Squirrels are opportunistic feeders known for their diverse diets, including fruits, nuts, vegetables, and sometimes flowers. Gardeners and plant enthusiasts are constantly looking for ways to keep their plants and flowers safe from squirrels and other animals. If something is eating your carnations, you likely want to know what it is and how to implement protective measures. So, let’s look at whether or not squirrels eat carnations and what you can do about it.
Carnations are not a squirrel’s flower of choice. They prefer other types of flowers, such as sunflowers, hostas, etc. That said, in times of scarcity or when other preferred food sources are limited, they may be inclined to eat fresh carnation flowers, buds, and seeds.
If something is damaging your carnations, it’s likely not a squirrel.
Several other animals, insects, and birds may be to blame for the damage, including caterpillars, deer, rabbits, sparrows, and insects. To determine who is eating your flowers or which animal is causing destruction in your garden, you should look for signs of activity or evidence that point to a culprit.
So let’s look at why squirrels may or may not eat carnations and how to protect them.
However, before we discuss how to protect them, let’s look at the different types of carnations available.
Types of Carnations
There are numerous carnation varieties, but they can generally be categorized into three main groups:
- Standard Carnations: Also known as the large-flowering carnations, these have a single large flower per stem and are commonly used in bouquets and floral displays.
- Spray Carnations: These carnations feature multiple smaller flowers on each stem, making them ideal for creating fuller arrangements.
- Dwarf Carnations: These are compact, shorter plants that produce smaller flowers, perfect for growing in pots or as border plants in your garden.
Each variety comes in different colors and patterns, giving you numerous options to choose from when selecting carnations for your home or garden.
A Look At Squirrels Eating Habits
Like humans, squirrels require a balanced diet to stay healthy. Their diet consists mainly of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. However, squirrels are omnivores, meaning they eat plant- and animal-based food sources.
Squirrels will consume insects like caterpillars and grasshoppers for additional protein if available.
In terms of plants, they prefer plants such as; sunflowers, dandelions, corn, apples, pears, mushrooms, etc. These opportunistic feeders avoid plants with strong fragrances because they contain chemicals that can be irritating or toxic to squirrels.
Carnations contain a sweet smell that makes them unappealing to squirrels, so squirrels and other wildlife won’t eat them unless they can’t find other food sources.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Carnations?
Another reason squirrels might eat carnations is because of their bright colors. When foraging for food, squirrels might be inclined to go after colored objects out of curiosity.
They will nibble on the flowers, stems, or leaves to determine whether it is a toxic or safe plant. Carnations are not toxic to squirrels unless you’ve sprayed them with a pesticide.
Additionally, carnations contain seeds which may provide nutrients and energy if consumed by a squirrel. Although it’s unlikely that a squirrel will eat the entire flower, they might dig up the seedlings and eat the seeds and buds.
Signs of Squirrels Eating Your Carnations?
Before implementing preventative measures, you must know whether or not squirrels are eating your carnations.
Here are some signs that squirrels are the pests damaging your carnations.
- Stems or leaves are chewed off at the base
- Petals are torn and missing
- Buds and seeds have been dug up
- Half eaten flowers on the ground
If you see any of these signs, then chances are squirrels have been snacking on your carnations, and here’s what to do to protect them.
How To Prevent Squirrels From Eating Carnations?
Even though the carnations aren’t on a squirrel’s menu, there are things you can do to protect it from unruly squirrels and other animals.
The tips below work great to repel squirrels from disturbing, digging, or eating carnation plants.
Just remember, squirrels are persistent little critters, and it will take some time to get them to stop harassing your flowers.
Cage the Plants
One of the best ways to protect your plants from squirrels and other critters is to create a cylindrical fence out of chicken wire. You’ll want to create a cage around the carnation plants to protect them properly.
You’ll want to place some wood or metal stakes and place them 4-6 inches away from the plant so that they won’t harm the roots. If you put them too close to the plants, the squirrels may be able to stick their paw in the cage and pull out a flower.
Wrap the chicken wire around the posts to form a cage. You may also want to create a screen door that will allow you to enter the cage to care for your carnations.
Don’t forget to enclose the top of the cage. Otherwise, the squirrels will climb the fence and access the plants from the top. They are excellent climbers and jumpers.
To protect your plants from squirrels, cover the top of the soil with gravel. This will make it difficult for the squirrels to dig as the sharp edges of the rock will hurt their paws.
Be sure not to use too much gravel, as this can hurt the plant’s roots. Avoid using large gravel, as it can damage the plant’s stems. Instead, consider using smaller types, such as pea gravel.
Take the Container Inside
If your carnations are in containers, the easiest thing to do is to take them inside.
You can bring them out every morning and put them on a deck that squirrels won’t climb because there are always people on it.
Or you can leave them inside and place the plant near a window that gets good sun.
When your plants are in the house, you don’t have anything to worry about unless you have squirrels in your house.
Squirrels have a great sense of smell, which helps keep them safe from predators. For example, blood meal is a slaughterhouse waste product used as a natural fertilizer. The smell has been proven to keep moles, squirrels, and deer away.
These animals can’t stand the strong smells of ammonia and nitrogen.
When choosing bloodmeal, opt for the organic type as it is the least toxic variety for your plants. In addition, it’s a great way to keep squirrels away while fertilizing your plants while providing them with sufficient nitrogen and other nutrients your plants require.
Spread four ounces of bloodmeal per square yard of soil or follow the instructions on the back of the bag.
You can purchase bloodmeal at a nursery or home improvement store with a gardening section.
Plant Your Carnations With Thorny Plants
You can try plants that have sharp thorns to prevent squirrels from getting to your carnation plants. For instance, roses have sharp thorns and can help protect your carnation plants from critters.
You can consider planting other plants with thorns: firethorns, honey locus, bougainvillea, Barbary fig, etc.
Do your due diligence to ensure those plants won’t attack your carnation plants.
You can also plant some of the plants that naturally repel squirrels.
After you’ve depleted all the options above, you may want to consider creating a squirrel-friendly area in your yard. Choose an area away from your carnations and veggies, so the squirrels won’t be tempted to stray.
You can either buy or make a squirrel feeder and fill it with some of the best food for squirrels we rounded up on our recommended products page.
It may take a while, but once the squirrels realize they have their own place, there’s a good chance that they will leave your plants alone.
Before you know it, you won’t mind having the squirrels visit your backyard!
Irish Spring Soap
Irish Spring soap is a well-known effect deterrent for keeping squirrels, deer, and other animals away from fruits, vegetables, and plants. The soap has a strong scent that will keep the animals away.
Simply take a soap bar and shave it into smaller pieces using a cheese grater. Then, sprinkle the soap shavings around the plants you want to protect. The scent will last several days, and you’ll need to reapply it after it rains.
You can also place bars of soap around the perimeter of your garden. Pierce a hole through the bar of soap and hang it on a wooden pole or post, using a piece of rope.
This will create a barrier that squirrels and other animals won’t want to cross. You don’t have to worry, as the plant won’t hurt your plants or edibles.
This method is also effective for keeping deer away from your garden.
Other Animals That Eat Carnations
Like other plants, carnations are susceptible to damage from other animals, insects, and pests.
Below are some other animals and insects known to damage carnation and how they can damage your plants.
- Rats and mice: are among the most common animal culprits. These rodents have large incisors known for their nibbling and chewing habits. They can cause significant damage by gnawing the leaves, stems, and flowers.
- Rabbits: also pose a threat to your carnations, especially younger plants. With their preference for tender leaves and shoots, rabbits may find your budding carnations an irresistible snack. They can cause significant damage to your garden by munching on the new growth of your plants.
- Birds: Some species of birds, particularly some species of sparrows, feed on plant material, ornamental grasses, and sunflowers. Their diet primarily consists of seeds and insects. They can damage the leaves and petals of carnations.
- Insects: Mites, aphids, and mealybugs are insects infamous for damaging carnation plants. These pests can cause considerable damage to your plants by feeding on the leaves or burrowing into the stems and flowers.
Squirrels love eating certain plants, but carnations contain a sweet scent that may repel squirrels. That said, due to deforestation and loss of habitat, squirrels and other animals may eat your carnations.
The tips above will help you determine if squirrels are the culprit. Once you know what’s damaging your carnations, implement the tips above to protect your garden.
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