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)
- 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)
- Phlox (Garden, Woodland, Creeping/Moss)
- Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
- 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.
- Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium)
- Lupine (Lupinus)
- Catmint (Nepeta)
- Ornamental Onion (Allium)
- Evening Primrose/Sundrops (Oenothera)
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.
- Zinnias (Profusion & State Fair series)
- Cosmos – I deadhead them once the bloom is spent and before the seeds mature.
- 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
* 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.
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.