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How To Stop Mice From Digging In Houseplants?

If you’ve been finding holes in your potting soil and dirt scattered on the floor in the mornings, you might have a stealthy rodent on the loose. While this can be a horrifying discovery for some plant owners, it’s not hopeless. This article will discuss what the mice are doing in your potted plants, and how to get rid of them for good. 

Are Mice Attracted To Indoor Plants?

Are Mice Attracted To Indoor Plants

The good news is that your houseplants themselves do not attract mice. The bad news is something else is drawing them, and you’ll need to identify what that is. 

Although your plants are not the reason that mice have infiltrated your home, they are opportunists that will use the potted plant to their advantage since it’s there. There are a few reasons why mice hang out in houseplants:

  • Shelter: When the weather is too harsh outside, mice look for somewhere safe and warm to escape the elements. When they find their way into your house, they may decide that your houseplant soil is a great place to burrow, providing that it is large enough. 
  • Nesting: Potting mix in a large container might also provide a worthy place and materials to build a nest. It’s not unheard of for mice to dig a hole in the soil, bring in some nesting materials to add, and have their babies there. This process can take as little as a few weeks. 
  • Storage: Mice sometimes consider potting soil a safe spot to hide snacks that they find in your home. 
  • Food: While mice don’t typically go for leafy greens, a hungry rodent without a food source will eat just about anything, including plant foliage and roots. They might also be attracted to your fertilizer or other organic materials in the potting mix. 

Will Mice Kill My Houseplant?

A determined mouse can cause some severe damage to your plant, if not death. If your pot is big enough for mice to burrow, they could potentially destroy the root system while digging through the soil.

As mentioned above, mice with no other food prospects might look to the leaves and roots of your plant for sustenance. Whether your houseplant survives depends on how large and hardy the plant is. Smaller plants with delicate root systems are more vulnerable to this abuse. 

How Do I Keep Mice Away From My Plants?

When you discover that mice have been visiting your houseplants, the first step is to determine why the rodents entered your home. Food and shelter are the most common causes of a mouse infestation in your home. 

When the temperatures start to drop in the fall, the potential for rodent invasion increases. They often enter through gaps in the windows and ceilings or sewer lines and drain pipes. 

If you have a lot of food waste or food that isn’t adequately sealed around your house, the risk increases. A good place to start would be to do a deep, thorough cleaning, concentrating on any food remnants that may have gotten overlooked. 

Keep in mind that in addition to human food, mice also enjoy pet food. If possible, try to feed your pets at certain times and remove any leftover food that they don’t eat. 

Although you can sometimes control a rodent problem with store-bought traps and repellants, a pest control service is your best chance at getting to the bottom of the problem and achieving long-term success. 

If you would rather craft a humane catch and release mousetrap, this YouTube video shows you how to make several different kinds:

How Do I Protect My Potted Plants From Rodents? 

While you’re working on controlling the rodent population in your home, there are several steps you can take to keep them out of your houseplants. Here are a few ideas:

Use Plants To Repel Them

Mice are not a fan of many strong-smelling plants. A few of these fragrant plants strategically placed around the house might do the trick:

  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Geraniums
  • Eucalyptus
  • Bay

You can use these repellants by spraying or sprinkling them around the rim of the pot and the plant stand or shelf that it sits on. You will need to repeat this about every other day to keep the scent potent enough for the mice to avoid. 

In the future, if you have recurring mice infestations, you might consider other houseplants that are toxic to mice. Mice tend to avoid plants that are dangerous for them to eat, such as philodendron, dieffenbachia, aloe, peace lily, and pothos. 

Scent Deterrents 

If you’d rather not bring in more plants to deter the mice from other plants, you can use oils or sprays to repel them. Mice have been known to stay away from: 

  • Bitter apple spray
  • Cedarwood
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Lavender 
  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Sandalwood

Repot Your Plants

It’s good to replace the soil once you discover that mice have been digging in your plants. You can remove any mice droppings or snacks hidden in the soil and inspect the roots for damage when you do this.

If possible, do this outside since you may see a mouse scurry away when you upend the pot. Once you dump the old soil, scrub and disinfect the container before putting fresh potting mix in it. 

Cover the Soil

If you cover the entry point to your plant pots, you should be able to prevent mice from burrowing into the soil. 

There are wire mesh covers that you can purchase at a garden center online to cover the top of the soil. These covers are thin and allow for plenty of airflow to the soil. These are also a great solution to keep curious pets or toddlers out of your potting mix. 

The most important thing to do when you find mice anywhere in your home is to act quickly. Mice are prolific breeders, and the population can get out of control faster than you might think. With persistence and vigilance, though, you’ll be able to eradicate them for good.  

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