If you’re a potted planter, you know how hard it is to maintain your plants, yet alone, get them growing just right. Although it can be tedious to do, choosing the perfect soil, the perfect bulb or seed, and maintaining an ideal climate whether outside or in a greenhouse are many of the logistics that go into it. It can be so rewarding to figure it all out to a T. However, the one “T” you don’t want to find is a toad or frog in your potted plant!
Toads and frogs are commonly in your potted plants because they are looking for food or shelter. If you find these amphibians in your potted plants, take action by cleaning up your yard and patio, add barriers, spray vinegar, and give them an alternative space to burrow away from your plants.
It can be a challenge to not only grow your plants but then have to deal with some unwanted toads or frogs that hop on by and destroy everything in their paths! If you seem to be having a toad or frog problem, or if you want to prevent a problem from occurring – keep on reading, because today we’re talking about how to keep toads and frogs out of your potted plants!
So, Is It A Toad Or A Frog In My Potted Plants?
First thing first – what’s the difference between a toad and a frog, and what can you do about them getting into your potted plants?
Well, we will get to the second part of that question shortly, but the short answer to the first part is: if it’s in water, it’s most likely a frog, if it’s on land, it’s most likely a toad.
Here’s our article about where frogs live and sleep for more information on where you’ll most likely find frogs!
You Can Identify A Frog Based On Their Physical Characteristics
Besides their location, toads and frogs have some other characteristics that can help differentiate them – let’s call them the “Three S’s”: shape, skin, and spawn.
Shape: Toads have short legs which allows them to crawl, frogs have longer legs which allows them to hop. Toads are also plumper and broader, where frogs are leaner and svelte.
Skin: Toads have bumpy, warty looking skin, where frogs are sleek and smooth and always appear to be wet.
Spawn: A toad’s eggs are stringy and lengthy, where a frog’s eggs are clumpy and gooey.
Defining whether it’s a toad or frog will not matter when trying to deter them. However, it’s always good to identify the pest you’re dealing with.
Why Are Toads And Frogs Bad For Potted Plants?
Since adult toads are carnivores, you won’t find them eating your plants directly, however, they can cause a lot of damage to your plants like eating many beneficial insects, destroying seedlings, uprooting plants, messing with the nutrients in your soil, and attracting unwanted predators.
Really, a lot of it is personal preference as well to keep them out of your garden and yard!
Specifically below, we’ll touch moreso on toads because you’re more likely to find them in your potted plants, rather than frogs.
Toads Can Remove Too Many Beneficial Insects
Toads will typically eat insects, including the very beneficial insects that help your plants such as earthworms, snails and slugs. Of course, slugs and snails can cause damage to certain plants, but if you don’t have specific plants that slugs go after than this this can be an issue.
Earthworms are beneficial to your plants because they help increase the supply of air and water in your soil, while also breaking down organic matter and turning it into valuable nutrients and fertilizer for your potted plants.
Snails and slugs are good for your potted plants because they feed on dead plant matter. Snails will not only clean up the mess that’s left over from your potted plants, but will help the natural process of decay, speed up!
They Can Uproot Your Lovely Plants
However, since a toad’s preferred choice of food leads them to burrow in your potted plants, toads often cause damage to your plants while they’re creating burrows.
A toad will hide in the soil, and then jump on their prey when it comes near. However, this often damages the roots of your flowers and plants and can uproot the roots and bulbs.
Since a toad will make sure that they’re hidden and secure enough to keep a watchful eye, they will get rid of any matter that’s in their way – your bulbs, seeds, and plants!
Toads Destroy Young Seedlings
It’s not just the already-established rooted plants that toads cause damage to – they also destroy young seedlings indirectly in their attempts to search for food, as they will acquire the resources a seedling needs to survive.
Toads completely interfere with the fertilizer and layers of soil that you placed amongst your young seedlings to help them grow, which will destroy them.
According to the Associations of Zoos and Aquariums, toads absorb water just by pressing their bellies to the soil, which means less water for your seedlings, and more water for the toads.
Toads are amphibians, which means they need water and a moist area to survive. Further, amphibians have this permeable skin that allows them to breathe and drink through their skin.
A toad’s permeable skin is bad for your new seedlings that need water because if you’re watering a potted plant that has toads in it, the toads will make the soil extra dry and absorb a good part of the moisture that your new seeds need!
And that’s not all folks! A toad’s permeable layer also leads to the interference of nutrients in your soil – which we will talk more about below.
Toads Interfere With Nutrients In The Soil
Since toads have permeable layers, gasses or liquids can pass into their skin from their environment, and out of their skin and back into the environment – which means, toads pass a variety of gases and liquids to your potted plant that can harm your plant, and stunt its growth.
Gases like weed fertilizers, grass killers, pesticides, and other chemicals can be passed into your potted plant from a toad’s outer layer, which messes up the nutrients in the soil.
Another way that toads can mess up the nutrients in your soil is – well, because – if they’re living in your potted plant, they may use the bathroom there – which can actually lead to the smothering of your potted plant. Yikes!
Toads Attract Other Unwanted Pests
Another reason why toads are not good for your potted plants is because toads attract snakes. A snake may eat the toad, and then take over and live in your potted plant, which can be dangerous and more taxing of an issue to take on.
Toads also attract raccoons, and raccoons can bring their own baggage to your potted plants. So, it’s best to get ahead of the toad situation as quickly as possible!
So, without further ado – let’s get into it – here are the 7 ways to keep toads and frogs out of your potted plants!
7 Ways To Keep Toads And Frogs Out Of Your Potted Plants
If you’ve seen even one toad or frog hopping around your potted plants – it’s one too many, and it’s definitely time to get them out of there – and fast! Toads and frogs will cause a lot of unnecessary damage that could have been prevented, and there are easy ways to keep them away!
Remember, you’re more likely to have toads in your potted plants since frogs tend to stick closer to water!
Remove Any Standing Water Near Your Plants
One of the best things that you can immediately do to keep frogs and toads away is to remove any standing water near your plants.
Both frogs and toads love water and need water to survive. However, they also find water to mate in! Since amphibians require a damp, moist area as their habitat, having standing water near your plants will only attract them to the outdoor space.
However, a quick tip to know if you have standing water around is if you hear frogs croaking. Frogs croak when they want to mate, and since they find water to do so – it’s usually one of the first signs of standing water.
If you notice a lot of croaking lately and want the frogs to just shut up, here’s our article on ways to stop frogs from croaking.
How To Remove Standing Water
After a large rain, or even from a drippy hose – whatever the source of the standing water is, the water should be properly irrigated so that you don’t attract toads and frogs, and even insects like mosquitoes, termites, and other pests to your surroundings.
To get rid of smaller-scale standing water on your lawn, or other greenery, aerating the soil with a manual aerator like Yard Butler ID-6C Manual Lawn Coring Aerator, can help the water go back into your soil – which will help your plants and grass!
If you’re noticing that your potted plants have a lot of standing water in them, you may need to add more holes to the bottom of your pots, or, add rocks to the bottom of your pots for drainage, to help the unused water get out quickly, and effectively.
Clean Up Your Yard Or Patio
The best thing that you can do to keep toads and frogs out of your potted plants, is to clean up the area where your potted plants are located!
Toads and frogs are attracted to ground cover.
According to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services, a toads habitat is typically upland with cover from forests and other vegetation.
Likewise, both toads and frogs like wetlands – so, imagine overgrown grasses or shrubs, mixed with standing water, and ample enough cover, you have created the perfect space for a toad or frog to call their own.
By mowing your grass regularly, trimming overgrown bushes, getting rid of standing water, and any log piles, and by keeping a tidy and clean environment, you can keep toads and frogs out of your potted plants, and away from your outdoor space.
But we’re going to contradict ourselves in just a second!
Create Other Places For Frogs To Burrow And Live
Another great way to get frogs out of your potted plants is to – give them something else to talk about – give them a new space to burrow!
Contrary to what we just said about cleaning your yard, picking one spot in your outdoor space that gives some overgrown grass, some pond-like water, larger shrubbery, and even log piles that they can hide under – will attract a toad or frog away from your potted plant, and into this amphibian-approved area.
Having one small spot dedicated to a toad or frogs habitat will keep them away from your potted plants, while allowing the amphibians to thrive in their own location.
Although they can wreak havoc to your potted plants, toads and frogs do eat a lot of unwanted insects like beetles, flies, wasps – and honestly, most insects that come too close.
Think about it, we all learned that a frog sits on its lily pad and its long tongue comes out and snatches any insect flying in its path – well, it’s the truth! Keeping frogs and toads around in a controlled environment is better than having them in your potted plants and will make-way for their survival.
Add A Physical Barrier To Your Pot
An easy solution to keep frogs and toads out of your potted plants is to add a barrier within the pot itself. Neither like barriers because they want to catch prey effortlessly.
A barrier will confuse, and annoy both frogs and toads to which point they will eventually leave the area, or in fact, avoid it from the get-go.
To keep these amphibians and other pests out from the start you can purchase this Barrier Mesh that goes over your plant, and closes with a drawstring at the bottom of it. It protects your plant in the growing stage especially, so that it can grow and thrive on its own accord.
Another type of barrier that will deter a toad is simply adding something that is unfamiliar and stops the frog or toad from burrowing freely.
Purchasing a trellis like Mini Garden Trellis For Potted Plants, that goes into the pot, and can even help plants that are meant to climb, will keep frogs and toads away.
Plant Things That You Don’t Mind Frogs Or Toads In
Another fool-proof option to keep toads and frogs out of the places you don’t want them in, is to plant things that you don’t mind frogs in! Sounds like a win-win solution here if you ask us!
Using toads and frogs to your advantage will help you with plants that require water – but not too much water.
Since toads and frog will literally soak up the remaining water and take it from the plant, attracting them to plants that need assistance in drainage – is a great place to start. A variety of Sage plants, Agave, Desert Roses, Succulents, Jade plants and more all require little water – all of which look great in potted plants!
Likewise, attracting frogs and toads into areas that flood often could use some help with drainage is good too.
Planting grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, ferns, and leafy greens in pots or near areas that need help with drainage, will attract frogs and toads which will help your drainage problem!
Add Scents That Frogs And Toads Hate To Your Potted Plants
Coffee grounds, baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice are all scents that toads frogs hate. These scents block their sense of smell causing them to stay away from otherwise detected scents they like.
So, keeping these scents close to your potted plants or even in your potted plants, will help keep them away.
A great way to add some of these things to your potted plants without harming the plant itself is to purchase Tea Strainers and utilize them as a means to hold some of the scents that frogs and toads hate.
By adding either coffee grounds or baking soda directly to the strainer or adding cotton balls soaked in lemon or vinegar to the strainer and keeping it on the surface of the soil or hanging off the pot – will help keep the scent stronger.
Frogs and toads both use their sense of smell to navigate and search for prey, so, if their scent is masked by any of the smells they hate, they will be unable to use their nose how they need to, and will stay far away from the source of the scent.
Use Amphibian Repellent Sprays
Another way to repel them with scent is to simply use an amphibian repellent. Exterminator’s Choice – Frog Defense Spray, is a great product to repel frogs and toads!
Using citronella and lemongrass oils, and without the use of any harsh chemicals, you can use this spray inside and outside your home to deter frogs and toads.
To use it, you simply spray the solution around the perimeters of your home, in your gardens, on your potted plants, and anywhere else that needs some protection.
Spray The Area With Mild Vinegar
Vinegar is a strong frog and toad repellent – and it’s not only because of vinegar’s bitter and overwhelming scent, but rather, it repels frogs because of the way that the vinegar feels! Once a frog or toad steps on vinegar, they will quickly hop on away from that area.
Remember, frogs and toads are amphibians – which means that they take in liquids through their outer layer of skin and because of this, vinegar can be an effective frog and toad deterrent.
To use vinegar, grab a spray bottle with equal parts white distilled cooking vinegar and water. Spray the vinegar generously around the pots, on the plants, and on other outdoor surfaces where you’ve been noticing them hopping.
You will need to repeat this a few times so that they learn that vinegar is present and will keep them away for good!
Why Do Toads And Frogs Like To Be In Your Potted Plants?
The reality is toads and frogs like to be in your potted plants because a potted plant becomes the perfect habitat and provides all that a frog would need.
They Are Trying To Cool Off
In potted plants, soil tends to be moist and wet, even on drier days. If you’re keeping up with your potted plants and they’re growing to be big and tall, not only is the plant now providing shade for a frog or toad to cool off, but also it provides an ample water supply that will help their bodies cool off too.
According to the Queensland Government, frogs like the morning sun but require shade throughout the rest of the day, because of this, your potted plants provide shade for a frog, like a tree does to a human, and it’s one of the reasons that frogs stay put in your pots!
They Are Hiding From Predators
Another reason that toads and frogs are in your potted plants is because they are trying to get away and hide from predators.
Being in a potted plant gives frogs a chance to sit up higher and watch over the ledge of the pot to make sure there are no ground predators that they’ll miss. Predators like coyotes, snakes, raccoons, some types of birds, small mammals, lizards and snakes are just a few frog predators that you can catch in your outdoor space that will feed on frogs and toads.
Being in a potted plant can keep them safe and sound from predators, while they still reap all the benefits that the potted plant has to offer.
They Are Looking For A Quick Meal
Most importantly, a potted plant grants a quick meal to a frog or toad, and usually has an ample supply in the soil! Remember, frogs love to eat insects and especially insects like worms, snails and slugs that all tend to live in your soil.
Finding that a frog or toad is into your potted plant and making a mess nonetheless, since it is burrowing under the soil to find food, is no surprise, as it’s the quickest way for a frog or toad to grab a quick bite to eat.
That’s A Wrap!
All in all, if you’re having a frog problem – we have a bunch of solutions! So, it’s time to hop on it, and get rid of these toads or frogs! To keep frogs away follow these simple tips:
- Remove any standing water by your potted plants.
- Clean up your yard and patio.
- Create other spots for frogs to live and burrow.
- Add a barrier to your pot.
- Plant things that you don’t mind frogs getting into.
- Add scents that frogs hate to your potted plants.
- Use a mild vinegar spray to get rid of frogs.
However, if you have a frog or toad problem and are unsure how to tackle it, we always suggest contacting a professional to come up with a plan that will work best for you.
Krupa, J. J. (1994). Breeding biology of the Great Plains toad in Oklahoma. Journal of Herpetology, 217-224.
Beebee, T. J. (1979). A review of scientific information pertaining to the natterjack toad Bufo calamita throughout its geographical range. Biological Conservation, 16(2), 107-134.
Holmes, S. J. (1906). The biology of the frog. Macmillan Company.
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.
Download My Free E-Book!
Take a look at my guide on Pest Proofing Your Home In Under a Day! I get into the nitty-gritty on the most common types of pests you’ll see on your property including BOTH insects and wildlife, along with the specific signs to look for regarding any pest you have questions about.