Q. What are some iguana-resistant plants?

I need to plant iguana-resistant plants in our garden in Puerto Rico. How or where can I find a list of plants disliked by iguanas? These animals are invasive in our gardens.

Answer

Iguanas are strict herbivores (eat plants only) so they may be attracted to your vegetable garden if you have one.

We do not have iguanas in New York, but I understand that they can be a big problem in gardens in semi-tropical and tropical areas such as Florida and Puerto Rico. As we are not experts on this problem, you might want to contact local experts such as

Dr. Héctor Santiago-Anadón, Director
Cooperative Extension Service
Animal Science University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez
College of Agricultural Sciences
P.O. Box 9000
Mayaguez, PR 00681-9000
(787)265-3899, fax 787/833-7765
hector.santiago15@upr.e.

We were able to find some information on this topic. It is recommended that you try plants with thick leaves and stems. Strong-smelling herbs, such as rosemary and sage, are also good choices.  Some other recommendations are:

  • agaves and cacti
  • begonias
  • bromeliads - flowers may be eaten but not the leaves
  • bush alamanda (Alamanda schottii)
  • crown-of-thorns (Euophorbia milii)
  • Dracaena
  • glory flower (Eccremocarpus scaber) and glory bower (Chlerodendrum trichotomum)
  • Heliconia
  • jade plant (Crassula ovarta)
  • Lantanas (L. camaris)
  • Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)
  • oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • pentas or Egyptian star (P. lanceolata)
  • tropical gingers such as Alpinia purpurata or A. zerumbet

Note: See this discussion of iguana control by dogs.

For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service

  • Last Updated Apr 02, 2018
  • Views 8680
  • Answered By Anita Finkle

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Comments (13)

  1. Bought 100 pentas, was told iguanas do not eat these. Well they ate everything. So, they had a great appetizer! Never seen so many in my yard before.
    by Sharon Matherne on Jul 09, 2016.
  2. Here in South Florida, our crown-of-thorns were destroyed by the iguanas. I have photos of the iguanas laying atop the small hedge of plants, lazily munching on the red flowers and new leaves. After a few weeks, all that was left was crushed stems. This is repeating itself throughout our area.
    My bromeliads are thriving!
    by Linda Berger on Nov 05, 2017.
  3. Iguanas will definitely eat crown-of-thorns and pentas from this list, but we’ve found they don’t eat: agaves, cordylines (various varieties), oleander, and have also had good luck with crotons if they are not too close to where they thrive, plumbago, Carissa boxwood, green island ficus, Texas silver sage, ornamental grasses, desert rose, dracena, bromeliads and palms.
    by Ann on Mar 22, 2018.
  4. Iguanas will definitely eat begonias.
    by Troy on May 31, 2018.
  5. I have had luck with iguanas not eating my angelonias, bulbines, society garlic, purslane, almond bush, tibouchina, alamanda, texas sage, cordylines, pink muhly grass oh and my bromeliads. they have eaten my marigolds, caladium, elephant ear if it is small, my mangos down to the seed (they do not eat the leaves just the fruit) and lots of poop
    by joso61 on Jun 17, 2018.
  6. Iguanas destroyed the crown of thorns...and just like a previous post, they could be seen just lazing on top of the hedge of plants...so much for the thorns. Our bromeliads continue to be safe. The crotons and two of our orange ixora plants were stripped bare.
    by Linda on Oct 04, 2018.
  7. We have not had iguanas eat Mexican heather, walking iris, the grasses, dracaena, bird of paradise or dwarf jasmine. Do they eat firecracker plants?
    Thanks
    by Shelley on Oct 08, 2018.
  8. I have an 8 foot row of gardenia bushes in my yard. Just saw 1 of the few iguanas there eating their leaves . The bushes are almost bare now.
    by Marilyn on Apr 30, 2019.
  9. Trying the Angel Trumpet plant. Hope the 20 iguanas that are hanging out in my backyard like them. 1 is cute, but we have an invasion here in south florida.
    by Seajill on May 05, 2019.
  10. They have devoured all of my gardenia plants and snacked on my croton. My bromeliads are all safe. They love hibiscus too.
    by Carina on May 16, 2019.
  11. They are my purple angel trumpet plant leaves.
    by Meli Mel on Jul 12, 2019.
  12. THEY ATE ALL MY NEWLY PLANTED CROTONS. WE'VE BEEN LIVING AT THIS HOME IN SOUTH FLORIDA FOR 14-15 YEARS; PLANTED CROTONS BEFORE, WHICH WERE NEVER TOUCHED, BUT THIS GUY SEEMS HELL BENT ON IT. HE ATE ALL THE NEWLY PLANTED ONES (4/5) LAST SUNDAY AND IS NOW ATTACKING THE PREVIOUSLY PLANTED ONES.......ARGHH! HELP!
    by Carol Huggins on Jul 20, 2019.
  13. Iam gardener for 10 years in Miami and I see the destrucción of garden plants for iguanas is minimum. Only few customers made complain for destruction of plants for iguanas. The iguanas dont eat Clusia, trinetes,green island,cocoplum...The iguanas eat a lot of grass.
    by julio on Aug 07, 2019.

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