Zinnias are herbaceous plants that are native to Mexico and Central America. They thrive in hot climates with full sun exposure and well-drained soils. Zinnias come in various colors, including red, orange, yellow, pink, and purple. They are popular for gardens and bouquets due to their long blooming season and bright flowers. But it can be annoying when squirrels and other pests start nibbling on your zinnias. So, do squirrels eat zinnias?
Do Squirrels Eat Zinnias?
Yes, squirrels are known to eat flowers of all kinds, even zinnias. However, plants are not their primary source of nutrients. A squirrel’s diet consists primarily of nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects. However, they will eat other things when hungry or looking for something to chew on. This includes flowers, twigs, bark, and leaves.
If something is eating your zinnias, it’s likely another culprit, which we will discuss below. That said, squirrels are notorious for ruining gardens and chewing on flowers, so it’s best to take precautions to keep them away from your zinnias (and other plants).
We’ll discuss some tips you can use to protect your garden below and take a closer look at why squirrels may eat the zinnia plant.
Unlike geranium plants, which have a fragrant smell that repels squirrels, zinnias have no scent, which makes them more appealing to these pests. The flowers belong to the Daisy family, also known as the Asteraceae family.
There are over 20 zinnia species, but only a few are popular among gardeners. When fully bloomed, the leaves can have many different shapes, with colorful leaves that attract pollinators such as insects, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Zinnias?
Squirrels are opportunistic feeders that will eat just about anything. They will nibble on leaves, flowers, twigs, and bark if they are hungry. Zinnias are no exception. But there are a few reasons they may be more likely to eat zinnias than other plants.
Zinnias need 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water per week. If you live in an area with little rainfall, you will need to water your zinnias more often. This is one of the reasons why squirrels are attracted to them. They are looking for a water source, and your zinnias fit the bill.
If you see a squirrel by your zinnias, you may want to consider putting out a bird bath to keep them away from your flowers.
Animals in the wild require certain nutrients to survive. For example, while squirrels don’t eat plants as their primary food source, they will nibble on them for the nutrients they contain.
Zinnias are rich in beta-carotene. This is an essential nutrient for animals, as it helps them to see better in low-light conditions.
According to the WIKIFARMERS website, the flowers are low in protein compared to other vegetables, but they contain other nutrients and minerals vital to all living mammals.
Some of the nutrients found in the plants are:
- Vitamin K
As mentioned above, the flowers are not toxic to squirrels or other animals, making them susceptible to various pests and rodents.
In some cases, squirrels may eat zinnias out of boredom. If they are looking for something to chew on and your zinnias are within reach, they may take a bite. This is more likely to happen if there are no other food sources around.
For example, if you have a bird feeder in your yard, the squirrels may be more interested in the birdseed than your flowers. But if there is nothing else for them to eat, they may start snacking on your zinnias.
Squirrels like to chew on things. This helps to keep their teeth sharp and their gums healthy. Zinnias are delicate plants with thin stems. This makes them easy to chew through, which is another reason they are attractive to squirrels.
Do Ground Squirrels And Flying Squirrels Eat Zinnias?
With over 65 species of squirrels in the United States, it’s normal to wonder if ground or flying squirrels eat zinnias.
A ground squirrel’s diet consists primarily of herbaceous plants (non-woody stemmed plants) and green grasses. In contrast, a flying squirrel’s diet is made up of fruits, fungi, and insects. Like their grey cousins, they aren’t the biggest culprits in eating zinnias.
The main culprits are the red and grey squirrels. These are the most common squirrels in North America and are both known for raiding gardens and eating flowers.
How to Keep Squirrels From Eating Zinnias?
Even though the Geranium is a pest-resistant perennial, 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 zinnia plants.
Just remember, squirrels are persistent little critters, and it’s going to take some time to get them to stop harassing your flowers. So don’t forget to check out these tips to keep them off your sunflowers.
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 zinnia 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 zinnia plants.
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 zinnia plants 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 waste product of slaughterhouses that is 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 Among Thorny Plants
You can try plants that have sharp thorns to prevent squirrels from getting to your zinnia plants. For instance, roses have sharp thorns and can help protect your zinnia plants from critters.
You can consider planting other plants with thorns: firethorns, honey locus, bougainvillea, Barbary fig, etc. Make sure you do your due diligence to ensure those plants won’t attack your zinnia 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 zinnia plants 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.
What Animals Eat Zinnias?
Squirrels are attracted to the flowers’ young seedlings and will nibble on the leaves and petals. The good news is that they don’t usually eat the entire plant.
Zinnias are not only popular with gardeners. Many animals and pests find them irresistible. The following animals will eat zinnias:
- Aphids (These pests eat the leaves)
- Japanese Beetles
- Caterpillars (Cutworms, Leafrollers, Armyworms)
- European Earwig
As you can see, quite a few animals enjoy munching on zinnias. If something is eating your zinnias, it’s most likely one of the above instead of a squirrel or deer.
If something is eating your zinnias, it’s likely one of the pests mentioned above. Rabbits love these flowers and will eat the entire plant, leaving just the stems. Squirrels won’t eat zinnias unless they don’t have access to any other food.
That said, they love eating young buds and flowers of plants when they don’t have access to any other food.
Use the tips above to keep squirrels and other pests away from your zinnias or garden. However, you may have to use more than one method to keep them away for good.
But it’s worth it when you can enjoy your beautiful zinnias without worry!