Plants Groundhogs Tend to Avoid

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20180609 bugspray.com.jpg
Groundhogs are attracted to our gardens and can cause considerable damage. Source: bugspray.com

If there are groundhogs (Marmota monax), also known as woodchucks, in your area, you probably already know it. They’re found across Canada (although absent from a few islands, like Newfoundland, Vancouver and Prince Edward) and throughout the northeastern United States, as far south as northern Louisiana.

There are other species of marmot throughout the entire Northern Hemisphere, but most are mountain-dwelling species, doing little damage to people’s gardens, since few people garden on mountain tops. No so the groundhog! It’s essentially a lowland species and loves the semi-wooded, prairie-like conditions people create.

Also, other marmots tend to live in colonies, while the groundhog is a loner. The mother will, of course, share her nest with her babies, but soon boots them out to live on their own.

Besides being famously used for determining whether spring has come or not (Groundhog Day is February 2), groundhogs can be devastating to home gardens, consuming a vast array of both edible and ornamental plants. They’re found in both the country and the suburbs, even in cities. For example, they seem to absolutely adore community gardens, even urban ones!

Plants Groundhogs Don’t Like

Rather than trying to exclude groundhogs from your garden or to kill them off, it’s perhaps better to learn to live with them … best done by growing plants they simply don’t like. Here are some examples*:

Annuals and Tender Bulbs

  1. Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum)
  2. Bacopa (Sutera cordata)
  3. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  4. Blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella)
  5. Dahlia (Dahlia spp.)
  6. Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana spp.)
  7. Gaillardia (Gaillardia pulchella)
  8. Nicotiana (Nicotiana spp.)
  9. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
  10. Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

Biennials, Perennials and Hardy Bulbs

  1. American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) zone 4
  2. Amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana) zone 3
  3. Anemone (Anemone spp.) zones 3 to 6, according to species
  4. Astilbe (Astilbe spp.) zone 4
  5. Baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata) zone 3
  6. Blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.) zone 3
  7. Bleeding-heart* (Dicentra spp.) zone 3
  8. Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) zone 3
  9. Blue Fescue (Festuca spp.) zone 3
  10. Blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) zone 3
  11. Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana) zone 3
  12. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) zone 4
  13. Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) zone 3
  14. Cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) zone 3
  15. Coralbells (Heuchera spp.) zones 3 to 5, according to species
  16. Coreopsis, threadleaf (Coreopsis verticillata) zone 3
  17. Crocosmia (Crocosmia spp.) zone 6
  18. Daffodil (Narcissus spp.) zones 3 to 7, according to species
  19. Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.) zones 3 to 6, according to species
  20. Delphinium (Delphinium spp.) zone 3
  21. Dianthus (Dianthus spp.) zones 3 to 7, according to species
  22. Dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) zone 6
  23. Evening primrose (Oenothera spp.) zones 3 to 6, according to species
  24. Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) zone 3
  25. Flag (Iris spp.) zones 3 to 8, according to species
  26. Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) zone 6
  27. Foxglove (Digitalis spp.) zone 4
  28. Gaillardia (Gaillardia spp.) zone 3
  29. Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) zones 2 to 6, according to species
  30. Hay-scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) zone 3
  31. Hellebore (Helleborus spp.) zone 4
  32. Heuchera (Heuchera spp.) zones 3 to 5, according to species
  33. Heucherella (x Heucherella cvs) zone 3
  34. Holly fern (Cyrtomium spp.) zones 5 to 8, according to species
  35. Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) zone 4
  36. Interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana) zone 3
  37. Iris (Iris spp.) zones 3 to 8, according to species
  38. Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) zone 3
  39. Jonquil (Narcissus spp.) zones 3 to 7, according to species
  40. Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) zone 4
  41. Leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) zone 6
  42. Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) zone 1
  43. Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) zones 4 to 6, according to cultivar
  44. Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) zones 3 to 10, according to species
  45. Monkshood (Aconitum spp.) zone 3
  46. Narcissus (Narcissus spp.) zones 3 to 7, according to species
  47. Nepeta (Nepeta spp.) zone 4
  48. Oregano (Origanum spp.) zones 3 to 7, according to species
  49. Ornamental onion (Allium spp.) zones 3 to 5, according to species
  50. Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) zone 3
  51. Pasque flower (Pulsatilia vulgaris) zone 3
  52. Peony (Paeonia spp.) zone 3
  53. Pink (Dianthus spp.) zones 3 to 7, according to species
  54. Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) zone 6
  55. Red hot poker (Kniphofia spp.) zones 5 to 7, according to species
  56. Red valerian (Centranthus ruber) zone 4
  57. Ribbon grass (Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’) zone 3
  58. Royal fern (Osmunda regalis) zone 3
  59. Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) zone 4b
  60. Sedum (Sedum spp.) zones 2 to 10
  61. Soapwort (Saponaria spp.) zone 3
  62. Sundrops (Oenothera spp.) zones 3 to 6, according to species
  63. Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) zone 3
  64. Torch lily (Kniphofia spp.) zones 5 to 7, according to species
  65. Tritoma (Kniphofia spp.) zones 5 to 7, according to species
  66. Turtlehead (Chelone spp.) zone 3
  67. Wild ginger (Asarum spp.) zones 3 to 6, according to species
  68. Windflower (Anemone spp.) zones 3 to 6, according to species
  69. Wood fern (Dryopteris marginalis) zone 3
  70. Wormwood (Artemisia spp.) zones 2 to 8, according to species
  71. Yarrow (Achillea spp.) zone 3

*Groundhogs will eat another plant commonly known as bleeding-heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis, formerly Dicentra spectabilis.

Herbs

  1. Catmint (Nepeta cataria) zone 4
  2. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) zone 2
  3. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) zone 5
  4. Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) zone 3
  5. Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) zone 4
  6. Lavender (Lavandula spp.) zones 5 to 8, according to species
  7. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) zone 3
  8. Oregano (Origanum spp.) zones 3 to 7, according to species
  9. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) zone 7
  10. Scented geranium (Pelargonium spp.) annual
  11. Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) zone 3
  12. Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) zone 3
  13. Thyme (Thymus spp.) zones 3 to 5, according to species
  14. Wormwood (Artemisia spp.) zones 2 to 8, according to species

Vegetables

  1. Garlic (Allium sativum)
  2. Onion (Allium cepa)
  3. Pepper (Capsicum annuum)
  4. Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
  5. Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo)
  6. Rhubarb (Rheum x hybridum) zone 3
  7. Tomato** (Solanum lycopersicum)
  8. Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo)
**In some areas, groundhogs will eat tomato fruits, but not foliage.

Trees and Shrubs

  1. Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens glauca) zone 3
  2. Forsythia (Forsythia spp.) zones 4 to 6, according to species
  3. Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) zone 6
  4. Gray Birch (Betula populifera) zone 2
  5. Heather (Calluna spp.) zone 5
  6. Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata) zone 6
  7. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) zone 6
  8. Juniper (Juniperus spp.) zones 2 to 7, according to species
  9. Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) zone 3
  10. Peony, tree (Paeonia suffruticosa) zone 4b
  11. Pine (Pinus spp.) zones 3 to 10, according to species
  12. Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa) zone 3
  13. Privet (Ligustrum spp.) zones 3 to 7, according to species
  14. Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) zone 6
  15. Rosier (Rosa spp.) zones 2 to 9, according to species
  16. Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) zone 3
  17. Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrina) zone 3
  18. Wisteria (Wisteria spp.) zones 4 to 8, according to species
*The lists above are largely based on observations rather than formal studies and are therefore subject to modification, doubly so because groundhogs in one area may have different food preferences than those in other areas. Please don’t hesitate to suggest additions and corrections.

4 thoughts on “Plants Groundhogs Tend to Avoid

  1. Chucklee

    I can attest that woodchucks will eat squash leaves summer and winter squash ,as well as young vines. They ate 8 of my eggplants, various varieties. And they LOVE fennel, bronze and Florence.

  2. Rose B

    I have a family of groundhogs and they LOVE my garden. I have watched them eat the leaves off of my growing dahlias, cucumbers and delicata squash plants. They also love dill and parsley.

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