Best Outdoor Plants for Deterring Burglars from Your Home

Trista - March 10, 2022
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When it comes to protecting your home, you want to take whatever means are necessary. However, you also don’t want to spend a lot of money or have something that looks garish in your yard, like a bunch of cameras and fencing. You can avoid all of that and help ward off unwanted trespassers by simply looking at the best defensive outdoor plants. Many plants have natural defense mechanisms to protect them from pretenders. Likewise, you can plant certain trees, bushes, and flowers to defend your home from intruders. Growing these plants in your yard and under your windows is a fast, easy, and affordable way to protect your property. So, what plants should you be looking at to help defend your home? Keep reading for the best outdoor plants for deterring burglars or unwanted animals from your home. 

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26. The Voodoo Rose Is Extremely Pretty but Also Very Thorny

Roses are thorny, but the voodoo rose is different in the thorn department. Many gardeners have likened the voodoo rose’s thorns to barbed wire, which is not something to be messed with. This feature makes it a great outdoor plant to grow around your windows so that there’s no incentive to climb in. We say around because a voodoo rose bush can grow at least six feet tall, becoming a great deterrent. The fantastic view of its beautiful flowers through your windows also adds a tremendous visual benefit (via Serenity Health).

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25. Common Holly Works Wonders at Keeping Out Trespassers

Holly plants are primarily associated with Christmas, but their point leaves can do a lot of damage if you get too close to them. They produce white berries during the warm months and red berries during winter that the birds love eating. However, keep in mind that these berries are unsafe for human consumption. Holly does take a long time to grow before forming a sizable bush, but it can eventually grow to at least 70 feet tall. Nevertheless, that takes about 100 years, so don’t worry about it taking over your property (via The Spruce)

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24. Agave Is a Beautiful Plant That Equally Protects Your Home

Agave, also known as the century plant or “sentry” plant, is native to Mexico and the southern United States. Although it grows quite slowly, it’s one of the easier plants to grow. It requires a lot of sunlight and well-drained soil, but it rewards you with thick, spiky leaves that end in nasty points that are painful to get under your skin. Because each leaf can grow to about three to four feet long, they’re not easy plants to maneuver around. Even worse when a single agave can grow to be about three to six feet tall. In fact, it’s so dangerous that experts recommend you wear protective clothing and eyewear when you’re pruning them back or gardening near them (via BHG).

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23. Raspberry Plants Provide Tasty Fruit but At a Price

Raspberries plants are the fruit of the summer, providing both red and black raspberries that work well in jams, on top of pies, in yogurts, or just eaten right on their own. They are rich in fiber, but you have to exercise caution in picking them. That’s because the stems have sharp prickles that can make your skin itch. It is a defense mechanism that developed on its own to keep animals from eating their berries. They can grow pretty long without proper maintenance and can even start growing up buildings and fences, using their thorns to cling to surfaces (via Gardeners Path).

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22. The Devil’s Walking Stick Isn’t Going to Help You Keep Your Balance

This outdoor plant is more than just a shrub — it is a tall tree with a sharpy, spiny trunk. It does well in sunny locations and is also called Hercules club and prickly ash. The large leaves themselves have sharp spikes, so no part of this plant is going to be safe for your fingers. The devil’s walking stick blooms at the end of summer with white flowers that immensely attract bees and other pollinators. Because it sheds seeds so easily, it would be a good idea to plant this one some distance away from the house because it tends to spread quite quickly (via Den Garden).

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21. The Hawthorn is Quite Decorative and Functional for Security Purpose At the Same Time

Those looking for something to protect their home with while also having something that looks nice, then look no further than the hawthorn. It sports beautiful white, pink, and red flowers that show up in the spring and bright red berries in the early fall that people use in jams and preserves. What makes them best to keep out burglars are the pointy thorns that cover its branches, making it a great and beautiful deterrent for those who are too nosy to stay away (via Gardeners Path).

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20. Pyracantha Forms a Prickly Barrier for Your Home

The pyracantha plant, also known as firethorns, makes a great protective barrier around your home. It grows pretty densely and has very spiky thorns that are very painful if they get you on the skin. This plant is a member of the rose family, but it has thorns that are razor-sharp and sizable, meaning that they’ll easily puncture your clothes too. Because it can grow to about ten feet tall, it makes a great natural fence around your property. A smaller version called “Red Elf” works well under windows; both grow bright red berries that attract beautiful birdlife to your yard, too (via Serenity Health).

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19. Creeping Juniper Works Wonders As Defensive Outdoor Plants

The creeping juniper does its job not by growing thorns but by having needle-like leaves all over its branches. That makes it even more difficult to avoid since their foliage is quite thick. The plant itself doesn’t grow very tall. However, it does have a span of about eight feet, making it difficult for anyone to get through. That’s why it’s a good idea to plant several of them close together to create a spiky carpet that no one will want to endure. The only problem with the creeping juniper is that the leaves become softer with age, so it loses its protective qualities around your home. It might be a good idea to replace old shrubs with new ones if you want to keep protecting your home (via Serenity Health).

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18. Californian Fuchsia May Look Strange, But It Packs a Powerful Punch

Californian Fuschia is also known as gooseberry and is a deciduous shrub that puts out bright red flowers during the spring. The flowers hang downwards with a spray of pollen-covered pistils that are almost romantic. We say ‘almost’ because their stems are covered in thin spines as long as three inches long. It grows well in shady locations, making it the perfect addition to the north side of your home, where you get the least amount of sun (depending on your location). The berries themselves ripen in early summer, and you can eat them, but a lot of sugar makes them palatable (via Gardeners Path).

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17. The Crown of Thorns Has That Name for a Reason

The crown of thorns is an evergreen succulent plant called Christ plant or Christ thorn. Why? Because they are the same type of branches Jesus Christ was said to have worn on his head during his crucifixion. This defensive outdoor plant tends to grow pretty slow but can get as high as six feet tall. It usually has red, pink, or white flowers that bloom throughout the year, but it’s the spiny branches that you have to look out for. Not to mention that the sap itself is poisonous and can cause skin irritation, so if someone bodily breaks one of these plants, they’re not going to have a pleasant time if the sap gets on their skin. They can be grown both outside and in indoor pots, just as long as they’re not overwatered (via The Spruce).

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16. The Hardy Orange Has Thorns That You Won’t Want to Get Under Your Skin

The hardy orange is a plant native to China and looks very much like an orange tree. Nevertheless, the fruit is quite sour, and the branches are covered in thorns two inches long, making it difficult to pick this fruit at all. Getting to be about twenty feet tall, you can grow these plants close together to create a natural protective barrier around your property. It does respond well to pruning so that it’s easy to keep it at whatever height works for you (via Gardeners Path).

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15. The Beautiful Bougainvillea Can Protect Your Home

Not many people would see such a beautiful flowering plant as a deterrent against invaders, but the bougainvillea is more than most people bargain for. The bougainvillea has some of the most beautiful flowering pink blossoms you’ll ever find, but don’t mistake it for a pushover; it’s a climbing plant and achieves its height through the thorns that cover its vines. With regular feeding and water, the thorns of the bougainvillea can become even more troublesome for a trespasser. It’s capable of growing up to 35 feet long — a great plant to line your fences and trellises with to keep people out (via HGTV).

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14. Barrel Cacti Don’t Appear Friendly At All

Cacti are some of the most intimidating plants, and the barrel cactus takes the cake. Just taking one look at it tells you that it’s not a plant that cares about how close you are to it. They grow in a wide round shape that makes it difficult for anyone to get near, especially with the relatively large spines coming out of its body. They don’t need a lot of watering but are used to desert climates, so they don’t tolerate a lot of frost over an extended period. Take care in growing them too close to your home, especially if they’re in an area that requires constant maintenance (via Gardening Knowhow). 

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13. The Cholla Cactus Looks Terrifying and For Good Reason

Take one look at this plant, and you wouldn’t want to get anywhere near it. The spine on the cholla cactus makes even the bravest of people squirm with discomfort. In fact, they’re so painful that desert rats will break off the spine and use them near the entrances of their dens to keep out predators like the Gila monster. Because it’s a cactus, the cholla cactus (also called the jumping cactus) requires a dry, arid condition to thrive in. The reason it’s called the jumping cactus is that the different sections of the cactus will break off from the plant once one of its barbed spines attaches to something. That makes these very difficult to remove since you can’t grab the cactus itself to pull it off (via Desert USA). 

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12. The Blackthorn Is a Beautiful Plant That Isn’t Shy with Its Thorns

The blackthorn is a beautiful flowering bush covered in white blossoms during the spring. During the fall, it has terrific blue fruits and is about the size of a plum. Although people can consume them, experts do not recommend them. The taste is quite astringent and is mostly used to make liqueurs, vodka, and gin. However, that’s not all the blackthorn has going for it; it has some vicious thorns that will keep any intruder away. In fact, it’s so effective that farmers use it in their fields to prevent cattle from straying out of their designated areas (via The Spruce).

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11. Oregon Grape Is Very Painful to Touch

The Oregon grape is a member of the same family as the barberry plant… which means it’s not actually a grape. People also call this plant holly-leaved barberry. Why? Because the shape of its leaves is so similar to the holly plant. This plant doesn’t have spines on its branches but along the edges of the leaves instead. It produces small purple berries that resemble grapes but are sour. It grows well in the shade, making it perfect for growing under your windows to offer your home some protection (via NPS.gov).

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10. The Prickly Pear Grows Well in Almost Any Garden, Making It Perfect for Home Protection

The prickly pear is one of the most cold-tolerant cacti in the United States, which means that it’s pretty hardy. So you don’t necessarily have to worry about being in a hot, arid climate. It’s primarily grown for its beautiful flowers and edible fruits, but it also works well at keeping away invaders. The flat pads are adorned with multiple spines across their surface, making them quite difficult to touch. The spines are so sharp that they can even puncture the toughest leather, so you want to keep this away from your regular gardening area (via Gardeners Path).

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9. Golden Bamboo Does Its Job Without Being Dangerous

Have you ever seen a bamboo forest? The first thing you’ll notice is how thick it is. Golden bamboo is known for growing into a dense impenetrable barrier that can be difficult for a single person to squeeze through quietly. It’s one of the noisiest bamboos out there so that if a person tries to break through, they’ll rattle and clack against each other, alerting you to the presence of someone. If someone tries to cut it down, it will leave jagged edges that can easily cut skin, making trying to break in not a pleasant experience. It’s also a great idea for privacy in general as well! (via The Spruce).

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8. Barberry Is More Formidable Than It Looks

Barberry is the name for 400 different evergreen shrubs that can vary in size from three to ten feet. That’s a lot of variety, so knowing the different types can help you pick the right one to use around your home. It is very drought-resistant, so it doesn’t need much watering, and it is capable of growing in almost any kind of soil. The foliage tends to be a rich, bright red, but the danger lies with the branches. There is a single thorn at each node. However, there are many thorns to contend with since it grows so dense. Be sure to check the laws of your state, however, as some species are considered invasive and are illegal to grow in your yard (via BHG).

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7. The Chinese Jujube Appears Harmless and Tasty but Hides a Dark Secret

Not only does the Chinese jujube tree provide you with delicious fruit for you to snack on, but it also does an excellent job of helping to protect your home. It’s a small ornamental tree that produces “Chinese pear” and can grow anywhere between 15 and 40 feet tall. If they’re grown close together, they can create a relatively thick hedge that can be difficult for a person to get through. What’s even better is that they come both in thorny and thornless varieties. Be careful pruning, and you can have a beautiful, thick, thorny hedge that you can reap fruits from. You have to prune them regularly to keep the thorns constantly growing (via Gardening Solutions). 

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6. The Giant Rhubarb Is Extremely Difficult to Navigate Through

This outdoor plant isn’t the same as the rhubarb you have in pie or tea. The giant rhubarb looks the same as regular rhubarb but has a very different purpose. It’s completely inedible, but it will leave a lasting impression on everyone because of its gigantic size. Their leaves can have a four-foot diameter, and the undersides and stalks are also covered in spikes, making it a plant that no one will want to take on. They grow best in rivers and streams, but they don’t do well in winter unless you cover them with protective material (via Gardenia). 

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5. The Porcupine Tomato Plant Has a Dangerous Name That Says It All

The porcupine tomato isn’t known for being subtle about its danger. You can see its thorns from about a mile away. One look at it tells you exactly what it’s going to do if you get too close> it does bloom some beautiful purple flowers… which are also surrounded by thorns, so don’t get any bright ideas to try and sniff them. Keep in mind that it is a member of the nightshade family, so care should be exercised when it comes to the care and maintenance of this plant (via Gardening Knowhow).

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4. The Ocotillo May Look Like a Cactus, But It’s Not

The ocotillo is a flowering plant with spikes that lives mainly in the desert but is not a cactus. It is a semi-succulent desert plant that is one of the strangest things you’ll probably ever lay eyes on. This defensive outdoor plant has also been called candlewood, desert coral, and coachwhip. It starts as a clump at its base and then has long, spindly upright canes covered in spikes. There are glorious bright red flowers at the ends that attract all kinds of pollinators. Thankfully, it needs very little water, so you don’t have to worry about a lot of upkeep (via Serenity Health).

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3. The Japanese Quince Won’t Hesitate to Poke You Where It Hurts

The Japanese quince is a flowering deciduous shrub that grows in a mounded form, reaching about six feet tall and wide. Because of the shape, it’s pretty easy to develop several of them together. That way, you can create an excellent barrier around and underneath your windows. It produces an edible fruit that’s quite tart, and it has beautiful flowers during the spring that will brighten up any yard or garden. It grows pretty fast, especially in full-sun locations, so take care with spacing these plants out enough to give them room to grow (via The Spruce). 

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2. Mesquite Are Great Defensive Outdoor Plants

Mesquite is also called the devil tree due to the vicious thorns that can pierce even car tires. What makes it worse is that they’re complicated to pull out once snagged onto something. You can mostly find these trees in Texas, but you should exercise caution with planting mesquite because they are invasive and can quickly grow out of control. Keeping this pruned will help the production of thorns, as the more it matures, the fewer thorns adorn its branches (via Britannica).

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1. No One Wants to Mess with the Honey Locust

This fast-growing tree is native to the central United States and could be the worst nightmare you’ll ever come across. From the trunk and branches, there are huge clumps of thorns that grow in such a way that you can’t get around them. Honey locust can grow as long as eight inches, so if that gets into your skin, ouch! This outdoor plant isn’t one you’ll want to grow near your home because it can get to about 90 feet tall and grows pretty fast (via Natural Resources).

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