Indoor plants

Holes in potted plants: why do mice dig up houseplants?

Finding a series of holes in your houseplants can be frustrating, but holes in potted plants are not uncommon, especially in autumn and winter. When the weather cools down, rodents often seek shelter indoors. Although they don’t necessarily eat houseplants, rodents often consider loose soil as a good place to store the pieces of food they find and can cause a lot of damage.

Rodents in houseplants

Whenever mice dig up houseplants, you have a problem that goes far beyond indoor vegetation. Your primary goal should be to eliminate the digging mouse and prevent other mice from doing the same. A house cat allowed to roam freely at night is one of the best methods of controlling mice, but if you don’t have a cat or if Fluffy is hanging around at work, pressure traps are almost as effective.

While you hunt the mouse, you will also have to find its secret passage to your house. Check for small, narrow spaces that lead directly outside, such as where pipes or ventilation come into the house, large cracks in wall and floor joints, or dark corners of closets where a mouse might have bitten the wall. Fill any holes you find with steel wool to prevent new mice from entering your home.

If your houseplant is always being dug up, it’s because the mouse in question is using it to store food, so be sure to cut off that supply as well. If you eat the dog’s food, keep the bag in an airtight container and give Fido regular meals, discarding the leftovers after he has had a chance to eat. Mice that eat human food scraps should be treated in the same way: their cereals, meals and any other easily accessible food should be sealed away from the rodent’s sticky fingers.

Digging burrows in outdoor pots

Sometimes gardeners complain that fairly large holes appear in their outdoor pots early in the morning. If you live near a water source, this is probably caused by young toads. When tadpoles become adult toads that everyone recognizes, they go through several stages of growth. Their last stage often takes place in moist, loose soil, much like the soil in their outdoor pots. Pot toads need only a few days to reach full maturity, and when they do, they leave a large hole behind.

You can discourage toads by covering the soil in your planter with gravel or simply by reducing irrigation. After all, dry soil won’t allow for further development, so it’s not a reason for interest.

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