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What Is Digging up My Potted Plants at Night – 5 Culprits!

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A man doesn’t grow a plant for himself but for prosperity.

As it is said,

“To plant a tree is to believe in tomorrow.”

But it brings sorrow if these plants are dug up frequently.

You are probably facing the same issue—whenever you wake up in the morning, your garden has been plundered.

It is frustrating to fix your pots daily without even knowing the reason. That leads you to wonder, what is digging up my potted plants at night?

If you are in this situation, you don’t need to worry about anything!

After reading this post, you will know who digs up your potted plants at night and what actions you can take to keep them out of your property.

So, without wasting further time, let’s begin!

What Is Digging up My Potted Plants at Night
Mole on a heap of soil in a garden| Image via Shutterstock.

What Is Digging up My Potted Plants at Night?

It’s obvious that potted plants are attractive to humans, but they also appeal to a wide variety of animals.

These animals love to dig up your potted plant.

Hence, the most probable criminals are:

1. Rodents

Rodents are the most irritating diggers because they burrow underneath the roots and can quickly kill your plants. Sometimes, rodents dig deep into the soil to create a temporary home, but it causes the death of your plant’s root system.

Rodents like squirrels, rats, and mice are possible animals digging up your plants.

You can identify rodents by noticing the distinctive holes they leave behind in the soil. Rodents are keen diggers and do not face any problem scouring through the soil into your pot.

You can notice the wandering rodents in your yard as they seek shelter.

How to Keep Rodents Away From Your Potted Plants?

Remember! They are invading in search of food and water.

But you don’t need to worry about it, as there are several ways to keep rodents away from your potted plants.

  • Creating a physical barrier is one way to keep rodents away from your potted plants. A fine metal net stops the rodents from breaking through the soil.
  • Rodents fall for everything they can use to create shelter. They also love stealing mulch and natural compost. If you want to keep rodents away from your potted plants, remove these attractants and keep the area clean.
  • You can also use some herbs to keep rodents away. Rats hate the strong smell of garlic and thyme, which are good natural deterrents. Surrounding your potted plants with herbs also prevents rodents from attempting to dig into your potted plants.

Almost all the methods we have discussed work wonders. Deterrent sprays, physical barriers, and regular cleanliness are effective.

Squirrel in a plant pot with grass What Is Digging up My Potted Plants at Night
What is digging up my potted plants at night? | Most probably, your plants are dug up by rodents at night—Image via Shutterstock.

2. Raccoons

Raccoons are among the most annoying and curious backyard pests.

They can tear up your plants and severely disturb the soil.

Also, the trouble with raccoons is their close contact with the soil since they spread parasites that cause plant diseases.

You might have noticed some raccoons digging holes in your garden or potted plants, right?

Well! They dig up your potted plants when they are looking for food.

They are omnivores and opportunistic feeders­­—they consume everything from seeds, fruits, and veggies to insects, bugs, and other vermin.

Isn’t that fascinating?

Thus, food in the soil is the reason for them digging holes in your potted plants.

How Can You Protect Your Plants From Raccoons?

Here are a couple steps you can follow to protect your plants from raccoons:

  • You can use strong-smelling herbs like garlic and hot peppers to keep raccoons away from your potted plants—mothballs and Epsom salt work best.
  • Raccoons are nocturnal animals—they hate bright lights and sounds. So, you can use powerful motion detection lights to stop them from digging up at night.

Let’s look at other culprits.

3. Foxes

Another felonious that digs up plants at night is the fox.

They are nocturnal animals and actively try to destroy plants at night.

You might think you don’t have any foxes in your neighborhood, but most likely, many of them are lurking around your garden.

Listen! Like every other animal, they dig up the soil for food. Fruits, veggies, and decaying animal flesh are their favorite.

A sign that foxes are digging up your plant is that there is a smell of foxes in your garden. So, you don’t need to guess if you feel a fox’s scent near your potted plants.

How to Keep Them Away?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Like raccoons, foxes hate bright light and sound. So, you can use the preceding method in the case of the fox.
  • Use electronic fox deterrents, which release an ultrasonic sound that can repel foxes. You can also use repellent smells in this regard.

One thing about foxes is that they are more cunning than raccoons and rodents. Therefore, there is no surety that the method would work.

Thus, the best option is permanently blocking animals like foxes from entering your property.

What is digging up my potted plants at night? | Foxes are one of the possible criminals in this regard
What is digging up my potted plants at night? | Foxes are one of the possible criminals in this regard—Image via Artyom Kulakov.

4. Skunks

Skunks might be digging your potted plants at night.

One sign they are digging your potted plants is that there are shallow holes in the soil.

And what about their food? Skunks eat grass, fruits, and even garbage, anything they can reach.

Typically, it is hard to have skunks in your garden because they squirt their strong incense on us, which can cause irritation of the eyes and lungs.

Skunks also carry rabies.

So, their presence can harm you and those living or wandering near your garden.

How to Keep Them Away?

You can opt for the following:

  • Create a fence around your plants or, in some cases, around the yard.
  • Use bright lights at night because skunks are not fond of lights like raccoons and foxes.
  • Make sure to clean up any debris or clutter in your garden, as it can provide shelter for skunks.


5. Household Pets

Having a household pet like a cat or dog could be the reason for holes in your potted plants.

Although cats are famous for cleanliness, they are keen diggers. Potting soil almost looks like cat trash, so many outdoor and indoor cats seek out loose soil to empty their rectums.

Apart from cats, dogs can also dig up plants, but there is no practical reason behind it.

Most dogs start digging in the soil because they are bored, while others like this because they smell something fascinating.

If your pets are ruining your plants, you must spend more time addressing the problem.

How to Address the Problem?

Here’s what you can do:

  • In the case of dogs, the biggest problem is boredom. So, try to spend more playtime with your dog or have long walks with them. A long walk makes the dog tired and busy, so they won’t have any reason to dig up your potted plants.
  • But if you have a cat, you must try different limitations. Placing some rocks over the soil is a good choice. Contrarily, a bitter spray works well.

That’s all for today!

Cat - What Is Digging up My Potted Plants at Night
What is digging up my potted plants at night? | Your household pets can also be the ones digging up your pots at night—Image via Anna Kumpan.

Now it’s time to move toward the conclusion.


Now you know what is digging up your potted plants at night.

Rodents, squirrels, chipmunks, foxes, cats, and dogs are the potential suspects that dig up your potted plants at night.

There are simple techniques to prevent different animals from digging up your plants.

If you apply the metal sheet and motion sensor lights, almost every animal will stay away from your plants.

I hope this post helps you a lot in protecting your plants. If you still have queries related to this topic, don’t hesitate to mention them in the comment section below.

Moiz Atiq.