Chickens can be a wonderful addition to any backyard, providing fresh eggs and natural pest control. However, they can also wreak havoc on your potted plants. Chickens are naturally curious creatures and are drawn to colorful and new objects, like your potted plants. They love to scratch and dig, which can lead to damaged or destroyed plants. So, how can you keep chickens out of potted plants? This comprehensive guide will provide you with several strategies, examples, and reference points to help you protect your potted plants from chickens.
To keep chickens out of potted plants, you can use physical barriers like chicken wire, hardware cloth, garden stones, bricks, or bamboo skewers. Planting unappealing herbs such as oregano, thyme, and lavender can also deter chickens. Additionally, using container plantings, adding spikes or non-living adornments, and providing chicken-friendly plants as distractions can protect your potted plants. Avoid toxic plants that can harm chickens.
Why Chickens Are Attracted to Potted Plants
Chickens are attracted to potted plants for several reasons. Firstly, they are omnivores and enjoy eating various plants, flowers, and herbs. They are particularly attracted to soft potted plants like petunias and begonias. Some plants are also beneficial for chickens, providing antioxidants and helping to detoxify their bodies when ingested.
Secondly, chickens love to hunt for insects, and potted plants can attract a variety of bugs for them to eat. The flowers and foliage of plants provide an ideal environment for insects to thrive, making potted plants an attractive hunting ground for chickens.
Finally, chickens have a natural instinct to scratch and dig in search of food, and potted plants provide an opportunity for them to engage in this behavior. The soft soil in potted plants is easy for chickens to dig through, and they may inadvertently damage the plants in the process.
Strategies to Keep Chickens Out of Potted Plants
There are several effective strategies to keep chickens out of your potted plants. These strategies range from creating physical barriers to planting unappealing herbs.
Use Chicken Wire
Wrap a sheet of chicken wire around the plant to create a barrier. You can give the wire structure by using a tomato cage or a couple of stakes. Chicken wire is a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution.
Place Garden Stones
Arrange garden stones around the container to prevent chickens from digging up your potted plants. Chickens dislike the feeling of hard surfaces on their feet, so this can effectively deter them.
Use Hardware Cloth
This is sturdier than chicken wire and can be cut and shaped to size. Hardware cloth can provide a more robust barrier for your plants.
Create Barriers with Bricks or Large Stones
A ring of bricks or larger stones around the base of a plant can help deter chickens from scratching. This strategy can be particularly useful for larger plants that need more protection.
Use Bamboo Skewers
Placing bamboo skewers throughout the flower pots can repel chickens. The sharp points of the skewers deter chickens from scratching and pecking at the plants.
Plant Unappealing Herbs
Some plants, such as oregano, thyme, lavender, mint, lemon balm, marjoram, chamomile, and sweet woodruff, are naturally unappealing to chickens. Plant these species around and in between rows of other plants to deter chickens.
Use Container Plantings
Chickens are less likely to uproot potted plants, so consider using creative containers in the chicken yard. Raised beds or hanging planters can make it more difficult for chickens to reach the plants.
Add Spikes or Non-living Adornments
Adding elements such as spikes or non-living adornments like twigs can discourage chickens from standing in or on the surrounding plants.
Chicken-Friendly Plants as Distractions
One effective way to keep chickens away from your potted plants is to provide them with their own plants to scratch, peck, and eat. Some chicken-friendly plants that can serve as distractions include mint, vinca vines, sweet potato plants, ornamental grasses, spikes, lavender, sage, marjoram, rosemary, comfrey, fennel, thyme, nasturtium, raspberry bushes, coleus, hens & chicks, hosta, yucca, Mexican bush sage, and calendula.
Toxic Plants To Avoid
While providing your chickens with their own plants can be a great strategy, it’s important to avoid plants that are toxic to chickens. Some common toxic plants include foxglove, daffodil, azaleas, rhododendron, lily of the valley, raw beans, certain ferns, and many others. Consuming these plants can lead to symptoms such as weakness, diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, muscle tremors, low blood pressure, slow heartbeat, and shock. In some cases, it can even be fatal.
While keeping chickens out of your potted plants can be a challenge, it’s not impossible. By implementing these strategies and providing your chickens with their own plants, you can protect your potted plants and keep your chickens happy and healthy.
Remember, variety is key. By providing your chickens with a variety of plants to forage, you can keep them entertained and reduce their interest in your potted plants. And, if all else fails, sometimes a good old-fashioned fence is the best solution. Happy gardening!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some other plants that chickens like to eat?
Chickens enjoy a variety of plants including clover, dandelions, lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, and broccoli. They also like grains such as oats, wheat, corn and barley.
Are there any other materials I can use to create a physical barrier around my potted plants?
Yes, besides chicken wire, hardware cloth, and garden stones, you can also use plastic garden fencing, bird netting, or even a DIY wooden frame with mesh to create a physical barrier around your potted plants.
How can I train my chickens to stay away from my potted plants?
Training chickens can be a bit difficult as they are instinctual creatures. However, you can try using a spray bottle with water to gently spray them whenever they approach your potted plants. Over time, they may associate approaching the plants with the spray and stay away.
What should I do if my chicken has eaten a toxic plant?
If you suspect your chicken has eaten a toxic plant, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately. The vet may induce vomiting or administer activated charcoal to absorb the toxins. They may also provide supportive care such as fluids and electrolytes.
Can I use commercial chicken repellents to keep chickens away from my potted plants?
Yes, you can use commercial chicken repellents to deter chickens from your potted plants. However, it’s important to choose a product that is safe for chickens and other animals. Always read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.