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How to keep squirrels out of potted palms?


NCFM

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The squirrels have been wreaking havoc on my potted palms this spring.  I'm not sure why they're so attracted to them, but they love digging holes in the pots and tearing up my palms' roots.  Has anyone else experienced this, and if so, did you come up with a good way to deter them?  So far I've tried trapping them or popping them with airsoft guns when I catch them in the act.  All to no avail, though. 

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My first thought is that you build some kind of a chain link fenced compound, including a chain link roof to reduce squirrel temptation. It must be large enough that the varmints can't reach inside to access the plants. Also plan on securing the pots to/into the ground so they can't blow/fall over. I am also leery of framing your structure with wood - squirrels can gnaw/chew wood when determined. Maybe someone of the forum can recommend framing material (metal pipe?).

At some point the palms will grow bigger and stronger and you can plant them.

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Meg

Palms of Victory I shall wear

Cape Coral (It's Just Paradise)
Florida
Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.

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@NCFM, I had this problem recently with some newly germinated palms.  I lost an Acrocomia totai that I had just put outside after nearly 18 months in a baggie on a heat mat indoors!  Soon after I had some Copernicia hospita seedlings that I had just potted up and put into tall liners.  I grabbed an empty tall 15-gal container and placed the liners inside and covered with a small window screen that I wasn't using.  I put a large rock on top to keep it in place and that seemed to fix the issue.  I'm not sure if that would work for you if you have a large colony that are overly determined since I have not seen too many of the buggers around here.  I've had to construct some mini-cages for juvenile palms that I have planted in the yard but like Meg stated, they eventually grow enough where they aren't as appealing.  If they had waited a few months they would not have touched the ultra-spiny Acrocomia!  What palms are you growing?  In my experience the more common palms are ignored and the rarer species are the snack of choice!  😄

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Jon Sunder

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17 hours ago, NCFM said:

The squirrels have been wreaking havoc on my potted palms this spring.  I'm not sure why they're so attracted to them, but they love digging holes in the pots and tearing up my palms' roots.  Has anyone else experienced this, and if so, did you come up with a good way to deter them?  So far I've tried trapping them or popping them with airsoft guns when I catch them in the act.  All to no avail, though. 

Install a squirrel feeder. Even a bird feeder without squirrel guard works.

 

Pat

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6 hours ago, Fusca said:

@NCFM, I had this problem recently with some newly germinated palms.  I lost an Acrocomia totai that I had just put outside after nearly 18 months in a baggie on a heat mat indoors!  Soon after I had some Copernicia hospita seedlings that I had just potted up and put into tall liners.  I grabbed an empty tall 15-gal container and placed the liners inside and covered with a small window screen that I wasn't using.  I put a large rock on top to keep it in place and that seemed to fix the issue.  I'm not sure if that would work for you if you have a large colony that are overly determined since I have not seen too many of the buggers around here.  I've had to construct some mini-cages for juvenile palms that I have planted in the yard but like Meg stated, they eventually grow enough where they aren't as appealing.  If they had waited a few months they would not have touched the ultra-spiny Acrocomia!  What palms are you growing?  In my experience the more common palms are ignored and the rarer species are the snack of choice!  😄

I'm growing Sabal minor, palmetto, causiarum, mexicana, P. canariensis, C. radicalis, and Cycas revoluta.  Several of the plants I grew from seeds you sent me two years ago - thanks again! I haven't noticed the squirrels preferring one species over the other yet, knock on wood. 

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4 hours ago, Hardypalms said:

Install a squirrel feeder. Even a bird feeder without squirrel guard works.

 

Pat

I actually had a bird feeder right near the palms which I thought might be attracting the squirrels to the area in the first place, so I moved it.  Maybe that will be a good distraction for them.  If not, I'm thinking I might buy one of those plastic hawks and put it out - maybe that will scare them away. 

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28 minutes ago, NCFM said:

I actually had a bird feeder right near the palms which I thought might be attracting the squirrels to the area in the first place, so I moved it.  Maybe that will be a good distraction for them.  If not, I'm thinking I might buy one of those plastic hawks and put it out - maybe that will scare them away. 

Since it won't move / chase them off, it might work for a week or two, but that's about it.. Squirrels will become accustomed to it.

Best idea is building some sort of enclosed area as @PalmatierMeg had suggested. 

Did something similar since i have native Thrashers that will uproot ...anything and everything small, esp stuff in pots.. here.  Stay out of the enclosure i built up under my patio.

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I see no squirrels at all except for an occasional tail on the patio. What I use is feral cats. I will gladly send you all the feral cats you could ever want. 

 

(This is kind of an inside joke, my property is swarmed with feral cats that also like to dig, knock things over, and poop in pots. But seriously please take some of these cats)

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Squirrels can be the bane of my containerized palm world. They do the most damage on my seedlings, seed pots and germinated compots. I have had to put that material under squirrel cages made of wooden frames and wire mesh.

I have tried many deterrents with mixed results. I have tried the decoy food, but they in turn will bury excess food in the pots. Ground cayenne pepper works, but the effectiveness wears off fast when it gets wet. They do dislike sticky surfaces but can jump over such surfaces with ease. Some repellent chemicals do not work that well, I think the retail formulas are too weak or diluted. I have heard of other stronger measures, but they run the borderline of being ethical. Many of the decent ideas that work, lose their power when wet or damp.

I would think plinking them with an airsoft gun would do the trick. They got to be really desperate to get in your pots.

Ryan

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South Florida

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Best thing that works for me is placing large river rocks in the pots. 4 or 5 rocks will fit in a 5gal container. Helps stabilize the pots so that they're not easily knocked over, and the squirrels can't dig. one or two medium river rocks in a 1gal container will keep squirrels away also. Squirrels in my area are not hungry, they just instinctively want to dig. They like to bury acorns, then return and eat the sprouted seedling and acorn in the spring, so you can imagine that any seedling looks to them like it would have a yummy acorn on the other end. 

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2 hours ago, Palmarum said:

Squirrels can be the bane of my containerized palm world. They do the most damage on my seedlings, seed pots and germinated compots. I have had to put that material under squirrel cages made of wooden frames and wire mesh.

I have tried many deterrents with mixed results. I have tried the decoy food, but they in turn will bury excess food in the pots. Ground cayenne pepper works, but the effectiveness wears off fast when it gets wet. They do dislike sticky surfaces but can jump over such surfaces with ease. Some repellent chemicals do not work that well, I think the retail formulas are too weak or diluted. I have heard of other stronger measures, but they run the borderline of being ethical. Many of the decent ideas that work, lose their power when wet or damp.

I would think plinking them with an airsoft gun would do the trick. They got to be really desperate to get in your pots.

Ryan

What about having a supply of firecrackers on hand ?

I don’t mean you got to stand there and throw firecrackers all day.

But here and there a little flurry might keep them away for good.

I know depending where you live it could be an issue. Not in my neighboorhood, i could throw firecrackers all day, nobody would say anything!

Maybe a stupid idea but just trying to help.

Pat

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2 hours ago, Hardypalms said:

What about having a supply of firecrackers on hand ?

I don’t mean you got to stand there and throw firecrackers all day.

... Pat

Good idea and I've tried it. It is all about the timing. They know when the coast is clear.

Lying in wait for a long while, seeking a good ambush attempt is a waste of time. I have landed a couple good shots with bottle rockets, however. A skill I have proudly worked on for a number of years. It scares them, but never close enough to do any damage. They figure things out, though, so the struggle continues. They will outwait you... and while doing so, chatter at you loudly from the tree branches, just out of sight. 

The firecracker noise would be an issue if I am doing it all day or early in the morning, but otherwise it is fine.

Some form of deterrent that is motion activated and accurate would be ideal, short of full-on, automated defense turrets...

turrets1151-610.jpg

Ryan

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South Florida

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Sprinkle Blood Meal into the pots and soak it with water. To the squirrels, it smells like a slaughterhouse.

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On 4/15/2024 at 8:56 PM, NCFM said:

I actually had a bird feeder right near the palms which I thought might be attracting the squirrels to the area in the first place, so I moved it.  Maybe that will be a good distraction for them.  If not, I'm thinking I might buy one of those plastic hawks and put it out - maybe that will scare them away. 

The bird feeder may be the problem. If bird seed is falling into the pots, the squirrels are likely just retrieving seed. Squirrels will also stash food in the ground for later. Every so often I'll find a pecan growing in my potted plants.

An enclosure is still the best options.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 4/30/2024 at 7:57 PM, TampaBayRay said:

I cage my seedlings up

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That’s pretty well the best thing you can do I work on a blueberry farm and they come up with all sorts of ideas to deter the birds from using fake hawks on poles to gas cannons loud speakers with predator sounds to chasing them on motorcycles but the only thing that works is exclusion netting building nets over the trees is the only thing that works or a cage in your case 

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The only thing that squirrels do in my garden is eat the fruit from my Butia. I figure if that keeps them happy , so be it. Harry

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