Pest-Resistant Plants and Flowers

Sep 21, 2017
Lavender - Pixabay
Lavender photo by Pixabay

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Do you have trouble with deer and rabbits in your garden? Here’s a list of pest-resistant plants that these common garden pests won’t touch, plus a few favorite low-maintenance and extra-hardy options.

The trick is finding plants that these critters avoid. I like flowers that I don’t have to deadhead, too. A confession: I’m really a lazy gardener!

Pest-Resistant Plants List

Most munchers usually avoid plants with thorny or fuzzy foliage and those with strong aromas, like lavender. To save your most valued flowers, situate them in the center of beds closest to the house or against the house. Why? Deer and rabbits nibble on the outside edges of plantings furthest away from buildings.

Rabbits

Rabbits avoid calendulas, chrysanthemums, columbines, four o’clocks, foxglove, gladiolus, hollyhocks, impatiens, iris, larkspur, morning glories, nicotiana, snapdragons, sweet peas, and verbena.

Deer

Deer steer clear of ageratum, begonias, chrysanthemums, columbines, coreopsis, cosmos, foxglove, iris, lavender, monarda, purple coneflower, rudbeckia, salvia, Shasta daisies, verbena, vinca, yarrow, zinnias. See more deer-resistant plants.


Surround your favorite blooms with ones deer and rabbits hate to protect them. Photo courtesy of the National Garden Bureau.

No or Low Maintenance Plants

Begonia, ageratum, lobelia, coleus, and alyssum need no deadheading. Neither do Flower Carpet and Knock-Out roses.

“Pow Wow” echinacea or coneflower is a tough, reliable bloomer in almost every climate. Photo courtesty of Ball Seed Co.

Plants That Grow in Any Climate

Cleome, impatiens, petunias, marigolds, and zinnias are annuals that perform well everywhere. Perennials that are guaranteed to bloom all over the country include ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum, coneflowers, coreopsis, rudbeckia, and yarrow.

Two of my favorite flowers also grow everywhere and are tough. ‘Silver Tidal Wave’ petunia is one of the first in the Tidal Waves series. Its lavender-white flowers deadhead themselves, they need no pinching to grow lushly, and the plants spread themselves. Stems grow a couple of inches each day, creating three-foot-tall hedges ablaze with blooms. 

My favorite perennial is ‘Mardi Gras’ helenium, a plant-and-forget perennial covered with orange flowers from July until frost. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and yellow finches love this punch of powerful color.

Do you have any favorite pest-resistant plants? Let us know in the comments below!

About This Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser's backyard gardening tips. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer's Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer's Market.

Reader Comments

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Drought changes all the rules

I live in the Rockies at 8,500 ft. We haven't had a wet winter or summer in 5 years. Because of this drought, the chipmunks, field mice, and gophers eat things they normally never touch. There is literally nothing else for them to eat. Our wells are stressed as well. I happen to have a spring fed pond I could use to water my plants, but even it is down 14". As an example, it is now the first of Sept. and my hostas, normally 18" tall, are barely 3". I have still had good luck with the rodents not eating bleeding heart, iris, peony, alyssum and mint. The spray you can buy to keep them from stripping every plant has a strong peppermint smell, so I have been making my own with hot peppers and mint. Even so, I have had everything from the tiniest field mice to a very hungry bear tearing up the yard and garden looking for literally anything they can eat. If you are also in a drought, don't assume what they are eating this year will be what they eat when the drought breaks. They may eat coreopsis this year (stripped mine to the ground), but when things are back to normal, never touch it. Severe drought changes all the rules.

How to grow plants into resistant plants

We moved into a more rural area with lots of wildlife and wooded areas on 3-5 acreage. The deer have more than enough to eat around here, but before I spend a lot of money on young plants, I thought I'd ask how to protect these plants before the deer have them for dessert. I love lots of color like yellow or varigated Lantana. Older Lantana has a touch branch and the deer avoid them. Same with Esperanza's and Pride of Barbados. How do I protect them until they are more mature? I would love to have groupings of them in pots all around the gardens. The house is a sort of Spanish Rivival with a light gray stucco and black trim and some white trim. It would be an awesome garden! I can't wait to get started!

Moles

What bulbs and plants will Moles not eat and how to get rid of them. Thank you.

Moles

Hi Carolyn,

Moles are carnivorous, eating worms and grubs in the soil under your lawn and garden. Moles don’t eat plants, though planting marigolds around your garden can potentially repel them. You can find more information on how to get rid of moles here: http://www.almanac.com/pest/moles

We hope this helps!

Pest-Resistant Plants

Any suggestions for squirrels? That is the problem in our neighborhood. Thank you

squirrel-resistant plants

Squirrels have their way with things, it seems, but here are a few ideas. Generally, plants with a strong scent repel squirrels. Not all of these have a strong scent but they are repute to be effective:

• daffodils

• alliums (onion family)

• fritillaries

• galanthus

• hyacinth

• lily of the valley

• geraniums

• peppermint

TURKEYS HELP

Hello, its kind of crazy
I´m Uruguayan (EXCUSE ME THE MISTAKES PLEASE) and I work in a turistic ranch.
We pretend to have turkeys and a beatuifull garden, things that seems... imposible.
I spent half afternoon looking for information and tips about this issue whitout (almost) any reslut.
So, in part of this articule you name the turkeys but it doesnt apear anti turkey plants. Can you give me some names.

Cordiales saludos.

We have chipmunks what

We have chipmunks what perennials could I plant that they won't dig up I live in N.C. thanks, you say what deer and rabbits don't like what about chipmunks?

need help in finding more

need help in finding more perennials that chipmunks will not eat...
they love pansies. what about Lupine?? i live in the mountains of Colorado at 9000 ft.

See answer below. Most

See answer below. Most critters don't like plants that have fuzzy leaves or strong fragrance. With chipmunks, it's often best to protect plants. For example: Surround the garden area with a plant-free gravel border. Plant flower bulbs beneath a wire or plastic screen ground cover or in bulb cages. Set live traps. Use commercial repellents.

Chipmunks are NOT cute

I live in Colorado at 8,500 ft. I use old fashioned wooden and wire rat traps set inside a live trap (the live trap is not set but keeps the dog, cat and birds from getting snapped). Rat traps are like a normal mouse trap but are 4"x6". I bait them with peanut butter. People who don't live around chipmunks (or prairie dogs which I have in my pasture) don't realize how destructive they are. My little fir tree I planted 7 years ago is dead this year because they tunneled all under the roots this summer. Where I am, the field mice can carry the Hanta virus and the chipmunks and prairie dogs can carry the Bubonic Plague, both deadly to humans. I maintain that if chipmunks and prairie dogs had long pointy noses like their cousins, sewer rats, people would not think they were cute! I don't poison mine, although that would be easier, because hawks, coyotes, badgers, and my own dog could die from eating a poisoned rodent. And I need every rodent predator I can get. I also try to keep the ground damp around their burrows. They don't dig in the wetland areas of the pastures. Be really careful to not let your cat or dog play with a dead rodent and pick them up with a shovel, not your hands. Plague is transmitted by the rodent's fleas or with Hanta, the feces and urine. Good luck. As long as we are in this drought, the pests will be a real problem.

I'd left a message erleiar

I'd left a message erleiar this week about the bare-root perennials I bought at the plant sale. They had some clear crystals around them and I planted them around the plants in my garden upstate. Recently I noticed that the crystals had turned into kind of a gooey mass. Should I just leave them there and assume they'll eventually be absorbed into the soil?Many thanks!

The crystals are water

The crystals are water absorbers..they are fine!..great even..will help to keep your soil moist. If you buy the crystals, be sure to use them sparingly.

Chipmunks won't touch

Chipmunks won't touch daffodils (they love tulips), hyacinth and lilies. Coneflowers,dianthus, coreopsis,heuchera and most other perennials are good, too. It's the tulip bulbs they like due to size. Try ringing tulips with a triple layer of daffodils. That works many times.

I have many many chipmunks in

I have many many chipmunks in my yard. Which bulbs or perenials would be good to plant? Shade and sun, please. Thanks

Plant Critter-Proof Plants and Flowers

Timely advice, Doreen.

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