Wildlife Resistant Plants

Spring has sprung and wildlife babies abound. Bunnies, ground squirrels, rock squirrels, gophers, javelina, deer – and for some of you reading this – elk, wild horses, and wild burros can wander by to eat your pretty plants. And some birds, like quail eat plants too.

More than One is No Fun

While a single bunny is cute, it is upsetting when a heard of them show up and decimate your landscape. To avoid the issue, select plants that are pretty-looking to you but nasty-tasting to them. There are a vast number of low-water plants that are wildlife resistant and can help create a lush-looking colorful yard.  The list of these plants is under Resources.

Yes there are a number of plants that javelina will not eat.

A Brief Announcement

I offer a series of gardening programs online on my Gardening With Soule course site. Each program comes with a video series, a plant guide, and access to my Gardening Membership community site. The community site is where I answer questions, and other members share their tips and tricks. Wildlife Resistant Plants is of the programs I am working on. Check back or sign up for the newsletter – because I will share the information when it is ready.

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Plant the Right Plants

Select plants from the lists I am building under “Resources.”

But Wait – There’s More!  Don’t stop with planting! Lush watered plant from the nursery? Compared to a tough, dry wild plant of the same species that has been growing in the wilderness for years?  That lush plant from the nursery is waaaay more edible.  It will get sampled.


Protect new plants until they become established. Your yard may be a sea of cages for a while, but that will change. Get your plants established. Then harden them off by letting them live on rainfall alone for a year. When you take the cages off, they may still get sampled. But! When the plant regrows, it will regrow with a double dose of animal resistant chemicals. Plant chemicals are expensive for a plant to make. They have to use energy that would better be used to make more branches, leaves and flowers. Thus they make animal deterring compounds only if they have to.

Antelope ground squirrel. If they don’t eat it they may burrow under it – which might kill the plant.


For very persistent bunnies, there are repellents you can apply to your landscaping. Liquid Fence is one brand. Based on garlic oil, it is very strongly scented when wet, but dries to odorless for humans. Critters can still smell it however, and will learn to avoid your yard. It can be expensive because with time as it does wash away. But in some neighborhoods you only need it in spring and summer when the babies are hungry.

A lower tech repellent solution is to buy pounds of dried hot chilies. I get them in bulk from the supermarket and scatter them around the yard. The chilies also keep the dogs off my landscape. Birds eat them however, so you must renew them every so often.

Deer are becoming better at living in our urban areas – yes even in the Southwest.

Honesty compels me to state that all wildlife resistant plants are just that – resistant. And there are many hungry animals.

Picture the rabbit clan. Albert has one bite. Then Bert has a bite. Next Culbert hops by and takes a nibble. And Dilbert tries some too. By the time Herbert hops up for a bite, your shrub is a nub!

But with careful planning, and wise planting, we can share the space with our wildlife neighbors and have it look appealing to us and yet not appealing to them.


More Resisting Pests!

soule-books-buyWant to know more about wildlife resistant gardening?    I wrote about what to do with wildlife pests each month in this book.  One reviewer said:

“A great reference book is key to successful gardening in the region where you live. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening takes the guesswork out of gardening for anyone residing in the Southwest. With this book, you’ll know what to do each month to enjoy a thriving garden all year, from January to December. Chronologically organized, this guide is full of critical gardening when-to and how-to advice, along with illustrated step-by-step instructions.

The book’s author is Jacqueline Soule, a Tucson-based gardening expert. She knows this arid region inside and out, and she’s written several articles and books packed with her gardening advice. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening showcases Soule’s expertise in one easy-to-read guide.”

Available on my book selling site – and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies – at no extra cost to you.

© Article copyright Dr. Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit. You must include a link to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.

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