You’ve planted some beautiful rhododendrons and realize someone has been stealing the flowers. Who’s been digging up your plants? The answer… squirrels and in this post we’ll share some tips on how to keep squirrels from eating rhododendrons.
How To Keep Squirrels From Eating Rhododendrons?
It’s going to take wire fencing, plastic netting, scare tactics, dog hair, and setting up a squirrel feeder to keep them from eating your rhododendrons.
Unfortunately, squirrels love plant gardens and will gladly munch on your beautiful rhododendrons, potted plants and other fruits and vegetables. Check out the ultimate guide of plants squirrels will and won’t eat.
These tips will help you care for your plants, but first, let’s take a look a close look at this beautiful plant.
What Are Rhododendrons?
Rhodendrons are related to the popular azalea plants and both belong to the Rhododendron genus, however, not all Rhododendrons are azaleas.
Azalea flowers usually have five stamens, while rhododendrons have ten, both plants are deciduous.
The flowers are tubular or bell shaped and have a sweet fragrance. These shrubs grow best in climates with adequate rainfall and moist summers.
These plants can grow from 3-4 feet in ten years, but in the right environment some can get as big as 7 feet tall.
It is a perennial shrub that produces rose-like blooms every year. Which is what makes them so popular with homeowners.
Do Squirrels Eat Rhododendrons
Yes, squirrels love eating these deciduous plants and will gladly nibble on its flower buds. Many homeowners complain about the squirrels climbing the shrubs and severing the flowers from the branches.
Are Rhododendron Plants Dangerous To Squirrels?
Rhododendrons contain nectar that contains grayanotoxins and is known to be toxic to grazing animals. That being said, squirrels are known to eat poisonous mushrooms without being affected, I’m not sure that the grayanotoxins would have a negative effect on these critters.
Animals would have to eat 0.2 percent of their body weight before they display signs of poisoning.
Do Squirrels Rhododendron Buds?
Squirrels love eating all types of plant buds, even rhododendrons. Once they discover the fresh buds, it will be hard to keep them away. Don’t worry, I’ll share some tips to keep your plants safe from these critters.
Do Squirrels Eat Rhododendron Flowers?
Yes, and you can tell when they are eating the flowers because they will pull them off the branches and you may see them littered on the ground beside the shrub.
Do Squirrels Eat Rhododendron Leaves?
They prefer to eat the buds and the bulbs, but if they are hungry enough, they will gladly munch on the leaves. Squirrels are scavengers, which means they will eat anything to survive.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Rhododendrons?
As mentioned above, wild squirrels forage for food anywhere they can find it. When they see the plants in your yard, they will gladly climb your fence and start eating the flowers in your yard.
Some squirrels may not bother these plants, if they see other opportunities for food.
How to Keep Squirrels Off Rhododendron Plants?
Now that you know these critters love eating most types of plants, let’s discuss how you can keep them from foraging in your plant gardens.
These humane methods will work, that being said, you may have to use more than one method at one time for them to actually work.
The purpose of the netting is to protect your plants from damage from pests of all kinds. That being said, squirrels have sharp incisors that can chew through wood, pvc, and etc you will have to replace the netting often.
Netting works best for keeping birds away from your plants.
Wire Mesh Fencing
Wire fencing such as chicken wire can help keep the squirrels from eating your garden plants. Be sure to bury the wire deep enough so they can’t dig underneath it.
When shopping for wire fencing, it’s important to choose one that has tight meshes that won’t allow them to squeeze their bodies through the openings.
Squirrels are jumpy critters that scare easily. If you have a squirrel problem, consider using fake squirrels that may help scare the squirrels from approaching the plants.
This may work for a while, but once they realize it is a fake squirrel, they will start feasting on the plants.
Another scare tactic is using dog hair to keep squirrels away from your plants. They have such a great sense of smell, they won’t approach the plants that have hair.
The downside is that you have to keep replacing the hair every few days as the scent vanishes quickly.
Relocate The Squirrels
If you’ve tried all the methods and nothing seems to work, it’s time to buy a live trap and relocate the squirrels to a different area.
Some people consider this to be inhumane, but you’re not hurting the squirrels. Once you catch them, you’ll take them to a wooded area where they can forage for food without being hurt by other homeowners.
Setup A Squirrel Feeder
I know what you’re thinking, this is only going to attract more squirrels. It might, but the whole point of doing this is to keep the squirrels in one place in your yard.
When they realize they don’t have to hunt for food, there’s a good chance that they will leave your plants, trees, fruits, and etc alone.
In order for this to work, you need to keep their feeder full at all times. Make sure you purchase plenty of wild squirrel food to keep their feeder full.
Don’t forget to set up a fountain with fresh water, so they won’t have to leave the squirrel friendly area.
Just because you love feeding squirrels, there’s nothing wrong with protecting your plants and flowers. After all, without any action on your part, they can do some damage.
Hopefully, these tips have helped you protect your flower gardens, remember to keep implementing different methods to find which one works for your squirrels.
References And Further Reading
The Old Farmer’s Almanac – Growing Rhododendrons and Azaleas
Colorado Sate University – Guide To Poisonous Plants