top off is the removal of acorns from your lawn as these are a food source for them and they will inherently try to bury them (in your flower pots)

  • Cayenne pepper: if you’re looking for a more natural alternative to mothballs then cayenne pepper is definitely worth trying. All you need to do is sprinkle it around the base of your plants and it will deter them from coming anywhere near.
  • Chilli flakes: these work in much the same way as cayenne pepper and can be just as effective.
  • Lemon peel: this is another great natural remedy that’s easy to come by. All you need to do is place some lemon peel around the base of your plants.
  • Bone Meal as Fertilizer: this is a great way to keep squirrels away and it also provides your plants with the nutrients they need to grow. Bone meal acts as a natural repellent and deters squirrels from coming anywhere near.
  • Coffee grounds: these are another great way to keep squirrels at bay and they’re easy to come by as well. All you need to do is sprinkle them around the base of your plants.
  • Squirrel-proof Plants: there are certain plants that squirrels simply don’t like the smell of and this can be used to your advantage. Some examples include marigolds, geraniums, petunias, garlic and impatiens. By planting these around your flower pots, you’ll create a barrier that squirrels won’t want to cross.
  • You can make a quick repellent from home using the following – 1 liter of water, 2-3 tablespoons of cayenne pepper and 1-2 tablespoons of liquid dish detergent.
homemade squirrel repellent

Other Methods

  • Sonic Deterrents: these work by emitting a high-pitched noise that squirrels find incredibly annoying. They’re battery-operated and can be placed around your garden, on window sills or anywhere else you see fit.
  • Strobe Lights: these can also be used to keep squirrels away as they hate the sudden flashes of light. Strobe lights are also great at deterring other animals such as birds, rabbits, deer, raccoons and cats.
  • Motion-activated Sprinklers: these are a great way to keep squirrels away as they’ll be unexpectedly sprayed with water. They’re also effective at deterring other animals such as birds, rabbits, deer, raccoons and cats.
  • Glue traps: these are one of the most effective ways to catch squirrels but they’re not for everyone as they can be quite cruel (I personally don’t like them). The idea is that you place the trap in an area where you know squirrels frequent and when they step on it, they get stuck. You then have the option of releasing them or dispatching them.
bird feeders


In this article, we’ve looked at a few different ways that you can keep squirrels out of your flower pots. Some of these methods are organic while others rely on more artificial means. Let’s summarise the above:

  • Mothballs are great at repelling squirrels because they contain the chemicals naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene which squirrels don’t like
  • You have to replace mothballs in flower pots once per week
  • Squirrels destroy flower pots by bearing food supplies like acorns which disrupts the soil and roots
  • Squirrels are good to have around as they help spread seeds and control
  • insects and pests
  • Organic methods to repel squirrels are the use of cayenne pepper, chilli flakes, lemon peel, bone meal as a fertilizer, coffee grounds and squirrel-proof plants
flower pot broken by squirrel

People also ask

What smell do squirrels hate the most?

Coffee grounds, peppermint, vinegar, garlic and onions, or peppermint oil are known to keep slugs away. You could also try a sprinkling of chili flakes and pepper.

Will mothballs damage plants?

Mothballs are highly toxic and can damage or kill plants. They should only be used as a last resort and only in areas where children and pets cannot access them.

Does Irish Spring soap keep squirrels away?

Yes, Irish Spring soap is effective at keeping squirrels away. The strong scent of the soap is what deters them.

Do dryer sheets repel squirrels?

Dryer sheets contain a chemical called quinine which is known to repel squirrels. You can place them around your garden or in flower pots.

What are squirrels afraid of?

Squirrels are afraid of many things including loud noises, predators, dogs, cats, and people. They are also known to be afraid of snakes and other small animals.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

I hope you enjoy reading some of the content and ideas from this site, I tend to share articles and product reviews on a daily basis, so be rest assured… you won’t run out of things to read!

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