Every year you love looking at your sunflower seeds that adorn your backyard. But one morning you wake up and find several seed heads lying on the ground under trees. “Who’s messing with my sunflower plants?” You ask. The answer? Squirrels.
How To Keep Squirrels From Eating Sunflower Plants?
The best way to prevent squirrels from damaging and eating your sunflower plants is to use fluttering or moving items, baffles, aluminum oil around the stalk, and planting the right type of plants as a border.
There is nothing absolutely worse to spend time and money on beautiful landscape for your home only to find squirrels and birds eating and destroying your backyard.
Before we take a deeper in-depth look at how to protect your sunflower plants, let’s take a look at why squirrels love these plants.
Squirrels will also eat hibiscus plants, so make sure you know how to protect them. We’ve put together an in-depth list of the plants squirrels will and won’t eat.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Sunflower Plants?
If you look closely at a sunflower plant, you will notice that the heads are consist of sunflower seeds.
A grey squirrel thrives on nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, bugs, insects. Both the red, black, and flying squirrel have similar diets.
If you have sunflower plants, it won’t be unusual to find the heads on the ground or see a squirrel climbing the stalks where they will sit and feast on the seeds until they are scared away.
You’ll know they’ve been eating the seeds, when you find the empty shells on the back of the flower or on the ground.
Before we get into protecting the plants that are already planted, let’s talk a little bit about the ones that haven’t been planted yet.
How To Protect Your Newly Planted Sunflower Seeds
Yes, and once they realize that you’re trying to grow sunflower plants, they may dig them up before the sprouts have emerged. You will want to take every precation you can to protect the seeds.
This can include covering the ground with netting to protect your newly planted sunflower seeds. Placing snail repellent or snail bait in a a barrier around the planting area has also been known to work, according to several gardening sites.
Once the plants start to grow, you can consider using galvanized poultry or chicken wire to protect your small plants. You can use some of the same methods we shared in protecting your grass seeds from squirrels.
Don’t forget to check out our recommended products page for the best squirrel products for nature lovers.
Fun Facts About Sunflower Plants
The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is a member of the Asteraceae family that consists of a large flower head aka capitulum. There are 70 different varieties of these annual plants that come in different sizes and colors.
They are native to North America and are some of the easiest plants to grow. They are full sun flowers that can grow in drought conditions.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance flower, these are for you. Unlike tomato plants, they don’t require a lot of water. Once planted, it takes about 80-120 days to grow.
Now let’s take a look at how to protect your beautiful sunflower seeds from pets, birds and other critters.
How To Keep Squirrels From Eating Sunflowers?
Squirrels are naturally attracted to debris and brush piles, because it makes it easy for them to run and hide from predators.
If your yard doesn’t have a lot of places for squirrels to hide, they’ll be less likely to venture into your yard because of the open area that makes them vulnerable to hawks, birds, and other animals that prey on them.
This technique works best for newly planted sunflower seeds. It can also work for a large patch of sunflowers, but you will need to purchase more materials to cover the entire patch.
Use galvanized chicken write to keep your young sprouts from being destroyed.
Dig a trench or hole at least one foot deep to ensure the fence is deep enough to prevent squirrels from digging underneath. You may need to anchor the chicken wire with tent stakes to keep it from falling down.
Bend the top into an arch that covers the plants to prevent squirrels from climbing over. Some people suggest using rocks to anchor it when a hard wind comes so the fence doesn’t fall down.
Plant Thorny Plants
If squirrels are becoming a nuisance and bothering the sunflowers, then you may want to consider planting some plants that squirrels hate.
Sunflower stalks are high, which means they will cast a big shadow in the middle of the day. So you’ll need to take that into consideration when choosing a plant to protect your sunflowers.
Some gardeners recommend planting Aphid Affected plants, because they have sharp, piercing mouths that can deter squirrels and other animals from bothering the sunflowers.
The downside is that the aphids like to attack sunflowers. If the sunflower stalks are big and thick, the plant should be able to protect itself from an aphid attack.
Cheesecloth or Paper Bag
You can try tying a paper bag or cheesecloth around the head to protect it from squirrels and birds. You’ll want to continue covering the head until the seeds mature and the petals fall off the bloom.
You’ll want to use a piece of string or wire to secure the bag to the stalk just below the head. Make sure the bag covers sunflower head completely.
The downside is, squirrels are smart critters and with persistence, they may eventually learn how to get into the bag. They may even chew a hole in the bag that allows them to access the seeds.
You’ll want to keep an eye on the bag or cheesecloth to make sure that the squirrel hasn’t chewed a hole in it.
After a hard rain, you will want to replace the old bag and add a new one.
According to my research, the bag will still allow the seeds to mature and shouldn’t cause any damage to the sunflowers.
Hot Seed Spray
Another non-toxic method you can try is to spray your sunflower seeds with a hot seed spray. These can be found in the gardening section of your local home improvement stores.
You’ll want to gently spray the heads, which is the part the squirrels love to eat. After a good rain, you’ll need reapply the spray.
Once you’re ready to remove the seeds, you’ll want to rinse the seeds in water to remove the hot spicing flavoring from the spray.
CDs or Aluminum Pie Pans
You can try hanging cd’s or pie pans on the plants to scare the birds and squirrels when they approach. This method works best for detering birds, but it may also work for squirrels.
Squirrels are jumpy critters and will run at the first sight or sound of danger. If squirrels hear the pie pans or cd’s moving around making noise when it’s windy, there’s a good chance they will be too scared to bother the sunflowers.
Create A Squirrel Friendly Area
If you live in an area where squirrels are abundant, you may want to consider setting a squirrel friendly area that will deter them from other areas of your yard.
When you create a small area away from other plants, and trees you don’t want squirrels messing with, it can deter them from your fruits, veggies, and plants.
All you need is a squirrel picnic table or squirrel feeder to get started. Fill it with some food that will attract them. Before you know it, they are visiting the feeder everyday, and leaving your sunflower plants alone!
Don’t forget to put some fresh cold water near the feeder so they won’t have any reason to search on your property for water.
Squirrels, birds, and chipmunks love eating sunflower seeds. Hopefully, these tips will help salvage your beautiful plants and keep them from eating and destroying your flowers.
If one method doesn’t work, then test out some of the other methods until you find what works to keep your squirrels away.
- How to Prevent Squirrel Damage to Trees
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- Do Squirrels Eat Hollyhocks?
- Can Squirrels Eat Parsley?
References And Further Reading
Burpee – All About Sunflowers