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gopher unfriendly plants

Posted by Llanwenlys ORZn8 (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 3, 11 at 14:41

I have seen many lists of plants which deer are said not to like, but never any for gophers. I realize that such lists are no guarantee--but does anyone have experience in the PNW with plants which gophers leave alone? For example, they LOVE my roses and artichokes and apple trees but seem to leave box alone, sage and rhododenrons......


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

Shades of 'Caddyshack'!! First, are you sure they are gophers? Gophers are usually some species of ground squirrel-like rodents, similar to prairie dogs and while they do eat plants, they don't seem to be a big concern in most of the PNW. Typically the complaints are with mountain beavers (which can eat darn near anything!) or voles (damage usually restricted to young trees or shrubs) or moles, which don't eat plants at all but can certainly disrupt gardens.

If you are convinced they are gophers, I found a Sunset Magazine article that discusses how to deal with them.....but no joy with gopher repelling plants :-( The same plants that are often suggested to repel moles are suggested to repel gophers (euphorbia, castor bean, etc.) but there is no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.

You could always hire Bill Murray.........and TNT seemed to work well :-))

Here is a link that might be useful: Gopher article


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

Shades of 'Caddyshack'!! First, are you sure they are gophers? Gophers are usually some species of ground squirrel-like rodents, similar to prairie dogs and while they do eat plants, they don't seem to be a big concern in most of the PNW. Typically the complaints are with mountain beavers (which can eat darn near anything!) or voles (damage usually restricted to young trees or shrubs) or moles, which don't eat plants at all but can certainly disrupt gardens.

If you are convinced they are gophers, I found a Sunset Magazine article that discusses how to deal with them.....but no joy with gopher repelling plants :-( The same plants that are often suggested to repel moles are suggested to repel gophers (euphorbia, castor bean, etc.) but there is no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.

You could always hire Bill Murray.........and TNT seemed to work well :-))

Here is a link that might be useful: Gopher article


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

I think most any Euphorbia isn't going to be anything-friendly, due to the noxious sap.

Maybe Osteospermums too? Or other daisy-like plants that smell weedy and such.


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

I do grow "Gopher Plant" (Euphorbia lathyris, I think) amongst my garden plants ;)
I don't know if it works, really, but it's a nice enough plant.
I also use those sonic gopher stakes, which work most of the time.

My cats are about the best defense.


Josh


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 6, 11 at 13:38

OSU Corvallis talks about pocket gophers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pocket gophers love your garden


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

I'm surprised to hear you say that gophers are not a problem on PNW. The farmer who works the adjacent land says the mounds that are dotted throughout our landscape are gopher mounds and so does the mole/gopher trapper who works out here (with modest success).

It's not a matter of disrupting the roots: the above ground parts are left completely alone while the underground roots are eaten in their entirety and the bottom part of the trunk is sharpened like a pencil. I find young apple trees, maples, roses etc lying on their sides, the roots gone and a large underground tunnel. Planting in wire baskets is successful but a pain, expensive and unsightly when your garden is more than an acre.


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants-link

BTW Bboy, your link doesn't seem to work :(


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

In my garden, I opt to plant my prized peppers in pond-baskets sunk in the earth.

Josh


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 7, 11 at 15:02

Link still opens for me. Instantly. And I have script blocking on.


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

I have voles. If I put a large piece of wood, black plastic, a tarp, or a layer of newspaper on the ground for a while and come back, there will be a network of surface runs all over and the grass eaten off. I know a daylily grower in Oregon who says she has gophers.

My strategies are to plant as many poisonous plants around edible plants as possible- daffodil bulbs, iris plants, euphorbs, etc. I put lava rock in bottoms and sides of all my planting holes. These did actually make a big difference in daylily losses. I lost several apples to voles, but found if I ran the garden hose for a long time under a tree under attack it would stop. I may try this year finding a fertilizer wand, metal tube with a hole in the end, with a hose attachment at the top, and try to flood runs underground with it. I am also going to get a lot of gravel or lava rock and spread it over my vegetable planting beds this year. It will make it a pain to dig but maybe I can grow there again. Last year the voles nipped off stems of 5 mature squash plants and many beans.


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In the PNW yes, we have voles and moles BUT if you have a family of pocket gophers you have a BIG problem!!! I have been battling with them for 4 years now... I 'think' I am winning, but will know more next spring...
First let me explain we have over the past 5 years reclaimed about 2 (of our 50) acres of pasture of which the gophers felt was 'their' home (yeah, it was, and I almost feel guilty to have taken it from them; Coyboys vs Indians LOL). Anyway we felt that we could have a little and they could have the rest, but they haven't been in agreement and refuse to sign a treaty! Over the past few years I have tried every "humane" way of getting them to move out and nothing seems to work. We went to battle once they ate the roots of my 3 yr old Redbud tree (it fell over and was 15' tall!) as well as a heritage 'Lyric' rose (6'x6') which toppled over , not to mention the 300 Latris over 3' tall that went down the hole one by one (whole)!, and asparagus and and and... I have tried all of the 'planting' of gopher plant etc., to no avail... I've tried bait no good, and resorted to the propane in the tunnel approach (like golf courses)... didn't work.... Most of the traps wouldn't work 'cause my gophers were too BIG!!! to fit the traps... The only trap I have found to work at all is the 'cinch' trap. Some are still too big to be caught by it, but I do think I'm making a headway...
Anyway, as to plants that 'seem' to be left alone for the most part are: Spirea, potentilla, wigelia, hardy fuchia, rhodie's, azalea, viburnum, sedum, salvia, daisy's, catmint, lambs ear, columbine, heuchera, hosta, evergreen clematis, sage, thyme, lavender and for some reason red potatoes (they munched ALL of my Yukon Gold's and left most of the reds alone - all planted side by side, go figure)... Of course your milage may vary LOL I have found roses and clematis are prime targets, not to mention all bulbs (dahliah, crocus, lily etc)... Not sure if my post will help much but hopefully will offer a few plants you can add to your landscape that won't become instant gopher food! Wishing you much luck and gardening happiness!

Here is a link that might be useful: Setting a Cinch trap


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Here in the forgotten/unacknowledged part of the PNW we have plenty of problems with gophers. I have lost rhododendrons, culinary sage plants, nipeta, thyme, santolina and lavender to them as well as those things which go without mention. They just don't eat the roots, they pull the entire plant underground and leave nothing. I reckon I have lost about 1/4 of what I have planted to them.

For awhile my GR dog was good at hunting and catching them but at nearly 15 and now deaf she isn't doing the job for me anymore. The cat is 19 and has been retired since he was 9 so I am on my own.

But, yes, no such thing as gopher proof plants.


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Fritillaria imperialis comes in several colors and is unappetizing to animals. I suspect most Fritillarias are. The bulbs smell like wet skunk.


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There are a lot of different burrowing animals commonly called 'gopher'. What I dealt with in CA, I have since learned, are not technically gophers but a type of marmot. There was absolutely nothing you could do to discourage them. Planting in wire baskets gave plants a few years to get established but then the roots outgrew the basket, which had meanwhile rusted away, and the 'gophers' had free access. None of the plants purported to discourage gophers did so - they might not eat those particular plants but that didn't stop them from going around to get at the other plants. People wanted to plant a few gopher spurges and have those keep the gophers out of their garden. Dream on. Anyway yes those animals are a huge problem in the garden but I kinda gave up on trying to control or discourage them, too much work for no benefit, and just lived with it.

Here in the Puget Sound area gophers are an endangered species. These are true gophers. What Californians call gophers don't exist here. Moles are very common and most people can't tell a mole mound from a gopher mound to save their lives. It's not all that straightforward, sometimes I'll be absolutely sure a mound is clearly one or the other, and then check for the vertical tunnel of a mole mound and discover I was wrong. Moles do not eat plant roots. Voles do, and are also very common, but rarely make mounds, just burrows. Rats also burrow and eat roots.

I do not know what you would have in Oregon. You could have either the burrowing marmots, or true gophers, or even something else. The OSU flier linked above mentions 'pocket gopher' which would be a true gopher similar to what we have up here. In practice, they'd be just about impossible to get rid of since they're so solitary. As soon as you killed one, another one would take over its territory. And I've found Scotch broom chewed off at the roots by gophers so I don't know that there's anything they won't chew on. Not enough to control the broom of course, like one plant in hundreds but still!

If you've got large tunnels, and large woody roots chewed entirely off, then you probably have the burrowing marmots like in California. Pocket gophers are small critters. I doubt they'd be able to handle something as large as your (presumably nursery-bought?) apple and maple trees. If you can fit your hand in the tunnel then it's a marmot.

We're all on the same forum, but the wildlife varies greatly between Washington and Oregon. Oregon is much warmer and drier, and with very different soils, which makes all the difference when you're talking about burrowing animals.


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oregongardengal- Thanks for the trap video. I am encouraged to try one out. Lots of good videos on you tube. The gopher they show looks a lot like a vole, but perhaps an even shorter tail.


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 12, 11 at 13:36

Something, presumably a wharf rat ate a variegated crown imperial bulb I was storing in the garage one year. All that was left behind was the smell.


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

We do not have marmots at all in thedifferent parts of California I've lived in for a long time. We definitely have pocket gophers here, and they are, as everywhere, a big nuisance. They've eaten all my agapanthus, and left mounds everywhere in the lawn. I've gone to many garden lectures, and found different ways of controlling them. One fisherman near Half Moon Bay told me to put quartered fish heads down in the holes and tunnels, and that the best advice i found. But marmots??!!! No Way!!!


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

I live near the little town of Tomales CA which has a wonderful nursery that gave me list of gopher resistant plants. I looked up their website and they have the list there also. www.mostlynatives.com Mostly Natives Nursery.

I am new to the area and do not have a lot of experience with gopher resistance. There are about a billion of them in my yard and surroundings pastures though. My cat has killed many but not nearly all. There are a few old plantings around the house. Rosemary, nicotinia with yellow flowers, a beautiful purple-blue flowered Hydrangea - not the type with big billowy flowers but smaller umbels. There are several ornamental birch that look good. An apple and japanese maple that don't look great. esp the apple. An extremely large and healthy calif. oak and a curly willow.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mostly Native Nursery


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

I've been fighting gophers for years .... Usually they just pull the plants straight down under the ground, even large plants, like Sunflowers.

I've tried tons of Gopher Poison. I even poked holes in Potatoes (the gophers love Potatoes and steal ALL of my Potatoes, leaving me with NONE), and put the Gopher Poison inside the Potatoes.

I tried flooding the gopher holes, which works sometimes, but usually the water NEVER comes to the surface.

I've bought many of the Gopher Sounding Devices, which are COMPLETELY USELESS ... !!! I've stood there and watched my plants right next to the Gopher Sounding Device shaking, then disappear under the ground.

I've used Smoke Sticks, Traps, and even tried shooting them. I might have gotten lucky one time and got one ....

Somebody gave me an idea to try something different .... I've been burying many plant containers all around my garden. Have 53 containers buried now, including two Earth Boxes. Have planted seeds in 46 of those containers. Still have over 50 containers left to bury.

I've also put Juicy Fruit Gum and Rat Poison into around 100 gopher holes, which seems to be helping control the gophers, but they are still busy ....


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I have enjoyed reading the posts left on this site, though I see most of them are from 2011.
I'm always hoping for a remedy for the gophers that have plaguing our garden for over 35 years. Some seasons are better than others, but planting in the ground is definitely a gamble.
I have had them take out several established fruit trees in the past, just depends on how hungry they are, I guess. As a result I mainly plant in raised beds with screened bottoms.
I do have a message for reg_pnw7 from WA, there are indeed gophers in California, as well as many other places along the north west. Their Genus is Thomomys- western pocket gophers; and are widely distributed in North America, along the northwest US and into Canada. Thomomys bottae: AKA Botta's pocket gopher.
A Marmot is in the squirrel family; Sciuridae.
You can find a bit of information on them on line Wikipedia has a nice bit of info on them, even see a photo of the little rascals.


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Gophers are back .... I now have around 110 containers that I have buried in the ground. It seems that the gophers are pretty much not bothering the plants in the buried containers (yet ...). The gophers are even pulling down the California Poppies! I think this is the first time they have bothered the California Poppies, but I really don't mind, if that will keep them from completely destroying my best plants.

My funds are extremely limited, but I do plan on laying down chicken wire, and if possible laying some rocks over the chicken wire. I will only be able to do this with very small plots (2x3 feet, or 3x4 feet), one at a time. My health is not good, so I work very slow, sometimes extremely slow .....

I'm also experimenting with allowing some wild plants to spread naturally, like Stinging Nettle, Chickweed, Henbit, and whatever else comes up as volunteers (Tomatoes, Oregano, Thyme, Calendulas, Radishes, Mustard, Chinese Cabbage, Garlic, Onions, Potatoes). I'm hoping that by allowing the Stinging Nettles to grow wild and spread everywhere, perhaps the gophers will stay away from the Nettles mixed in with almost everything ... ??? I have not yet seen the gophers stealing any nettles.


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Here's a link to OSU's PDF about moles:
http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/18890/ec987.pdf
The insectivores (moles) can be reduced by trapping, poison baiting, or acute lead poisoning, according to this article last updated in 2002.
I try to scatter the mounds of soil before mowing, but the mower blades till get nicked up regularly.


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

I have tried many strategies to control gophers: rat poison, flares, smoke bombs, juicy fruit gum, spearmint gum, gopher pellets, traps, flooding, shooting, sound devices (lots of them, which do NOT keep away the gophers at all!!!), windmills, but the gophers continue to multiply and steal my best plants ......

This is the first year they starting stealing my California Poppies! They even suck down into the ground Weeds! BUT, I don't think they are touching the Stinging Nettles, which I have allowed to spread all over my garden. Not sure if the Nettles will help ...

I have buried 108 containers in the ground, which seems to provide safety for those plants. I might try using chicken wire, and dig up a very small spot to line with chicken wire for the fall ....

-- Jim the Wild Gardener


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RE: gopher unfriendly plants

Chicken wire has holes that are too large. Gophers can and will squeeze through. You need to use gopher wire, a little heavier gauge and smaller openings.

You can also invest in a rat terrier. Very nice dogs, by the way, friendly with people and smart, but not good to keep with cats or small furry pets.

You can also trap. But you cannot trap and release -- it is illegal in most areas. If you trap, you are responsible for disposing of the animals you catch.

Hate gophers. Hate, hate, hate 'em. Did I mention that they just killed a fig tree in my garden? I dug it up and found the roots were all chewed off.

Rosefolly


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