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The CSU Extension in Gilpin County helps mountain residents improve their quality of life by offering a website, classes and programs that provide unbiased, research-based information on forestry, wildfire, wildlife, mountain gardening, noxious weeds and many other issues. Through our 4-H programs, we help youth develop life skills through leadership opportunities.

Critter Resistant Plants for the Mountains   arrow

Critter Resistant Plants for the Mountains


In general, animals are discouraged by:

  • Very aromatic plants
  • Prickles and spines
  • Tough, leathery leaves
  • Toxic plants
  • Milky sap

No list is foolproof; a hungry animal will eat just about anything, including poisonous plants.

Newly transplanted plants are more likely to be eaten –esp. those from nurseries, but even those moved within a garden.

Cultural controls such as removing brush piles or other protective cover and blocking off the underside of low decks where rabbits and ground squirrels hide and nest may help. Provide open areas in the landscape – small mammals tend to avoid open spaces that make them vulnerable to predators.

Many odor repellents are ineffective with rabbits, so read labels carefully before buying them. Something that works for deer may not work with rabbits. Some products are labeled for both. What works in one persons’ yard may not work in another person’s yard.

Fencing with chicken wire fencing, hardware cloth or flexible netting at least two feet high, buried 4-8 inches under is fairly effective. However, this can be unsightly, and/or expensive

Bigger plants are more able to withstand nibbling.

Plant deterrent plants surrounding the more delectable plants.


Alliums, Allium spp.
Sagebrushes, Artemisia frigida and ludoviciana
Basket of Gold , Aurinia saxatilis
Bee balm, Monarda spp.
Black Eyed Susan , Rudbeckia hirta
Blanketflower, Gaillardia spp.
Bleeding Heart , Dicentra spectabilis
Blue Flax , Linum lewisii
Clustered bellflower, Campanula glomerata
Catmints, Nepeta spp.
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Cleome, Cleome serrulata
Columbine (marginal), Aquilegia spp (protect when newly planted!)
Golden smoke, Corydalis aurea
Creeping Oregon Grape Holly , Mahonia repens
Creeping Phlox , Phlox subulata
Creeping baby’s breath, Gypsophila repens
Daffodils * , Narcissus spp.
Delphinium , Delphinium spp. ‘
Dianthus, Dianthus spp.
Dragon’s head , Dracocephalon spp
Engelmann Ivy, Parthenocissus quinquefolia engelmannii
Golden Banner, Thermopsis divaricarpa
Goldenrod, Solidago spp.
Hardy Geraniums, Geranium spp
Irises — bearded and native Iris missouriensis, Siberian Iris , Iris sibirica
Jacob’s Ladder , Polemonium caeruleum
Kinnikinnick , Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Lily-of-the-Valley , Convallaria majalis
Locoweed, Oxytropis
Lupine , Lupinus spp.
May Night Salvia , Salvia sylvestris x ‘Mainacht’
Mexican Hat , Ratibida columnifera
Monkshood , Aconitum spp.
Oriental poppy, Papapever orientale
Pearly everlasting, Anaphalis margaritacea
Penstemon , Penstemon spp.
Piqsqueak , Bergenia spp.
Poppies, Papaver spp.
Prince’s Plume, Stanelya
Purple Flowering Sage , Salvia nemorosa
Pussytoes , Antennaria
Sage , Artemisia
Sea Pink , Armeria maritima
Sedum, Stone Crop
Showy daisy, Erigeron spp.
Snow-in-Summer , Cerastium tomentosum
Soapwort , Saponaria ocymoides
Sulphur flower, Eriogonum umbellatum
Tansy aster, Macaeranthera tanacetifolia
Thyme, Thymus species
Veronica, Veronica spp.
Yarrow, Achillea spp.


Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca ) *
Blue Avena Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) *


Alpine Currant (Ribes alpinum)
Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa)
Arnold Red Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica ‘Arnold Red’)
Boulder Raspberry (Rubus delicious)
Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius)
Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster lucidus)
Gambel Oak (Quercus gambelii)
Potentilla (Potentilla spp.)
Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus)
Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Tall Western Sage (Artemisia tridentata)
Three Leaf Sumac (Rhus trilobata)
Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)

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