groundhogs in the annual flower garden

marko(Z6 NNJ)January 4, 2006

I am looking to plant seeds/seedlings of groundhog-resistant annuals ... I would be interested in hearing of any success stories ... TIA!

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Oh yes, I can relate to this post. I've battled my groundhog for 2 yrs now. I even tried to trap it with a havahart trap, tempting it with fruit and veggies, but it was too smart for me and wouldn't go in. Through trial and error, here are some things that they didn't eat: snapdragons, annual poppies, dianthus, marigolds, nicotiana, ageratum, sweet alyssum. I never sprayed those and they left them alone. But they ate all my cornflowers, zinnias, gazania, nasturtiums, calendula, etc. Just about everything until I got a spray called "the woodchuck solution" at my local plant nursery. It was not cheap, but it was the only repellent that seemed to work. (except for the sunflowers, even with it, they still ate them. I gave up trying to grow them) There is very little a woodchuck won't eat, the first year I put my new flower bed in, they ate everything and I had to replant. I found that they wouldn't eat the above mentioned plants though. But, last year I used the woodchuck solution, and I was able to grow many things that I couldn't before, (except sunflowers, of course.)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2006 at 3:59PM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

I have 2 years of experience with this as well - failure with havahart trap too. I have had success with cleome, nasturtiums, calendula (unlike hpny2), orange cosmos, balsam impatients, california poppy, annual coreopsis (it has gone for the perennial) ageratum sweet alyssum and browelia. It appears to be especially fond of sunflowers, hollyhocks, and regular cosmos. Also unlike above my little friend eats all my marigolds. I have done expensive sprays and shakes and have had limited success. Maybe the best by mixing some cayenne pepper in with Mole Stop and spraying. I plan on having my trap out early next spring when he emerges and my bait is the best looking thing around.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2006 at 7:57PM
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Yes, Jackied164, I forgot that my orange cosmos didn't get eaten either. I had cosmic red cosmos too, they left that alone also. They did eat my cosmos seashells and psyche. Also, I forgot, they didn't eat my peony poppies and red salvia either. I bought the havahart trap and all I caught was squirrels, despite my fresh veggies and fruit bait. In disgust, my husband returned the trap to Home Depot. A friend told me that she traps them all the time, using fresh spinach leaves as bait. I never tried that, so I may just buy another trap and see if that works. If you wanted to limit yourself to the plants they won't eat, you could have a nice garden anyway. I did that my first year, by replanting my original garden, which he'd eaten with all the flowers they didn't like. You could plant snaps, ageratum, alyssum, marigolds, red/orange cosmos, salvia, foxglove, browallia, cleome, nicotiana and nasturtium (since jackied164 grew them successfully, but they did eat mine, but mine were the apricot trifle variety, maybe the regular types aren't as tasty) That would be a pretty garden, that you wouldn't have the hassle worrying about whether you'll go out there one day and find everything gone. I did that one year, and it was really nice, plus the nicotiana had a fantastic fragrance. It's just that, I like to try a few new things each year, and feel too limited when I am forced to plan my garden around my woodchuck. Look for the plants known to be poisonous, they don't eat my foxgloves, and I think that's why. You could try larkspur, I believe that's poisonous too. Seriously, I went through my seed catalogs specifically looking for poisonous plants, just to make sure that they would be plants that wouldn't get eaten. Although, delphs are supposedly poisonous, and they even nibbled a bit at them, although they didn't eat too much, just a few bites. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2006 at 5:34PM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

hpny2 I am sorry you are dealing with this too but am happy to hear there is someone else who is determined to garden around the groundhogs. I do have a fear though that it cannot be done completely because the jerks will probably go for their second choices after you stop planting their first. Another way I succeed at getting flowers I want depsite their love for them is to plant alot in different areas. I actually had plenty of regular cosomos this summer. I think there are some places in the garden that they just shy away from. The cosmos also eventually get so tall I think they were out of reach. My friend loves tomatos also. This year I staked them up to about 6' and he got all that were below maybe 2 1/2 feet and I had the rest. It worked out ok. Before my battle with the groundhog I read Michael Pollan's struggle in his book Second Nature. I am only now really understanding his message that when we garden we can only work with nature (or maybe a bit around it) we will never be able to defeat or even really control it. With this in mind I also realize that the original question is really smart given that it pretty much accepts the presence of the groundhog.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2006 at 9:50PM
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I guess you can tell from my username that I have had a LOT of trouble with groundhogs! Poisonous plants are the way to go with many of the ones already mentioned. All the plants in the Hibiscus family like Hollyhocks are edible and they love to eat them so stay away from them. Foxglove is Digitalis and they make the heart medicine from it so they don't eat that. Nasturtiums are edible so they would probably eat them too but they taste a little peppery so maybe they don't eat them if there are other things around but don't count on it if they are hungry!!! They can climb very well. I have seen them climb up and over an 8 foot stockade fence and they also routinely climb over my 4 foot chain link fence so if they want something a fence is not really going to work. A repellent spray will work if they have other things to eat and if it is reapplied after rains. The havaheat trap I use works well. I usually bait mine with apples but they have also gone in after carrots. Sometimes they go right in and sometimes they are more wary. Depends on the animal.I relocate mine which is actually not what I am supposed to do but I could never hurt an animal but I would have no garden at all if I didn't because the creek behind my house is just infested with them. So good luck and It is by far the best policy to try and live and let live and grow stuff they don't like but keep the trap handy because sometimes you just have to use it. They reproduce quickly! That's my experience anyway.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2006 at 7:55PM
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I had better luck this summer with my flower garden than last year. I used the woodchuck solution repellent, and also sprinkled fox urine around the bed. Some things were nibbled, but it wasn't as bad as the year before. I forgot to mention, another plant that they didn't eat was dahlias. I had the smaller kind, about 14" tall and they left them alone. This past summer I did plant the taller ones, which they didn't eat, but I don't know if it was because of the repellent, or that maybe they don't like them either. But, the shorter type weren't eaten even though I used no repellents that year, so they are probably safe to plant. It's challenging tying to garden around the wildlife, but you can find plants that they won't eat. I have a lot of the above mentioned plants but I do put in some things that they would normally eat, and spray them. One plant that I can't get enough of is snapdragons. These are the perfect annual to me. First of all, woodchucks never have eaten mine, they are great for cutting, they come in all colors, they come in all sizes from 8" up to 3', many are fragrant and you can keep them blooming all season if you cut the fading blooms. It's a great plant for gardens with woodchuck and deer problems. My snaps bloom from June - October here in NY, and I've even had the occasional plant winter over.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2006 at 8:46AM
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Oh Another plant they have not eaten around here is sedum. It is very nice when it blooms in the Fall and the butterflys love it. It is tough as nails too and lives through drought! I'm pretty sure Verbascum is deer resistant so it might also be grounhog safe. You could give it a try. Hummingbirds love it.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 9:03PM
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The trick to success with Havahart traps is to use one that is huge, not one that is made for ground hogs. A quarter head of fresh cabbage should catch them in 15 minutes.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2006 at 8:54AM
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When I suggested Sedum and Verbascum I forgot I was on the annual forum! Sorry! I was just thinking of stuff ground hogs might not like because of course they are perennials. I'm not as familiar with what annuals they don't like.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2006 at 3:12PM
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I'll second the testimony to the effect that groundhogs tend to leave marigolds and nasturtiums alone.

Here is a link that might be useful: Groundhog Day and the Groundhog Day Movie

    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 11:00AM
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In my former home I had serious groundhog problems. Even tho my yard had a privacy fence. They could squeeze their fat bodies thru the 2" openings without a problem. Of course they can dig under it too. They ate everything I planted. I rented a Havahart trap and baited it with melons and peaches. One day I watched as that rascal walked all around that trap trying to get to the food but he would not go in. Finally a friend stopped by, saw my trap and laughed. He asked if I thought groundhogs were stupid. He said they're too smart to fall for that. He then went about disguising the trap by placing it among some shrubs and covered it with a tarp. The following morning I awoke to find a possum in it. I had to return the trap that day or pay another $7 for a week. I gave up.

Here in my new house groundhogs became a problem because they continuosly dug massive craters under our shed. We would fill the holes and they would just dig their way back in. On 2 ocassions they dug their way out and I had to buy soil to replace what was now under the shed. We finally buried chicken wire around the shed and stapled it at the bottom. Then they started trying to dig their way under our house in several places. After the local news reported rabid groundhogs found in the area DH started shooting them. I felt bad but I'd feel much worse if one of the kids got bit by one.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 12:21PM
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bonitaapplebum(z5 MA)

I dumped the cat's litter box into the groundhog's hole and he stayed away for quite some time. :)

Probably not organic gardening but as you know these critters quickly get you to the end of your rope.

I'm usually a pretty calm person. I have had houseguests' jaws drop in shock at the sight of me suddenly inexplicably sprinting into the back yard, hollering GIT VARMINT!!!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 4:06PM
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I baited my havahart with mini carrots and actually caught the critter. They have the advantage of staying fairly fresh - which greens don't. And apparently woodchucks think they are super. I sort of laid a trail of mini carrots from in front of the trap, inside and all the way back. That did it. As soon as it gets a little warmer the war will resume but this time it's rabbits.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 11:06PM
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there is a groundhog repellent which the garden guy Paul James on tv recommended very highly. We bought it for our community garden, haven't used it yet, so can't tell you from 1st hand experience.
It is based on castor bean oil, don't remember the exact name. If you want the exact name, e-mail me, and I'll go see what it is called. It is pellets, and not dangerous to anything else. The garden guy swears it works.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 12:31PM
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I've had problems with woodchucks for several years. Last year we finally successfully trapped that year's baby (mom is still at large). We used the largest havahart trap and baited it with watermelon rinds. In my yard the little bugger actually made his burrow under my front window! ARGH. The woodchucks have even climbed my front steps and eaten tomatoes and other plants set out to harden off. This year I got a dog. He's already got 3 appointments for "woodchuck duty" once they come out of hibernation.
Good luck with your hunting!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 9:09PM
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flutterby81(6a, Michigan)

We had a GH problem last year. They ate everything except the nicotiana and lilies.

We tried the havahart trap but ended up with everything but the groundhog (rabbits, skunks, opossums, racoons...).

    Bookmark   March 5, 2006 at 6:14PM
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I have also gotten crazy... Lizzie (my cat) and I chased a small groundhog off the property 4 days ago, I refrained from shouting "Fricassee!" We have not seen them in 4 days. I, too, set my Havahart trap (1079). One of the babies loved it... sat inside, on the "tripper", and ate all the good veggies. They love my vegetable garden, the sunflowers, the Icelandic poppies, and especially the lettuce. I fenced in my garden and dropped the fence below the soil. They dug under the garden gate. I put bricks inside the garden past the gate, and sunk bricks on the outside of the garden at the gate. They have not been back into my garden. I surrounded my flowers with chicken wire, and made huge chicken wire cages for my blue berries. It all looks tacky, but it (or Lizzie and me scaring them) has kept them out of my favorite plants. I am thinking about getting a dog...

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 11:11PM
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triple_b(BC 5b)

There is always the Caddyshack approach. Oh wait, that didn't work did it? Never mind.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:28AM
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luckyladyslipper(MA 5b-6a)

Background: We have a huge GH estate in our back yard. Generally, I try the live-and-let-live approach, having illegally relocated many groundhogs only to have new families move into the vacated home. I try to plant things Mr. G. Hog likes near OUR house and away from his. He seems to like the clover that runs wild in that area. I am used to watching him munch away from my kitchen window, or even from a few yards away when I'm in the garden. I have also seen 2 baby groundhogs this spring, although when they saw me, they ran into the neighbor's yard, not into the estate in our yard, so I think there is another family next door.

So, I was in the back yard a week or so ago, when one of my dogs (on a staked leash) started making noises and trying to run further into the back yard. I turned around and saw a fox and a groundhog.

The groundhog was chasing the fox!

Then I saw that the fox had a critter in its mouth. A baby groundhog? Then 3 small foxes came running toward the parent bearing lunch.

A few minutes later, I saw ANOTHER fox with ANOTHER small critter in its mouth! The other baby groundhog?

I haven't seen our Resident Groundhog since then, although I think that is happenstance. I don't dare believe that he is gone. He's probably just keeping a low profile, as the fox traffic in our yard has been quite heavy!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 10:20AM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

when I had a groundhog problem foxes were my best friends

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 7:32AM
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maineman(z5a ME)

I think some sort of predator may have taken out our resident groundhog family. We haven't seen a GH in a while, and they used to feed in broad daylight.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 1:03PM
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