What Animal is Eating My Flowers at Night? [ANSWERED]

There is little more harrowing than going to water your garden in the morning, only to realize your flowers have been decimated by some sneaky animals during the night. All your prized blooms that you’ve been dutifully tending to over the last few months, brutally eaten. Who could’ve done such damage so quickly? What animals eat flowering plants?

Unfortunately, the list of potential pests that enjoy a floral snack in the middle of the night is long. The animals that eat flowering plants include:

  • squirrels,
  • deer,
  • rabbits,
  • raccoons,
  • possums,
  • and more…
What Animals Eat Flowering Plants

We weren’t kidding about the length of the list! And we didn’t even list the smaller pests like insects, lizards, gastropods and birds. With so many animals on your suspects list, how do you know which one is doing the deed? It’s elementary – we follow the evidence. In times like these, we like to embrace our inner Sherlock Holmes and approach the crime scene from a detective mindset.

So without a moment to lose, grab your magnifying glass and let’s find some evidence!

What Animals Eat Flowering Plants?

Flowers are nature’s way to ensure the continuation of a plant’s survival.

Plants use the brightness and scent of flowers to attract their partners from the insect world, like bees, to help spread their pollen to ultimately develop seeds and new plants. Thus, allowing the species to reproduce and continue their existence.

But this strategy can have an adverse effect on your garden. Flowers can also attract pests who love to indulge in some floral delights.

Let’s take a look at these nuisance garden pests.

Do Squirrels Eat Flowering Plants?

do squirrels eat flowers

Squirrels are notorious garden pests that have frustrated garden owners to no end. They are wiley animals that have a knack for being able to get into the trickiest of places.

The reason they are so hard to protect against is their agility and small size. They can scale vertical structures with ease. And when you combine this with their ability to jump large distances from tree to tree, it means fences are next to useless as protection.

But will squirrels eat your flowers?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Apart from fruits, vegetables, and bird seed from feeders, flowers are also high up on their list of delicacies.

You can tell if squirrels are the ones ruining your floral display, because they will usually only nibble the petals. But their trademark modus operandi (MO) is pulling the flowers off your plant and carelessly discarding them on the ground once they have had their fill. Vindictive little creatures, aren’t they?

How to Prevent Squirrels from Eating Your Flowers?

Because squirrels are so evasive and hard to physically keep out of our gardens (say for example fences), your best defense against them is smell.

Squirrels have a sensitive smell, which they use to sniff out their next meal. But it is very sense that we can turn around and use against them.

Try spraying your flowers with organic smells that will deter squirrels. We like to use a concoction of organic materials like hot cayenne pepper or chili powder. We combine this with crushed up fresh garlic and pepper seeds into water. Then proceed to spray it on the leaves and flowers around the garden.

It is also effective at preventing squirrels from eating your fruits and vegetables like zucchini and eggplants. Just remember to give your produce a thorough wash before eating them, otherwise you’ll be in for a hot surprise.

Do Deer Eat Flowering Plants?

Another suspect high up on the flower thief suspect list is deer.

Deer are particularly destructive garden pests that can wipe out a garden’s entire floral display in one night – particularly if they have invited their friends. They will come in at dusk or under the cover of darkness and begin their feast.

What Animals Eat Flowering Plants
credit: tenor

It is easy to determine if deer are frequenting your garden because they are particularly messy eaters. Apart from consuming your garden flowers, a deer will also target the tender juicy leaves of your plants.

They don’t have dexterous claws like a squirrel, instead choosing to strip the leaves and flowers with their mouths from the stems of the stems and branches in one swoop. This often results in bare plants with broken stems and branches. Some plants may even be uprooted from the pulling force applied by these garden pests.

If you turn your attention down to the ground, you will also be able to see discernible hoof print marks in the soft soil. Also watch where you step, because deer also like to defecate while they eat, leaving you nice little deposits of feces in your garden as payment for their meal.

do deer eat flowers

How to Prevent Deer from Eating Your Flowers

For some gardeners, the battle to keep deer out of their beautiful gardens is real. Deer are stubborn garden pests, who will find a way in if they try hard enough.

Their ability to jump tall obstacles makes them hard to keep out with fence lines along the boundary of your garden. That is unless you want to erect an 8-10 foot high fence. You can get away with a lower fence line, however it will have to be angled outwards. This is because deer cannot jump high and over long distances at the same time.

However, we understand building a fortress around your garden isn’t the ideal solution for everyone. So we’ve managed to put together a few more ideas to keep deer away from your flowers.

Like our friend the squirrel, deer are also particularly sensitive to smell.

There are commercial products available on Amazon that will help to form a perimeter around your garden, which come in the form of deer repellent sprays or granules you spread around.

For a DIY solution, try spreading around human hair clippings around your garden. Deer are scared of humans, and any scent that they associate with us will trigger warning bells for them. The goal is to make them scared enough to move onto safer pastures for their midnight snack.

Other homeowners also hang bars of soap around your garden. In the same vein as the hair, the deer associate the smell of soap with humans, giving them the impression that danger is around and that they should avoid the area. We like to use Irish Spring deodorant soap because it has a strong smell, and is not toxic for your plants.

Do Rabbits Eat Flowering Plants?

One obvious suspect for your eaten flowers is the leafy green loving bunny rabbit.

Rabbits are notorious for eating their way through a garden – including flowers. But some flowers, like azaleas and daffodils, are actually toxic to rabbits, and will cause them to get digestive problems.

Due to their height restrictions, it is easy to identify when rabbits have been eating your flowers for their dessert. Most of the smaller plants or lower branches will be nibbled away. You can identify the eating patterns of a rabbit by the angular teeth that cut through the leaves and petals of the flowers.

Rabbits also defecate as they eat, so like the deer do, they will leave deposits of feces (albeit smaller than the deer) around the garden.

Nevertheless, rabbits continue to prove to be a nuisance in home gardens, and will make light work of your flowers and leaves on most plants. So how do you keep them away from your precious plants?

do rabbits eat flowers

How to Prevent Rabbits from Eating Your Flowers

Again, smell is your friend in your battle to keep rabbits away from your garden. Like squirrels, chili, cayenne pepper and anything spicy will keep rabbits well away from your beautiful flowers. Some home gardeners have also had success with talcum powder, which irritates the rabbits’ noses.

Because rabbits are at a height disadvantage, fences will be effective against keeping them out of particular areas of your garden. If you choose to go down this route, the best material to use for fences is wire, like tough thick wire. This way the rabbits won’t be able to chew through the fence line and access your flowers.

Rabbits also have great digging abilities, which means extending the fence line below the surface of the ground is critical in order to rabbit proof your garden. We recommend extending your fence at least a foot down into the ground to prevent rabbits from digging under.

Do Raccoons and Opossums Eat Flowering Plants?

These two critters are extremely annoying garden pests, because not only will they enjoy eating your stunning flowers, they will eat and damage the rest of the plant. So much so, the plants are often unsalvageable, leaving you with gaps in your garden to fill.

Possums and raccoons are very similar in habits, feeding rituals and agility. They will eat just about anything they can put their paws on. They both have amazing climbing and jumping abilities, which makes them hard to keep out of home gardens.

The main difference between the two is how they eat their food.

Generally, raccoons will take their food away from the scene of the crime, to eat in a safer area. Whereas opossums will remain in the garden and eat the flowers – maybe from a higher vantage point to allow for a hasty escape.

do opossums eat flowers

How to Prevent Raccoons and Opossums from Eating your Flowers

Keeping raccoons and opossums away from your flowers is difficult.

There is no sugar coating it – if they want to get in, they will find a way. That said, deterring these two animals is the best form of protection you can offer.

Smell is one defense that you can employ to keep raccoons away from your garden.Try a concoction of minced garlic and chili powder mixed into water and spray it around the leaves of your vulnerable plants.

Growing prickly plants that trail along fence lines used by raccoons will also help to keep them out of your garden. Climbing vines like cucumbers will stop raccoons from using your garden as a thoroughfare, as they don’t like the feeling on their paws as they walk. Note, however, that this will not protect against opossums, who will happily munch on your cucumber fruits.

Other Creatures that will Eat Your Flowering Plants

There are a few more creatures that may be munching on your flowers, such as insects, snails and slugs, and even birds. However, these pests are easier to spot, because they will still be around the plant they are consuming or attacking during the day, in the case of birds.

Snails and Slugs (gastropods)

snails eating plants

Unfortunately these pests can be the thorn in your gardening shoes. When they get out of control, they are extremely difficult to rein in. So if you see them around your garden, the best form of control is to remove them immediately.

That said, slugs and snails usually come out under the cover of darkness and will eat your flowers while you are sleeping. It also protects them from other predators like birds.

If you know you have a gastropod problem, try adding freshly used coffee grounds to the surface of the soil around your plants. Snails and slugs can’t stand crossing over the grounds, and will have no access to your flowers.

Birds

do birds eat flowers

Even though some people welcome birds into their gardens, with bird feeders and bird friendly trees and shrubs. Some gardeners detest them, as they can devastate their flower beds (and eat your produce). Not all birds will eat your flowers, and some can even be helpful in the pollination process.

However, when you get birds that have taken a liking to your flowers, it can be a frustrating and depressing experience.

Birds are clever. They will sit in the trees out of reach, watching and waiting for you to leave. Once they feel it is safe, they’ll swoop down and destroy your garden, bit by bit.

You can try covering your plants with bird netting, however that is aesthetically not ideal, and ultimately ruins the entire purpose of filling your garden with beautiful flowers to admire.

We’ve personally found having dogs in the backyard has been the most successful, however not all dogs enjoy chasing birds as much as our old gal.

Final Thoughts on What Animals Eat Flowering Plants

Who does your evidence suggest is raiding your garden flowers?

Deer and rabbits are easily identified by their droppings that they leave behind as they work their way through your garden.

If you flowers are half-eaten and scattered on the ground, it sounds like squirrels are leaving their calling cards.

On the other hand, if your flowers are just missing, raccoons or opossums may be frequenting your sanctuary at night.

Whoever is eating your flowers, let the evidence speak for itself and then implement some preventative measures to stop them in their tracks.