What Animals Are Eating Your Lavender Plants and Bushes? (+ How to Stop Them!)
Do you suspect something or someone is raiding your lavender plants? It can be frustrating and highly disheartening to see your beautiful lavender bushes ruined overnight. Who can cause so much damage under your nose? Or the better question is, what animals eat lavender plants?
To help you identify the culprit for your damaged lavender plants, we will investigate the most common animals that terrorize our backyards. These include:
- Gophers or voles,
- Rabbits, and
- Chipmunks or Squirrels.
We’ll cover their eating habits and preferences, evidence they may leave at the crime scene, and, most importantly, how to prevent them from striking again.
So grab your magnifying glass because we have a mystery case to solve!
What Animals Eat Lavender Plants?
We understand the devastating feeling you experience when you realize a visitor in the night has destroyed your immaculately groomed lavender bushes. All that love, time, and effort into cultivating the perfect blooming lavender was hastily stolen away.
Several garden pests could be eating your lavender plants. Fortunately, each animal will leave a trail of evidence to help you identify them. Once we have confidently identified the offender, we can devise solutions to prevent them from future raids.
Interestingly, lavender flowers have a spicy scent that deters many animals. In fact, they are so pungent that they can be used as an effective deterrent for keeping these nuisance animals out of your garden. They also contain a chemical called S-linalool that can be mildly toxic. Throughout our investigation, we’ll identify the animals deterred by lavender and cross them off our suspects’ list.
Time is of the essence, so let’s begin!
Do Raccoons Eat Lavender Plants?
First up on the suspects’ list is the tenacious raccoon.
Raccoons are one of those garden pests that can genuinely frustrate gardeners. They are incredibly agile and can access almost all parts of a garden with their excellent climbing abilities.
Raccoons are intelligent creatures, which makes it challenging when trying to raccoon-proof (if there is such a thing!) your precious garden produce and flowers.
They are often seen dumpster diving in household bins because they have a similar pallet to humans. That said, if there are hungry enough, they will happily dine on flowers, including lavender.
Raccoons will eat your entire lavender plant, flowers, leaves, and stems.
Raccoons will not only eat the beautiful flowers. They will also devour the plant stems and leaves, devastating your lovely lavender bushes.
The easiest way to recognize when a raccoon is raiding your garden is because they will leave their paw prints behind and droppings while they forage.
How to Stop Raccoons from Eating Your Lavender
Given their dexterity and smarts, raccoons are a challenge to keep away from your lavender.
Fences are no defense against raccoons because they can scale them. Even if you have an enclosed net around your plants, they will find the weakness and scramble their way in.
The best method of keeping pesky raccoons away is by smell. They have a highly acute sense of smell. Sprinkle blood meal around your garden, and lavender bushes are an effective method of keeping them away. Hopefully, they will catch a whiff of your smelly garden and move on to less offensive grounds.
If you don’t have blood meal on hand, try a concoction of minced garlic and chili powder mixed into water and spray it around the leaves of your vulnerable plants.
Finally, try growing plants that are prickly along the fence lines (like cucumber plants) that your raccoons tend to favor. They detest the feeling on their paws.
Do Deer Eat Lavender Plants?
Deer can be a gardener’s worst nightmare.
They can devastate an entire garden in a single night, especially if they come with friends. Deer systematically work their way through a garden, stripping leaves and flowers from trees and plants.
But we have some good news!
Lavender is one of those plants that the deer will avoid due to its aromatic aroma. Well, it may be an aroma to us, but it probably smells offensive to deer.
Nonetheless, deer can still avoid lavender but snack on the other tasty treats in your garden. You can generally tell when deer have raided your garden. They are messy eaters, and they usually tear leaves and plants. Branches will be stripped bare of any leaves, and there will also be deer droppings on the ground.
How to Stop Deer from Eating Lavender
We have just discovered that we don’t need to do anything about deer eating your lavender. They will avoid it like the plague.
You may still want to keep deer out of your garden to protect your other vulnerable plants. Here are a few options:
- Use a deer repellent around the perimeter of your garden. Commercial options are available online (like Amazon) or at your local nursery supply store. However, we recommend researching before spraying any repellent on vegetables or parts of your garden that you intend to consume.
- Hang bars of soap on a rope around the garden. Deer have a sensitive smell, and they will smell the soap a mile away. Most wild deer associate soap scent with humans, making them extra cautious when they catch a whiff of the smell around your garden.
- In the same vein, try sprinkling human hair clippings around the garden. Again, the smell of humans around your garden will scare deer away and keep your garden safe.
Do Chipmunks or Squirrels eat Lavender Plants?
Chipmunks and squirrels are one of the cleverer little garden pests to frustrate home gardeners. These little animals are tough to keep out of the garden due to their small and nimble nature.
Chipmunks and squirrels have extraordinary climbing abilities, able to scale most vertical surfaces. And their propensity to jump over large distances (especially from tree to tree) means even the tallest fence will not keep them out of your garden.
But are squirrels and chipmunks the culprits in the mystery of your eaten lavender plants?
If given a choice, squirrels and chipmunks will choose not to eat lavender. Like other animals, the pungent odor is enough to deter them.
However, they will overcome their sensitivities and eat your lavender when given no choice due to a lack of other food options.
You can tell when chipmunks and squirrels have been snacking on your lavender because they leave tell-tale signs. They tend to favor newer growth and tender shoots. They are also messy eaters. Rather than leave the flowers on the plant, they will break them off, nibble them, and then drop them on the ground.
How to Prevent Chipmunks and Squirrels from Eating Your Lavender
It sounds counter-intuitive. However, chipmunks and squirrels are simply looking to survive. One of the best ways (and most humane ways) to keep these pests from eating your lavender is to feed them.
If you provide a steady food and water source, you can deter them from eating your prized plants, including your lavender.
This method is called a sacrificial garden and involves planting various fruit trees and native plants for your local fauna to enjoy.
If you decide to follow this path, we’d recommend growing the sacrificial garden far away from your lavender plants. This way, they won’t be enticed to explore other options to satiate their seemingly bottomless stomachs.
Do Gophers (or Voles) eat Lavender Plants?
Although gophers are more giant than voles, their eating habits and ways of living are similar.
Both live in burrows underground, and their forage around gardens for meals, often eating plant life and roots. And unfortunately for you, both will predate your lovely lavender bushes.
However, unlike the raccoon, gophers and voles tend to go for the tender roots of your lavender bushes rather than the flowers and leaves.
Gophers will also dig around the roots of the lavender plant and uproot them if they are too close to their tunnels. They will also eat lavender flowers when hungry enough. However, their preference is roots, bulbs, and tender shoots.
Voles, on the other hand, will generally stick to the roots. When it comes to flowers, their only interest is when they are in bulb form at ground level.
So if you see your lavender flowers looking sad and droopy, with evidence that the dirt has been disturbed around the base of the plant, you may have gophers or voles in your garden.
How to Prevent Gophers and Voles from Eating Lavender Root
Gophers and voles are intelligent, scavenging creatures. They are efficient burrowers, which means fences will not prevent them from entering your garden.
Like other garden pests, their sense of smell is your greatest defense.
If you find their burrows, sprinkle Epsom salts or castor oil at the entrance to prevent them from using it as an entry point.
In a similar vein to deterring deer and squirrels, try spreading human hair clippings around your plants to discourage them from approaching your crops. The smell of human hair will trick them into thinking a threat is around, and they should retreat to safer grounds.
Do Rabbits Eat Lavender Plants?
The cute little rabbit is the final animal on our suspects’ list of common garden pests.
But don’t let their adorable appearance fool you. They are a menace to home gardeners, popping out in the twilight hours and munching on all the nutritious vegetation.
Unfortunately for us, rabbits are not deterred by the strong smell of lavender flowers. They will happily chew through the new shoots on your lavender bush, chewing on them until there is only a stub of hardwood left.
It is easy to identify if rabbits have been visiting your garden. Like deer and raccoons, rabbits defecate while they feed, leaving little piles of round feces around your plants.
How to Prevent Rabbits from Eating Lavender Plants
Since rabbits are ground-dwelling animals, fencing around your garden is the obvious and most effective form of prevention. Erecting a fence around your entire perimeter, which is at least 4-6 feet high, will be effective for keeping rabbits out of your garden.
One consideration is a rabbit’s ability to burrow. It isn’t uncommon for rabbits to dig under fences to access the sweet leafy greens on the other side.
Check out this video for installing an easy rabbit-proof fence by the Millennial Gardener.
What Animals Eat Lavender Plants – Closing Comments
So who is the prime suspect in your case of “Who is eating your lavender plants?“
Each case is unique and depends on the suspects in your garden.
We can rule out the pests that are deterred by the pungent aroma of lavender, such as deer, chipmunks, and squirrels. However, if the rest of your garden has been devastated, deer may still be an offender.
Gophers or voles may be responsible if you find your lavender plant’s roots eaten.
If you see round droppings and the new shoots on your lavender have disappeared, you can be confident that rabbits are finding their way into your garden.
Whoever is responsible, we have provided you with a plan for identifying and preventing these common garden pests from doing any further damage.