Garden squirrels can be ruthless in your garden, digging up bulbs, taking produce, and destroying your plants’ root systems. However, some plants, such as anemones, are naturally resistant to wildlife such as squirrels, making them the perfect plant for a pest-free garden.
Squirrels do not eat anemone bulbs. Anemones are toxic to humans and all other mammals, so pests such as squirrels, moles, deer, and rabbits will not consume this plant’s bulbs, leaves, stems, or flowers.
In this article, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about anemones and their power to repel pests like squirrels. I’ll also explore anemone poisoning, detailing the safest ways to use this plant to repel pesky squirrels and other animals from your garden. Then, I’ll discuss some other pest-resistant bulbs and go over the potential insect pests of these beautiful blooms.
Are All Anemones Poisonous to Squirrels?
All anemones are poisonous to squirrels. All anemone varieties and cultivars contain glycosides and protoanemonin, which cause an inflammatory reaction when you consume or touch them. These chemicals make these plants naturally pest-resistant and poisonous to most mammals.
All parts of anemone plants are toxic, including the seeds, flowers, sap, and bulbs. However, you must consume a lot of this plant for the poison to threaten your life.
While all anemone flowers poison squirrels and other garden animals, some cultivars contain less protoanemonin than others. Still, even those with minor amounts of these chemicals are potent enough to cause aches in mammals, encouraging them to look for food elsewhere.
For example, the anemone coronaria is only toxic to humans when eaten in vast quantities. However, since squirrels are small, it takes less poison to affect them, so even one little bite of these anemones can upset a squirrel’s tummy and ward it off.
Symptoms of Anemone Poisoning
Experts at the University of California, Davis, classify anemones as a mild toxicant. They will undoubtedly cause discomfort if any animal touches or consumes them. However, consuming small amounts of these bulbs likely won’t prove fatal. A squirrel would have to consume a large portion of an anemone bulb to experience life-threatening symptoms.
If a squirrel consumes part of an anemone, it will likely suffer from digestive discomfort. Symptoms of poisoning from anemone plants, from the most minor to the most severe, include:
- Irritation to mucous membranes in the sinus and digestive systems
- Blisters in digestive tissues
- Hemorrhagic gastritis
Due to these symptoms and the toxic nature of anemones, you won’t have to worry about your local wildlife consuming or harming your flower bulbs. If they try a bite of your bulbs, they’ll feel bad afterward and avoid them in the future.
Are Anemone Bulbs Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?
Anemone bulbs are poisonous to cats and dogs. Dogs and cats can consume anemone leaves, stems, flowers, or bulbs, which will cause digestive discomfort and skin swelling in your pet. If your dog or cat consumes enough of the bulb, they may suffer from severe poisoning, which can have fatal consequences.
Although this flower is only a mild toxicant, it’s also one of the most common poisonous bulbs that pets such as dogs and cats eat, according to UC Davis’ Center for Veterinary Medicine.
If your pet consumes a small portion of the bulb, it will only suffer from minor digestive symptoms. However, if your dog or cat eats the entire bulb or stem, it may experience other, more severe symptoms, such as convulsions or death.
For that reason, you should always plant anemone bulbs out of reach of your pets and monitor the bulbs carefully. If your pet seems interested in eating the flower or bulb, remove it from your garden and keep it in a container on a plant stand or in a secluded area.
Additionally, if you suspect your pet has consumed any part of your anemones, call a vet immediately. As I mentioned above, specific anemone cultivars may contain more toxic chemicals than others, making some anemones more life-threatening to pets. Moreover, smaller pets are more sensitive to the poison.
How To Safely Handle Anemone Bulbs and Plants
Anemones are toxic to the touch and may cause skin irritation if you handle them without gloves. The poison can also transfer from your skin to your eyes or mouth, so practicing caution is critical when growing these flowers.
To handle your anemone bulbs safely:
- Use gloves when planting the bulbs or maintaining your garden.
- Always wash your hands after touching anemone flowers or bulbs.
- Keep floral arrangements containing anemone flowers away from food prep and dining areas.
- Touch your anemone plants as sparingly as possible.
Although exercising such caution when handling anemones might be annoying, it’s well worth it. Anemones are safe to keep indoors and outdoors if you don’t let the sap settle on your skin and keep the plant away from your and your pets’ mouths.
Other Squirrel and Deer-Resistant Bulbs
In addition to anemones, a few bulb flowers ward off squirrels, deer, and other wildlife. Some of the best rodent-resistant bulbs include:
- Alliums, onions, and garlic. These plants are not toxic to squirrels, but the scent and flavor of plants from the allium family are too strong and bitter for most rodents. With just one bite of these plants, your garden squirrels will be looking for something else to get the onion taste out of their mouths.
- Daffodils. Daffodils, jonquils, or narcissus are very toxic to mammals like squirrels. Most squirrels will avoid these bulbs, but if they do consume them, the squirrel will likely die.
- Wood and Grape Hyacinth. Hyacinths have a flavor that squirrels detest. So, these flowers won’t poison your pets or garden critters, but they’ll offer robust blooms and natural pest-resistant properties.
- Snowdrops. Snowdrops contain the toxins lycorine and galantamine, the same poisonous compounds found in daffodils.
- Squill. Squill contains chemicals frequently used in rat poison and is highly toxic to squirrels. It directly affects the heart, causing heart palpitations, slowed heart rate, and death.
These flowers are ideal for creating pest-deterrent garden borders. By planting these bulbs around your fruit, vegetable, or flowering plants, you can ward off hungry critters before they make it into the center of your garden beds, where you should plant all the best-tasting plants.
Plus, you won’t ever have to worry about animals such as squirrels, mice, moles, or deer bothering these flowers, ensuring that you get brilliant blooms every year.
Through this method, you can use flowering bulbs as natural and organic pest control, helping you keep a self-maintaining garden full of delicious and beautiful plants.
Pests of Anemone Bulbs and Flowers
Although wildlife such as squirrels, rabbits, deer, mice, and moles won’t consume your anemones, the plants still have their fair share of pests. So, if you’re concerned about stunted growth, discoloration, or rot on your anemone plant, one of these pests may be to blame:
- Slugs and snails. Slugs and snails leave rough, jagged holes in the leaves of a plant. To learn more about slugs and snails and how to identify them, you might want to read my article on recognizing slug damage here: What Damage Do Slugs Do to Plants?
- Japanese beetles. Japanese beetles are difficult to eradicate. They consume the leaves of anemone plants, leaving large, serrated holes in the foliage.
- Blister beetles. Blister beetles are small insects with narrow, ovular, long bodies sometimes marked by yellow, brown, orange, or black stripes. Only the adults eat plant matter, and they generally only consume foliage.
- Caterpillars. Caterpillars are easy to spot, but you can find a wide variety of them on your anemone plants.
- Flea beetles. Flea beetles are tiny, black jumping beetles that leave very small holes in an anemone’s foliage. The anemone may heal from the damage, leaving small, white, circular scars on the leaves.
- Aphids. Aphids are sap-sucking insects that dehydrate and suck the juice out of an anemone plant, stunting its growth. They are very challenging to spot because they are incredibly tiny.
- Nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic worms that consume the cells in an anemone’s leaves. They leave discolored spots on the plant’s leaves, which usually appear as purple or deep orange blotches. Nematodes are incurable, and you must discard an infected anemone to prevent the nematodes from spreading.
As far as pests go, that is an exhaustive list of insects that target the anemone. So, if you notice holes in your plant’s leaves, a mushy bulb, or stunted growth, you won’t have to search too hard to find the culprit.
Squirrels don’t eat anemone bulbs because they contain toxic chemicals that harm mammals’ digestive systems. While these chemicals ward off wildlife, they can also prove dangerous to children, pets, and you! Always handle anemones carefully to protect yourself, and keep them away from curious pets.
Although some bulbs like the anemones are resistant to garden critters, they may still develop insect infestations. So use the guide above to determine the culprit of your anemones’ damage if you notice lesions or discoloration in your flower’s leaves.