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

Petals not developing on blackeyed susans from Nashville TN
July 05, 2011 - I have an established "patch" of black eyes susans. This year, the leaves are beautiful, the centers black..but the petals are practically non existent. They didn't seem to develop correctly. Any...
view the full question and answer

Larvae swimming in water with plant cutting
September 09, 2010 - When you take a cutting from a plant and put it in water and bring it in your home a couple of days later you notice larvae swimming around, what is that?
view the full question and answer

What's invading my bermuda grass?
June 11, 2013 - Our grass is being totally overrun by this weed.(I don't know what the name is identify it by the description. It is in Bermuda grass and the only way to describe the weed is to say it looks like big...
view the full question and answer

Mosquito problem from Mesa AZ
April 07, 2014 - We have a mosquito problem in our backyard, I think they're grass Mosquitos. I wanted to get lemongrass for a deterrent but both nurseries were out so I opted for rosemary. They're ALL OVER the rose...
view the full question and answer

Cenizos browning in Houston
October 01, 2011 - After this horrible drought, I am committed to xeriscaping with native Texas plants. The few hibiscus that survived have been transplanted into pots and are thriving. I bid the tiny boxwoods a fond fa...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center