En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
4 ratings

Sunday - August 22, 2010

From: Eugenia, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Pests
Title: Eliminating muskrats from a cottage garden in Ontario
Answered by: Anne Bossart


We have perennial gardens at our cottage and for the first time this year the muskrats have come and leveled everything..shasta daisies, coneflowers, day lilies, phlox, etc. Any suggestions as to how to keep them out of the garden?


Wow!  We have heard about problems with deer and rabbits all over North America,  groundhogs and beavers in the north and armadillos in the south, but yours is the first query about muskrats.

The bad news is that you are fighting a losing battle.  Building some kind of enclosure to exclude them is out of the question at a cottage.  The good news is that they are not an official "species at risk" so you could trap and relocate the offender(s).

What we really recommend is that you rethink the idea of perennial gardens at your cottage.  Take a close look at what they don't eat (if there is anything) and plant more of that.  You may not end up with a perennial garden filled with the ornamentals you were thinking of, but you can create an attractive, low maintenance garden made up of plants that are native to the area.  Wandering through the woods with an eye for plants that could be used in a "garden" might be quite revealing.  We also recommend you visit the Evergreen.ca plant database for suggestions.Once you have an idea of what types of shrubs and herbaceous flowering plants thrive in your area (and are ignored by the muskrats) you should be able to purchase varieties of those plants at your local nursery.

I am wondering whether you are really dealing with a groundhog and not a muskrat because of the total devastation and the fact that muskrats feed primarily on aquatic vegetation, but it's a moot point when all your coneflowers are gone!  Good luck.


More Pests Questions

Mosquito repelling plants from Euless TX
July 24, 2013 - Are there any shade loving plants that repel mosquitoes for North Central Texas? I checked your site and saw nothing on this topic.
view the full question and answer

Mealy bugs on plants in Washington, DC
July 07, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, There is this white stuff, looking like snow flakes, that is attacking my office plants. I use gasduster to blow it off of them, but that does not stop it from reappearing. Wh...
view the full question and answer

Spots on non-native naval orange trees from Stockton CA
October 20, 2012 - I have two mature Navel Orange trees. One tree has developed spotty chlorophyl depleted areas that were not on the oranges when they were smaller. In addition, the oranges on both trees are smaller ,...
view the full question and answer

Will Canada geese eat Asclepias tuberosa from Cape May Court, NJ
May 20, 2014 - Will Canada geese eat my butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)? I know this plant is deer resistant. I really want to plant some on sandy bank near pond in my back yard, but I fear the geese will ...
view the full question and answer

Yucca with halticotoma valida bugs in Burleson TX
April 18, 2010 - I have had Yucca plants in my yard for 10 years, but this year is the first time I have seen halticotoma valda, and there are thousands of them. How do I get rid of them? are they harmful to the plan...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center