Homemade Pepper Spray: To Deter Garden Critters Naturally

I’m the crazy lady who talks to squirrels and pigeons. When I was a kid, it was a rare thrill to see a few deer in the backyard. Now the deer literally walk up our street and wander in and out of the neighborhood yards, brazenly munching on whatever suits them.

If you are a gardener, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of planting seeds or seedlings and nurturing them to the point where the buds are abundant only to come out one morning and see sad, stubby green stems as if someone accidentally weed-whacked your beloved plants.

I’m not inclined towards violence, but I would seriously like to deter them. So, one of the best deterrents for most of these critters has been hot pepper spray. It turns out the†capsaicin found in hot peppers of the Capsicum genus are distasteful to mammals like deer, squirrels, rabbits, voles, possum, groundhogs, chipmunks and some insects. It doesn’t harm them, the environment, the plants or the humans who might eat them.

You can buy a variety of capsaicin sprays, but they tend to get expensive, and homemade pepper spray†is actually super easy to make.

The trick is to spray frequently as soon as you see evidence a critter†is poaching your plants, and make sure to respray after rain. If you are consistent about applying weekly (or any time after rain), hopefully the uninvited guests will move on to tastier gardens.

†Green Diva Meg’s Homemade Pepper Spray Recipe

What you need:

1 gallon of water
3 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons castile soap (I used peppermint because it can be an insect repellent)
spray bottle (either a couple of them or a gallon container to keep what doesn’t fit in the spray bottle)

What to do:

  • add the red pepper flakes to the water in a large pot and simmer for about 15 minutes
  • stir in castile soap (important to help the concoction stick to the plants)
  • take off the heat and let stand for 24 hours
  • strain out the pepper flakes
  • and use funnel to pour into your spray bottle
  • NOTE: be mindful that the cooking liquid can cause some irritation to nose and eyes, and of course the liquid itself can be irritating.


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Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

heather g.
heather gabout a year ago

It appears that many North Americans do away with small animals because they hate them. On the other hand, I feed birds and squirrels every day and take delight in their antics - I would never harm them or any animal.

Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawnabout a year ago

i hope this works on croakroaches

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Alexander Hay-Whitton

"...the cooking liquid can cause some irritation to nose and eyes, and of course the liquid itself can be irritating." WTF?

Manuela C.
Manuela C1 years ago

Thanks for the recipe.

Janet B.
Janet B1 years ago


Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen1 years ago

Thank you

Ruth C.
Ruth C1 years ago

Just don't harm any animal!