Oh no! What happened?
You check your potted plants and see some plants eaten. You find holes in the potting soil and roots damaged.
These clues help you figure out you have mice in your potted plants. What can you do now?
You can keep mice out of potted plants with the use of peppermint, lavender, rosemary, or other, strongly scented plants. Mice have extremely sensitive senses of smell, so anything with a strong odor will probably keep them out. Other scents like eucalyptus oil, garlic, or onions can also be used.
In this post, I’ll help you with 4 proven ways to keep such mice out of your potted plants. I’ll also give you tips on why these mice are attracted to your potted plants. So you can try to avoid them.
Let’s take a look.
1. Grow herbs with an aromatic scent
As mentioned earlier, mice have very sensitive noses and will probably be deterred by anything with an overly aromatic scent. These things might include peppermint, rosemary, lavender, and several other plants.
Herbs are usually a good choice because they almost always have a strong smell that can be counted upon to keep mice at bay. Oregano and cilantro might do the job as well, though they don’t always smell as strongly as the others mentioned here.
2. Use essential oils to keep mice away
If you need to, you can always try using oils. Peppermint and eucalyptus oils are very popular options because they smell pretty strong (and peppermint burns too).
If you have noticed signs of mice getting in and out of your potted plants, sprinkle a few drops of oil around the rims of your planters. You might even drop some onto the soil. Just be careful not to do too much because you don’t want your plants to die on you.
3. Grow plants that can repel mice
If you are having trouble keeping mice out of your outdoor potted plants (or your vegetable garden) you can also try planting garlic and onions. You can use garlic juice on your indoor potted plants to keep mice out too, but this will probably fill your home with a garlicky smell and that could get pretty old after a while.
If you are interested in keeping rodents away from your vegetable garden and outdoor potted plants, try planting a combination of onions and garlic as a sort of perimeter to keep them out.
Onions and chives have an especially pretty appearance with their bright purple flowers, so you won’t have to sacrifice your garden’s look to keep mice away. If you’d like, you can also try combining garlic and onions with the aforementioned herbs as well.
4. Get yourself a cat
If you have tried and failed with any of these, you could always resort to getting a cat. This is probably a more drastic decision to make, especially since it can be a big responsibility to own and take care of a pet.
However, if you are a cat lover, this will be the perfect solution for you. Cats are serious predators to rodents and they will keep not only mice, but squirrels, rats, and any other pests that might try to make their way into your plants.
I conducted a survey for fellow expert gardeners to provide suggestions on how to keep mice out of potted plants. Here are some of the inputs they provided.
5. Use a trap only if you have to
If you are not in favor of natural methods, you can also try using electric traps or rodent poison. Mousetraps are a very effective means of getting rid of mice, but be warned: for families with small children or pets, this might not be an ideal situation. Children are curious creatures who will get into anything to learn and figure things out.
Since that is the case, you may find one of your little ones checking out the mousetrap or poison you have put in your potted plants. This could prove extremely dangerous for kids, and potentially even for pets who might sniff into the pots every once in a while.
The last thing you could want is to have to call poison control because one kid got into it or got their fingers snapped with a mousetrap.
What attracts mice to your potted plants?
Before we can solve the problem of getting rid of mice, it might first be helpful to know exactly what is drawing mice to potted plants. Believe it or not, most potted plants do not, themselves, actually attract mice.
Some plants attract mice, but these are usually fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, seeds, and grains if they are available. You may find mice invading your leafy potted plants, but they will usually only eat them if there’s nothing better available.
Mice are attracted by any of the aforementioned plants, dog food, cat food, or garbage. Another reason for them getting into your plants is because pots provide great hiding places and living spaces for mice.
Rather than eating your plants, likely, mice will simply burrow into the dirt to create homes for themselves. While they aren’t putting holes in the leaves, you may notice your plants dying because when mice burrow down, they often decimate the roots there, leaving your plants wilted and dying.
If you are seeing signs of mice in your potted plants (holes in the soil, dead or dying plants, dirt on the floor/ground, etc.) This probably means you have something nearby attracting them, like food, trash, or some sort of plant. You will need to find the source and get rid of it, or at least set up a good defense against mice and other potential pests. Let’s talk about a few ways to do that.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.