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9 Best Plants To Repel Pesky Chipmunks and Squirrels

In the past few years, I learned about different plants that can repel chipmunks. Not only do specific plants offer an effective defense against pests and insects, but they also add a beautiful array of color and vibrance to your outdoor space. In some cases, plants may be a better option than chemical repellents.

The best plants to repel pesky chipmunks and squirrels are daffodils, French marigold, English lavender, garlic, grape hyacinth, peppermint, glory-of-the-snow, catnip, and sage. You may also use coffee grounds to keep chipmunks away. Spicy scents from peppers and essential oils can also repel them.

Keep reading for tips on sprucing your garden while providing extra protection from chipmunks and squirrels.

A montage of a flower garden, a chipmunk, and a squirrel

1. Daffodils

If you’re not a pet lover or don’t have any pets to be concerned about, then daffodils are a great choice for repelling chipmunks and squirrels.

Daffodils contain an alkaloid called lycorine, which is toxic to small animals. This is why chipmunks and squirrels generally avoid them. However, take note that daffodils are also poisonous for human consumption. Be mindful when planting in areas that small children frequent.

If you decide to plant daffodils in your garden, pick a spot with plenty of sunlight and excellent soil drainage. Plant each daffodil bulb approximately 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) deep and 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters) apart, with their pointy ends facing upwards.

2. French Marigold

French marigolds are not only pleasing to the eye, but they also have a distinct odor that deters chipmunks and squirrels. The strong scent is produced by the plant’s sacks in the leaves and is caused by a compound called terpenes.

For this reason, squirrels and chipmunks will be less likely to munch on these pretty plants. If you want to keep these critters away, plant marigolds around the perimeter of your garden to act as a barrier. Choose bushy varieties and plant them in an area where they will receive plenty of sunlight.

The soil should be well-drained and mixed with compost before planting. French marigolds should be placed about 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters) apart. For optimal growth, plant the marigolds in a sunny area.

Related The 8 Best Ways to Keep Chipmunks Out of the Garden.

3. English Lavender

English lavender is an evergreen perennial that produces a sweet aroma, making it an excellent choice for repelling chipmunks and squirrels all year round. The plant’s scent is so powerful that it can deter other pests, such as deer, rabbits, and even mosquitos.

The repelling fragrance is caused by linalool, an organic compound that is released into the air when it rains or gets windy. When planting English lavender, try growing them on the edge of your garden. They prefer soil that is well-draining and slightly alkaline, with a pH between 6.7 to 7.3.

Make sure to give them a sunny spot if you want to see the best flower blooms. Plant English lavender about 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 centimeters) apart for best results.

4. Garlic

Garlic is a powerful natural repellent that keeps chipmunks and squirrels away from your garden. It produces an unfavorable taste and pungent odor that most animals will avoid. Plus, garlic is an excellent natural insect repellent as well.

A row of garlic plants in a garden

To use garlic as a pest repellent, plant it around other crops or mix it with your flower garden for a more creative approach. Garlic produces lovely purple flower blooms during late spring and early summer, so it’s a great way to add color and texture to your outdoor space.

To ensure optimal growth, plant the garlic cloves in a sunny area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Fertilize the soil before planting, and space the cloves 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) apart for best results.

5. Grape Hyacinth

Grape hyacinths are a great choice to make your garden less attractive to chipmunks and squirrels. Most mammals see them as undesirable plants due to their intense and unpleasant taste.

Although these plants won’t exactly repel chipmunks and squirrels, they work as a deterrent when mixed with other plants. For an extra layer of protection, you can plant many grape hyacinth bulbs around flower beds or shrubbery. This will make your garden less attractive to chipmunks and squirrels foraging for food. 

When planting grape hyacinths, choose an area that receives plenty of sunlight, and dig the holes about 5 inches (13 centimeters) deep. Planting the bulbs about 3 to 4 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) apart to ensure optimal growth.

6. Peppermint

Chipmunks and squirrels despise the smell of peppermint, making it an excellent deterrent for these critters. The strong peppermint scent is produced by menthol and menthone, two organic compounds released into the air when it rains or gets windy.

To use peppermint as an effective repellent, plant it anywhere near the areas where chipmunks and squirrels enter your garden or around crops. You can plant it in pots or window boxes if you have limited outdoor space.

If you want to grow peppermint, pick a spot in full sun or part shade. This plant prefers soil with good drainage and ample compost for nutrients. Keep the area moisture-rich so your peppermint can thrive.

7. Glory-of-the-Snow

Planting glory-of-the-snow in your garden is a surefire way to keep chipmunks and squirrels at bay! Combining this flower with other plants will create an impenetrable shield that will keep these pesky critters away until next spring.

Glory-of-the-snow produces low, star-shaped flowers in various colors ranging from white to deep soft blue. The flowers look great when planted in flower beds or mixed with other blooms like roses, daisies, and lilies.

Choose a spot with plenty of sunlight and amend the soil with compost before planting. Plant the bulbs 3 inches (8 centimeters) apart, and water them regularly. You’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous spring flower display each year.

8. Catnip

Squirrels and chipmunks do not like the smell of catnip, so planting it around your garden is an effective way to repel them. It’s also a great addition to any outdoor space and produces white and pink flowers in spring and autumn.

Catnip flowers growing in a garden

Catnip is a fast-growing plant that prefers moist soil and full sunlight. Plant catnip near entrances or areas where squirrels and chipmunks are likely to enter. This will help keep them away while providing attractive foliage to your garden.

If you want to grow catnip, make sure to add a mixture of compost soil and space the plants at least 18 inches (45 centimeters) apart. Water often and cut the flowers when they start to fade.

9. Sage

Sage is an aromatic herb known for its spicy aroma that chipmunks and squirrels hate! The smell becomes even stronger when the herb is crushed, making it a great way to keep these critters away.

To grow sage, pick an area with full sun and excellent drainage. Water regularly during dry periods and cut back the foliage now and then to promote more growth. Plant the seeds or seedlings at least 18 to 24 inches (45 to 61 centimeters) apart to ensure proper growth.

You can use sage in various ways, including drying it for herb teas or crushing and spreading the leaves around your garden. Doing this regularly will help keep chipmunks and squirrels away while bringing new life to your garden.

Will Coffee Grounds Keep Chipmunks Away?

Coffee grounds will keep chipmunks away, as these animals are sensitive to strong scents. Spread coffee grounds around the perimeter of your garden, or sprinkle them on planter beds and pathways to keep chipmunks away. 

Coffee grounds also act as a fertilizer for acid-loving plants like:

  • Roses
  • Azaleas
  • Rhododendrons
  • Blueberries

The grounds contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, making them an excellent natural fertilizer for your garden. Be sure to use fresh grounds so their scent will be strong enough to deter the critters.

For best results, you can mix the coffee grounds with a protective barrier such as chicken wire or mesh. Doing so will help keep chipmunks away while allowing your plants to absorb the beneficial nutrients.

Best Squirrel and Chipmunk Repellent?

The best squirrel and chipmunk repellent is cayenne pepper. Sprinkle 1/4 cup every few feet (approximately 50 grams every meter) around your perimeter. The cayenne pepper will irritate the critters’ noses and discourage them from digging around. 

When used properly, cayenne pepper will not burn your plants but will create an unpleasant experience for the critters. You can purchase a squirrel and chipmunk repellent spray if you do not want to use cayenne pepper.

These repellent sprays contain natural ingredients like peppermint or lavender oil, which repel the critters without harming them. I’ve found that Natural Armor’s All-Natral Rodent Shield from is an excellent option. It has a powerful, oily peppermint formula that you can use in and around your garden to keep squirrels and chipmunks away.

Which Scents Are Generally Known To Repel Chipmunks and Squirrels?

Spicy scents are generally known to repel chipmunks and squirrels. Because chipmunks and squirrels have a more sensitive sense of smell than humans, these scents are a complete turn-off.

Some of the most common scents that these critters find unpleasant are:

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic
  • Mustard powder

Other natural scents repelling chipmunks and squirrels include:

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Clove oil

These scents can be used in sprays or sprinkled around your perimeter to keep chipmunks and squirrels away. For best results, use a combination of aromas and rotate them every few weeks to keep the critters on their toes.

What Is the Best Homemade Chipmunk Repellent?

The best homemade chipmunk repellent is a mixture of peppermint oil and water. I’ve used this mixture many times to keep pesky critters away from my garden. I pour the mixture into a spray bottle and apply the solution to my garden daily.

Follow these steps to make your homemade chipmunk repellent:

  1. Mix one cup of water with two tablespoons (30 ml) of peppermint oil.
  2. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
  3. Spray your garden perimeter, pathway, and plants with the solution daily during dry periods to keep chipmunks and squirrels away.

This solution is safe and effective, though it will only last for a while due to rain or other weather conditions. Reapplication is recommended to ensure that the scent remains strong.

Do Ultrasonic Squirrel Repellents Really Work?

Ultrasonic squirrel repellents don’t work to repel squirrels and chipmunks. According to manufacturers, they are designed to emit high frequencies that the critters can hear but humans cannot. 

The theory is that the noise will be too annoying for the critters, and they will stay away. However, research at the University of Arizona has revealed that these devices are mainly ineffective, and the claims made by manufacturers are unfounded.

Their studies found that the devices had little to no impact on rodents and pests. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also confirmed that claims made by manufacturers are not supported by scientific evidence.

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