The Science Behind Repellent Plants and How They Deter Moles

Have you ever found yourself frustrated with unwanted mole activity in your garden, leaving unsightly tunnels and damage to your plants? Many gardeners are perplexed by these small, underground mammals and may not know how to effectively deter them. Fortunately, there are natural methods to repel moles without causing harm. One such solution is through the use of repellent plants, which can deter moles with their strong scents and potentially toxic properties. In this article, we will explore the science behind repellent plants and how they can be utilized to keep moles at bay.

Understanding Moles

Understanding Moles
Have you ever spotted those raised ridges of soil that run through your lawn or garden? Maybe you’ve come across small, cylindrical tunnels – a clear indication of a mole infestation. Moles are notorious for digging unsightly trenches throughout your yard, destroying your beloved plants and disturbing the soil. Before delving into how repellent plants can deter moles, let’s take a closer look at the behavior and habitat of these underground pests, and what lures them to your garden in the first place. To learn about the various repellent plants, click here.

The Behavior and Habitat of Moles

Moles are small, subterranean mammals that burrow tunnels through soil and lawns. Their habitat typically consists of moist soil where they can easily dig through, and they are rarely seen above ground. Moles are known for their excellent digging abilities, and they create complex systems of interconnected tunnels where they search for food and mate. They can easily navigate through soil, chewing through roots, and eating other invertebrates such as earthworms, grubs, and insects.

Moles are active throughout the year, burrowing during the warm months and moving deeper underground or hibernating during the colder months. They are solitary animals and territorial, with each mole having its own territory. They are known to be active during the day and night, but they prefer to be active when the soil is moist.

Moles are beneficial as they help with soil aeration, but they can also cause damage to lawns and garden plants. They are attracted to moist soil and environments with an abundant source of food. Gardens with moist, loamy soils and a high population of earthworms, grubs, and insects are at risk of mole infestation.

Moles are not attracted to plants, but their tunneling can damage the roots and bulbs of plants, causing them to die. There are several methods to control mole infestation, including the use of repellent plants. Repellent plants work by producing scents or toxins that repel moles from the treated area. They are an eco-friendly and often more affordable option compared to chemical treatments.

Top 5 mole-repellent plants include daffodils, alliums, fritillarias, castor beans, and marigolds. These plants are known to produce strong smells that moles find unpleasant, and they help keep the rodents at bay. However, caution must be taken when planting castor beans as they contain toxic properties.

Understanding the behavior and habitat of moles is essential in preventing and controlling mole infestation. Incorporating mole repellent plants in your garden and lawn can aid in deterring moles and keeping them away from your plantings. Proper care for repellent plants can help ensure their effectiveness, such as providing adequate watering and drainage.

What Attracts Moles to Your Garden

Moles are attracted to gardens where they can find a steady supply of insects, grubs, and worms that are found in healthy lawns and gardens. They are also attracted to soil that is moist and easy to tunnel through, as well as environments that are generally quiet and free of predators.

If you have a lot of insects in your garden or your soil is particularly moist, you may be inviting moles to take up residence. Additionally, if you have a lot of dense vegetation and clutter in your garden, you may be providing cover for the moles to move around undetected.

It’s important to note that not all gardens will attract moles. However, if you have a lot of mole activity in your garden, it may be worth considering ways to deter them using repellent plants.

Repellent Plants That Deter Moles

Repellent Plants That Deter Moles
One of the most effective and eco-friendly ways to keep your garden free from pesky moles is to use natural repellent plants. Plants have their own defense mechanisms that can help deter pests, and there are several types of plants that are known to be unappealing to moles due to their scent, toxicity, or unpleasant taste. In this section of the article, we will explore the different types of repellent plants that can help protect your garden from moles, and how to use them effectively. If you want to learn more about how to use these plants to keep your garden mole-free, check out our guide on how to use repellent plants to keep moles away.

Critter-Repellent Perennials

Critter-repellent perennials are an excellent way to keep moles out of your garden. These plants are known for their ability to repel various animals and insects, making them ideal for use in mole deterrence as well. Here are some of the most effective critter-repellent perennials for deterring moles:

Daffodils: These beautiful flowers are toxic to moles and have a strong scent that they don’t like. Planting daffodils in your garden can be a great way to keep moles away while also adding some color.

Fritillaries: This plant produces a strong scent that moles find unpleasant. Planting fritillaries around the perimeter of your garden or in areas where moles are known to be active can be an effective way to deter them.

Alliums: Alliums, including garlic and onions, have a strong scent that moles find unappealing. Planting these throughout your garden can help to create a barrier that moles won’t want to cross.

Crown Imperials: These plants not only have a strong odor that moles dislike, but they also produce a toxic substance that can be harmful to them. Planting crown imperials around the edges of your garden can be an effective way to keep moles out.

Castor Bean Plants: Castor bean plants contain ricin, which is toxic to moles. However, it’s worth noting that these plants are also toxic to humans and pets if ingested, so they should be used with caution.

Using critter-repellent perennials in your garden is an excellent way to deter moles naturally. However, it’s important to care for these plants properly to ensure they remain effective. Regular watering and fertilizing can help these plants thrive, and pruning them can help to keep them from becoming too large and unwieldy. For more information on how to care for repellent plants, see our article on care for repellent plants.

Plants That Produce Strong Scents

One effective way to deter moles is by using plants that produce strong scents. These plants emit strong odors that repel moles and other small animals. Here are some examples of plants that produce strong scents:

Plant Name Scent
Mint Strong, minty aroma
Garlic Pungent, spicy smell
Alliums (such as chives or onions) Pungent, onion-like scent
Fennel Strong licorice aroma
Lavender Sweet, floral fragrance
Eucalyptus Strong, medicinal odor

Mint is a popular choice for repelling moles due to its strong smell, and it can be planted directly in mole-infested areas. Garlic is also effective because moles dislike the strong scent it emits. Alliums, such as chives and onions, have a pungent aroma that helps keep moles away. Fennel is another option due to its strong licorice smell. Lavender’s sweet, floral fragrance not only repels moles but also adds beauty to the garden. Eucalyptus, with its strong, medicinal odor, is another popular choice.

By incorporating these plants into your garden, you can create a natural and effective mole repellent. To learn more about other ways to deter moles with plants, check out our article on DIY Repellent Plants for Moles or Natural Mole Repellents with Plants.

Plants with Toxic Properties

Certain plants can act as natural repellents to moles by producing toxic chemicals that deter these burrowing animals from entering your garden. These toxic plants include a variety of species that are toxic to both humans and animals, so it’s important to exercise caution when using them in your garden.

Here are some plants with toxic properties that can deter moles:

Plant Toxic Components
Castor Oil Plant Ricin
Daffodils Lycorine, galanthamine
Fritillarias Alkaloids, primarily imperialine
Bloodroot Sanguinarine
Hellebores Glycosides, including helleborin and hellebrin

It’s important to note that these plants should be used with caution, as they can be toxic to humans and pets as well. If you do decide to use them in your garden, be sure to keep them out of reach of small children and animals. Additionally, use gloves when handling these plants to avoid skin irritation or accidental ingestion.

It’s also important to note that while these plants can act as natural repellents to moles, they aren’t foolproof solutions. Moles may still enter your garden despite the presence of these plants, so it’s important to use them in combination with other deterrents for the best possible results.

How to Use Repellent Plants to Deter Moles

Once you have identified the plants that repel moles, the next step is to incorporate them into your garden. This can be done in a variety of ways, from planting them strategically to using companion planting techniques. By using these methods, you can create a garden that is unappealing to moles and other burrowing pests. In this section, we will explore the different ways in which you can use repellent plants to deter moles and protect your garden.

Planting Techniques

Planting repellent plants in your garden is a simple yet effective way to deter moles. However, it is important to know the proper planting techniques to make sure that the plants are placed strategically and effectively. Here are some planting techniques that you can use to get the most out of your repellent plants:

Technique Description
Interplanting This technique involves planting repellent plants around the perimeter of your garden or interspersing them throughout your garden beds.
Planting in clusters Clustering plants in groups of three or more can help to create a stronger aroma and increase the repellent effect.
Strategic placement Planting repellent plants near mole activity or entrances to their tunnels can help deter them from entering those areas.
Maintenance Regular maintenance of your repellent plants is essential for their efficacy. This includes regular watering, pruning, and fertilizing.

By using these planting techniques, you can ensure that your repellent plants are placed in the most effective locations and are properly maintained to deter moles from your garden. Remember to do your research and choose plants that are known to be effective at repelling moles to optimize the results.

Companion Planting Strategies

When it comes to using companion planting strategies for deterring moles, there are several options available. Consider planting alliums, such as onions, garlic, and chives, alongside your other plants. These give off a strong odor that can help to repel moles. Another option is to plant marigolds, which give off a scent that moles find unpleasant.

Additionally, planting daffodils can be effective because they contain a toxin that repels moles. Euphorbias, such as spurge, can also be helpful as they produce a milky sap that is toxic to moles.

Another companion plant that can be effective is castor bean. This plant contains a compound called ricin, which is toxic to moles. However, it is important to note that castor bean is also toxic to humans and animals, so it should be planted with caution.

When using companion planting strategies for deterring moles, it is important to consider the layout of your garden. For example, planting alliums in close proximity to plants that attract moles may not be as effective as planting them in a concentrated area where the moles are more likely to encounter the strong odor.

As with any gardening technique, it may take some experimentation and trial and error to find the best companion planting strategies for deterring moles in your specific garden. However, with some careful planning and consideration, you can successfully incorporate companion planting for mole control into your gardening routine.

Other Ways to Incorporate Repellent Plants in Your Garden

There are several innovative ways to incorporate repellent plants in your garden, aside from just planting them in the ground. Here are a few creative ideas:

  • Container gardening: This is a great option for those who have limited outdoor space or want to keep their plants contained. You can plant repellent plants in pots and place them throughout your garden and patio. This also makes it easy to move the plants around if needed.
  • Hanging baskets: If your garden is lacking in space, consider hanging baskets filled with repellent plants. You can hang them from a tree or hook, and they will add a nice touch of greenery while also deterring moles.
  • Herb garden: Create a separate herb garden filled with repellent plants such as mint, garlic, and lavender. Not only will this add a fragrant aroma to your garden, but it will also provide you with fresh herbs for cooking.
  • Living wall: Take your container gardening to the next level by creating a living wall with repellent plants. This can be done by attaching containers to a wall or fence and planting the plants vertically. This is a great option for those who want to maximize their space.
  • Repellent bouquets: If you have a mole problem in a specific area of your garden, consider creating repellent bouquets. Pick and arrange a variety of repellent plants in a vase or basket and place them in the problem area. This will provide a concentrated dose of repellent plants where it’s needed most.
  • Repellent borders: Plant a border of repellent plants along the perimeter of your garden. This will create a natural barrier that moles will be less likely to cross.

By incorporating these innovative ideas into your garden, you can create a beautiful and effective way to deter moles using repellent plants.


In conclusion, incorporating repellent plants in your garden can be an effective and eco-friendly way to deter moles. By understanding the behavior and habitat of moles, you can identify what attracts them to your garden and strategically plant repellent plants to discourage them from digging up your lawn.

Using critter-repellent perennials like daffodils, alliums, and fritillarias can provide a long-lasting solution for keeping moles at bay. Additionally, planting strongly scented plants like lavender, rosemary, and mint can provide a temporary solution for deterring moles.

Furthermore, incorporating toxic plants like castor beans and crown imperials can act as a strong deterrent for moles, but it is important to use caution when handling and planting these plants as they can be harmful to humans and other animals.

When using repellent plants to deter moles, it is important to use proper planting techniques and companion planting strategies. Planting in raised beds or installing barriers can also help protect your garden from mole invasions.

Overall, using repellent plants to deter moles offers a natural and cost-effective solution. With a little research and planning, you can create a beautiful and mole-free garden using the power of nature’s own repellents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can moles be harmful to my garden?

Yes, moles can damage lawns and gardens by creating tunnels that can uproot plants and dry out the soil.

Are all repellent plants safe for pets?

Not all repellent plants are safe for pets. It’s important to research each plant before introducing it to your garden to ensure the safety of your pets.

Do repellent plants work for other pests besides moles?

Yes, repellent plants can also work for other pests such as squirrels and rabbits.

Is it necessary to plant a lot of repellent plants to deter moles?

No, planting a few well-placed repellent plants can be effective in deterring moles.

What are some examples of critter-repellent perennials?

Examples of critter-repellent perennials include daffodils, geraniums, and marigolds.

Can I use essential oils to deter moles?

While some essential oils have been suggested to repel moles, their effectiveness has not been scientifically proven.

What are the benefits of companion planting with repellent plants?

Companion planting with repellent plants can not only deter moles but also attract beneficial insects and improve soil health.

Do I need to replace my repellent plants often?

It depends on the plant and its lifespan. Some repellent plants are perennials and can last for many years, while others may need to be replaced annually.

Are there any downsides to using repellent plants?

The use of repellent plants may not be a foolproof method and some pests may still find ways to damage your garden. Additionally, some repellent plants may not be aesthetically pleasing to some gardeners.

Can I still use traps and poisons in conjunction with repellent plants?

Yes, repellent plants can be used in conjunction with traps and poisons for maximum efficacy in deterring moles.