It's the soil or leaves that attract your pets to your household plants. Sometimes animals just like to go in the soil and make a mess, other times they go after the leaves because of their texture or smell. If your pet likes to dig out plants, there are three ways to dissuade them: putting toothpicks in the soil of fishtail palm, putting wire and rocks on top of the soil of tall potted plants, or spraying pepper and garlic spray on the plants.

Toothpicks in the Soil of Fishtail Palm

Toothpicks are a temporary solution: The sharp points will deter your pets. Place the toothpicks around the plant, allowing them to stick out about 3/4 inch.

Place Wire and Rocks Over the Soil of the Plant

The wire and rocks offer a more permanent solution: Use big rocks to make the soil inaccessible.

Tools and Materials

Chicken wire


Large decorative rocks

Wire and Rocks How-To

1. Wrap chicken wire around the trunk of the tree.

2. Secure wire to pot.

3. Cover wiring with large decorative rocks.

Make Pepper and Garlic Spray

Tools and Materials

1 quart water

4 tablespoons red-pepper flakes

2 tablespoons garlic powder

Misting bottle


Pepper and Garlic Spray How-To

1. Mix water, red-pepper flakes, and garlic powder.

2. Strain solution.

3. Pour into misting bottle.

4. Spray plants.

Hazardous Plants

In general, plants are not meant to be eaten by your pets. They will probably vomit or get diarrhea, but there are some plants that have more severe side effects.

Sego Palm

Clinical signs: increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising, liver damage, liver failure.


Clinical signs: irregular heartbeat or an abnormal heart.


The milky sap of this plant causes irritation. Clinical signs: mouth, eye, and stomach irritation. Animals could also have a shaking head, increased salivation, or will paw at their mouth or eyes.


For a list of more toxic plants visit,

Special Thanks

Special thanks to Marc Morrone for sharing this information.

Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
January 5, 2019
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Martha Stewart Member
July 11, 2012
Will this keep the squirrels and groundhogs away from my vegatables as well??