Plants Vs. Zombies - Survival: ENDLESS! - Guide for Plants Vs. Zombies

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Written by Jason Long (evilbob)
Copyright (c)2009 Jason Long.  All rights reserved.

This guide may not be reposted, in whole or in part, without my written 
permission.  The only website that has permission to display this FAQ is  For questions contact me at evilbob65535 at yahoo dot com.

      Searchable Table of Contents

Copy, Control+F, and Paste the codes in [] to search for something quickly.

0. Version History                   [0VERH]

1. What This Guide Does              [1WTGD]

2. Theory                            [2THRY]
  2a. Tips and Tricks                [2THY1]
  2b. Lexicon                        [2THY2]

3. Garlic Funnels (30-40 flags)      [3FUNL]
  3a. Phase 1                        [3FNL1]
  3b. Phase 2                        [3FNL2]
  3c. Phase 3                        [3FNL3]
  3d. Phase 4                        [3FNL4]
  3e. Phase 5                        [3FNL5]
  3f. Variations                     [3FNL6]

4. Fuming Arrow Head (70-100 flags)  [4AROW]
  4a. Phase 1                        [4ARW1]
  4b. Phase 2                        [4ARW2]
  4c. Phase 3                        [4ARW3]
  4d. Phase 4                        [4ARW4]
  4e. Phase 5                        [4ARW5]
  4f. Variations                     [4ARW6]

5. Other Ideas                       [5OTHR]

6. Thanks                            [6THNK]

            Version History

1.00 - 6/4/09
Guide complete.  Garlic Funnels strategy detailed.  Guide posted to

2.00 - 6/24/09
Complete overhaul of guide, including structure.  Arrow Head strategy 

2.10 - 6/26/09
Updated all strategies; added some theory.

2.15 - 6/28/09
Updated arrow head to fuming arrow head.

          What This Guide Does

This FAQ is not a walkthrough nor is it intended as a general game guide.  For 
an excellent general guide, please see curby's FAQ/walkthrough on

This guide deals specifically with one of the final challenges in the game:  
Survival:  Endless.  This challenge is unlocked after completing all other 
Survival games (and beating the adventure mode).  The purpose is quite simple:  
survive for as many flags as possible during a never-ending onslaught of 
zombies.  It is set on the "pool" level during the day, and almost every 
zombie in the game may attack at some point (including normally roof-specific 
and night-specific zombies).  It is incredibly challenging and can take hours 
to play just one game.

This guide has been heavily influenced by curby's guide and other reader 
submissions and it should be noted that the bulk of credit for the core 
strategies presented here goes to the people in the "Thanks" section.  curby's 
original strategy is what inspired me to create this guide and expand upon 
these strategies for the special considerations that happen in Survival:  

Note that this guide will not talk about the basics of the game.  It assumes 
you have completed the game's adventure mode, unlocked Survival:  Endless, and 
purchased all possible plants and seed slots from the game's store.


Survival:  Endless creates a special set of circumstances that are really 
unlike anything else in Plants vs. Zombies.  First, it is truly a random game 
each time.  The first two phases ("phase" is my term for the period of time 
between your ability to choose new plants; I also call this a "level") always 
seem to have two flags each, but after that you may have 2 flags each phase or 
it might switch to 3 or even 4.  Typically bungee zombies and balloon zombies 
don't show up until phase 4, but I have seen balloons (rarely) as early as 
phase 2.  And once you get past 30 flags or so, almost any combination of 
zombies can show up at any time.  Second, all of your purchased seeds - such 
as gloom-shrooms and twin sunflowers - go up in price for each unit that is 
already on the field.  For example, gloom-shrooms cost 150 sun for the first 
one placed on the field and 200 for the second one (there is no upper limit to 
these price increases!).  If you lose all of them, the cost will drop back to 
150.  This makes the most useful plants the most expensive as well - and it 
plays into strategy considerations.

Because of all this, the well-crafted strategies presented in curby's 
excellent walkthrough don't really hold up over 20+ flags.  His original 
strategy - which I have called "Garlic Funnels" - works very well in the 
normal and hard survival levels and throughout the main game.  My 
interpretation of this strategy can be found in section 3.  Some of the best 
principles presented in this strategy are:

- Multiple gloom-shrooms doing area-of-effect damage to overlapping areas are 
a powerful force and the main key to all strategies.  Their 360 degree attack 
radius is extremely useful.
- A column of winter melons provides an excellent slowing effect over the 
entire field, which is absolutely essential in allowing other plants more time 
to do damage.  They should be used in the first (leftmost) column to help 
combat imps that make it to the back lines.
- Cob cannon are a powerful tool (although expensive both in terms of sun and 
space) that can help by providing a sun-free "instant" (or instant kill) that 
hits a wide area.
- Spikerocks are one of the most effective tools against gargantuars (and 
vehicles) because they slow them down.  They're also extremely nice to have 
against all land-based zombies as they seem to do area damage as well.

These are excellent tenets and work very well throughout the game.  A few 
other theories of plant placement and design are:

- Early on, you want as many sunflowers on the field as you can keep up with.  
This is true of any resource-management game.  The benefits are tremendous and 
will help you ramp up your strategy quickly as sun production is crucial.
- Late-game, twinflowers are your best source of income for space reasons.  4 
is the minimum you can scrape by with but more is always better.
- Single-target plants are just not useful (with one exception:  cattails).  
Hordes of zombies require area-of-effect damage.  Additionally, anything that 
only effects one zombie at a time - like magnets - becomes useless in late 
levels due to the extreme number of zombies.
- Due to the above, even winter melons and melon-pults are not that powerful 
as offensive units because their initial damage is more than their splash 
damage (although winter melons' slow effect is crucial).  Only fume-shrooms 
and gloom-shrooms do true area-of-effect damage against all targets in their 
- Speaking of melons, when it comes to melon-pults vs. winter melons, both 
types do the same amount of damage, and despite what is written in the Almanac 
in the game, fire at the exact same rate.  Also worth noting is that zombonis 
are immune to being slowed.
- No amount of distance attacks (melons or fume-shrooms) can combat catapult 
zombies quickly enough to destroy them before they can take out your back-most 
plants, so umbrellas are still required for column 1 protection.
- Pumpkin everything!  Pumpkins are one of your most powerful defensive tools 
and you should use them liberally and keep them repaired.
- Pool rows are the "safest" rows because vehicles and gargantuars never 
appear in these rows.  The most valuable and vulnerable plants should be 
placed here.

Moving the bulk of your offensive units to the pool rows is especially key, 
since all land rows are more vulnerable.  Cob cannon in particular cannot be 
protected with pumpkins since they are two spaces wide, so it is vital that 
they be in the pool area.  The only zombies that pose a serious threat to pool 
plants are dolphins (and they really only attack specific columns) and jack-
in-the-boxes (which can destroy any plant in a 9-square area).  However, any 
plant in the four (and sometimes five) right-most rows can be targeted, so 
they all need protection with pumpkins.

However, even these principles can only get you so far.  Another important 
point is your defense against some of the rare but dangerous zombies such as 
catapults, bungees, and balloons.  These are tricky because they attack very 
differently than other zombies.  You also need a powerful defense against 
diggers and imps, since they will ravage your rear-guard plants extremely 
quickly.  Many readers have helped by sending in these suggestions:

- Cattails are extremely useful against balloon zombies, and they do small 
amounts of damage to diggers and imps as well.  They always target fliers, and 
then after that the rear-most zombie (whatever is closest to the house).  They 
shoot quickly but their main weakness is that they are single-target 
attackers.  Additionally, once a shot is fired, it will not redirect to 
another target if the original target dies.  However, two cattails will 
completely defend against all balloon onslaughts, even in late levels.
- Umbrella leaves are powerful defensive units, especially for your back 
(leftmost) row.  Catapult zombies will pelt your rear plants mercilessly and 
bungees will snatch you up, so having at least two umbrellas protecting your 
leftmost 3 rows is a great defense for little cost.  However, while powerful, 
they are not necessary to defend against bungees on the rest of the field if 
you have at least two gloom-shrooms protecting each plant.  So long as at 
least two (more is always better) can attack a specific square, plants in that 
square are safe from bungee zombies.  This does not help against catapults, 
- Speaking of bungees, they never attack cob cannon - so these plants don't 
need any defenses against them.
- Additional gloom-shrooms on your second column (from the left) help kill 
diggers quickly.  A total of four gloom-shrooms on the land rows in this 
column will decimate the diggers and help protect that area from imps and 
bungees, although they are not a 100% defense and your pumpkins still need 
some monitoring.

And finally, a key issue in many of the designs in this guide becomes the very 
fine line between defending your front line against jack-in-the-boxes and 
against zombonis and gargantuars.  Somewhat ironically, to defend well against 
jack-in-the-boxes you need to move your defenses forward, since they need time 
to arm themselves and the longer they are on the field, the more likely they 
are to explode - but to defend well against vehicles and gargantuars you need 
to push your defenses back, so your damage-dealing plants have more time to do 
their thing.  Figuring out the optimal placement for your defenses is one of 
the biggest challenges to Survival:  Endless.

Adding all of these principles together makes for some excellent theory around 
which the designs below are based.  The rest of this guide will detail 
specific strategies and give step-by-step instructions how to achieve them.  
It is recommended to read through the entire plan for each before starting.

Tips and Tricks

These are some of my personal suggestions and tricks.

- All plants should be unlocked/purchased; 10 seed slots purchased; always 
start with a rake (it's worth it).
- Go crazy with sunflowers early on; don't worry about planting over them 
later.  If you get at least 3 sun from a sunflower, it was worth your time.
- Keep your pumpkins healthy!  Pumpkins have 3 stages:  healthy, wounded, and 
almost dead.  Healthy pumpkins cannot be replaced.  Wounded ones have a chip 
across the top and other damage - the chip is the most noticeable, though.  
Almost dead pumpkins have severe holes in them and are hard to miss.  
Generally speaking, it seems like pumpkins appear "wounded" around 60% health, 
and almost dead close to 20-30% health.  For this reason, I tend to replace 
pumpkins almost immediately when they are wounded.
- About the imitater:  I always choose pumpkin when using the imitater.  While 
the versatility of this plant is amazing, it sadly has about a half-second 
delay in deploy time:  making it juuuust barely useless for instants and other 
plants you need to lay down while zombies are attacking.  It'd be GREAT as a 
backup cherry bomb; sadly, it will die before it can explode unless nothing is 
near it.  This, plus the fact that it cannot duplicate other purchased plants, 
makes it best used for adding to defenses - especially since you need to keep 
your pumpkins healthy and almost every plant needs a pumpkin.
- Feel free to pause (space bar) as often as you can and take a quick look 
around:  see what's coming, see where your recharge timers are, and see if 
anything is conspicuously missing from your lines.  Check your pumpkins often!
- Sun maxes out at 9990.  That sounds like a lot but you will easily use all 
of it and still die with no sun left.  Getting to maximum sun is a priority.
- One good game can last hours - easily 3 to 6, even going quickly - but you 
can pause as much as you'd like and come back later.  I suggest doing so.
- If you're trying to make money, I recommend curby's Gold Farming Guide on instead.  You can easily grab over 100,000 coins when you play to 
over 60 flags, but it takes forever and requires lots of effort.  curby's 
method is short and easy!
- And lastly, just remember that you're always fighting a losing battle:  so 
don't sweat it.  :)


The period of time between which you can select plants I call a "phase" or a 
"level".  This starts as two flags but may get as high as four.  Some 
strategies may need slight adjustment based on how many flags happen during 
your first 4 or 5 phases.  Generally speaking, shorter phases are easier, 
although longer phases mean you have both a harder time during difficult 
phases and a longer recovery time during easier phases.

Each strategy has a key associated with it which will describe the plants used 
for that phase.  I have generally borrowed this layout and key from curby's 
FAQ because it is excellent.

I like to think of each game of Survival:  Endless as having four main stages.  
The first stage is the beginning:  flags 1 through 10 or so, when you're 
creating your defense.  Zombies come (relatively) slowly at this point, giving 
you lots of time to build yourself up and gather sun.  Simple defenses work 
against them and this part is most like the rest of the game.  By about the 
12th flag, you should pretty much have everything ready, because then you 
enter stage 2.  This is levels 12 through 20, and this is when the game is 
actually extremely easy - to the point that you can walk away from your 
computer with confidence.  The zombie levels are ramping up slowly and you 
already have everything in place.  You still have plenty of time to adjust or 
tweak as necessary.  If you're trying to make money (coins), this is the ideal 
time to plant a gold magnet.  During this part, you should be getting up to 
9990 sun (the maximum you can get) and generally taking it easy.  After that 
is stage 3, or 20-32 flags, which is much like stage 2 except you actually 
have to watch the game.  This is when some of the more difficult zombies start 
to appear, although they are still easily handled at this point.  However, 
some interaction on your part is required.  It also makes for good practice 
for things to come.  Stage 4 really starts after about 33 or 34 flags, and 
this is when the game starts getting difficult.  At this point, you'll be 
facing more zombies and the random assortment of zombies becomes more 
difficult.  Suddenly gargantuars and vehicles are a lot more common, as are 
jack-in-the-boxes.  Even regular zombies start to become tricky simply because 
there are so many of them.  This stage lasts indefinitely, although the 
zombies continue to gather in greater numbers and I believe move just slightly 
faster as the game goes on.

Additionally, this guide typically uses the following description when 
describing the field, which was effectively borrowed from curby's guide:

    1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
  1 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
  2 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  <-- zombies go this way
  3 _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _
  4 _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _
  5 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
  6 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Rows and columns are numbered starting with the top left.  Additionally, I 
sometimes refer to the right side of the board as the "front" and the left 
side as the "rear" or back of the field.  The middle two rows are also called 
the "pool" rows and the rest of the rows are "land" rows.

             Garlic Funnels

This is one of the simpler strategies that works extremely well throughout the 
main game.  My best Endless record is 37 flags using the original version this 
strategy, although I have updated it with new theories that should make it 
much stronger and I think the variation at the end of this section would also 
help.  Although more powerful strategies exist, this is included both to serve 
as a guide for build principles and because it works very well throughout the 
main game.  Credit for the core theory goes to curby.

The core idea here is to use garlic to funnel zombies from rows 1 and 6 into 
rows 2 and 5, where they are then subjected to gloom-shroom attacks from the 
pool rows.  The gloom-shrooms on the pool rows take care of themselves.  It 
also uses a healthy dose of umbrella leaves to protect all rows, and has well-
protected cob cannon to supplement the defense.  Its main strengths are a low 
cost and ease of setup and maintenance.  Its main weaknesses are vehicles and 
gargantuars, especially with such a forward design.  It also creates two 
"bulkheads", or points at which zombies are expected to break away or be 
stopped.  It fails in later levels because these garlic-speared bulkheads 
become impossible to sustain.

Phase 1

Seeds:  sunflower, garlic, pumpkin, lily pad, coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom-
shroom, kernel-pult, spikeweed, and potato mine.  (Be sure you have purchased 
a rake.)

Your goal for the first level is to make sure you get several tasks done and 
plant all you need of certain plants so you won't have to select them again.  
Seed selection becomes the most important part of this strategy, so starting 
early and getting things out of the way is important.  By the end of this 
level, you shouldn't need to select the sunflower again.  Also worth noting:  
potato mines are the absolute best single-kill plants at the beginning of the 
game due to their low cost.  However, once you get past the first few zombies, 
you'll never use them again.

         S  S  S  S  .  . [.] g  +     Symbol Legend
         S  c  S  S  S [G] +  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         S  S  c  c  S [S][G][G] _     _  water          g  garlic
         S  S  c  c  S [S][G][G] _     S  sunflower      +  spikeweed
         S  c  S  S  S [G] +  .  .     c  kernel-pult   [ ] pumpkin
         S  S  S  S  .  . [.] g  +     

- Start with sunflowers on land, garlic in rows 1 and 6, and kernel-pults in 
rows 2 and 5.  Use the rake off the bat and potato mine any cone-wearing 
zombies to help get your economy off the ground.  You should have a full 8 
sunflowers on land as fast as possible.  Save the water sunflowers for last.
- Once you get that far, move to gloom-shrooms on the land rows.  Be sure to 
pumpkin first, then fume-shroom.  Throw a kernel-pult or two in the pool to 
counter pool zombies as soon as you can, but once you get the first two gloom-
shrooms going and they are backed up by kernel-pults, you shouldn't have a 
problem with anyone getting through.
- Continue to place gloom-shrooms as quickly as the upgrade seed recharges.  
In the mean time, build a few more sunflowers and kernel-pults, and be sure 
you are laying down pumpkins as fast as they recharge as well.  Once you start 
getting enough sun to cover everything, put spikeweed down in your "kill" zone 
to help protect your gloom-shroom there, and then lay down your spikeweed.
- You should make it easily to this point without losing any plants or 
mower/cleaners.  If you lose any of those, go ahead and start over.
- If you find yourself with plenty of sun left over, go ahead and place 
pumpkins or fume/gloom-shrooms from the next phase.  Extra sunflowers never 
hurt, either:  as long as you collect 3 sun from a sunflower, it was worth 
your time.

Phase 2

Seeds:  twinflower, garlic, pumpkin, coffee bean, magnet-shroom, fume-shroom, 
gloom-shroom, melon-pult, lily pad, and spikerock - or anything you still need 
from phase 1 (you can wait on the spikerock if you need to).

Your goal for this level is to upgrade your defenses significantly while 
boosting your sun production even more.  After this level, you shouldn't need 
lily pads or magnet shrooms again.

         S  G  S  t  M [M][M] g  #     Symbol Legend
         m  c  t  t [S][G] #  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         S* S* c  c  S [S][G][G][G]    _  water          g  garlic
         S* S* c  c  S [S][G][G][G]    S  sunflower      #  spikerock
         m  c  t  t [S][G] #  .  .     c  kernel-pult    M  magnet-shroom
         S  G  S  t  M [M][M] g  #    [ ] pumpkin        t  twinflower
                                       m  melon-pult

- You probably didn't need to replace your garlic in the first phase; get 
ready to keep a constant eye on it from now on.
- Pumpkin placement becomes important as you want to make sure no zombies get 
past your front line.
- Start with magnet-shrooms and get them up as quickly as possible.  Place a 
twinflower and spikerock immediately and then you'll pretty much spend the 
entire rest of the level waiting for those two and gloom-shrooms to recharge.
- Melon-pults can wait until other goals are accomplished.
- The sunflowers marked with an * are ones you can try to twin if you get a 
chance, but it's not a big deal if you can't.  You'll be replacing them 
eventually, so only do so if you think you can get enough sun out of them to 
be worth it.

Phase 3

Seeds:  garlic, pumpkin, melon-pult, winter melon, cob cannon, imitater-
>pumpkin, cattail, and either coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom-shroom, or some 
instants (jalapeno, squash, or cherry bomb) and anything else you're still 
missing.  Alternately, you can bring twinflower again and go for a couple of 
the sunflowers on the pool.

This level is going to be expensive, but you should have the sun to back it 
up.  After this level you shouldn't need melon-pults or cattails again.

        [W] G  m  t [M][M][M] g  #     Symbol Legend
        [W] c  t  t [S][G] #  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         S  S  CCCC  b [W][G][G][G]    _  water          g  garlic
         S  S  CCCC  b [W][G][G][G]    W  winter melon   #  spikerock
        [W] c  t  t [S][G] #  .  .     c  kernel-pult    M  magnet-shroom
        [W] G  m  t [M][M][M] g  #    [ ] pumpkin        t  twinflower
                                       CC cob cannon     m  melon-pult
                                       b cattail

- Start by winter-meloning your existing melon-pults and then place another 
one each time it recharges.
- Pumpkin EVERYTHING!  Use the imitater->pumpkin to help you get the back rows 
while you use the regular pumpkin to replace defenses.
- Don't neglect your garlic - the magnets are counting on you!
- Try to save up for cob cannon.  If you have enough sun, go ahead and dig up 
the rear sunflowers and plant kernel-pults.
- Squash are a decent, relatively quickly charging one-shot defense.  
Jalapenos are much better but are more expensive and take longer to recharge.  
Cherry bombs are even more expensive but hit a nice area.  All are good.

Phase 4

Seeds:  garlic, pumpkin, umbrella leaf, kernel-pult, cob cannon, spikeroot, 
spikerock, imitater->pumpkin, winter-melon, and jalapeno - or something you 
left out before.

Finally, phase 4, where we see our hard plans come to fruition.  This is the 
final step in the base strategy.  At this point you should have an obscene 
amount of sun saved up.  Also, since we passed 10 flags, bungee zombies and 
loads of vehicles should start coming into the picture.  At this point the 
types of zombies you face each level is fairly random, but there are a few 
more defenses we need to set up first.

        [W][G][W][t][M][M][M] g  #     Symbol Legend
        [W][u][t][t][u][G] #  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         CCCC  CCCC [b][W][G][G][G]    _  water          g  garlic
         CCCC  CCCC [b][W][G][G][G]    W  winter melon   #  spikerock
        [W][u][t][t][u][G] #  .  .     u  umbrella leaf  M  magnet-shroom
        [W][G][W][t][M][M][M] g  #    [ ] pumpkin        t  twinflower
                                       CC cob cannon     b cattail

- Go ahead and pluck those last kernel-pults and sunflowers and plant 
umbrellas.  That will cover 2/3rds of the field, and your remaining pieces of 
land are now your "special" spots.  If you see a bungee zombie targeting 
anything in rows 1 and 6 in the last three columns, quickly throw an umbrella 
plant into the appropriate spot to cover it (the umbrella will get eaten 
immediately but that's ok).  If they target something both above and below:  
well, sorry.  It's not a perfect defense.
- Once you have 2 cob cannon, start digging up the remaining sunflowers in the 
pool lanes and replacing them with kernel-pults and then cob cannon as well.  
Try to wait until the cob cannon has recharged and you have enough sun before 
you dig up the sunflowers:  the idea is to squeeze as much sun out of them as 
possible before they go.

Phase 5

        [W][G][W][t][M][M][M] g  #     Symbol Legend
        [W][u][t][t][u][G] #  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         CCCC  CCCC [b][W][G][G][G]    _  water          g  garlic
         CCCC  CCCC [b][W][G][G][G]    W  winter melon   #  spikerock
        [W][u][t][t][u][G] #  .  .     u  umbrella leaf  M  magnet-shroom
        [W][G][W][t][M][M][M] g  #    [ ] pumpkin        t  twinflower
                                       CC cob cannon     b cattail

Generally, you'll want:
- garlic, pumpkin, spikeweed, spikerock, jalapeno (all levels)
- imitater->pumpkin, cherry bomb (when you have room)
- umbrella leaf when facing bungee zombies
- coffee bean, magnet (as necessary; good to take if you have the room and are 
facing gargantuars or zombonis as they will likely get a magnet or two)
- whatever else gets killed

At this point, the game is about damage control and wise cob cannon usage (and 
to some extent, luck of the draw based on which zombies are attacking each 
phase).  Your twinflowers will keep you afloat - but hopefully you have 
several thousand sun banked up, because you'll need it.  Keep your spikerocks 
as healthy as possible, especially rows 1 and 6.  Eventually, the game will 
become all about the spikerock recharge timer, as you'll be blowing through 
them incredibly fast.  Try to use cob cannon to ease their load when you can, 
but generally save your blasts to both fend off imps and kill gargantuars.  
Ideally, if you fire two cob cannon in rapid succession at a gargantuar, it 
won't get to throw its imp - but zombies never make things easy.  Sometimes 
you'll miss, and sometimes you'll barely get another gargantuar in the second 
blast, causing him to throw.  Just accept that it will happen and try to 
defend as best you can.  Jalapenos help a great deal since they can take out 
imps and hit things still coming - although they work best on rows 2 and 5 - 
but don't be shy about digging up a garlic and using one there if you can do 
it quickly enough.  Also, don't be afraid to dig up an umbrella plant and 
throw a cherry bomb down if you need to - those are cheap to replace, and if 
you need one you probably brought them on this level.

Keep an eye on your pumpkins and on your garlic, especially the pumpkins on 
the magnets just behind the garlic.  Later levels with dozens of pole-vaulters 
or dolphin zombies are merciless on your 2nd-line pumpkins; keep them as 
healthy as possible, too.


Zombonis and gargantuars are your worst nightmares; eventually the spikerock 
timer just won't be able to keep up with them and you'll be using every trick 
you have just to keep them at bay.  Fortunately, this strategy does a pretty 
decent job at fighting while losing; you can often keep the zombies off for a 
good couple of flags past the point where your field is no longer viable, 
especially since the worst types of zombies can't hurt your pool plants.  
However, scores of dolphins will seriously mess you up if you start losing 
gloom-shrooms, so keep those pumpkins healthy.  Sadly, gloom-shrooms end up 
being the most difficult plant to replace due to the 3-seed slot cost, so do 
what you can to keep them running, as their defeat will signal your impending 


Stronger Garlic Funnels

One change to this strategy is to replace some of the magnets with more gloom-
shrooms.  Magnets - being single-target plants - become less useful except 
against diggers after about 30 flags.
        [W][G][W][t][M][M][G] g  #     Symbol Legend
        [W][u][t][t][u][G] #  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         CCCC  CCCC [b][W][G][G][G]    _  water          g  garlic
         CCCC  CCCC [b][W][G][G][G]    W  winter melon   #  spikerock
        [W][u][t][t][u][G] #  .  .     u  umbrella leaf  M  magnet-shroom
        [W][G][W][t][M][M][G] g  #    [ ] pumpkin        t  twinflower
                                       CC cob cannon     b cattail

The forward-most magnets are the best to replace since that helps do more 
damage to your kill zones - but putting them directly behind your bulkheads 
makes them very vulnerable.  Keep your cob shots ready for row 1 and 6 
threats.  (One perk is that column 8 is effectively protected from bungees as 
well, which makes emergency umbrellas less unnecessary.)

I haven't tested this variation but I would suspect it would probably average 
40-50 flags.  However, its main weakness remains units that cannot be diverted 
appearing in rows 1 and 6.

           Fuming Arrow Head

This is my most powerful strategy.  My best record is 101 flags (yay triple 
digits!).  Credit for parts of this design goes to snapple37 and curby.

The main idea behind this strategy is a design that splits the zombies up 
naturally without bulkheads and attacks them from indirect angles as they 
proceed along the field.  However, if you remove your defenses too far from 
the front, you become increasingly vulnerable to jack-in-the-box zombies, 
which do catastrophic damage very quickly.  So, you have to supplement the 
arrow head design with a few fume-shrooms on rows 1 and 6, which - while 
making the overall strategy weaker in some ways - do a better job against 
jack-in-the-boxes.  As these end up being the most troublesome zombie on the 
field, it is worth the trade.

Other core principles are using gloom-shrooms to cover the back rows 
completely and ditching magnets and forward umbrellas.  Because every exposed 
area is covered by multiple gloom-shrooms, umbrellas aren't necessary except 
to defend against catapults.  Some new ideas are ditching winter melons in 
pool rows and making spikerock completely optional.  Pool row winter melons 
are useful, but almost every pool zombie dies within seconds anyway so they 
just don't warrant the space.  Spikerocks are still useful and can be planted, 
but they are not necessary most of the time and saving sun is usually more 

The main strengths are that it defeats all types of zombies except jack-in-
the-boxes in specific spots.  In fact, through many levels, this design is so 
efficient that you will gain sun even while replacing damaged plants 
aggressively.  It is somewhat weak against zombonis and footballers, but this 
is a necessary trade-off to cover against more jack-in-the-boxes.

Phase 1

Seeds:  sunflower, garlic, pumpkin, lily pad, coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom-
shroom, kernel-pult, spikeweed, and potato mine.  (Be sure you have purchased 
a rake.)

Again, your goals here are to get certain plants finished so you won't need 
them again - although your core seed select will change far less for this 

         S  S  S  .  .  .  .  g  .     Symbol Legend
         S  c  S  S [G] .  .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         S  c  _  _  _  _ [G] _  _     _  water          g  garlic
         S  c  _  _  _  _ [G] _  _     S  sunflower     [ ] pumpkin
         S  c  S  S [G] .  .  .  .     c  kernel-pult    
         S  S  S  .  .  .  .  g  .    

Get 4 sunflower up before anything else.  Set up land kernel-pults and garlic 
early and use potato mines for early defense, especially against the first 
cone-headed zombie.  Next, try to get to 12 sunflowers as fast as you can.  
Then move to land-based gloom-shrooms and try to make sure you can put down a 
gloom-shroom, lily pad, or a pumpkin each time they recharge and get as many 
out as you can.  Put your spikeweed down near the end (start at least halfway 
before the second flag) and if you have more time, get more gloom-shrooms out 
there.  Don't forget to dig up your first kernel-pults or you'll need 
sunflowers again next level.

         S  S  S [S] +  .  .  g  .     Symbol Legend
         S  S  S  f [G] +  .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         S  c  c  S  S [S][G][G] _     _  water          g  garlic
         S  c  c  S  S [S][G][G] _     S  sunflower      +  spikeweed
         S  S  S  f [G] +  .  .  .     c  kernel-pult   [ ] pumpkin
         S  S  S [S] +  .  .  g  .     f  fume-shroom

Phase 2

Seeds:  twinflower, garlic (optional), pumpkin, lily pad, coffee bean, fume-
shroom, gloom-shroom, spikerock, melon-pult, and jalapeno (and/or cherry bomb 
or cattail if necessary).

Bring along any seeds you didn't finish from last time if necessary.  Also be 
on the lookout for early fliers.  You may not really need to bring garlic 
along; it's only useful if your old garlic are eaten before your rear defenses 
are set up.

         m  S  S [f] +  .  .  .  .     Symbol Legend
         S  S  S [G][G] +  .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         S  c  c  t  t [S][G][G] _     _  water          +  spikeweed
         S  c  c  t  t [S][G][G] _     S  sunflower      #  spikerock
         S  S  S [G][G] +  .  .  .     c  kernel-pult    m  melon-pult
         m  S  S [f] +  .  .  .  .    [ ] pumpkin        f  fume-shroom

Melon-pults on rows 1 and 6 should go first, then rear defenses.  If you have 
ladders this phase, you'll want to place the foremost pool glooms before 
concentrating on rear defenses; you have no ability to remove ladders once 
they are placed so be sure to kill those guys quickly.  Overall you'll want to 
lay down a twinflower, spikerock, and gloom-shroom as often as their recharge 
timers will allow.  Also, remember to never dig up a sunflower until you can 
afford its replacement.

         m  S  f [f] #  .  .  .  .     Symbol Legend
         S  t  m [G][G] #  .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         S  c  c  t  t [S][G][G][G]    _  water          #  spikerock
         S  c  c  t  t [S][G][G][G]    S  sunflower      m  melon-pult
         S  t  m [G][G] #  .  .  .     c  kernel-pult   [ ] pumpkin
         m  S  f [f] #  .  .  .  .     f  fume-shroom

Phase 3

Seeds:  pumpkin, coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom-shroom, melon-pult, winter 
melon, cattail, cherry bomb, two more that you still need or jalapeno/squash

Start using winter melon immediately and use it each time it recharges; these 
really help your effectiveness.  Do rows 1 and 6 first and then 5 and 6.  This 
level is all about the recharge timers:  gloom-shrooms are very expensive at 
this point so you'll be saving up as much as possible.  Be sure to get two 
cattails down by the end of the level (or earlier if balloon zombies are on 
present).  If you have diggers, go ahead and pumpkin column 1 as quickly as 

        [W] G [f][f] #  .  .  .  .     Symbol Legend
         S  t  W [G][G] #  .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         b  c  c  t  t [f][G][G][G]    _  water          #  spikerock
         b  c  c  t  t [f][G][G][G]    b  cattail        W  winter melon
         S  t  W [G][G] #  .  .  .     c  kernel-pult   [ ] pumpkin
        [W] G [f][f] #  .  .  .  .     

Phase 4

Seeds:  pumpkin, imitater->pumpkin, coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom-shroom, 
cob cannon, cherry bomb, umbrella leaf, two more that you still need, or 
jalapeno/squash, or magnet and gold magnet

Phase 4 almost always has balloons or bungees or at least catapults, so you'll 
need to set up your umbrellas quickly.  If you don't have any of these, go 
ahead and enjoy the extra sun production as long as you can.  The nice thing 
about this strategy is that you don't need more than two umbrellas to protect 
your whole field, since everywhere else is fairly-well protected by gloom-
shrooms.  The rear two are there to counter catapults.

        [W][G][f][f] #  .  .  .  .     Symbol Legend
        [u] t [W][G][G] #  .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         b  c  c  t  t [G][G][G][G]    _  water          #  spikerock
         b  c  c  t  t [G][G][G][G]    b  cattail        W  winter melon
        [u] t [W][G][G] #  .  .  .     c  kernel-pult   [ ] pumpkin
        [W][G][f][f] #  .  .  .  .     u  umbrella leaf

Save the cob cannon for last.  If you have diggers this level, get those back 
rows protected with pumpkins as quickly as possible.  Everything is expensive 
at this point so if you don't get every last pumpkin, that's ok.  Just be sure 
to hit them up soon.

        [W][G][f][f] #  .  .  .  .     Symbol Legend
        [u][*][W][G][G] #  .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         b  CCCC  t [t][G][G][G][G]    _  water          #  spikerock
         b  CCCC  t [t][G][G][G][G]    b  cattail        W  winter melon
        [u][*][W][G][G] #  .  .  .     CC cob cannon    [ ] pumpkin
        [W][G][f][f] #  .  .  .  .     u  umbrella leaf

*These spaces are easy to change up because they are not a key part of the 
defense yet.  They are best used as twinflowers as long as possible, but they 
also make ideal spots for gold magnets.  You don't even need a coffee bean to 
wake up a magnet:  just place a gold magnet on a sleeping magnet and then sit 
back and relax.  I have found that only one gold magnet is needed to get just 
about every coin that drops; save the other slot for another twinflower.  
Eventually, you will replace whatever you have with two more gloom-shrooms - 
probably when your flag count is around the late-20s - to complete your rear-
guard defense against diggers and imps.

Phase 5

Seeds:  pumpkin, imitater->pumpkin, spikeweed, spikerock, jalapeno, cherry 
bomb, squash, coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom-shroom

        [W][G][f][f] #* .  .  .  .     Symbol Legend
        [u][G][W][G][G] +* .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         b  CCCC [t][t][G][G][G][G]    _  water          #  spikerock
         b  CCCC [t][t][G][G][G][G]    b  cattail        W  winter melon
        [u][G][W][G][G] +* .  .  .     CC cob cannon    [ ] pumpkin
        [W][G][f][f] #* .  .  .  .     u  umbrella leaf  +  spikeweed
                                       *  optional

At this point, you'll probably want the same lineup each level.  On levels 
with jack-in-the-boxes, swap out squash for lily pad - useful if they destroy 
a pool gloom.  If, for some reason, a different plant somewhere else on the 
field gets destroyed and you need to replace it, I recommend swapping squash, 
spikerock, and spikeweed, in that order of priority.  All other plants are 

Your cattails and cob cannon are safe forever.  You can put pumpkins on the 
remaining twinflowers once you're at max sun, but it's not really necessary.  
Keep a constant eye on your pumpkins:  columns 1, 3, and 7 these are some of 
your most important ones and will take the most damage from diggers, imps, and 
dolphins respectively, but the others need monitoring, too.  Column 4 on rows 
1 and 6 will get hurt by footballers, but it's easy enough to handle.

Spikerocks really are not that necessary to this design, and unless you have 
max sun, don't worry too much about replacing them.  Rows 1 and 6 are most 
vulnerable, and spikerocks help a great deal against waves of gargantuar, but 
this design can destroy all vehicles and normal zombies before they hurt you.  
In particular, it's almost never worth actually upgrading rows 2 and 5 
spikeweed to spikerock, because these are the plants most vulnerable to jack-
in-the-boxes.  If you have the sun, go ahead and put down some spikeweed on 2 
and 5 and spikerock on 1 and 6, but unless gargantuars are coming, don't feel 
like you need to defend them.  On levels without jack-in-the-boxes, zombonis, 
or gargantuars, if I had the sun I would plant extra spikeweed in rows 1 and 6 
just to help kill footballers and other normal zombies.  Expect these to get 
destroyed, however.


Effectively the game becomes all about the random assortment of zombies, and 
how many waves have jack-in-the-boxes verses how many waves that don't.  You 
can build up sun during most levels so you'll be able to react better during 
the difficult ones.  At 50 flags, I had full defenses and max sun, so it is 
very possible to slowly build yourself back up, especially if you aren't too 
quick to replace mid-field pumpkins and spikerock.  (Column 7-9 pool pumpkins 
and column 1 pumpkins should ALWAYS be replaced quickly.)

The trick to survival is to use your cob cannon, cherry bomb, and jalapeno 
timers effectively to constantly cover the field with instants.  In 
particular, you will be watching the rows 1 and 6 gargantuars.  These are the 
most serious threats to your defense (that you can really deal with, anyway), 
so you'll want to slowly but surely make certain you hit each gargantuar in 
these rows with at least one instant.  Doing this will keep your entire 
defense alive and destroy large numbers of normal zombies as well.  It's 
tricky, but with practice you'll know when to fire and when to wait just a 
touch longer to get even more enemies in the blast.

Zombonis are also a major hassle, but bringing along squash really helps in 
this respect.  Squash have a faster recharge timer - and much smaller area of 
effect - but they work great against 3 or 4 zombonis stacked on top of each 
other.  Use these on rows 1 and 6 to keep your spikerock healthy enough to 
fend off the gargantuars.

If you don't have gargantuars on a level, use the cob cannon against zombonis 
or waves of dolphins.  Dolphins are one of the most damaging unit to pumpkins 
because they aren't being slowed, do lots of damage per chomp, and there are 
just so many of them.  I often used cob cannon to catch dolphins (fire just 
after they throw the dolphins in the air) to ease the burden on my poor 
pumpkins on column 7.  If you don't have gargantuars, dolphins, or zombonis, 
either try to catch jack-in-the-boxes or footballers.  Never let your cob 
cannon sit idle, unless you're saving them for the next wave.

Eventually you'll start to experience very bad combinations of zombies - and 
they will start to happen often enough that you'll run low on sun, spelling 
your downfall.  Overall, it becomes a matter of luck:  as long as you have 
plenty of "recovery" time between difficult levels, you can hang on.


The thing that will eventually destroy you with this design are jack-in-the-
boxes on rows 2 and 5.  Occasionally, they just have an incredibly short 
timer, and they will detonate in column 9 taking out your column 8 and 9 
gloom-shrooms.  Usually you can recover from one side being destroyed (as long 
as you have the sun), but finally so many jack-in-the-boxes will be coming 
they'll hit both sides at once, putting you 4 glooms down - and this will 
spell your doom.  The reason this is so bad is two-fold.  First, your overall 
offense is severely weakened, since rows 2 and 5 are vulnerable - especially 
to vehicles and gargantuar (not to mention more jack-in-the-boxes), and you'll 
be spending like mad to protect what you have left.  Second, having gloom-
shrooms up to the edge of the pool is MUCH stronger than having them further 
back.  This is because zombies entering the pool are forced to start on top of 
your column 9 glooms, which means they're getting hit by 4 glooms at once.  If 
they are allowed to get in the pool, they bump up against the glooms and only 
get hit by 2 at once.  Worse yet, because of the recharge timer when you're 
rebuilding you're going to have only one gloom-shroom out front for a period 
of time - which means simple cone-head pool zombies suddenly become a real 
threat in huge numbers.  The only way to solve this issue is to throw lots of 
sun at the problem - about 1000-1200 per space at this point - and dropping 
over 4000 sun is no joke.  Because this design is so effective you will 
gradually gain sun on most levels (especially if you're more stingy with your 
pumpkins), but if this happens to both sides at once, you may not be able to 
come back.  If you have less than 4000 sun when it happens, then you're pretty 
much sunk for sure (although you will be able to hang on for several more 

Because of this, the only variation on this design is to replace the column 5 
gloom-shrooms on rows 2 and 5 with fume-shrooms.  Doing this makes rows 1 and 
6 even MORE vulnerable to zombonis and footballers (and makes the spikerock 
rows no longer optional), but it -might- be able to take out those vicious 
column 9 jack-in-the-boxes in time.  However, because they blow up so early, 
it may not even matter.  I was not able to completely test this variation.

        [W][G][f][f] #  .  .  .  .     Symbol Legend
        [u][G][W][G][f] +  .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
         b  CCCC  t [t][G][G][G][G]    _  water          #  spikerock
         b  CCCC  t [t][G][G][G][G]    b  cattail        W  winter melon
        [u][G][W][G][f] +  .  .  .     CC cob cannon    [ ] pumpkin
        [W][G][f][f] #  .  .  .  .     u  umbrella leaf  +  spikeweed

               Other Ideas

This development of this guide is a continual process and more ideas are 
always welcome.  If you have suggestions for new design ideas or useful tweaks 
for existing designs please feel free to write in and I will be happy to 
credit you.  Also, theories only remain untested because I can't take the 4+ 
hours necessary to test each one of them; if you are able to test a design 
feel free to send in your results with as much detail as possible.


- Thanks to curby for an excellent guide and strategies!
- Thanks to snapple37 for the arrow head core strategy!
- Thanks to Ian, 10up, and others who pointed out the usefulness of cattails.

Plants vs. Zombies - Survival:  ENDLESS!
Copyright (c)2009 Jason Long.  All rights reserved.
Version 2.15.  Last Updated 6-28-2009

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