Rabbits are cute creatures, hopping around twitching their noses, wiggling their tails, and looking harmless. Unfortunately, these adorable fuzzy-tailed mammals also have a voracious appetite, which is why it helps to know which plants rabbits won’t eat.
These hungry nibblers will find their way into your garden at night and eat your lettuce and other edible goodies. They’re also impressive jumpers, so they can get into areas you wouldn’t expect.
Keep them at bay by planting stuff that they won’t enjoy. You can even use these plants as a natural fence to keep your yummy produce safe.
15 Plants Rabbits Won’t Bother
Rabbits adore lettuce and other tender greens, but they’ll ignore the following plants entirely. Why are these plants not of interest to rabbits?
Bunnies don’t love strong-smelling plants or ones with oddly textured foliage. Rabbits will also leave anything with prickly stems or foliage alone. They’re also smart enough (mostly) to stay away from anything toxic.
By the way, be cautious when interplanting edibles with poisonous plants. You don’t want to end up harvesting young rhubarb leaves along with your kale!
Onions are one of the most important tools in a chef’s toolkit. This ingredient adds a ton of flavor to dishes and pairs well with any type of cuisine. The pungent, onion-ey quality of this plant is what makes it so unappealing to rabbits. They don’t like the smell.
Leeks, like onions, are also in the allium family. The strong smell is a deterrent for many small mammals. In fact, any plant in the allium family is unattractive to rabbits, including green onions and chives.
Sprinkle hot pepper powder or pepper flakes around your garden to keep rabbits from eating your precious plants. They also won’t bother with mature pepper plants since they’re not fans of this fruit. You’ll need to keep your seedlings protected since rabbits might munch on the tender stems.
Aside from the ripe stems, the rest of the rhubarb plant is toxic to humans and rabbits don’t like it either.
5. Summer Squash
It’s likely the prickly stems of summer squash that keep rabbits away. I could do without the barbed stems myself, but I appreciate that they represent built-in protection from hungry small mammals like rabbits.
Highly fragrant basil is an herb that will keep rabbits away. Instead of planting your basil, among other herbs, interplant it with rabbit favorites like lettuce and carrots.
While basil is one of those plants that rabbits won’t eat, you can also use it as a compost. The smell can help deter rabbits from your other garden plants, as well.
Every morning when I check on my garden, I tussle the tops of my herb plants to dislodge the delicious scent of this easy-to-grow perennial. I love the smell, but rabbits aren’t too keen on it.
Don’t forget that other plants in the mint family, like catmint and catnip, are unattractive to hares.
8. Bee Balm
This pollinator-friendly plant is appealing enough to attract bees and hummingbirds, but rabbits don’t love it.
9. Black-Eyed Susan
Another eye-catching perennial, this yellow mini sunflower-esque bloom is super easy to grow and tolerates a variety of soils. They also attract a variety of pollinators, but rabbits aren’t interested.
Rabbits aren’t fond of these delicate perennial blooms, so substitute them for other rabbit favs. The flowers burst with color and put on a vibrant show all summer long.
Interestingly, many of the plants that rabbits dislike are plants that entice pollinators to visit the garden, including yarrow.
Yarrow is a wildflower that attracts butterflies and other buzzing beneficial insects. The delicate white flowers return every year and require little maintenance.
12. Sweet Alyssum
This is another flower that rabbits don’t care for that tolerates poor soils and spreads to form carpets of tiny blooms. It’s a great flower choice for drought-prone gardens and rock gardens.
Before I say what I want to say, I’ll knock on wood to avoid jinxing myself. In my experience, marigolds are one of the most indestructible flowers in existence.
They’re incredibly easy to grow from seed, and once they’ve found their footing, the explosion of blooms doesn’t stop until frost arrives. They’ve even survived a slug-pocalypse that killed off a ton of other flower seedlings. Rabbits, too, are not fond of these golden-hued blooms.
Rabbits might munch on sunflower seeds and leaves, but they rarely touch the blooms. Thankfully, even if rabbits become interested in your sunflower plants, it’s easy to deter them from these hulking flowers. Plant pungent crops around the base of flowers or spread potent smelling powders to keep rabbits away.
Milkweed is an important food source for various pollinators, notably monarch butterflies, whose only source of food is milkweed. The perennial contains toxic sap that is dangerous for dogs and rabbits alike.
Ageratum has pretty round, purple flowers that attract bees and butterflies while sending rabbits hopping away.
Hummingbirds can’t get enough of pretty lantana flowers. Rabbits? Not so much. You can plant them in containers and intersperse them with some of your other ornamentals to keep the little hoppers away.
Vinca is a reliable groundcover that you can use to fill in those partially shady spots. It’s also one of those plants that rabbits won’t eat. You could use it as a sort of floral barrier around your vulnerable plants and not only will you have a pretty garden, but a protected one as well.
Geraniums are a popular garden plant for a good reason. They bloom reliably all season long in vibrant pink, red, yellow, and orange. It’s just a bonus that rabbits (and deer) leave them alone.
Begonias make gorgeous houseplants, but if you intersperse them around your garden you can ensure that you’ll have some color that even the hungriest bunny won’t bother.
Tomatoes are delicious, nutritious, and not too hard to grow. On top of that, rabbits won’t give them a second look. That’s likely because they’re part of the nightshade family, the leaves of which are toxic.
22. Globe Thistle
Globe thistle is a drought-tolerant option when you want something that looks a little different in the garden. The purple, round blossoms are eye-catching and attract butterflies and bees while keeping rabbits and deer away.
Good old mugwort – also known as wormwood – has been a medicinal garden staple for centuries. While it has been used to treat a range of stomach issues (not to mention to make absinthe), rabbits don’t dig it.
Lovely lavender is a plant that you can’t go wrong with, not least because bunnies won’t touch it. The classic scent and stunning flowers are worth the little effort it takes to grow this garden staple.
Tarragon is related to sunflowers, so it’s no surprise that rabbits don’t like it. This classic green herb has a subtle anise-like flavor that goes perfectly with eggs, chicken, and fish.
Thyme is part of the mint family. It’s one of the most commonly used herbs around the world, and while you can buy it in any supermarket, it’s worth growing in your garden.
Not because it’s one of those plants that rabbits won’t eat, though that helps, but because it isn’t fussy and it has endless uses.
Sage – also a member of the mint family – is a Mediterranean herb that has found a way into gardens across the world. Rabbits avoid this plant so much that some people sprinkle dried sage around their vulnerable plants.
I’m not sure this technique is super effective, but it’s worth a try if you have extra leaves.
This gorgeous succulent, sometimes known as stonecrop, is gorgeous whether it’s blossoming or not.
These plants come in a range of sizes and shapes, so there is certainly one for any garden where you want to add a little texture while keeping rabbits away.
How to Deter Rabbits
So you’ve planted plants that rabbits won’t eat, but the little critters are still making a meal of the other goodies in your garden. Is there anything you can do?
First, let’s establish whether your plants are being eaten by rabbits or something else. The easiest way to figure out what’s eating your crops is to catch the nibblers in the act.
If you have an outdoor camera on your property, catching a nocturnal feast in action is super simple.
If you’re camera-less, there are other signs that rabbits are near including:
- Rabbit droppings. These round, ultra-hard pellets are evidence that rabbits are in the vicinity.
- Clean cuts. Unlike some insect pests, rabbits don’t cut little tiny holes in plants. They cut foliage clean off. If you spot tender seedlings cut off clean at the base of the stem, you may have a rabbit problem.
- No tunnels. If you spy holes around your garden, the damage you see might be the work of groundhogs or woodchucks and not rabbits.
Different Techniques to Try
Aside from planting stuff, they’ll turn their noses up at, here are a few other solutions for keeping rabbits out of your garden:
- Sprinkle pungent dust. Rabbits have a great sense of smell, so sprinkling things like hot pepper powder around your garden can help keep them away.
- Install stem protection. To keep your seedlings from being bitten off at the base, use collars to protect the vulnerable plants once they’re transplanted outside in the spring.
- Use humane traps. Sometimes getting them out entirely is the best way to solve the problem.
- Put up a fence. Whether you use good ole’ chicken wire or something more aesthetically pleasing, a fence that’s at least 4-feet high can keep rabbits away from your garden.
- Use other types of barriers. Cold frames can protect tender winter-grown lettuce from hungry rabbits.
- Clear debris around your property, and especially near your garden, to discourage rabbits from making a home in your yard. They don’t typically go too far from their burrows to find food, so try to reduce possible hiding spots, and you’ll make it harder for them to nap between meals.
Why You Should Keep Rabbits Away
They’re so cute! It doesn’t matter if they munch on a few leaves of lettuce, right? Wrong! Rabbits don’t just eat edibles. They can decimate ornamental crops, too.
Also, if you see one rabbit, there’s likely a family—and it’s a growing one. Rabbits reproduce like…well…rabbits!
That said, they’re not the worst pest to have around. With a few simple adjustments and careful plant selection, you can deter midnight snacking and coexist with fluffy bunnies.
A Few Words of Caution
Some store-bought rabbit repellents are not safe on edible plants, so be sure to read the packaging carefully before applying any.
Be careful when planting toxic plants, especially if you have children or dogs. Don’t plant poisonous plants near the border of your property (e.g., along the sidewalk or near your neighbor) since not everyone is likely to know whether a plant is toxic or not.