How to Keep Mice Out of Potted Plants | 5 Natural Solutions

Keep mice out of potted plants by placing insect wire over drainage holes, planting lavender, mint or peppermint, place peppermint oil on pot edges and keep pet food away. Mice love living in potted plants because they can keep warm, protected and provide a good nesting space. Re-plant your potted plants if you think mice are living in the soil.

Top 5 ways to keep mice out of potted plants

Deterring mice from your yard naturally is the best way to keep them out of potted plants. Avoid using poisons or traps if you can by using natural deterrents like strong smelling plants, insect wires over pot drainage holes and place peppermint or eucalyptus oil on the rim of plant pots

Strong smelling plants can deter mice from your pot plants.

1. Strong smelling plants in your garden

Strong smelling plants like lavender, rosemary, peppermint or mint are fantastic for deterring mice from your garden. Mice have sensitive noses so will keep away from strong smelling areas. These strong smells can stop them from smelling and detecting predators so they will clear out to where the air is clear.

2. Insect wire over drainage holes

Glue insect wire or fine mesh over the drainage holes of pot plants. This will prevent the mice from digging into the pot plants from ground level making it harder for them to come in and make their home.

3. Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil can be dropped onto the rim of plant pots. This works very well for indoor plants but will need to be reapplied regularly on outdoor plants when it rains. This strong smelling oil is natural and will deter mice.

4. Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus oil placed on the outside of plant pots will work to deter mice and smell great. This natural oil smells great but mice hate it. Place it on the rim and outside of your plant pots.

5. Hide their food

Mice will find a home in your pot plants if they have a good food source. Pet foods like dog biscuits, cat food and chicken pellets are favorite foods of mice so clean up any excess to stop their supply. Mice also love to raid worm farms and compost bins so make sure you have tight fitting lids to deter mice from your garden and plants.

6. Garlic and onion

Garlic and onion smell strong and mice hate them. Garlic chives or society garlic are also a great option to plant around your garden to deter mice. Society garlic is one of my favorites as it has bright purple flowers that look great in your yard which can also be used in cooking.

Strong smelling onions can keep mice out of your garden.

Why mice like potted plants


Potted plants can become the perfect place for mice to make a home as potted plants particularly can warm up in the sun and be a cozy home. Mice can find their way in through drainage holes and will dig out a small burrow to rest in. This keeps them and sometimes their babies warm, especially in the cooler months.


Potted plants can be a great food source for mice who can snack on organic matter in the soil, plant roots or fertilizer. Mice can snack on your plant leaves and stems providing them with a nutritious snack and some high fiber meals.


Potted plants provide mice with the perfect protection they need from cold weather, frosts, snow and rain. The organic matter in potted plants can keep the mice warm and the top soil will protect them from the cold weather.


Potted plants and the soil in the pot provides the perfect location and material for mice nests. Mice can dig out a small amount of soil, bring in nesting materials and create a nest for their babies. Mice are rapid breeders and I a few weeks they can build a next and birth 6-8 mice babies (or kittens).

Mice can damage potted plants

Mice can damage potted plants as they bury into the soil, remove dirt from around plant roots and chew and damage small feeder roots. If dirt is removed from around plant roots the roots can dry out and be starved of nutrients.

Mice can eventually kill potted plants so preventing them from getting in is an important step to protect and save your plants.

How to tell there are mice in your potted plants

The top ways to tell if there are mice in your potted plants is dirt on the ground near your pot, white or brown fluff or fur or mouse droppings.

Mice will make a mess when they make a home in your potted plants and you will see small amounts of dirt on the ground that has been dug out by the mouse. When the mouse builds a next it will use fur, including dog or can fur. You can often see this sticking out from your pot’s drainage holes.

What to do if mice are in your potted plants

Remove the pot plant from your house and take it outside. Remove the plant from the pot and inspect the root zone to see if there are any signs of mice. You will see holes, fur, mice droppings or you may even see a mice jump out and run off.

Clean the pot well and disinfect it. Wash the pot with warm soapy water and let it dry out in the sun for at least 2 hours. Check out my article here on how to disinfect plant pots without using bleach.

Place thin wire mesh like fly wire over the drainage holes of your pot plant. This will stop mice from coming into the drainage holes of your plant. Glue the wire into your pot using a strong glue which will hold it in place and stop mice from pushing it out of the way.

Using new potting soil, place your plant back in the pot with the new potting soil and water it in well.

Using the methods discussed above, you can prevent mice from getting into your pot plants.

Plants that are toxic to mice

Some indoor plants are toxic to mice so choosing these for your pots can deter them. Mice can chew on and damage other potted plants that are non-toxic. Try Philodendron or Rhododendron varieties Ato keep mice away from your pots

How to keep mice out of potted plants | Summary

Keeping mice out of potted plants is important and can prevent plant death. Natural solutions are best so try planting out strong smelling plants and use peppermint oil on the edges of your pots. Keeping mice away starts with a clean yard and removing any food that mice might like, especially pet food.

Happy gardening.