Do Gophers Eat Flowers (Which Flowers are Safe?)

Gophers are rodents that, just like their groundhog cousins, like to eat all kinds of plants!

They are considered pests by most gardeners, as they munch on many types of plants including flowers – especially their bulbs and seeds. However, there are indeed gopher-resistant flowers that can be used to protect and keep them away from more vulnerable flowers in your yard.

Apart from eating flowers, they feed on roots, tubers, bulbs, tree bark, and fallen fruit, and although rarely, some insects and smaller animals.

They are solitary animals that nest underground. Most active after dawn and before dusk, gophers create extensive tunnel systems with numerous exits to the surface.

Gophers generally avoid open spaces and cultivated areas, although they may live in these types of habitats.

Their homes are extensive tunnel systems that allow them to travel quickly from one end of their territory to the other without having to brave the elements or larger predators.

Although they come out mostly to eat, they can bite humans and pets and they will make a lot of mess when they dig around your yard – so take a look at these strategies to keep them away if needed!

What are Some Gopher-resistant Flowers?

Some flowers are not only pretty and will not be touched by gophers, but they can also be used to deter gophers from your other more susceptible plants!

Some good examples of flowers that gophers do not like are:

  • Lavender (and other strongly scented flowers!)
  • Rock Rose
  • Fox Glove (highly toxic to animals!)
  • Lantana
  • Hawthorn
  • Mint
  • Sea thrift
  • Daffodils (highly toxic to animals!)
  • Wild lilac
  • Rockrose
  • Coreopsis
  • Dianthus
  • Geraniums
  • Jasmine
  • Siberian iris
  • Honeysuckle
  • Blue-eyed grass
  • Star lily

These listed flowers can all be planted with good certainty that gophers won’t eat them, although depending on the gopher species (there are many!) there will be exceptions.

I will go through some of the most important questions on flowers and gophers below:

Do Gophers Eat Daffodils?

No, gophers do not eat daffodils. This is because daffodils are poisonous due to a toxic element contained in the whole plant called lycorine.

The presence of daffodils may scare away gophers due to previous unpleasant encounters.

Because of this, daffodils can be used to keep away gophers as the toxic compound has a bitter unpleasant taste that the gopher will remember.

Do Gophers Eat Daffodil Bulbs?

No, gophers do not eat daffodils or daffodil bulbs due to their toxicity. This is because the whole plant, including the bulb of the daffodil, is toxic and therefore not pleasant for the gopher to eat.

So planting daffodils in between your other plants will remind the gopher to stay away from that area, even when it approaches from below (which it often does!).

This is a useful technique especially if gophers or groundhogs have been eating the roots of your flowers as they cannot distinguish the roots of tasty flowers from those of the bitter/toxic daffodil roots when underground.

Do Gophers Eat Geraniums?

No, gophers don’t eat geraniums. The leaves are not a very desirable food source for gophers, who are more likely to eat roots underground. Geraniums have no pleasant taste or smell for gophers, and will not be consumed.

Do Gophers Eat Daylilies?

No, gophers do for some reason not like to eat daylilies. Although gophers are not likely to just stand on the surface and munch on a daylily, they may consume their roots if they find them underground. However, this does not happen very often and yard owners generally report that daylilies are left alone by gophers.

Daylilies are cultivated for their above-ground beauty but are usually planted with other plants. The best way to avoid this problem is to ensure that gopher-safe barriers are in place around the planting beds and plantings.

What are some flowers that gophers will sometimes eat?

Do Gophers Eat Dianthus?

No, gophers will not normally eat dianthus as they are slightly toxic.

Dianthus is part of the Caryophyllaceae family, with roots typically found closer to the surface than other plants. This tempts gophers to taste them, but they rarely follow through eating the whole plant.

Dianthus flowers are not gophers’ favorite, although they may taste them occasionally.

There seems to be a bit of confusion about certain flowers out there because people report very mixed observations. This is most likely because there are some parts of the plants (e.g. bulbs) that are eaten or because they are eaten only at a certain growth stage (e.g. the sunflower).  

Do Gophers Eat Iris Bulbs?

Yes. Contrary to popular belief, most gophers actually like iris flowers even though they have a strong scent!

Gophers Eating!
Gophers Eating!

Gophers often consume iris flowers in summer or their bulbs in winter if they find them underground.

Flower bulbs are readily available food for gophers during winter when gophers go into semi-hibernation and move around less due to the lack of food sources and lower temperatures.

Gophers tend to avoid iris flowers, but the bulbs appeal to them and are more nutritious in winter.

Bulbs are easy targets for gophers in this case because they are preserved underground, making them difficult to detect by yard owners above ground.

The best way to avoid this problem is to have good gopher and groundhog deterring strategies in place near the planting beds and plantings.

Be sure that there’s no debris or vegetation growing close by as well, as these are likely locations for gophers to create tunnels and set up their territory.

Do Gophers Eat Dutch Iris?

Yes. Similar to other Iris species, gophers will eat Dutch iris, especially if they find them above their tunnels near the ground.

Most of the time, though, gopher activity is noticed after their tasty bulbs have been eaten and you’re left with a hole in the ground.

Dutch iris may be planted with other plants, as it tends to grow taller and make the gopher’s activity more noticeable.

Do Gophers Eat Sunflowers

Yes, gophers do eat sunflowers. Although gophers are not likely to just stand on the surface and munch on a sunflower due to the large size of the plant, they will consume them and their roots if they encounter them underground.

The best way to avoid this problem is to ensure that gopher-safe barriers are in place around the planting beds and plantings.

Be sure that there’s no sunflower that is falling down and make sure to keep them protected when young. You can support your sunflowers in a stake or cage so they don’t touch the ground.

How to Prevent Gophers from Eating your Flowers!

There are several methods for keeping gophers away from your flowering plants or vegetable garden.

Hand Keeping gopher away
Here comes my favorite tips to keep gophers at bay without getting too close!

Here is a list of my favorite methods!

1. Ultrasonic Sound Emitters

My absolute favorite invention to keep pests away from my backyard are these cool solar-powered ultrasonic sound emitters that you can buy right off Amazon!

They send out loud or consistent noises (that only they can hear) that will scare them away or at least shorten their visits significantly!

In my experience, they really work, and the solar panels on top save you the time and money of changing batteries all the time.  

Groundhogs and gophers, as well as other animals that may invade your garden, tend to have very good hearing.

My favorite ultrasonic emitters. Click to read more at Amazon.

2. Fencing

Fencing is the best way to keep gophers away from vegetables. Gopher-proof fencing is typically made out of poly wire, plastic mesh, or heavy-gauge wire netting.

A gopher fence to protect your plants!

You can build a simple fence to surround an entire garden or yard, or you can create individual small enclosures for each vegetable plant in the garden.

3. Gopher Traps

Use gopher traps to catch and kill gophers on the ground before they can eat your vegetables. There are several types of simple traps that you can use, but most work best if you set them after the gophers have already started chewing on your plants. I prefer those that catch them alive, so you can drive them far away and set them free.

4. Water and Fertilizer System

If you have a drip irrigation or a sprinkler system in your yard, then you can trick gophers into thinking that heavy rain is coming and that the entire area is flooded because of all the moisture.

This will discourage gophers from digging up your veggies because they prefer to stay dry when possible and because they cannot breathe in flooded tunnels!

If you don’t have a drip irrigation system then you can water your vegetable garden a bit more than usual when gophers are around. This will keep the gophers away, just like flooding the entire yard would.

5. Motion-activated sprinklers

Like most animals, gophers hate surprises, and they will run away if suddenly sprayed with water. I like this solution because it is humane, simple, effective, and does not require much time to set up and there are many models to choose from.

My favorite sprinkler option here is the Havahart 5277.

For more inspiration on how to keep gophers out of your yard, see my latest post for a full and updated list of the most effective means of keeping gophers and groundhogs out of your yard.

In summary

Gophers will eat a variety of flowers, but they prefer to munch on bulbs and roots that grow close to the surface. Keep this in mind when planting around gopher territory and you’ll be able to keep these hungry rodents out of your beds.

Gophers are rarely found in well-kept lawns that are free of debris or vegetation growing around their burrows.

However, the best way to avoid being a victim of gopher damage is to have a gopher-safe barrier in place around your planting beds.

This will serve as the first line of defense against the hungry little buggers and keep them from chowing down on your favorite plants.

If you are interested in learning some key strategies to keep gophers and other rodent pests out of your backyard – check out my list on the best ways to do so here!