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Rabbit-resistant flowers

There are a few plants they might avoid, but nothing green is ever completely bunny-proof
Photo courtesy of West Virginia University

How many times has this happened to you: You planted some beautiful flowers in the landscape and woke up the next day to find that they’ve turned into rabbit food. Where’s Elmer Fudd when you need him?

Ward Upham is an extension horticulturist at Kansas State University. He says the trick is to find plants that bunnies won’t bother. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many.

"Annuals that are resistant to rabbits tend to be things like wax begonia, lamb’s ears. We actually have some perennials that are resistant too, like daylily and iris. Most of the ferns are resistant, bee balm is another example of a plant that’s resistant," says Upham. "So there’s several that they tend to stay away from."

The key word here is “resistant.” There’s no guarantee that rabbits will stay away from these plants, especially if the critters are hungry and there’s nothing else around that looks appetizing.

If it’s a young, succulent plant, it’s more likely to become a bunny buffet. The same holds true if a resistant plant is over-fertilized and very green.

Unfortunately, Upham says your rabbit control options are few.

"If you had a vegetable garden probably the best solution would be something like fencing, but with our flower gardens that’s usually not an option. There are products you can use that you can spray on in order to make that plant less likely to be fed on, however, anytime you get a rain you’re going to have to reapply," says Upham. "Some people also use the motion-activated sprinklers. When an animal gets a certain distance away it’ll come on for a few seconds and scare it away."

Planting flowers in containers might be your best strategy. Upham says a rabbit won’t hop in for a snack unless the container is large enough for it to sit in comfortably. It also depends on the bunny – a cottontail is a lot less aggressive than a jackrabbit.

Learn more:

Top rabbit-resistant plants from Better Homes & Gardens

Strategies for keeping bunnies at bay

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