The Beautiful Flowering Shrub That Will Keep Rats Out Of Your Garden

The Beautiful Flowering Shrub That Will Keep Rats Out Of Your Garden

It’s not ideal to discover rats in your vegetable garden, but there is a plant that can help you keep them at bay. The Christ plant (Euphorbia milii), also known as the Christ Thorn plant or Crown of Thorns, has sharp spikes covering each branch that make it difficult for rats to pass without being injured. This, combined with the plant’s toxic sap, makes it an effective deterrent for rats.

If you’re experiencing rat problems in a particular area of your garden or yard, you can plant a few Christ shrubs in that spot to deter the rodents. Additionally, the plant produces beautiful red or yellow flowers that can enhance the aesthetic of your outdoor space.

Before planting the Christ plant, it’s important to keep in mind that there are a few things you need to know.

How to grow rat-deterring Christ plants

Christ plant with red flowers


Growing Christ plants to keep rats out of your garden can be an ideal solution for your rodent-related issues. Granted, you don’t just want to plant them anywhere and hope that they do their job. Instead, you should know that this shrub prefers to live in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. It’s also best to grow it in an area that gets plenty of sunshine. However, if you want it to produce its gorgeous blooms, then you’ll want to give it a little shade during midday and keep it in soil that has medium moisture levels. Do not expose it to overly wet or cold conditions which will harm the plant.

Beyond that, be sure to plant it in an area that has enough space for it to expand over time. That’s because this shrub can grow to be anywhere from 3 to 6 feet tall when planted outside. They can create a substantial barrier when you place the Christ plant in strategic spots to keep rats away from your garden. Prune your shrubs at the end of each summer to encourage new growth for the following spring, and you’ll have healthy shrubs that can continue to ward off rodents. However, be careful when handling or placing these shrubs because they can cause a few problems for both humans and pets.

Be careful around toxic Christ plants

Christ plant with yellow flowers


The fact that Christ plants are toxic is one of the reasons they can be used to keep rats out of your garden. At the same time, this means that they can also cause issues for you, your family, and your pets. In fact, the Pet Poison Helpline notes that animals who come in contact with this plant can suffer from irritation to the mouth, eyes, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. Although any contact with the shrub can cause harm, the problems mainly stem from the toxic sap.

This sap is somewhat poisonous to humans and can spark some of the same kinds of issues that it does in pets, according to NC State University’s North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. That includes irritation to the eyes and skin, as well as a rash and swelling. Full-on poisoning can lead to blisters in the mouth, severe stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of energy.

When working with a Christ plant, be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves as well as other potential protective gear. As you prune the plants, keep an eye out for broken branches that might be seeping sap. Although you want to avoid touching it, you might want to leave the sap exposed for rats to come across so that they know your garden isn’t a welcoming place for them.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.