The True Tale of Squirrels and Geraniums

Last fall before frost, I brought in some of my summer annuals to overwinter. Among them were three beautiful geraniums. They make happy houseplants if given enough light and warmth.

Early June I put them out on the front porch and the deck. The one on the deck was in one of those self-watering pots, which turned out not to be the best idea because it holds water when it rains and becomes a mess. So I planted that geranium in a window box.

By now you know I am a squirrel advocate…and sometimes called a squirrely advocate, which is neither here nor there. I happily provide the little dudes with peanuts. Unfortunately, they are garden terrors.

squirrel eating a peanut

Peanuts, peanuts, peanuts!

Each morning I inspect the pots to see if these anti-gardeners have been busy and then repair the mess they’ve made.

This afternoon provided a new discovery as I gazed out the window to see if the hummingbird liked the new placement of the feeder away from bird and squirrel traffic. A squirrel was on the ledge behind the window box that housed my geranium. Said squirrel also had the geranium between his paws and was chowing down on the root. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the crime as it occurred because I was too astounded. I’ve replanted the poor geranium and am thinking of potting it up and bringing it back inside to nurse it back to health.


My happy healthy geraniums.

squirrel food

My ravaged geranium replanted after being gourmet squirrel food.

Now, when I Googled “squirrels eat geranium roots,” two blogs, that shall remain nameless, listed geraniums as flowers you should plant because squirrels won’t eat them. They don’t like the smell of them. Haha. Maybe my squirrel is a connoisseur. Or eclectic. Figures I would have weird squirrels.

Man, he’s back. I’ve got to save my geranium! BRB

I apologize for the quality of the next two pictures that show the gourmet squirrel entertaining a new delicacy, a coleus leaf. He was caught in the act of coleus leaf thieving!

Well, I’m still going to go save my geranium. Tomorrow it will probably be the coleus. They just dig up the petunias and don’t eat them…

27 thoughts on “The True Tale of Squirrels and Geraniums

  1. I knew squirrel liked to steal bird seeds and stuff alike, but I had never heard of them nibbling on geraniums and other plants!! Thanks for sharing this, and good luck saving your garden 🙂

    1. I have willows in the back yard that the squirrels like to nibble on as well, but willow bark is supposed to have aspirin-like affects so I figure they just had really bad nights….spouse went nuts…haha…or something like that.

      1. Mouahaahahaha good one! If squirrels have started to self medicate, it just shows how crazy our world has become 😛

      2. I have been watching a red squirrel chow down on my geraniums all weekend at my cottage near Haliburton, Ontario. I don’t remember having this situation before. It is quite entertaining. I guess I will have to live without my lovely red flowers this summer.

      3. A red squirrel! Lovely. Not so lovely for your flowers. I keep a lot of my flowers, especially the ones I winter inside like geraniums, in pots. This year I’ve put them in the front since the squirrels have their peanuts in back. So far so good.

  2. Tell me about it! I am unable to have flowers except for roses (they eat the buds near the bottom but can’t reach the others) and Chrysanthemum which must not taste good. Everything else, including bulbs, they eat.

  3. My problems are with the stupidly cute little bunnies that are running rampant around here. They’ve eaten off over half of my Asiatic lilies before they even got the chance to bloom. I think next year, I’m going to have to add cages around them. We don’t have enough big, trees to really attract the squirrels, so I’m glad my solution is relatively simple.

    1. We used to have little bunnies. I haven’t seen a bunny in my yard in about a decade because of the neighborhood cats and then the foxes…maybe the hawk has had something to do with it too. Some of my neighbors were having issues with deer and they do put cages around parts of their garden.

      1. I do like the foxes. I never saw a live one until I moved to this neighborhood. Although it is a little freaky at night when you’re walking your dog and realize a fox is following you–not to do harm (tell my emotions that, brain) but probably to play with my dog.

      2. It isn’t all that common to see them around here, but they are around. I’m just not normally lucky enough to see them.

  4. Animals like squirrels are really cute until they start eating your plants. I remember once there were rats in the community garden and various eradication projects were going on to get rid of them. “Poor rats!” I said. Until they ate my cucumbers. Then, my attitude changed. When an animal steals food you’ve grown out of the ground, the animal’s status changes, for me at least. It’s almost primordial.

    1. I think if I were more dependent on that food to survive I’d take a different stance. It’s a little annoying to find bits eaten out of tomatoes. Funny none of them, not even the birds go after my habaneros. I planted small patch corn once, evidently for the raccoons. I read cayenne pepper is supposed to work…
      I would never poison any creature–not only because it’s supposed to be horrifically painful, but the chance is that it will get passed along the food chain and a fox or owl or hawk get poisoned too.

      1. My son was cooking jerk chicken tonight, he thought he’d just try a bit of habanero. Yeah he was at the faucet drinking for a while.

        I think they were trapping the rats, not poisoning them, for the record.

      2. I love the flavor of habanero but you really have to gauge the dish you’re adding it to if you’re not used to eating it.

        Oh, good to know. In my neck of the woods, people seem to just kill animals first w/o thought.

  5. Yep, my beautiful blood-red geraniums stripped of the flowers and leaves and the stems partly eaten, that is how I found the plants on a morning last week. Googled the phenomena and found your experience. Purchased cayenne pepper and am sprinkling it faithfully on the remains. Hope they will regrow and bloom again. I had geraniums in planters in front of the garage for many years, this is the first time this happened!

    1. I have moved many plants to where my squirrelly friends don’t tend to go. Others I have surrounded with heavy stones (even in planters) which has discouraged the digging. They have not eaten the lantana, marigolds, or petunias. My geraniums are among the ones I keep elsewhere. The little buggers did steal a habanero and evidently took one bite. They have not touched the other hot peppers. 🙂

  6. I love squirrels but they are rrrrascals! The only flower they don’t seem to like are marigolds and related flowers (can’t think of the names). They even eat roses (on lower branches) and will dig up any and all bulbs. I thought I’d finally be able to have hyacinth (no way in Alaska), but nope, minute I planted them, the squirrels dug them up. Still love the squirrels, though.

  7. Hello! I’m here after googling exactly this! I have 4 geraniums in one pot, they’re so healthy and were flowering two years in a row.

    Until this past November when I started putting bird foods out. 4-5 grey squirrels would come to my garden, eating everything, peeing everywhere, digging every single pot of plants and especially munching on the geranium roots! This despite them having their own food station! They even got aggressive with each other and to my garden.

    Today is the 3rd week of me not anymore putting any sort of food outside, they still come (to my door begging!) but I would sadly shoo them away. There are great tits nesting at the moment in my bird house and I’m so scared these guys will disturb them, too.

    Ugh this sucks so much! I didn’t think I’d feel this way about such cute little things :/

    1. I’ve continued to feed the birds and squirrels. Last summer, I put heavy stones in to surround the flowers in the boxes and pots I put out. That worked because the squirrels couldn’t move the stones. This year I think I’ll try some screen and see how that turns out.

  8. i have never had squirrels go after my geraniums till this summer (2021). They LOVE the mulch I am using – natural cedar. I have lost three new geraniums and a bleeding heart plant to the squirrels this year. I have tried blood meal (nearly poisoned the flowers – too much nitrogen) and cayenne pepper to no avail. Garlic may be the way to go. Thanks for pointing out I am not alone with this problem.

  9. I have kept geraniums in pots for years, bringing them indoors during the winter where they get good light by large winters. As this year has progressed all was well, but about two weeks ago squirrels have been chewing the stems of most of the geraniums. Many have broken nearly in two. So I have taken cutting from the tops to root and try to get the established again.

    1. Fortunately geranium are easy to root, and like you, I bring mine in because they continue to flower through the winter. This year I used screen in my planters and the squirrels haven’t been able to pull it up to uproot any plants. Also, I’ve been putting out more peanuts which they seem to enjoy far more than destroying my plants. It’s almost illogical. The peanuts attract more squirrels but they’re happy just to take the peanuts (or sunflower seeds) and be on their way.

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