Poppies belong to the Papaveraceae family and are extremely popular plants among homeowners. People plant them for their colorful and showy flowers. You’re likely reading this article because something is eating or damaging your plants, and you’re wondering if it’s squirrels.
Do Squirrels Eat Poppies?
Poppies are not a squirrel’s favorite plants to eat. Papaver somniferum is a species of poppies used for medicinal and recreational purposes, making them toxic and dangerous for squirrels. The only edible parts are the small kidney-shaped seeds. Squirrels have a natural instinct that keeps them from eating plants that may or may not be harmful.
If something is eating your poppies, it’s likely another animal. With over 115 species of poppies, you may have one that squirrels love to eat, especially if food is scarce.
Are Poppies Toxic To Squirrels?
As mentioned, poppies are not on a squirrel’s menu because parts of the plant may be toxic, including the stems, leaves, and flowers.
Squirrels aren’t likely to eat the poppies in your garden; they can damage the plants by using them to hide or build food caches.
How to Stop Squirrels From Eating Poppies?
Like humans, squirrels have to eat. However, it doesn’t mean that they have to eat your poppies to cause damage to them.
Below are some tips for keeping squirrels away from your poppy plants using humane tactics.
Create A Physical Barrier
First and foremost, set up a barrier to protect your rose bushes. A barrier such as a 3-4 foot high rabbit fence. Opt for a plastic rabbit proof fence, as you won’t have to worry about it rusting.
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 poppy 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 poppies, 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 bushes, 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 poppies.
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 poppies.
Set the feeder away from the bushes and home, as you don’t want to attract more critters to your property.
Other Animals That Eat Poppies?
Most animals avoid eating poppies because of the toxicity of the plants. However, below are some insects that are attracted to the plants and pollen.
- Birds – responsible for eating the seeds
If something is eating your poppies, it’s likely an insect or bird. Squirrels tend to avoid these plants because of the toxicity of the stems, leaves, and flowers.
That said, if squirrels are near your poppies, they are likely interested in other plants and vegetables in your garden. The tips above will protect your plants from these rodents.
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