Do Squirrels Eat Petunias? (Can I Stop Them?)
Petunias are a popular and colorful annual flower that is widely grown in gardens and window boxes around the world.
The fabulous colors and pleasant fragrance of petunias are sure to spice up your summer garden and add some vibrancy to the entire household.
Besides their visual appeal and wonderful smell, petunias are also very easy to grow which is why they’re a common sight in gardens across the country.
However, while they’re a delight to us, petunias are also a precious delicacy to various animals and insects who are attracted to their bright colors while looking for their daily meal.
With many homes surrounded by trees, a lot of homeowners are especially concerned with the threat that squirrels living in those trees may pose to their garden plants, petunias in particular.
We all know that they love to feast on nuts and grains but do squirrels eat petunias?
I’ll answer this below and discuss other potential threats to this gorgeous garden plant.
So, let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
Do Squirrels Eat Petunias?
Squirrels are known to eat petunias, especially when other food sources are scarce or when the population is too high and there’s a lot of competition for food.
They love to munch on petunia flowers and can eat only petals or clip the entire flower.
Besides being attracted by nutrients, due to their constantly growing teeth, squirrels also love to gnaw on all sorts of things, so the damage they can cause is often substantial.
Plus, they’re very agile and great climbers, so not even placing petunias in hanging baskets won’t provide much protection
Besides eating petunias, squirrels can also cause damage by digging them up.
They do this as they’re constantly in search of places to store nuts and grains for the winter.
Of course, this can be very harmful to the plant, as squires will often damage the roots and cause the petunia to die out.
How to Stop Squirrels from Eating Petunias?
There are a couple of ways you can deter squirrels from approaching your petunias and damaging them.
The simplest thing you can do is create a physical barrier so they can’t get to the plant.
You can place wire mash over the top of the plant to prevent squirrels from getting in and eating or digging up the petunia.
Another thing you can do to prevent digging is to surround the plant with rocks or similarly heavy objects and place them on top of the soil.
In addition to creating obstacles, you can make your own homemade squirrel deterrent.
Squirrels, just like mice, hate castor oil.
So, to deter them, mix one tablespoon of castor oil and 1 tablespoon of liquid soap with 1 gallon of water and pour the mixture around the petunias.
This should keep the squirrels away, but you’ll have to repeat the process after every rain.
What Else Eats Petunias?
If you go out to the garden to find your petunias eaten or damaged, squirrels are just one of the potential culprits.
There are several other pests that enjoy munching on this beautiful plant.
Do Rabbits Eat Petunias?
Rabbits, both domesticated and wild, just love petunias.
They’re known to cause damage during the entire growing season but are the most active when the weather is warm.
They especially love to eat tender new shoots while the petunia is still growing.
So, clipped stems are commonly a sure sign that rabbits have been visiting your garden.
They also enjoy fully grown flowers that, at 6-18 inches tall, are the perfect height for rabbits to get to them.
How to Stop Rabbits from Eating Petunias?
Unlike squirrels, rabbits are, of course, not the best climbers so placing petunias in hanging baskets or very tall containers will often be enough to keep them away from your plants.
The most effective way to prevent rabbits from getting to petunias is by building a fence around them, but this is also the most expensive solution.
Also, you may strategically place objects that will scare rabbits away, such as fake owls or snakes, around the petunias.
Finally, as rabbits hate string odors, you can use stuff like vinegar, garlic, or cayenne pepper, to keep them away.
Do Slugs and Snails Eat Petunias?
Snails and slugs are another threat that you should be aware of if you have petunias in your garden.
They mostly come out at night and munch on petunia leaves.
You can identify them as culprits by the ragged holes they leave in leaves and the slimy trails they leave behind.
While a small population of slugs and snails won’t do much damage, a more heavy infestation can completely ruin your plants.
How to Stop Slugs and Snails from Eating Petunias?
While snails are still low in numbers, the easiest way to get rid of them is to go hunting at night, and simply pick them off one by one.
Once you find them and pick them up, you can throw them in a bucket filled with soapy water.
To prevent them from even getting to petunias, you can create barriers around the plants, using broken eggshells, sawdust, or coarse sand.
Finally, you can make traps for snails, using a cup filled with beer and burying it in the soil, with the top of the cup around half an inch above the ground.
Do Insects Eat Petunias?
There are several insect species among the potential threats to your petunias.
Aphids, mealybugs, thrips, and spider mites all enjoy eating petunias, but the most common insect culprit is tobacco budworm.
They love petunias so much that they’re also known as petunia budworms.
These small brown moths usually fly around petunias in the evening laying eggs that later develop into caterpillars.
These caterpillars feed on buds and the developing flowers, stunting the growth of the entire plant.
How to Stop Insects from Eating Petunias?
The easiest way to get rid of is by using insecticides. However, doing this may also harm some of the insects that perform beneficial roles in your garden.
So, I recommend more natural solutions, such as rubbing the leaves with alcohol or neem oil.
Petunias are a great addition to any garden and will certainly enrich your living space, especially outside your house.
Another benefit is that they’re rather easy to grow and care for.
Still, you should be aware that there are some pests that enjoy feasting on these beautiful plants and if you’re not careful, they can create significant damage.
Squirrels are one of the potential culprits, but there are several other animal and insect species that can pose a danger to your petunias.
Fortunately, most of them can be deterred rather easily, especially if you regularly monitor your plants and react on time before the heavy infestation.