The Gorgeous Flower That Doubles As A Powerful Rat Repellent

The Gorgeous Flower That Doubles As A Powerful Rat Repellent

Rats can cause significant damage to property, and they also tend to eat the produce growing in gardens. However, they tend to avoid a specific flower – daffodils (Narcissus). Daffodils work as effective rat repellent because of their scent and the presence of a chemical called lycorine, which is toxic to mammals, including rats. Planting these flowers can help deter rats from digging through your garden or causing damage once they enter your home.

When rats take up residence in a house, they can cause damage to insulation, beams, pipes, and wiring, which can pose a serious fire risk. According to a paper by the Environmental Protection Agency, if there’s a fire with an “unknown cause,” the odds are one out of four that a mouse or rat gnawing on wiring or a gas line was responsible. These rodents are also known to carry a variety of diseases, including leptospirosis and hantavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While daffodils work well as a rodent deterrent, it’s essential to be careful when using this method. Lycorine, the toxic chemical in daffodils that repels rats, could also cause harm to humans and pets. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warns that consuming daffodils can harm cats, dogs, and horses. Poison Control also warns that children should be kept away from these flowers.

How to plant daffodils to repel rats

person planting daffodil bulbs

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If rats have been destroying your garden, daffodils can be planted in pots or in the ground nearby to offer some protection. To keep these pests out of your home, try growing daffodils beside entryways, windows, or any cracks in exterior walls. You could also grow the flowers in areas where you’ve previously seen rats or along the edges of your property.

Daffodils do well in sunny areas, and won’t bloom if they only receive low light. When autumn begins, you can start planting your bulbs to have them sprouting by spring. These flowers do best in soil that drains well and need to have between 4 to 6 inches of space between plants. When placing bulbs in the ground, make sure there are 2 inches of space above them before covering them with soil and watering. Once the daffodil flowers start to grow in the spring, you’ll only need to water your plants if it hasn’t rained in a couple of weeks.

Why daffodils are toxic and an effective repellent

yellow and white daffodils

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While daffodils are gorgeous flowers that smell lovely to humans, rodents don’t enjoy the scent. Further, these flowers, as mentioned, also contain lycorine, an alkaloid, which is poisonous. This chemical is known to deter mice, rabbits, deer, squirrels, and voles, as well as rats. The flower’s bulbs have the most lycorine inside them, but the chemical can be found throughout the whole plant. If an animal happens to eat daffodils, it’ll likely experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, and humans have similar reactions. Additionally, these plants have oxalate crystals that are sharp and can irritate skin when touched.

For all these reasons, many animals, including rats, will avoid these perennials. If you choose to plant daffodils as a rat repellent in your garden, know that the plants do well in growing zones 3 to 8 and that their flowering season will vary by location. Depending on where you live, you could have a way to keep rats away naturally for as long as six months, or as short as six weeks.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.