It can be frustrating to spend time and care growing luscious fruits and vegetables, only to find that through the night possums have helped themselves to a banquet.
Possums Eating Plants
Possum Proofing Your Garden
The only method that reliably works to protect your garden is to block access by the possums to your fruit trees or vegetable patch.
- Start by pruning back trees and bushes from the tree or vegetable patch you want to protect.
- Add in a smooth metal tree collar of at least 1 metre in length around the trunk of the tree you want to protect. Possums can only jump vertically one metre, so this stops them from being able to climb your tree.
- Protect individual fruit with shade cloth bags with drawstring tops, paper bags, or plastic pots that have been cut up the side and then inverted to make it look like a bell.
- Protect small fruit trees with shade cloth pegged or tied to the tree. Shade cloth allows fruit to ripen but is safe for wildlife.
- If you wish to net the tree or raised garden bed, only buy environmentally safe netting with a maximum mesh size of 10 mm. Thin netting should never be used as it entangles wildlife such as flying foxes, possums and snakes. Nets need to be taut to be effective, so need to be erected over a frame such as electrical conduit or tomato stakes. Possums need to be able to walk across the netting without it sinking under their weight so they cannot reach the fruit below. Even with these precautions, remember to check your netting daily to free any trapped or injured wildlife.
- Add a “floppy top” to your fence. Floppy tops are chicken wire fences supported by star pickets and threaded through at the top with bendy high-tensile wire. The floppy side faces away from the garden you want to protect. Possums dislike climbing on unstable surfaces, so when they reach the top they simply turn around and head away.
- Place vulnerable plants or seedlings in wire cages or fully enclosed garden greenhouses.
- Plant trees and shrubs that possums dislike such as grevilleas, tea-trees, daisies and chrysanthemums.
Do Possum Deterrents Work?
There are several ways you can attempt to deter possums from nibbling on your plants.
Many people try deterrents such as Quassia chips soaked in water and sprayed on the plants; blood and bone fertiliser hung up in old socks on the tree or garden; garlic sprays or commercial chemical deterrents. These deterrents only last a few days at a time and need to be reapplied after rain.
You can also try motion triggered lights or water sprinklers to make the possums uncomfortable enough to leave.
However, possums are clever and resourceful. Deterrents are effective against timid possums, but nothing gets between a determined mother possum and her food! The only safe way to protect your plants is to stop the possum from getting to them in the first place with a physical barrier.
Remember, possums are a protected native animal and can’t be harmed or relocated and can only be caught by licenced possum catchers.