We live in a semi-rural area where the houses are on big blocks and there’s plenty of native bushland. The upside to that is we enjoy seeing plenty of native birds and animals. The downside is that we also have to deal with pests such as rabbits. They don’t live on our property, they have they’re burrows in a bush block behind ours, but they like to venture into our garden to eat and dig!
I love animals but I’m not a big fan of rabbits at the moment. The damage they do to our garden, especially over summer, is very disheartening. I look forward to summer and being able to enjoy the garden and plant a few annuals. But the warmer weather is spoiled a bit because we have rabbits coming around nibbling on our plants!
This spring and summer have been particularly bad because until recently it has been very dry. The rabbits don’t have a lot of grass to eat so they have been giving our plants a very hard time. This year we have seen them eating some plants that they have never eaten before.
So I’ve decided to compile a list of the plants that we have in the garden that the rabbits will and won’t eat. That way I can plan my future garden plantings to minimise rabbit damage!
Plants Rabbits Will Eat In My Garden
Below is a list of the plants that I have had growing in my garden which the rabbits have seemed to enjoy eating.
These were one of the worst hit in the garden. We have to be very careful where we plant petunias.
- Tree dahlias
Our tree dahlias are only a few inches tall at the moment; they should be a few feet high by this time of year! As fast as they shoot up the rabbits just eat them off – so annoying!
We had to put wire barriers around our sedum last summer. The only variety that the rabbits don’t seem to eat is the ‘Autumn Joy’.
Smaller, less thorny rose bushes have been popular with the rabbits this summer.
We have a couple of large shrubs that are okay but a small, newly planted cotoneaster, was popular with the bunnies!
If you look online you will read that potato plants are toxic to rabbits. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the ones that visit our garden though. We have a raised bed with potatoes in it and I’ve seen rabbits jump up onto the bed to eat the leaves! They have done some damage without eating all the plants so perhaps the potato plants gave them a belly ache!
- Plum Tree
This is another plant that is supposed to be toxic to rabbits but they were hungry enough to eat the leaves from low hanging branches. I don’t think they suffered any ill effects from eating plum leaves because it only stopped when we netted the tree!
Our main vegetable garden has a rabbit proof fence so thankfully most of our veggies are safe. I’m sure they’d love to get at our lettuce, beans, carrots, radishes, strawberries, sunflowers, zinnias, etc.
However we do have pumpkins and zucchini growing in raised beds outside the main vegetable garden. The rabbits had a bit of a nibble on the tender small plants but seemed to give up as the plants matured. They’re also nibbling on our watermelon plants but haven’t done too much damage as yet.
Plants Rabbits Won’t Eat in my Garden
The list below shows the plants in our garden that the rabbits have left alone.
- California Lilac
- Marguerite daisy (large bush)
- Nandina (sacred bamboo)
- Rock rose
- Butterfly grass
- Primrose Jasmine
Deterring Rabbits in Our Garden
I have tried using spray on rabbit deterrents but I haven’t had a lot of success. Mainly because we have quite a large garden and it’s hard to spray everything that might be possible rabbit food. Also if you water overhead or if you get some rain then the sprays just wash off and you have to reapply them.
We have placed wire guards around some of our vulnerable plants but unfortunately they don’t look very attractive.
Having a dog, in your yard might also be a good rabbit deterrent. We don’t have a dog at the moment and our cats are confined to a cat enclosure so the rabbits feel fairly safe in our yard! Maybe we might have to get a dog!
In the mean time we’ll just have to stick to planting more of the plants that the rabbits won’t eat!
Michael Brodrip says
Dear Lady . our cold and lonely rabbit is called crocus. as in the book, Watership Down, she can decimate them. leaves early and later flowers, especially preferably yellow ones . if hard pressed Small species tulips. She had a large friend,, a buck, to visit he tried larger tulip leaves, . then he just stomped on things , and obviously moved on. hope we don’t have baby bunnies .
Potatoes. , as you probably know, when potatoes go to maturity they eventually produce small green fruit which contain Ptomaine, this supposedly is very poisonous. . On the other hand , some say tomatoes are bad for us , as they are in a similar family. Most of us eat Tomatoes without suffering ill effect . Therefore this experiment has been done by many times and it is therefore accepted as a fact. Not poisonous.
Lastly. practically nothing eats daffodils/ narcissi , we assume they are poisonous .
Very useful list,,, thank you
Mary Winterstein says
mousetraps work for nasty plant critters. put them in planters and lightly cover them with a little potting soil. Neighbors cats were using planter boxes for litter boxes. I had had it and set a trap line. Just remember where you set the traps.
Ooh sounds like you were really fed up Mary! I’m not sure I could set a mouse trap, I don’t really want to injure anything. I’d also be worried I might hurt other critters that don’t do any damage. I can understand your frustration though!
That is the damn cruelest thing, Mary. How about put up a little low cost fencing? It would be cute to look at and prevent injury to wildlife who struggle enough to exist with humans.
When I was fed up with cats in the garden, I took some thorny branches from roses or a barberry bush and slightly buried them in the ground. One step in there and they won’t be back! A bit nasty maybe but, if you can’t fence the area, it works and is not as cruel as traps. You just need to remember to wear thick garden gloves when working in the soil.
Please, please don’t use mouse traps of any kind. Unless they immediately break the creature’s neck (and they rarely do), they are very cruel.
We have a rat problem where I live and used to set out snap traps for rats in our garden. We stopped after I saw several with only their hind leg caught in the trap. Many creatures will actually chew their leg off in order to escape. Then a trap snapped on the face of a baby possum. There was no way to set it free without getting bitten, so we had to kill it. The last straw was when I saw a rat that had painfully crawled 10 feet with the trap still around it’s neck.
There are more humane ways to discourage critters from our gardens. They take more work, but they don’t injure, maim, or cause prolonged suffering for animals.
motion activated sprinklers. I have issues with the neighbors feral cats as well as a visiting bunny. The bunny has been munching on the cover crop I planted to help with my clay soil so I don’t really want to hurt it. The cats, on the other hand, their damage to the ecosystem is not good. While I don’t have mouse issues likely because of them, I don’t really want them on my car or using my garden areas for crapping.
Motion activated sprinklers sound like a good idea Ronda! I don’t want to hurt the bunnies either!
Guess I am the lone weirdo here. I enjoy the bun buns. Only started feeding them about 10 days ago. So far, they don’t like the lettuce I put out. Neither do they like the celery.
But, they are in CARROT HEAVEN. i BELIEVE THERE ARE 3 OF THEM EATING UP A STORM. They are well into their 3rd 5 pound bag of them.
It’s been quite hot during the days. One will sometimes come out in the early morning to munch for an hour or so. They they stay in the shade for the day. Usually, they wait til an hour or so before dark.
One gave qutie a show last night. Munching for an hour or so, then goes maybe 8 feet away and sprawly like on a chaise lounge for a half hour or so. Then it repeated the cycle TWICE. It wasn’t at all concerned by my opening the window to add to the stash. And, there was a little cloud burst that didn’t even phase it. Another one came to join the buffet. Of course, it chose the same carrot. Love to watch them spar. It’s like a hop fest.
Sorry so many see them as pests. That’s how I see squirrels, but I really enjoy the bun buns.
Squirrels don’t appear to like carrots at all. that works for me.
I’m glad that you are enjoying the rabbits in your garden Marlene. Perhaps I should put out some carrots so the bunnies stop eating my plants! Sadly I don’t think that would work in my case. I agree the bunnies are definitely cute and I don’t want to hurt them, I just wish that they would munch on something other than my prized plants. Seems like growing plants that they don’t like to eat will have to be my best strategy. Wish I could train them to just eat the weeds! 😉
We don’t have squirrels here in Australia so I always think that they look pretty cute! I would probably think otherwise if I had them in my garden!
Ohhh, please don’t give the buns carrots. Carrots, like fruit, are loaded with sugar and rabbits find sweets irresistible. They have very delicate digestive systems, however, and too much sugar — like the gorging you say they are doing — will cause their blood sugar to spike and will kill them. A rabbit can have up to 2 measuring tablespoons of sweets a day. No more.
If you want to feed the buns, look online for a list of leafy greens that rabbits can eat. Many sites for pet rabbits have lists. There are many weeds, for example, (though not all), that are nutritious for them. Another possibility is to grow greens that they like to eat and that are good for them. Dandelion leaves are a favorite.
Does putting out carrots deter rabbits & squirrels from eating plants?
I don’t know the answer to this one Peach. It would be great if it did work but I suspect they might eat the carrots and then also nibble on the plants. Hopefully someone will comment here to let us know!
Thank you, Kaylene.
Orange peels in my garden box keep the cats from using it as a litter box, also told mint and cinnimon. Cinnimon and chilli powder for mice and squirrels. Haven’t figured out rabbits yet, but this year I’ve been seeing more. I worked at a greenhouse for years and watched the mice strip down marigolds and morning glory plants and literally dig up the squash seeds and nasturtium seeds right out of the soil to eat them. Unfortunately even most of my flowers are edible for me this year. You will know why the animals enjoy this if you ever try an unopened tender day lily bud…delicious like a sweet honeysuckle. Happy planting everyone! Tammy
Thanks for the tips for cats, mice, and squirrels Tammy. I haven’t ever tried eating a day lily. I don’t have any in my garden – I might have to get some!
If u don’t have any.im sure that a neighbor wouldn’t miss one if u ask!