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Flowers & Herbs,  Pests & Disease,  Plan - Design - DIY

50+ Great Gopher Resistant Plants for California & Beyond

Last Updated on August 10, 2023

Do you live in gopher country? I feel your pain! Gophers are a giant nuisance here on the Central Coast of California. Without cages, they’ll eat and destroy everything we plant in the ground. Well, just about everything… Thankfully, there are a number of plants that gophers don’t like to eat. Read along for a list of over 50 awesome gopher-resistant plants for your landscape. As an added bonus, many of them happen to be drought-tolerant and California natives!

I’ve broken this article down into a complete list of all gopher resistant plants, as well as separate lists of gopher resistant California native plants and fruit trees/shrubs for easy reference. But first, let’s briefly familiarize ourselves with gophers, a few disclaimers, and non-toxic gopher control methods like gopher cages.

About Gophers

Gophers, also known as pocket gophers, are burrowing rodents native to North and Central America. There are over 30 different gopher species, and are mostly found in the western half of the United States as well as Florida. 

Gophers are known for their uncanny ability to destroy gardens, farms, and ornamental landscaping. They create vast networks of subterranean tunnels, and leave telltale mounds and holes at the soil surface. Gophers primarily eat plant roots, tubers, and bulbs, which can easily stunt or kill plants. They often pull entire plants underground! Our veggies wouldn’t stand a chance if they weren’t planted in raised garden beds with hardware cloth below. Learn how to build gopher-proof raised garden beds here.

Gophers are much larger than voles and moles, and significantly more destructive. Voles also eat some vegetation but less ravenously, and moles prefer non-plant food (e.g. insects, grubs, and worms).

A diagram of the lower 48 US states, there is a key just below the map showing three different rodents which  each has its own specific color for identification. For the map, moles are blue, voles are green, and gophers are red. The corresponding map shows the rodents spread across the US but mostly only the western half contains gophers while moles and voles can mostly been found throughout.

Pocket gophers are ubiquitous across the western US (including all of California, not just north and south). Image via Vole Control and Scimetrics LLC.

What plants do gophers avoid?

Gophers tend to avoid plants with a strong scent, bitter flavor, toxic sap, or similar irritating traits that make the roots, leaves, or stems less appealing to snack on. Rosemary, eucalyptus, oleander, and gopher purge are prime examples. In many cases, gopher resistant plants are also undesirable to voles, deer, rabbits, or other rodents. On the other hand, some plants are simply irresistible to gophers. In our garden, gophers are drawn to fig trees, verbena, and artichoke plants like potato chips! 

A gravel hardscaped garden is shown with wood raised beds. Next to the garden area there is a pollinator garden that is lined with rocks, it contains many rosemary, fuchsia, yarrow, lavender, salvia, and lantana.
An area of our garden that doesn’t see much gopher activity – thanks to the rosemary, California fuchsia, yarrow, lavender, salvia and lantana planted in this space.

Disclaimer and Gopher Cages

Gophers aren’t usually attracted to the “gopher resistant” plants listed below and should leave them alone for the most part. Meaning, these plants certainly won’t be their first choice when other food sources are available. However, gophers may eat just about any plant if they’re hungry enough! Young plants (of any type) are especially vulnerable to gopher damage. 

So, even if a plant is considered gopher resistant, it may be prudent to plant young or valuable plants (e.g. expensive trees) in gopher cages – particularly if you’re dealing with a very active gopher population. Cages may not be necessary with just a couple of gophers around. It’s also important to note that the gopher resistance can vary depending on the variety or cultivar of these plants. 

For example, we’re currently planting dozens of native gopher resistant plants – rock roses, catmint, yarrow, and sea daisies – but are still using flexible (moderately protective) gopher cages to offer the plants some level of protection while they get established. Roll-on mesh “speed baskets” (available in one gallon or 5-gallon sizes) are cheaper and much easier to work with than sturdier firm wire cages or DIY hardware cloth baskets, but they’ll degrade with time and gophers do occasionally chew through them. I would NOT use them for gopher-susceptible plants, but they’re perfect for this instance!    

When in doubt, use a gopher cage to protect your plants. 

A tow way image collage, the first image shows a feijoa plant sitting on top of soil inside of a 5 gallon gopher cage. The next image shows the feijoa after while it has been planted halfway, the soil only coming up to the top half of the rootball to show how the cage covers the entire root ball. More soil will be added to complete bury the root ball. Feijoa is a great, edible, gopher resistant plant to grow.
Unlike tropical guava, pineapple guava (feijoa) is part of the eucalyptus family so it is gopher resistant. Even so, we’re planting this one in a moderately protective gopher cage – just in case.

Non-Toxic Gopher Control

Whatever you do, please do NOT use gopher bait or poison to control gophers. It puts ALL animals at risk of secondary poisoning and death – including domestic pets and wildlife! All too often, curious canines, cats, birds of prey, opossums, or other predators eat poisoned gophers (or rats) and become poisoned themselves. Learn about alternative non-toxic gopher control methods here, including pre-made gopher cages, DIY cages, raised bed protection, gopher repellents, natural predators, traps, and more.

Gopher Resistant Plants: Complete List

Here is a list of over 50 plants that gophers are not attracted to. An asterisk* denotes plants I have direct experience with and can personally confirm are not bothered by gophers – at least in our garden! And we’ve been gardening where gophers are rampant for well over a decade.

  • Alliums (especially ornamental alliums) – gophers may eat garlic, onions or leeks but usually avoid them
  • Amaryllis Belladonna
  • Anemones
  • Artemisia – including wormwood, mugwort and sagebrush
  • Bearberry (groundcover manzanita)
  • Bottlebrush*
  • Breath of Heaven
  • California Buckwheat (Eriogonum)*
  • California Fuchsia (Epilobium)*
  • Catmint*
  • Ceanothus (California lilac)*
  • Citrus trees* (once established, I would cage young trees)
  • Coffeeberry (California buckthorn)*
  • Columbine
  • Coyote bush
  • Currants (Ribes)
  • Daffodils
  • Day lillies
  • Elderberry*
  • Euphorbia species – cacti and succulents in this family, along with “gopher purge” (Euphorbia lathyris)
  • Eucalyptus*
  • Ferns*
  • Fescue
  • Fountain grass and deer grass
  • Foxglove
  • Grevillea*
  • Hellebores 
  • Indian Hawthorn 
  • Lantana*
  • Lavender*

continued below…

Many lavender flowers make up the image with a bee feeding on the featured flower that is in focus.
Spanish lavender
A close up image of a small bottlebrush plant with a number of frilly red flowers. Bark mulch lays on the ground below the plant while a screen of green plants is in the background with a number of purple and pink flowers.
Bottlebrush (Little John)
A newly planted ceanothus is featured, the edges of its gopher cage is popping up out of the soil even though it is a gopher resistant plant.
Our beautiful new little Ray Hartman ceanothus (California lilac). Again, we added a relatively flimsy gopher cage to keep it safe while it’s young. It will bust out of it eventually and will be just fine.

Gopher resistant plant list (continued)

  • Manzanita*
  • Marigolds*
  • Monkeyflower (Mimulus)* 
  • Mint family* – including culinary mint or perennial shrubs like Coyote mint
  • Monterey Cypress trees
  • Mullein (Verbascum)*
  • Myoporum (ground cover)
  • Nandina (Heavenly bamboo)
  • Oleander
  • Palm trees
  • Pomegranate* (supposedly, with ‘Wonderful’ variety being the most gopher resistant)
  • Penstemon* (to varying degrees)
  • Pine trees and redwoods
  • Pineapple guava (feijoa)*
  • Rock Rose (Cistus)*
  • Rosemary*
  • Salvias and sage* – especially native perennial salvias and Mexican sage
  • Sea Thrift (Armeria)
  • Seaside Daisy (Erigeron)*
  • Society Garlic
  • Strawberry Tree* (Arbutus unedo, marina, and menziesii)
  • Thyme*
  • Toyon
  • Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)
  • Yarrow (Achillea)*
  • Yerba Mansa
  • Willowherb (Epilobium)

Culinary sage is growing amongst pincushion, salvia, lavender, cosmos flowers, and an agave in a large ceramic pot. A wall of green plants is accented by the variety of purple and white flowers.
Sages and salvias are notoriously gopher proof, including culinary sage!
A well grown in fence line that contains feijoa, bougainvillea, rosemary, fig tree, yarrow, and jasmine. A few larger trees are visible amongst the many plants.
I spy a handful of gopher resistant plants: pineapple guava, yarrow, rosemary, and salvia to name a few.
A close up image of the canopy of a strawberry tree, a few bunches of the strawberry like seed balls hang from the limbs. In the background, a tall and towering eucalyptus tree stands in the background.
Our Strawberry tree (Arbutus marina)

Gopher Resistant Fruit Trees or Shrubs

If us humans like to eat something, gophers probably do too! Unfortunately, that means there are very few gopher resistant edible plants:

  • Elderberries
  • Citrus, once established
  • Pineapple guava (feijoa)
  • Pomegranate (supposedly with ‘Wonderful’ variety being the most gopher resistant)

It’s also been reported that gophers don’t like to eat mulberry trees, avocado trees, apricots or plum trees, but we’ve had a mulberry and avocado killed by gophers! In fact, they chewed right through the basket and ate all the roots down to a nub. To be safe, I suggest putting all edibles and fruit trees in gopher baskets where gophers are a known menace. 

A close up image of a pineapple guava branch with multiple flowers on it, beyond lies the rest of the bush which is covered in flowers. Pineapple guava or feijoa is a great gopher resistant plant for many growing zones.
Pineapple guava is one of my favorite edible perennials. It’s evergreen, pest-free, beautiful, gopher resistant, cold-hardy, and provides bountiful delicious fruit to boot. Keep in mind it needs a pollinator partner to fruit though! Learn more about growing pineapple guava (feijoa) here.
DeannaCat is holding a large pomegranate fruit that has been harvested from a tree that sits just beyond. Many pomegranates are still hanging in the tree, the trees limbs heavy with fruit.
We planted our ‘Wonderful’ pomegranate in one of those flimsy gopher cages, but haven’t seen any gopher activity around it. On the other hand, we used the same style of cage for a nearby Mulberry tree and the gopher chewed through and killed the tree.
DeannaCat's hand is underneath the stump remains of an avocado root ball which has been eaten down leaving no roots whatsoever, even the main root has been chewed through.
All that is left from our poor avocado tree roots… Damn gophers!

Gopher Resistant California Native Plants

Landscaping with native plants packs a punch of benefits. Native plants support local biodiversity, wildlife and pollinators, are generally less maintenance, require no fertilizer, and here in California, have to be drought-tolerant. Even better, many California native plants are also gopher resistant! The ones that could survive constant gopher pressure here are the ones that have persisted and thrived.

  • Artemisia – including wormwood, mugwort and sagebrush
  • Bearberry (groundcover manzanita)
  • California Buckwheat (Eriogonum)
  • California Fuchsia (Epilobium)
  • California grape
  • California goldenrod 
  • Ceanothus (California lilac)
  • Coffeeberry (California buckthorn)
  • Coyote Bush
  • Fescue (California and blue)
  • Indian Hawthorn 
  • Manzanita
  • Monkeyflower (Mimulus) 
  • Penstemon (Penstemon clevelandii, spectabilis and more)
  • Pine trees and redwoods
  • Salvias and sage (e.g. Salvia clevelandii, Black sage, hummingbird sage and others)
  • Strawberry Tree (Arbutus menziesii) aka Pacific Madrone
  • Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)
  • Yarrow
  • Yerba Mansa

Sources: Personal experience, California Native Plant Society, Mostly Natives, Tasty Landscape, SF Gate

A large light purple rock rose flower with golden center is the focus of the image. Black sage branches are shooting up beyond with one of them in front of the rock rose flower, a few whitish flowers are coming off its bracts. Both of these are gopher resistant plants.
California native black sage and rock rose intermixed.
A close up image of a branch of a flowering golden monkey flower, the rest of the plant and blooms are blurred in the background of the images focus. Monkey flower is a gopher resistant plant that is native to California.
California native monkey flower

And that concludes this lesson on gopher resistant plants.

If you too struggle with gophers in your garden, I hope this gave you some great insight on plants to consider growing! Let me know if you have any questions or insight to share in the comments below. Also please consider pinning or sharing this post if you found it useful. Thank you so much for tuning in today, and happy plant shopping!

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DeannaCat signature, keep on growing.


  • Nancy S

    This is the most complete article I have found on gophers. Thank you so much for every bit of information, especially the list of plants. I plan to plant a number of gopher purge, as that has helped in the past. I have not had a gopher in 20 years and all of a sudden they are back. They are mocking me and eating all my seedlings and flowers. Ugh.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Nancy, glad you found the article so helpful and good luck on controlling your gopher population, they can be quite the pest when it comes to most things that are planted in ground.

  • Rick Rohan

    I grew up in Idaho by Caldwell. There was a bounty on gophers when I was a kid. I could get .25 cents a tail! That was a lot of money then for a kid then because there wasn’t much to go around.
    We lived with my grandparents in a rural area where they grew peaches, berries and every vegetable they could to either sell or put up for later.
    Gophers were a problem so I was busy all summer making twice daily rounds checking traps.
    I was able to keep them at bay. Once in a while one would make it into the garden where it didn’t belong but it didn’t last long.
    Just wanted to share.
    Enjoy reading what you publish.

      • Liliana

        Thanks for the list! Gophers in my garden ate the lantana roots ( it was a new plant and didn’t get a chance to get established)
        I was listening to an UC garden masters seminar about gophers and they agree with you about the cages for gopher prevention, however, they made a point about not using them for trees, if needed, only using the flimsy type so that the roots can expand as much as needed. Also, about pineapple guavas, many new varieties don’t need to cross pollinate.

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