Repel Garden Pests with Hot Pepper Flakes

Ground peppers in a mason jar.
Store ground peppers in a mason jar in a cool, dark place.

Sprinkling hot pepper flakes around your favorite plants, be they flowers or vegetables, may just save them from the nibbling pests that visit flower beds and gardens. Rabbits, squirrels, deer and even slugs may be deterred from eating your prized plant leaves when they taste a little heat. Hot peppers are easy to use and they can be a safe, natural repellent.

Hot peppers may or may not be to your liking, but the flakes are easily washed off leaves and vegetables so you don’t have to ingest any if they bother your tongue or tummy.

It’s so easy to “make” hot pepper flakes. Here’s how we did it….

  • Grow peppers in a garden – it doesn’t matter what kind as long as they are hot.
  • Harvest peppers near the end of the growing season.
  • String them up for drying or lay the peppers out on a tray for a couple of weeks.
  • Collect the dried peppers and remove strings if used for tying.
  • Cut off the stems and toss the rest of the dried peppers into a blender.
  • Cap the blender and grind the peppers to flakes or smaller.
  • Transfer the hot pepper flakes to a container with a perforated lid.
  • Sprinkle the flakes all around the plants that you want to protect.
  • Enjoy your flowers and vegetables!

Dried peppers in a grinder or blender.
Take the stems and caps off the hot peppers before grinding in a blender.

ground hot peppers
Ground hot peppers in a mason jar.

Hot peppers can be used as a safe, natural repellent. Rabbits, deer and squirrels do not repeatedly eat spicy hot food, so they won’t go out of their way to come back to your flower beds once you sprinkle on the hot pepper flakes. Give it a try!

Hot Peppers to You, Rabbit!

A rabbit from the forest told me the other day that it’s time to pay attention to him. He left his mark on the sprouting bulbs that are planted closest to the woods. My answer to the offending critter was hot peppers!

I had walked around the yards and garden last week and took mental notes of the areas that needed some tidying after this past long winter. You always get a better idea of the job ahead when you can see the areas close up. Looking out from a window won’t tell you if plants are being nibbled, Mr. McGregor!

Fall-planted saffron crocus bulbs had sprouted and that was somebody’s dinner. One day I saw about half of the sprouted bulbs were nibbled, but I forgot to sprinkle on the hot peppers. The next day I saw the rest of the bulbs’ leaves were nibbled and blamed myself for forgetting about it. Right then, as I should have done the previous day, I marched inside to grab the hot peppers. When I got back outside to the scene of the crime I liberally shook hot pepper flakes all around the bulbs and all over the ground a few feet all around the bulbs.

Leaves of crocus nibbled away.
Leaves of crocus nibbled away.

Nibbled and unnibbled crocus leaves.
Leaves on the far right escaped the nibblers jaws unlike the other crocus leaves pictured here.

So far the leaves of the bulbs do not appear to have been eaten any more. Maybe the hot pepper flakes did work to chase away Peter Rabbit and his kind. I’m crossing my fingers that the saffron bulbs make it.

Sprinkle on the hot pepper flakes for a garden pest deterrent.
Sprinkle on the hot pepper flakes for a garden pest deterrent.

Using hot pepper flakes as a garden pest deterrent is easy. We like to grow hot peppers, like cayenne, jalapeno, or tabasco, and usually have plenty left over. The peppers are hung up to dry and stored in canning jars until needed. We use a blender to chop up the dried peppers into flakes, or I should say flakes and powder as some of the peppers get ground up into a fine powder.

Just pour the powder and flakes into a dry, empty jar. I used a small glass jar that once held artichokes, but any hand-sized jar is fine. Hammer a few holes through the metal lid and you’ve got a container for sprinkling hot peppers around the gardens.