Do Mice Eat Houseplants?

Once inside your home, mice are known to cause damage by gnawing on clothing, furniture, wiring, and books. They’ll also eat and nibble on anything edible. This begs the question: do mice eat houseplants?

In general, mice don’t eat houseplants, as they’re not among their favorite foods. However, mice are omnivores and will eat a wide variety of food if available. So, if mice get into your home, they may chew or nibble on the leaves or stems of your houseplants, particularly new growth, if they can’t find other food sources.

In this article, we’ll explore in-depth why mice don’t usually eat houseplants. We’ll also look at some of the most common reasons why mice might nibble on your houseplants, as well as some helpful tips for keeping mice away from your houseplants.

Do Mice Eat Houseplants?

Mouse eating leaves

There’s nothing about common houseplants or potted indoor plants that attract mice. These little rodents tend to be more attracted to plants that they can eat.

So, mice don’t usually eat houseplants, especially fully grown ones. Mature houseplants can be hard on the mice’s teeth, so they’re not worth the effort.

In addition, houseplants don’t provide as many nutritional benefits to mice as other food sources. So, they don’t typically go for houseplants when looking for food.

That said, mice are omnivores and opportunistic feeders. So, there’s always the possibility that they would feed on houseplants under the right conditions.

To begin with, if there aren’t other sources of food, a hungry mouse may feed on a houseplant as a last resort.

What’s more, mice are known to burrow into the soil of houseplants to hide food, nest, or even stay warm. During the process, a hungry mouse may gnaw on the houseplant as an immediate food source.

In this case, the leaves and stems provide the mice with a nutritious, high-fiber snack.

Read more: Do Houseplants Need Drainage: How to Get Rid Of the Extra Moisture

How to Know If a Mouse Ate Your Houseplant

There’s a wide variety of pests that feed on houseplants, and you may need to take different precautions to keep each type of pest from eating your houseplants.

So, before you look for ways to keep mice from eating your houseplants, you must first determine that mice are the cause of the damage.

Eaten New Growth

Mice are more inclined to eat new young shoots, which are more tender than fully grown plants. So, if you notice that new growth keeps getting damaged or disappearing, a mouse is most likely eating it.

You may also find small bite and nibble marks on the houseplant’s leaves and stems.

Burrowed Soil

Mice tend to leave a mess when they burrow into houseplants. You’ll notice dirt on the ground around the pot as a result of the digging. You may also find white or brown fur, as well as mouse droppings.

The soil itself will be disturbed with small holes close to the surface. It may even have small tunnels that lead toward the bottom of the pot.

Wilting Plant

In addition to the dirt on the floor and the bite marks, wilting can indicate that your houseplant has been invaded by a mouse or two.

Mice in a houseplant’s pot can cause serious damage to the plant. Aside from nibbling on your houseplant, the digging and tunneling can damage the plant’s root system. As a result, the roots may decimate, depriving the plant of essential nutrients.

How to Prevent Mice From Eating Houseplants

Once you’ve determined that mice are eating your houseplants, there are a few steps you can take to keep them away from your plants and outside of your home.

Plant Mouse-Repellent Plants

Mice are likely to avoid certain houseplants due to their strong smell. Mice have a keen sense of smell. So, strong-smelling plants, such as rosemary, peppermint, geranium, eucalyptus, or lavender, can irritate their noses.


It’s also possible that mice avoid strong-smelling plants instinctively because the strong smell can make it difficult for them to detect predators.

That’s why these plants may be effective at keeping mice away from your houseplants.

You can place a pot or two of a strong-smelling plant near your houseplants. You can also add some sprigs of the strong-smelling plant to the soil of the houseplants.

There’s no need to grow toxic plants because mice can usually tell which plants are poisonous to them. The mice won’t eat them, but the toxic houseplants won’t repel them either.

Spray Mouse-Repellent Oils

You don’t have to grow mouse-repellent plants if you don’t have the time or space. Another solution is to use mouse-repellent essential oils around and on your houseplants.

Mouse-repellent oils include peppermint and eucalyptus. Peppermint oil is a popular solution, so there are many mouse-repellent sprays that use peppermint oil as their main ingredient.

Because of its strong scent, eucalyptus oil is another popular solution. Eucalyptus oil has a forest-like scent, with hints of mint and citrus. As a result, it won’t only keep mice away from your houseplants, but it’ll also make your house smell wonderful.

You can also use lavender, rosemary, and clove. Any of these strong-smelling oils can be applied to the rims of plant pots or directly to the leaves.

Whatever method and oil you choose, you’ll need to reapply it every couple of days to keep the scent strong.

You can also use neem oil, which repels mice and other pests from houseplants.

Get a Cat

Cat standing next to some houseplants

For cat lovers, wanting to keep mice from eating your houseplants might be the incentive you need to get a cat.

Cats and mice aren’t just enemies in cartoons. Cats are hard-wired for hunting, so a mouse’s scuttling feet can set off a cat’s hunting instinct. In addition, according to one study, it’s in a mouse’s instinct to feel fear when it smells pheromones from cat urine.

Just keep in mind that this is a drastic solution that you need to consider carefully. You’ll be bringing in a pet that has feeding and medical costs. It’ll also require care, love, and attention.

Related: How to Make Well-Drained Soil for Houseplants

Seal All Entry Points

The best way to prevent mice from eating your houseplants or burrowing into the soil is by making sure they don’t get into the house in the first place.

You should fill any cracks, openings, or holes with cement or metal. That way, the mice won’t be able to gnaw their way through.

You should also make sure to close all doors and windows properly, especially at night.

Also, make certain that no food or food waste is left out. This includes any pet foods, from dog treats to chicken pellets. So, keep any leftover food in glass containers with tight-fitting lids.

If all else fails, it’s best to call pest control to get rid of the mice for good.

In Conclusion

Growing houseplants without a doubt takes a lot of effort and patience. So, it can be upsetting when you wake up one day to find the leaves and stems of your houseplants chewed and nibbled on.

If you find the telltale sign of mice burrowing into the soil of your houseplants, one question may arise: do mice eat houseplants?

Houseplants aren’t usually mice’s first choice of food, but there are a few exceptions. Mice may feed on houseplants, particularly young ones, if they’re unable to find another source of food. They might also snack on a houseplant if they’re burrowing in its soil.

So, if your houseplants are having a mouse problem, you should try some of the tips mentioned above to keep mice away from your houseplants and house.