Do Squirrels Eat Zinnias?

Squirrels are fascinating creatures that are known for their acrobatic abilities and their penchant for foraging in gardens. Zinnias, on the other hand, are vibrant and beautiful flowers that many gardeners adore. However, when these two elements come together, gardeners may wonder if squirrels pose a threat to their zinnias. In this article, we will delve into the world of squirrels and zinnias to explore whether or not squirrels eat zinnias and how you can protect your garden from these curious critters.

Understanding Squirrels

To understand whether squirrels eat zinnias, it’s important to first gain insight into the behavior and dietary preferences of these furry creatures. Squirrels are omnivores, meaning they have a diverse diet that includes both plant and animal matter. While they primarily feed on nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects, they are opportunistic feeders and may sample a variety of food sources.

Zinnias: An Overview

Zinnias are popular annual flowers known for their vibrant colors and ability to attract butterflies. These cheerful blooms are a favorite among gardeners due to their versatility and ability to thrive in different climates. However, they can sometimes be susceptible to damage from various pests, including squirrels.

Do Squirrels Eat Zinnias?

The short answer is that squirrels may eat zinnias, but it is not their preferred food. Squirrels are more likely to target nuts, seeds, and fruits. However, when other food sources are scarce or when they are simply exploring, they may nibble on zinnias and other plants in your garden. The extent of the damage will depend on factors such as the availability of other food sources and the population density of squirrels in your area.

Factors Influencing Squirrel Behavior

Several factors can influence squirrel behavior and their inclination to eat zinnias. These factors include:

Availability of Food

If squirrels have access to an abundant supply of their preferred food sources, such as acorns or bird feeders, they are less likely to target zinnias. Providing alternative food sources can help divert their attention away from your garden.

Population Density

Areas with a high population of squirrels may experience more frequent visits from these critters. In such cases, the chances of zinnia damage increase.

Seasonal Variations

During certain seasons, squirrels may have a greater need for food, such as during the winter when natural food sources are scarce. This could lead them to explore and potentially eat zinnias.

Squirrel-Proofing Your Garden

While it may be challenging to completely eliminate the risk of squirrels eating zinnias, there are various strategies you can employ to protect your garden. Here are some effective methods:

Natural Deterrents

Planting certain flowers and herbs that squirrels find unappealing can act as natural deterrents. Marigolds, daffodils, and alliums are some examples of plants that squirrels tend to avoid.

Physical Barriers

Installing physical barriers, such as wire mesh or fences, around your garden can help prevent squirrels from accessing your zinnias. Ensure that these barriers are buried below the soil surface to prevent burrowing.

Repellents and Scare Tactics

There are commercially available squirrel repellents that can be applied to your plants to deter these creatures. Additionally, using scare tactics like motion-activated sprinklers or owl decoys can create an environment that squirrels find unwelcoming.

Cultivating Squirrel-Resistant Zinnias

While it’s challenging to make zinnias completely squirrel-proof, there are certain steps you can take to minimize the risk of damage. Consider these tips:

Planting Location

Select a planting location that is less accessible to squirrels, such as raised beds or containers. This can make it more difficult for squirrels to reach and damage your zinnias.

Companion Planting

Planting zinnias alongside other squirrel-resistant flowers and plants can help mask the scent and taste of zinnias, reducing the likelihood of squirrels targeting them.

Regular Maintenance

Practicing good garden maintenance, such as removing fallen seeds or fruits, can help reduce the attractiveness of your garden to squirrels.

Attracting Squirrels Away from Zinnias

If you’re a nature lover and would like to provide an alternative food source for squirrels, consider implementing the following strategies:

Squirrel Feeders

Placing squirrel feeders in your garden stocked with their favorite treats can help divert their attention away from your zinnias. This provides them with an alternative food source while still allowing you to enjoy the beauty of your zinnia blooms.

Squirrel-Friendly Trees

Planting trees that produce nuts, such as oaks or hickories, can attract squirrels and entice them away from your zinnias.

Observing Squirrel Behavior

Squirrels are fascinating creatures to observe, and their presence in your garden can add an element of excitement. By understanding their behavior and implementing the appropriate preventive measures, you can strike a balance between enjoying their company and protecting your zinnias.


1. Are zinnias the only flowers that squirrels eat?

No, squirrels have a diverse diet and may sample a variety of flowers, especially when other food sources are scarce. Zinnias are not their preferred food, but they may occasionally nibble on them.

2. Can I use chemical repellents to deter squirrels from eating zinnias?

While there are commercially available squirrel repellents, it’s essential to use them carefully and according to the instructions provided. Some repellents may contain ingredients that could be harmful to the environment or other wildlife.

3. Do squirrels eat zinnias during the winter season?

Squirrels may have a greater need for food during the winter when natural food sources are limited. In such cases, they might explore and potentially eat zinnias.

4. Will planting marigolds alone prevent squirrels from eating zinnias?

Planting marigolds alone may not guarantee that squirrels will avoid zinnias entirely. However, marigolds are known to be a natural deterrent for squirrels and can help reduce the likelihood of damage.

5. Can I feed squirrels in my garden without them eating my zinnias?

Yes, you can provide an alternative food source for squirrels, such as squirrel feeders stocked with their favorite treats, to divert their attention away from your zinnias. This allows you to enjoy both the squirrels and the beauty of your zinnia blooms.


In conclusion, while squirrels may occasionally nibble on zinnias, they are not their preferred food source. By understanding squirrel behavior, employing squirrel-proofing strategies, and cultivating squirrel-resistant zinnias, you can minimize the risk of damage to your garden. Remember to find harmony with these playful creatures and appreciate the beauty they bring to your outdoor space.

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