January 27, 2011

A story about Peter Rabbit

Well, actually, this is a story about my reactions to Peter Rabbit—and thousands of his relatives who shall remain nameless. Rabbits are definitely an issue in my garden. They have caused so much death and destruction (to plants, of course) that I no longer consider them the cute, cuddly critters of my childhood.

I refuse to trap them or kill them. (I’m not that industrious or that mean.) But I've tried everything under the sun to repel them from my plants, including:

  • Hot pepper spray (don’t worry; I don’t use this anymore);
  • Shavings of scented soap (nope, I don’t try this much anymore either);
  • Human hair (yuck, this does seem to work, but it’s gross);
  • Used cat litter (again, this is disgusting); and
  • A list of many more organic, unharmful repellents that is too long to list here.

When it comes right down to it, none of these remedies works for very long because they either decompose quickly, wash away with the rain, or they're just too stinky and disgusting to continue for very long.

So, a few years back I realized the only humane and safe way to deal with rabbits was to erect strong chicken-wire fences with foundations deep under the soil. But who wants chicken wire around all the garden plants?

The best solution is to choose plants that rabbits don’t like, including:







Take that, Peter Rabbit and friends!

(The funny thing is, rabbits were visiting my front porch earlier today making their presence known…)

For more ideas on how to find great plants, visit Appalachian Feet.


  1. It is so disheartening when my prettu flowers disappear into bunny bellies! I love Campanula and so, apparently, do rabbits. Thankfully they leave the Campanula poscharskyana alone. Thanks for the suggestions of "rabbit-proof" plants!

  2. Somehow it surprises me that irises and salvia make the "not-yummy-to-bunnies" list. Thanks for being conscientious in your efforts to avert the problem.

  3. I think you need a huntin' dawg!! Of my five dogs, I have 2 that are excellent hunters and keep my garden and grass vole/rabbit free. We don't have many problems with rabbits but voles have eaten the roots of shrubs and trees. They don't eat the voles or rabbits, they just carry them around and scare them to death.One is a beagle/basset/golden retriever mix and the other is a rat terrier. They're both shelter rescues. :o)

  4. Rabbits obviously have no taste - these are a beautiful! A very useful post for gardeners with unwanted rabbits. One of the advanages to living in London is their absence

  5. Me and the bunnies are at war. They took out my Japanese Maple and am betting my asters are next. Like you, I will not poison them and my neighbors have tried unsuccessfully to trap them. And the little buggers are multiplying all over the neighborhood. I guess city living is there new digs.

  6. Sad to hear Peter Rabbit and his family are making a nuisance of themselves and destroyers in your garden. You have such lovely climate its sad to limit your garden to just few plants to deter Peter Rabbit.

  7. Extraordinary, isn't it, that salvias, peonies and irises, which look so delicate, are not ravaged by rabbits. I can sort of understand it with the others. Glad there are some beautiful plants you can enjoy despite your unwanted visitors.

  8. Oh, I feel your pain. I have a pretty significant rabbit population so I have tried to put in plants that they don't touch. AND, I do have a major issue with voles and I have lost so many plants to their demise. It can be very disheartening.

  9. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my battle with the bunnies!
    @Chris: Yes, it's a sad story, indeed. And the creatures look so innocent!
    @Eliza: Yeah, it's good that there are plenty of options for discouraging their voracious appetites.
    @TS: I hope to get a dog soon. The neighbors keep their dog out of my yard even though I told them to let her run free here to get rid of the hopping pests!
    @Laura: I didn't realize London had no rabbits. You are very fortunate!
    @Donna: I hear rabbits are tasty, but I can't kill them because they're too cute, darn it.
    @P3chandan: Actually, the plants I listed are just a sample of rabbit-repellent varieties. Check out: http://www.bhg.com/gardening/pests/animal/editors-picks-top-rabbit-resistant-plants/.
    @Janet: Yes, the critters are weird in their preferences!
    @Karin: I think the huge Hosta crop here encourages the rabbits. They do eat Hostas, but I have so many they barely make a dent. We have voles, too, but they aren't as big of a problem as the rabbits.

  10. I don't have rabbits--the foxes eat them. You need foxes. I do have deer and all your plants are deer resistant too. Those plants must just be generally inedible for one reason or another. Hellebores and daffodils are toxic, euphorbia has that sap, but I am not sure about the others.

  11. One advantage to my city garden is that I don't have that Peter rabbit issue. But don't get me started about squirrels!

  12. @Carolyn: I need foxes! That's the answer. That explains why I didn't have as many rabbits on my previous rural property. Not enough predators at this location. We do have occasional foxes. And I seriously would love to have the neighbors' dogs visit more often.

    @Linda: We have squirrels, too, and chipmunks. They dig up my potted plants. Any tips on how to stop the digging?

  13. Do you really have wild rabbits living in your neighbours? They should be so cute! (I do beg your pardon, of course...).
    A proposito: e' bello sapere che capisci l'italiano!
    Ciao Beth! :)

  14. Ciao dona: My husband (who understands a bit of Italian) helped me to translate and agrees with you. Italian is a beautiful language and I should study it more! And, yes, believe it or not we do have many, many wild rabbits.

  15. I have rabbits too, they behave very well, never touch any of my plants...lovely garden ornaments.
    They're the best kind to have.
    Love your peonies and iris.

  16. Rabbits are cute but not so when it comes to gardens. The rabbit proof plants ideas are great. This year we are welcoming Year of the Rabbit on Feb 3rd, 2011 so we can expect more bugs bunny and peter rabbits around, lol.

  17. I link to you today about the picture of a peony flower. Hope you don't mind.

  18. We once visited a major organic garden in the UK (Ryton), where they had the biggest, happiest rabbits I've ever seen (full of that yummy organic produce, no doubt). But one of the staff told us that raised beds were a surprising deterrent to the bunny population: even beds raised just a few inches off the ground were left unvisited by Peter and his many relatives...

  19. At least there are a lot of attractive choices that aren't rabbit friendly. I love all of the ones you posted. I have rabbits too (probably not in the numbers you do) and I've learned two things they LOVE ~ hollyhocks & astrantia! I have to put wire cloches around the astrantia in early spring or they'll keep it nibbled to the ground. The hollyhocks I've now confined to the side bed (that is fenced).
    We have occasion foxes and (nesting pair) great horned owls ~ they both help.

  20. @Rosie: Yes, I guess those would be the kind of bunnies to have around. LOL

    @Autumn Belle: That is fine that you linked to PlantPostings. Funny that it will be the year of the rabbit. Happy Chinese New Year!

    @Landscape Lover: The raised beds don't seem to make much difference here. Maybe our rabbits are too hungry or extra large or something. If you hear of other tips, let me know. Thanks!

    @Kathleen: Yes! The rabbits ate one of my Hollyhocks down to the ground last summer. I have a story about a Great Horned Owl and a rabbit's foot. The rest of the rabbit mysteriously disappeared. ;-)

  21. Though others in our area deal with bunnies, armadillos, and other small critters, our primary mammals we get in our yard are deer. I plant deer-resistant native plants in the front yard to discourage them from considering my landscaping a salad bar, and then I plant the "tasty" plants and all our veggies in the backyard. Because we have 3 dogs, the plants are well protected from bunnies and the like, but the garden does get trampled by frisky canines!

  22. The latest issue of How to Find Great Plants is here and your rabbit proof flowers post is listed. I really enjoyed reading it! Thanks so much for participating, I hope you will again next month. Here’s the issue:


  23. @Meredith: That sounds like an effective technique. It's becoming clear to me that not only do I want a dog, I NEED a dog. :)

    @Eliza: Thanks for including me in HtFGP! Lots of great info this month. Cheers!

  24. Deer-They're similar to your rabbit problem in my garden! I've tried all the methods you mention to keep them away and I have had a success with a homemade spray made out of garlic/milk/eggs/pepper oil-yuck...
    I've came to the conclusion also that it's easier to just plant what they don't enjoy!

  25. Rebecca: Yes, I've heard rabbits and deer have similar tastes. We have very few deer in this suburban garden, but my parents have had similar results in their country gardens. Too bad both mammals are so darn cute!

  26. Ok so have you tried Castor Oil? Put it down the burrow--deep inside. Use a turkey baster. They will leave I promise.

  27. Anna: Castor oil? With a turkey baster?! Now that's one I've never heard of! Might be worth trying . ;-)

  28. hello Beth, I followed your link to this post as I have rabbits too, since they arrived nearly 3 years ago there are some plants I haven't seen so the rabbits must have had them but I have a lot of herbs and the rabbits don't touch them, I've learnt it's the smell, rabbits don't like anything with a fragrance, also on a radio gardening programme they said rabbits do not like textured leaves like furry lambs ears, thanks for the list of rabbit proof plants, Frances

  29. Frances: Thanks for the tips about natural rabbit-repellent plants! I have onions planted around my vegetable/cut flower garden which also helps to keep bunnies away. I will try more herbs. Thanks again!