Rabbits can wreak havoc on gardens, chewing through vegetable patches and decimating flower beds in no time. But don’t abandon your gardening dreams just yet! Many plants have natural defenses that keep rabbits at bay, so you can build a gorgeous garden that bunnies won’t destroy. Discover the secrets to outsmarting rabbits with this guide to flowers, shrubs, and plants they detest. You’ll learn clever tricks like using aromatic herbs and prickly textures to deter rabbit appetites. With the right plant choices, you can cultivate a lush landscape where you and rabbits can happily coexist. Get ready to discover 17 of the best rabbit-resistant plants to protect your garden from ravenous rabbits!
What Repels Rabbits from Eating Plants?
Rabbits can be a gardener's worst nightmare, munching their way through vegetable patches and flower beds with ease. However, there are certain plants that rabbits tend to avoid. Understanding why rabbits stay away from certain plants can help you design a rabbit-resistant garden.
One of the main reasons rabbits avoid certain plants is because of their strong scent or taste. Herbs like lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme all have pungent aromas that rabbits don't like. Plants in the allium family, like onions, garlic and chives, also have a strong scent that deters rabbits. Some plants even contain chemical compounds that can irritate or upset a rabbit's digestive system, causing them to avoid those plants.
Another deterrent for rabbits is spiky or hairy foliage. Plants like lamb's ear, dusty miller and sea holly have soft, fuzzy leaves, while others like barberry, rose bushes and succulents have sharp thorns. Rabbits tend to stay away from these prickly plants to avoid injury. Waxy or stiff foliage on plants like dusty miller and lavender can also make plants unappealing to nibble on.
When choosing plants, rabbits also tend to avoid poisonous varieties. While not all poisonous plants deter rabbits, ones like foxglove, poppies, snapdragons and larkspur often go untouched. Even though parts of these plants may not actually be toxic to rabbits, their strong scent or taste lets rabbits know to stay away.
Besides foliage, certain plant structures can also deter rabbits. Plants with tall, rigid stems make access difficult for short rabbits. choosing plants like delphinium with towering flower spikes over low-growing berries or lettuces can help protect your garden.
By understanding what makes plants unappealing to rabbits, you can fill your garden with beautiful flowers and herbs they won't destroy. A combination of plants with strong scents, prickly textures, poisonous compounds and tall growth habits will help keep both wild and domesticated rabbits from treating your garden like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Flowers, Shrubs, or Plants That Rabbits Don’t Eat
When trying to protect your garden from ravenous rabbits, there are many plant varieties that can help repel rabbit damage. Here are 17 flowers, shrubs and plants that rabbits won't eat:
Sweet alyssum is a fragrant annual flower that blooms in the spring and fall with tiny white or purple flowers on dense cascading stems. Its sweet honey-like scent deters rabbits from grazing on it. Sweet alyssum also has a bitter taste that rabbits dislike. As a low-growing groundcover, it’s perfect for border plantings around gardens. The plant needs full sun exposure and regular watering to thrive.
Also known as flossflower, ageratum is an annual flower that blooms all summer long in bushy mounds 8-18 inches high. The puffy flowers come in shades of blue, pink or white depending on variety. Both the fuzzy foliage and pungent odor of ageratum help deter rabbits. It makes an excellent companion plant when intermixed with vegetables, flowers and herbs that rabbits love to eat. Ageratum needs full sun and moderate water.
This low maintenance perennial shrub has brightly colored clusters of flowers that bloom from spring until frost. Lantana grows in a dense, tangled mound of stems with aromatic foliage that rabbits avoid. The plant requires full sun and little watering once established. Lantana can be invasive in some zones, so plant in containers to control its spread. There are many size and color hybrids perfect for borders, containers or as groundcovers.
Also called calendula, pot marigold is an annual flower with bright yellow and orange blooms that thrive in cool weather. The marigold's pungent scent drives rabbits away from this and neighboring plants. Pot marigolds also have a bitter, spicy taste. The edible flowers can be added to salads. In the garden, marigolds do best in full sun to partial shade with moist, well-drained soil.
Wax begonias are annuals and perennials with colorful flowers and attractive foliage in shades of green, red or bronze. The thick, waxy leaves are unappetizing to rabbits. Wax begonia varieties grow in mounded forms 6-12 inches high, making them perfect as border plants. They thrive in part sun to full shade and require moderate watering. Tuberous begonia varieties can be overwintered indoors as houseplants.
The colorful, unique flowers of snapdragons make them a favorite for gardens and bouquets. Though parts of snapdragons are toxic to rabbits, they dislike the bitter taste and avoid them. Cool weather brings the best blooms on upright plants reaching 1-3 feet tall. Snapdragons come in dwarf varieties good for containers and border plantings. Site them in full sun with average watering requirements.
With nearly 1,000 species, salvias include annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and herbs. The aromatic foliage of many salvias contains compounds that naturally repel rabbits. Salvia flowers come in red, blue, purple, pink, white and yellow for nonstop color. Plant in full sun and trim back spent blooms to encourage re-blooming. Salvias thrive with minimal watering needs once established.
Also known as spider flower, cleome has unusual spider-like flowers in pink, purple, white or lavender atop tall, thorny stems. Both the smell and prickly plant structure help deter rabbits. The annual flowers bloom all summer until first frost. For best results, plant cleome in full sun with average water needs. Good air circulation prevents disease in these plants.
This perennial has eye-catching round blue flowers surrounded by spiny bracts up to 3 feet tall. The prickly stems and bitter-tasting foliage cause rabbits to steer clear of globe thistle. The plants thrive in full sun and average to dry conditions. Globe thistle makes an unusual cut flower and is deer and drought resistant once established. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowers.
Catnip is well known for its intoxicating effects on cats, but rabbits avoid this aromatic herb. The strong scent contains a chemical called nepetalactone that repels rabbits. Growing up to 3 feet tall, catnip produces flowers in shades of white, lavender or pink. It grows best in full to part sun with regular water. Cut back plants after flowering to encourage a second bloom.
All varieties of pepper plants, including bell peppers, chili peppers and ornamental peppers, contain compounds in their leaves, fruit and stems that rabbits steer clear of. This makes them ideal companion plants alongside vegetable gardens. Though edible, most ornamental pepper varieties like 'Black Pearl' and 'Explosive Ember' are grown more for their colorful fruit and variegated foliage. Site pepper plants in full sun and fertile soil.
With its feathery silver leaves andNatural insect repellent properties, wormwood is a great herb for keeping rabbits away. The strong odor deters them from nibbling on this drought-tolerant perennial. Wormwood can reach 2-4 feet tall and spreads readily. For that reason, it's often grown in containers near vegetable gardens. Provide plenty of sun and infrequent watering.
Geraniums are popular flowering annuals that rabbits avoid. They dislike the bitter, astringent taste of geranium leaves and stems. Available in colors like red, pink, white and purple, geraniums can be grown in beds, containers and window boxes. They require full sun to thrive. Look for heat and drought resistant varieties like the Maverick or Calliope series.
Every part of the potato plant, including the tubers, contains toxins called glycoalkaloids that can be dangerous for rabbits if ingested. Rabbits sense this and stay far away from potato plants in the garden. Grow potatoes in loose, fertile soil in full sun to part shade. Hill soil around the stems as they grow. Harvest potatoes when the foliage dies back.
Also known as everlasting, strawflower blooms all summer with papery, daisy-like flowers. The coarse texture and bitter taste make them unappealing to rabbits. Strawflowers come in colors like red, pink, orange, yellow and white. Use them fresh cut or hang upside down to dry for long-lasting arrangements. Strawflowers grow best in full sun and average soil.
Shirley poppies are annual flowers that bloom early summer into fall with frilly, tissue-paper blooms in white, pink, burgundy and red. All parts of the Shirley poppy contain alkaloid compounds that make them unpalatable to rabbits. Their wilted blooms and coarse hairy leaves also deter nibbling. Poppies thrive in cool weather and reseed easily. Site them in full sun.
Crown of Thorns
This succulent houseplant gets its name from the thorny spines that cover its stems. Outdoors, rabbits steer clear of crown of thorns' prickly structure and thick, waxy leaves. The plants produce showy red, pink or white flowers year-round indoors in bright, sunny windowsills. Water these succulents occasionally, allowing soil to dry out between waterings.
With these 17 plants that rabbits avoid, you can create a beautiful garden oasis without sacrificing plants to hungry rabbits. Use resistant flowers, herbs, shrubs and vegetables as borders or mix them into your beds and containers. With some thoughtful choices, rabbits and gardeners can peacefully coexist.