Although they may be cute, chipmunks are a common garden pest that can uproot and consume your hostas, destroying your garden in mere days. However, they can be tricky to track down and shoo away since they burrow underneath the ground and leave few traces of where they’ve come from. So, the best solution for pesky chipmunks is to repel them.
You can keep chipmunks from eating hostas by offering them sources of food and water and caging your hosta’s roots. You can also spray the hostas with spicy peppers, add chipmunk-repelling plants to your garden, or trap and relocate the chipmunks.
So, let’s talk about how you can keep chipmunks from eating your hosta leaves and roots. I’ll share a few tips and tricks and teach you how to implement them so that your hostas stay unscathed all year round.
1. Offer the Chipmunks Food and Water
Believe it or not, chipmunks don’t usually eat hostas. Chipmunks only eat very young plant sprouts under normal circumstances. Even then, most of their diet consists of nuts, insects, and grains.
However, chipmunks will eat young hosta leaves under exceptional circumstances.
The first case in which a chipmunk may consume hosta leaves or roots is if there is no water nearby. Hostas are drought tolerant but also need plenty of water to stay alive. So, the new growth of a healthy, well-watered hosta plant is a perfect water source for chipmunks that can not find anything to drink on a hot summer day.
Still, chipmunks may go after your hostas if there isn’t enough food. In conditions that cause their primary food sources to die, such as during excavations or landscaping changes, chipmunks may lose their ability to find adequate nutrition. In these cases, they may resort to eating your hosta plants.
So much to say, offering your neighborhood chipmunks a dish of clean water and a feeder or bowl of nuts, seeds, and mealworms will usually suffice to keep them out of your hosta patch.
While this method works well for keeping chipmunks away from hostas, it will also encourage them to make your garden their new home. So, you should likely try another method if you only want the chipmunks to leave.
2. Cage Your Hosta’s Roots
Since chipmunks burrow underground, they often chew through roots, which may kill your plants. Most people who have recurring issues with chipmunks in their hostas notice that the chipmunks have burrowed through the plants’ roots, destroying the root system and rotting the plant from the bottom up.
To ensure that chipmunks don’t rip up the hostas’ roots, you can add some wire cages around them.
This wire will allow the soil to drain while protecting your hosta’s most essential roots from your burrowing pests. They will also keep other small animals such as voles and moles from your hostas in the future, which will help you keep your garden in control.
I recommend using a flexible basket-style mesh cage, like these Svepndic Root Guards (on Amazon), which are affordable and come in a bundle pack of 6. They are the best bargain I can find, and you’ll find them underneath my hostas!
They have always worked like a charm for me, and you can also use them for other plants. I especially like them for my potatoes, which my neighborhood chipmunks love to munch on.
3. Spray the Hostas With Spicy Peppers
Rodents like chipmunks hate the taste of capsaicin, the chemical compound that makes food taste spicy. Therefore, they will avoid eating your garden’s pepper plants.
While hostas are not spicy, you can always turn up the heat by sprinkling chili powder, dehydrated peppers, and hot sauce around your garden.
There are several ways to add spice to your hostas, including:
- Create a hot sauce chipmunk repellent spray. Add two or three tablespoons of hot sauce or pepper powder (any spicy pepper will do) to a spray bottle and dilute it with water. Then, you can spray the plant’s leaves and the soil around the hosta’s base to ward off hungry chipmunks.
- Sprinkle your hostas with chili or cayenne powder. You can toss a handful of chili powder onto your hosta’s leaves to keep rodents from eating them.
- Treat your topsoil with chili or cayenne powder. If the chipmunks primarily scurry underneath your hosta’s leaves, encircling your plants with a ring of chili or cayenne powder will keep them out. Powders will also work deeper into your soil over time, preventing chipmunks from burrowing there.
Before handling pepper powders or sprays, wear gloves, eye protection, and a face mask. Peppers may not be toxic, but they sure can burn if you get them in your eyes, ears, mouth, or nose. In addition, allowing them to settle on your skin may result in burns, or you may accidentally wipe the excess in your eyes.
Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
4. Add Chipmunk-Repelling Plants To Your Garden
Although chipmunks will happily eat hostas if they must, some plants actively repel them. Some of these plants are poisonous to chipmunks, while others release aromatic scents that chipmunks hate.
Here are some examples of plants that you can add to your garden to repel chipmunks:
- Fragrant herbs such as lavender, thyme, and mint
Although all of these are fantastic options, there are plenty of others. For more suggestions of plants that chipmunks avoid, check out this list from Colorado State University.
5. Trap and Relocate the Chipmunks
Most pest control professionals recommend trapping to eliminate chipmunks. Trapping is a humane way to remove chipmunks from your garden permanently, but it can also be a hassle. So, be forewarned — this method is a bit more labor-intensive than scattering some chili powder.
To trap your chipmunks, you’ll need a trap. You’ll find many DIY options out there, and while I am usually gung-ho about DIY projects, I recommend going with a classic steel caged trap for catching rodents. Most DIY traps won’t work, and it’ll take loads of patience to catch just one chipmunk.
If you need a trap, go with one like this Kensizer Humane Rat Trap on Amazon. This one is an excellent choice because it’s the proper size for small rodents and is reliable. Some traps are not excellent at closing the door on time, but this one is perfect.
Once you have your trap, you will need to pick some bait. For chipmunks, peanut butter is usually your best bet, but you can also use various seeds, nuts, and grains.
After baiting the trap:
- Prop up the door and set it near your hostas or beside the chipmunks’ burrow.
- At this point, do not attempt to catch the chipmunks. Leave the door open and allow the chipmunks to eat the food for a few days. This process will trick the chipmunks into thinking that the trap is just a chipmunk feeder.
- After two to three days of baiting the trap, set the spring-loaded doors and prepare to catch some chipmunks.
- Once you catch one, take it somewhere nice. You can take it to a forested area, a park, or any other protected spot where it will not eat anyone else’s garden plants.
Then, repeat the process until all the chipmunks are gone.
Trapping chipmunks will work, but it will take time, and you’ll have to be vigilant in checking the trap daily. For that reason, if you genuinely want to catch and release your garden pests, I recommend hiring a pest control expert to do the job for you.
Chipmunks will only eat hostas if they have to, so offering your neighborhood rodents some food and fresh water should keep your garden safe.
However, there are other ways to repel chipmunks and discourage them from making your yard their home. You can ward off these critters with spicy peppers, and critter-resistant plants. Otherwise, you can trap and relocate them to permanently and humanely rid yourself of them.