Plants That Chipmunks Won’t Eat

Eastern Chipmunk - Garden Nemesis!If chipmunks are digging up your bulbs and eating your flowers, you’re probably wondering what you can plant that they won’t eat.

I have a chipmunk infestation. I have counted no fewer than 12 individuals at one time within view of my back step, and my entire yard is only .4 acres! There are plenty more that pass through from the neighbor’s yards.

With fenced in yards and no natural predators, these rodents take over and treat my garden as a buffet. I’ve lost more plants and seedlings than I care to count, not to mention the holes all over the yard and garden.

This article is not about how to get rid of chipmunks, since that is discussed in depth elsewhere on the web. I have found no exclusion methods that work. Chipmunks are small and nimble and can squeeze into tight spaces. They can climb, they can tunnel. The only surefire way to keep them out of your garden would be to enclose your entire garden in 1/4 inch hardware cloth, and that’s not really practical (let alone the aesthetics).

Predator urine and other repellents don’t work. Sonic devices don’t work. Rubber snakes and plastic owls don’t work. However, planting certain plants that do not appeal to chipmunks can give you some respite from the onslaught.

Below is a list of plants that chipmunks seem to avoid in my garden. All of these plants are pollinator-friendly and grow well in my zone 5 garden in Upstate New York.

It’s possible that your chipmunks may eat the flowers from these plants in your yard. This list only reflects my experience. It’s also possible that one or two flowers may be nibbled, and then the plant will be left alone. Your results may vary.

Plants That Chipmunks Don’t Eat (In My Garden)

Perennials

  • Bee balm (Monarda)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) – My purple coneflowers are never touched, but I lose just one blossom each year from my red coneflower.
  • Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida “Goldsturm”)
  • Hyssop (Agastache)
  • Milkweed (Asclepias)
  • Spiderwort
  • Phlox (Garden, Woodland, Creeping/Moss)
  • Delphinium
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
  • Yarrow
  • Sneezeweed (Helenium) – The tag at the nursery said “rodent resistant”, although this flower totally looks like something a chipmunk will eat. They haven’t touched the plant at all in my garden.
  • Sedum/Stonecrop
  • Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium)
  • Lupine (Lupinus)
  • Catmint (Nepeta)
  • Ornamental Onion (Allium)
  • Chives
  • Lavender
  • Evening Primrose/Sundrops (Oenothera)
  • Irises
  • Narcissus/Daffodils

In general, perennials that have fragrant foliage (like bee balm, catmint, hyssop, lavender), that have hairy leaves, or are toxic (foxglove) tend to be left alone.

Annuals

  • Zinnias (Profusion & State Fair series)
  • Cosmos – I deadhead them once the bloom is spent and before the seeds mature.
  • Dahlias
  • Alyssum
  • Ageratum
  • Petunia
  • Lantana
  • Snapdragons
  • Heliotrope
  • Calendula (Flowers are left alone, but seed heads are eaten)
  • Dianthus (Flowers are left alone, but seed heads are eaten)
  • Marigold (Targetes) *
  • Annual Salvia/Sage
  • Celosia/Cockscomb

* A note about marigolds: The double-flowered marigold that I planted last year was eaten the next morning. However, I have planted a dozen single-flowered marigolds this year and they have not been touched by chipmunk, squirrel, or rabbits (yes, I have all of these in my yard…).

Plants That Chipmunks LOVE To Eat & Destroy

  • Coreopsis/Tickseed – This plant seems to be their favorite (mine too, sadly) and they will go out of their way to eat every last bud before the plant has a chance to bloom!
  • Daisies (Gerbera, Shasta, African, Osteospermum, etc….) – They love snacking on daisies.
  • Pansies/Violas – Another favorite. You’ll be left with nothing but scraggly stems after a while.
  • Lillies
  • Mums – I’ve seen gray squirrels eating mums, and my assumption is that chipmunks would as well.
  • Columbine (Aquilegia) – It’s not their favorite, but they will eat the buds.
  • Sunflowers – I’ve given up on growing these. They eat the seedlings, bite taller plants off at ground level, and if you do manage to get one to flower, it’s a matter of time before they (or a squirrel) make off with the flower head.
  • Seedlings (all types) – If you have chipmunks in your garden, save yourself the aggravation and don’t plant seedlings. Even if they don’t eat them, they will dig them out. You’ll find them the next morning wilting in the sun, missing, bitten in half or destroyed under dirt or mulch. I can’t safely plant anything that is less than 4 inches tall in my garden.
  • Tulips – If they don’t dig up and eat the bulb, they will eat the bud before it has a chance to blossom.

Here’s A Pro-Tip:

Deadhead spent flowers, particularly on coneflowers, zinnias, cosmos, marigolds, and anything else that forms a tempting seed head after the bloom has gone by. By doing this, you not only encourage rebloom and prolong the blooming season, but you also remove temptation from your garden (chipmunks love to eat and store seeds).

So whether you are planning a garden in a chipmunk infested yard, or you want to replace destroyed plants with chipmunk resistant ones, I hope this list helps you. Feel free to add a comment and let me know what they eat or don’t eat in your garden.

Good luck!

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44 thoughts on “Plants That Chipmunks Won’t Eat”

  1. Thank you for the info. I just assumed all marigolds were safe. I would have bought the double and then….by the way squirt guns don’t work either. I’m 70 yrs old ! They just come back on my deck. I left it out on the table for 5 minutes and the chipmonk knocked it off and broke it. It was a special blaster too.

    1. I found that soaking a paper towel with tea tree oil and wiping the edges and around bottoms flower pots and planters on my deck keeps them out of my potted plants. I also pour a little of the oil on the bottom of my brooms bristles and sweep the deck. They don’t like the smell or the taste when they get it on their feet or fur. They avoid mint plants because of the furry leaves so I plant those in with the other flowers.

  2. RockyRunCabin

    Very interesting read. We live in the forest and have tons and tons and tons of chipmunks and they have never touched my tulips. I have beautiful red tulips that look like long stem roses and they haven’t bothered with them at all. It might also depend on what they have access too what they choose to eat.

    1. They eat my yellow rose, but not the red ones. Maybe it is a color thing!😄

      Am having trouble this spring with them destroying several of my hostas!

      1. Chipmunks have eaten all of my many petunias this summer so I’d recommend petunias be added to the list of yummy choices for the darn, cute, critters, ugh 😉

  3. Chipmunks are decapitating our African Marigolds, which are Tagetes. Also biting off sedum, but not eating it.

  4. They just finished off, right down to the dirt, every last one of the couple dozen petunias I planted a few days ago in pots on my deck. It only took the chipmunks a day or so to discover them. After I noticed the petunias had been attacked, I stuck sharp wooden spikes, closely together, around every single remaining petunia, hoping this would deter the devilish little critters. Not a chance. My beautiful color spots are ALL gone. My next batch of petunias will have to be in hanging pots.

    Last year I had lantana in pots on the deck, and I haven’t figured out yet if it was chipmunks or squirrels who feasted on all of those. Gonna hang some of those flowers, too, this season.

    They’ve also eaten much of my potted columbine right down to a couple inches of bare stem.

  5. Chris Christie's Belt

    I was going to blame the bunny on all my eaten sunflowers, but I think chipmunks are to blame. Lots of them now that my semi feral rescue cat is no longer with me. I would have relocated the bunny as a last resort, I have had to before. But no way to trap all the chipmunks.

    1. My issue is not blossoms being eaten but the roots are eaten away and u can see where something has tunnelled in right next to the plant and around it. Always had squirrels & rabbits but this is the first year chipmunks have moved In so I thought they were to blame. None of u have mentioned roots being eaten away that I saw. Often it happened right after I put in a new plant. Almost every dianthus and some yarrows have had their roots eaten away. So…thoughts? Perhaps not chipmunks, maybe voles or moles? I used a granular product That was supposed to deter rodents, moles, voles & it seemed to make no difference.

  6. Huh….my rhubarb is safe, so far, in southern Oregon. What about some vegetables they don’t like? After reading the post about rhubarb, I guess I’m lucky -so far.

  7. Ladt summer, chipmunk ate everyone of my bush greenbean plants but didn’t touch my pole green beans. Upper Peninsula Michigan.

    1. I just re-sowed my bed of bush beans and they are being eaten AGAIN. From the original batch – I only had 3 seedlings that made it past 3 inches. Those 3 seedlings have since been stripped bare of their leaves. At first I thought it was cut worms because the seedlings were cut off fairly close to the soil … But now seeing as entire large leaves are completely gone in a matter of one day I know it’s the darn Chipmunks. I’m completely Fed Up.

  8. Unfortunately Ground Hogs eat my delphinium.Seems like what one varmit doesnt like a different one does.

  9. Debra Clippard

    I have had several of our flowers eaten (bulbs), like lilies, etc… But for the most part they eat the seed and the suet we leave for the birds, I have noticed holes around our property, we think that they are tunnels for the chipmunks. We thought the squirrels were to blame for our potted plants on our porch being dug up, and dirt all over, even the ones that had no,plants,in them only the dirt waiting for us to buy new ones for the year to plant. We just trapped and released a groundhog, and a forth of our garden vegetables did not come up, we think they ate the seed. Thanks for,the heads up on these cute but destructive little varmits.

  10. Hi, THANK YOU for sharing this experience !!!!
    I was thinking being crazy after I found my young sunflowers plants half eaten and out from the soil after planting them!!!! I d add on your list Gazanias. The vicious animals ATE already 40% of my planrs and their leafs.
    I know for marigolds – they smell so I m gonna plant them aaaaalllllll around the garden. Plus I will try tomatoes – it smells as well. True: calendula, salvia and marigold are totally untouched.
    Thanks again!!!!!!!
    Eli

    1. I found that sprinkling REPELS-ALL kept my little chipmunks out of the flowers. However they still have a feast at my birdfeeders.

  11. Deborah Hochhauser

    Great article, thanks! I also have a yard overrun with chipmunks, and this has been my experience this season (eastern Massachusetts, zone 6):
    Plants that have done well are: gaillardia, salvia, sedums, hostas, Oriental lilies (but not asiatics, which were eaten almost to the ground), bleeding heart (2 varieties),heuchera, anemone, lamium and daylily. I’ve had partial success with coneflowers. The tall varieties are doing well, but one dwarf plant was given a haircut, and another was ripped out entirely (not sure if that was the chipmunks, as we also have squirrels). The critters also munched on an aster early in the season, but that seems to be doing well now.

  12. They have ravaged my supertunias and potato vines – I haven’t tried the standard petunias, but i’m making a run today to get replacements and this was a helpful article!

  13. Here’s my chipmunk report from Georgia: they have decimated sweet potato vines, petunias, blue salvia, and coleus. Last year they favored hosta, but not this year. I have resorted to snap traps at strategic places and consider chipmunks “rats with racing stripes.”
    Thanks for the article.

  14. In Tahoe they decimated my petunias and enjoy dining on my callebrachoa even with cayenne sprinkled on The blooms and plants. Yum! A condiment!

    1. They are everywhere here by the Oregon coastline. Had beautiful yellow tea roses and bam munched away. At first I thought they were so cute. Going to try tea tree oil around my pots and deck.

  15. Thank you for this post! Was starting to feel like I was the only person around here being driven crazy by the little so’n’sos! Ever since our old dog died. They don’t eat anything, just dig in ANY loose soil, and leave holes and soil thrown everywhere. SO frustrating. I spend an hour every morning just going around filling in holes! Did the ‘chipper dipper’ buckets (gross) last year, then the TomCat snap traps (work well) this. Thanks, Jan, for the tea tree oil idea. Will try it. Neither garlic powder or cinnamon worked for me. My nemesi…

  16. Hi! Just north of Chicago these little guys ate: single head marigolds, petunias (dug up and ate the roots), begonias, and a bunch that I forgot their names, but they haven’t touched my geraniums, gladiolas, or impatients (or maybe they are eating the buds, I just thought I got a bad batch that wasn’t blooming). I am going to try the tea tree oil trick as previously mentioned! Good luck to us all!

  17. Donna R. La Plante

    The one thing I have found they will not eat is vinca. I have a large swath of
    impatiens planted around a statue that I had to cover with bird netting in order
    keep them out. It was a lot of trouble, but it worked.

  18. They are particularly fond of fuchsia, even hanging fuchsia. They take a flying leap, land in the basket, and eat the buds.

  19. I see birds and go to feed them but chipmunks are like vacumn cleaners and leave nothing for birds. Last year I had beautiful pink hibiscus in a pot, not touched. This year I got 2 hibiscus plants with beautiful huge yellow flowers. They ate the flowers and chewed the upcoming buds. Dug my peony tulips out of the ground after they bloomed and they are working on the rest digging every day. They ate every top of my crocuses and went back later for all the bulbs. My morning glory plants are being dug up. I might just do hanging plants but they are great at climbing also.

  20. Those plump blankety-blank &#@** chipmunks ate every last bud – and there were many blooming – of my brand-new tall dianthus (carnations). The ground is littered with pink petals, but none are left on the plant. I think I will try spreading some cayenne around. So disappointed 🙁

  21. In Colorado. Thx for this informative post and all the enlightening comments. At this moment I have cayenne flakes, moth balls, bubble gum, and Liquid Fence around all my plants. The chippies still strip my columbines but so far all else seems to be ok. Not sure which treatment is working but maybe the combo.

  22. They shredded and ate my peonies this year, along with all of my marigolds. Both were untouched last year, but destroyed within two nights this year : (

  23. Alice Halvorsen

    We have squirrels, chipmunks and one rabbit. They eat everything except my “silk flowers” which are the only color now in my yard. I have even gotten compliments from people walking by,

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