Astilbe is a popular perennial that many homeowners grow because of its attractive feathery plumes and lush green foliage. The beautiful pink, purple, and white flowers attract animals and insects for food, but do squirrels eat astilbe?
Astilbe is not high on a squirrel’s menu, as they prefer other plants, such as; sunflowers, vegetable plants, and fruit. That said, squirrels are opportunistic feeders that will eat various plants and flowers. When food sources are low, they may take advantage of plants they normally wouldn’t eat.
If something is eating your astilbe plants’ leaves, plants, and flowers, it’s likely not a squirrel. It’s likely insects or other animals.
Still, it’s important to understand the signs of squirrel damage to plants, which we’ll cover in this article, and how to protect your plants.
Signs That Squirrels Are Damaging Your Astilbe Plants
Squirrels can cause a variety of damage to plants, including:
1. Digging holes: Squirrels dig holes in the soil to bury nuts or acorns. These holes can uproot young plants or damage the roots of established ones.
2. Chewed leaves and flowers: These rodents habitually chew on leaves and flowers, which can affect the plant’s growth and overall health. Squirrels will chew the stems and leaves at the base of the plant.
3. Half-eaten flowers on the ground: Squirrels are attracted to bright-colored flowers and may nibble on a small piece of the blooming flower before they realize it’s not on the menu. If they don’t like the taste, it’s not unusual for them to drop it on the ground and search for better tasting food.
4. Nibbled or stolen bulbs: Squirrels may also dig up and nibble or steal the bulbs. It’s not unusual for them to target such plants as tulips and crocuses.
Are Astilbe Plants Toxic To Squirrels?
Astilbe plants are not toxic to squirrels or other animals unless you spray them with pesticides or plant food. That said, squirrels and other animals don’t like the taste of the leathery plumes because they can cause digestive issues.
However, it’s not unusual for squirrels to damage plants by digging up the bulbs, eating the seedlings, and digging at the base in search of food.
Some rodents will damage your garden in search of food caches.
How to Stop Squirrels From Eating Astilbe?
Like humans, squirrels have to eat. However, it doesn’t mean that they have to eat your astilbe plants to cause damage to them.
Below are some tips for keeping squirrels away from your astilbe plants using humane tactics.
Create A Physical Barrier
First and foremost, set up a barrier to protect your astilbe plants. A barrier such as a 3-4 foot high rabbit fence. Opt for a plastic rabbit-proof fence; you won’t have to worry about rust.
Bury it at least 10 inches deep in the ground, and extend it out a few inches so the squirrel can’t dig underneath it.
Use A Repellent
There are several commercial repellents available that you can use to keep squirrels away from your plants. Some contain capsaicin, an irritant to animals (and humans).
You can also make your own DIY repellent by mixing water, hot pepper flakes, and dish soap.
Spray the mixture on the leaves of the plants, as well as around the base. Be sure to reapply after it rains or whenever you notice the squirrels coming back.
Buy and use orange, lemon, and grapefruit oil to keep squirrels away from your plants. These oils have a strong scent that repels rodents.
Mix a few drops of oil with water in a spray bottle and spray the mixture around the base of the plants. This will create a protection barrier for your plants.
This method works great for keeping squirrels away but can be harmful to plants. The best way to test whether it’s harmful to your plant, spot test a small area.
For repellents to work, you also need to remove anything that is attracting the squirrels to your yard in the first place. This means removing any sources of food and water.
Clean up any fallen fruit or nuts, as these will attract rodents. Be sure to empty bird feeders as they will eat the bird seed.
If you have a pet, don’t leave their food out, as it will attract the squirrels.
Lastly, seal up any holes or cracks around your home, as this will give them access to your yard.
Believe it or not, there are plants that squirrels hate. Consider planting some next to your astilbe plants or bushes to keep them away.
Some examples include Daffodils, Marigolds, Alliums, Lily of the Valley, etc.
I’ve written an article on plants squirrels hate, so check it out. I have no doubt you’ll find something that will work for you.
Owl statues have been known to deter squirrels from gardens since owls prey on rodents. That said, you’ll have to move the decoy around every few days, as the squirrels will catch on that it’s not real.
Use Garlic Spray
Squirrels don’t like the smell or taste of garlic. You can make your own garlic spray by mixing water, vinegar, and minced garlic. Let it sit for a few days, no less than 24 hours.
Spray the mixture on your plants and around the perimeter of your yard. Be sure to reapply every few days or after it rains.
Before spraying the ground around the plants, give them a good drink of water to prevent the roots and leaves from burning.
Garlic is not only good for deterring squirrels and other animals, but it also protects the plants from bugs such as snails and ants, and fungal diseases such as blackspot.
So even if you don’t have a squirrel problem, you may want to consider using garlic spray as an environmentally friendly way to protect your wooflowers.
Get A Feeder for the Squirrels
If you’ve tried everything you know to do, maybe it’s time to set up a squirrel feeder. This will give the rodents a food source that isn’t your astilbe plants.
Set the feeder away from the bushes and home, as you don’t want to attract more critters to your property.
Animals and Insects That Eat Astilbe
If something is eating or damaging your astilbe plants, it’s likely not squirrels. It’s likely one of the following:
If there are holes in the astilbe leaves, it’s likely an insect or disease. Some people have had issues with rabbits and deer eating the leaves and foliage.
Squirrels are usually not the culprit when it comes to damaging or eating astilbe plants. However, with humans tearing down trees and destroying their habitat, squirrels may have no option but to eat any plant they find.
You can use the tips above to protect your astilbe plants from squirrels and other animals.