You only have to experience the smell of a skunk once to identify it correctly for the rest of your life. The smell is unique, hard to describe, and even harder to endure for longer than 10 seconds. Good thing for us, there are a few plants that keep skunks away!
Skunks are very sensitive to the texture and scent of certain plants. The most common plants that can keep skunks away are:
- Crown imperial
- Summer squash
- Stinging nettle
- Thick hedges with horns
- Wild cucumber
- Oregon grape
Read on to find out all the ways you can skunks proof your home using common houseplants. Let’s get to it!
Why Would You Want to Keep Skunks Away?
So besides having to deal with an invasively awful stench, what exactly do skunks do to your yard and garden that create problems? Skunks are nocturnal animals so they do much of their destruction at night. One thing skunks do that is good news-bad news is their love of grubs.
Grubs are the larva of certain types of beetles that haven’t reached a mature level. They feed off your yard and easily expand into an infestation causing root damage and a thinning lawn.
The fact that skunks ferociously burrow for grubs is kind of good. The problem is they can go deep and leave you with some substantial holes in your yard.
Skunks can destroy plants in your garden and are attracted to fruits, like strawberries that grow in lower areas and are easy to reach. But besides this damaging behavior, they can also carry diseases such as rabies.
Unfortunately, skunks probably won’t leave on their own. Luckily, there are certain plants we can use to keep them away!
8 Plants That Will Keep Skunks Away
The following 8 plants, when used properly, can deter skunks from frequenting your yard and garden. Following this list are smells and aromas that skunks hate as well. (As if they are the aficionados of fresh and inviting scents, right?) Here we go, help is on the way!
Please keep in mind that using deterrents such as plants isn’t full proof, as there are many variables to them actually being an effective deterrent.
1. Crown Imperial
The crown imperial plant offers the best of both worlds for gardeners. It offers a beautiful and bright display of flowers, it does not require you to replant it every year, and the skunks hate the smell!
Avid gardeners like to position this plant around the border of their garden.
The vibrant yellow and red flowers look like bells. They look so pretty while creating a border to deter skunks from progressing any further. You can plant these bulbs in the fall in a full sun area.
2. Summer Squash
The leaves on the squash plant are irritating to skunks. Luckily, they provide delicious and healthy vegetables for us. There are a couple of varieties of squash to choose from: regular yellow squash to zucchini.
You can plant squash seeds in a warm sunny area of your garden in the spring. Make sure you use soil that ranges from neutral to mildly acidic. Water these plants when they seem dry but make sure there is enough drainage.
3. Stinging Nettle
While stinging nettle plants are excellent at repelling skunks, they are also beneficial in health and healing. This plant bears hairs that are prickly and irritate the fine soft fur of a skunk.
This plant can spread its seeds through its root stalks that grow horizontally. To grow this prickly plant you will want to find a place that has full or at least partial sun to plant your seeds. The soil needs to remain moist at all times.
The best time to plant stinging nettles is in the spring. If you already have them in your garden you can split up your plant and spread the clusters around.
4. Thick Hedges With Horns
Thick hedges have been used for centuries to protect personal property from unwanted guests. It is this same sentiment that is used by gardeners to keep skunks away. If you can find hedges with thorns even better.
Some of the hedges you can choose from include: Century Plant, a Blackthorn Tree, Bougainvillea, Honey locust, and Firethorn. Many of these are slow-growing just keep them watered and trimmed.
5. Wild Cucumber
The spines and lobes of this plant repel skunks. It is a vine that grows every year and bears tiny white flowers that look like little stars.
You cannot eat the fruit from a wild cucumber plant but it could be good to have it around just to keep the skunks away. They grow best in an area that gets full sun. Make sure the soil remains wet at all times.
6. Oregon Grape
Skunks do not like Oregon grape plants because of the sharp thorns they have at the end of their leaves. Some people put these plants together so that they create their customized hedge. The leaves on the Oregon grape plant change colors.
They start red then go from green to burgundy. This plant is fairly easy to take care of and can go for long periods without needing to be watered. Just make sure to drench it once you do water it so it can make it through the dry spells.
7. Holly Plants
Yes, these are the same festive holly leaves that you see around Christmas time. The plants have shiny green leaves that bear bright red berries. It is not the berries that repel the skunks it is the sharpness of the leaves.
You can take some of the vines from holly plants and wrap them around mild-leafed hedges to keep skunks from bothering them. Holly plants need to be nurtured when they are new but as they mature they only need to be fertilized once a year, give them a good dose of mulch, and water them during dry periods.
There is nothing like the sight of a beautiful sunny yellow daffodil to let you know spring has sprung. While these plants bloom in several vibrant colors, the yellow ones are among the most beautiful. But while they are lovely to look at, too many animals, skunks especially, are toxic.
Make sure to keep their soil wet during the fall and in the spring. They are dormant at some point but the rest of the time they are easy to take care of.
Scents That Can Keep Skunks Away
Along with the sharply pointed plants with questionable aromas, there are several scents that skunks just can’t take such as:
- Coyote urine
These scents are overpowering for a skunks sense of smell and end up masking any potential food or shelter sources that they may be searching for.
For more information on what can get rid of skunks scent-wise, check out our popular article on 15 Scents That Skunks Hate.
Most Common Skunks To Find In Your Yard
The first thing you need to know before you expand the flora and foliage in your yard is to make sure it is a skunk that is causing the problems.
While you may think you know a skunk when you see one, you might mistakenly take a medium-size black cat for a striped skunk. There are more than 12 different species of skunks but only four common ones that you need to worry about!
According to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, the following are the most common skunks you will see in your area and their common characteristics:
- Striped Skunks: The most familiar is the striped skunk. Bushy and black with a solid white stripe down its back, this skunk is just under 30 inches in length and weighs around 8 pounds.
- Hog-Nosed Skunks: The hog-nosed skunk has a hairless snout that is long and narrow. These skunks have black sides and bellies but their tails and backs are black.
- Spotted Skunks: The stripes on the spotted skunks are broken up making them look more like spots than a solid streak. What also sets them apart from the other types is they are only a couple of pounds each.
- Hooded Skunks: The hooded skunk has a neck that looks like it has a thick furry ruffle. Unlike the other skunks, the hooded variety has two stripes on its body, one on each side. They grow to about 28 inches and can weigh up to 8 pounds.
If you’re wondering where these common skunks may be living in your yard, take a look at our article on the most common signs of a skunk den.
Why Do Skunks Spray?
While you are dealing with problem skunks in your yard it might be a good thing to find out why they spray. Knowing why may prevent you from having to endure another stinky episode.
Skunks spray when they feel as if they are being threatened or they are afraid. They don’t set out to purposely spray you, but they have no choice. The good news is you will get a fair warning before they DO spray you.
First, they will take their front feet and stomp them like a child throwing a tantrum! Next, they will turn around and face you directly. This is the skunk’s way of telling you it is giving you fair warning.
If this doesn’t work, make a run for it when you see its tail go up. That is when you will probably become the skunk’s target for its stinky spray. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
Products That Keep Skunks Away from Your Home
If you either do not have the time to spend dealing with a skunk problem at your home, or it has gotten out of hand, there are some products you can purchase to handle this problem.
Natural Armor Animal & Rodent Repellent Spray. This product is used to control problems with skunks, raccoons, rats, mice, deer, rodents, and critters. You can use this gentle but effective spray indoors and outside. It even has a nice peppermint scent.
If you want something a little more high-tech, the Broox Solar Animal Repeller emits sounds and bright lights that will deter skunks, raccoons, rabbits, and even cats and dogs. The lights and sound humanely frighten the animals so there is no need to worry about chemicals being used for the wrong garden pests. It’s easy to set up and it is solar-powered.
In addition to all of these factors, there are even more ways that you can get skunks away from your home. If you are interested, consider reading our article on the 10 Best Skunk Repellents (and How to Use Them).
If your skunk problem is too much for you to deal with you may want to call a professional who specializes in skunk infestations.
Knight, J. E. (1994). Skunks. The Handbook: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, 42.
Carnivores, C. I. (2004). Ecology and management of striped skunks, raccoons, and coyotes in urban landscapes. People and predators: From conflict to coexistence, 6, 81.
Bixler, A., & Gittleman, J. L. (2000). Variation in home range and use of habitat in the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis). Journal of Zoology, 251(4), 525-533.
Larivière, S., & Messier, F. (2000). Habitat selection and use of edges by striped skunks in the Canadian prairies. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 78(3), 366-372.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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