Tired of finding your vegetable garden nibbled to the ground or your beautiful flower bed decimated overnight? Clever rabbits can quickly destroy a garden, but you can outsmart them. Many plants naturally deter rabbits with strong fragrances, bitter flavors, sharp textures, and even toxicity. Fill your garden with plants rabbits won’t touch and wave goodbye to those frustrating furry pests. Discover 17 of the best shrubs, flowers, and edibles for tricking rabbits into avoiding your yard. With the right plants, you can create lush gardens that rabbits simply hop right by. Read on to learn insider secrets to repelling rabbits along with top plant picks guaranteed to stop rabbits in their tracks. Your garden will thank you!
What Repels Rabbits from Eating Plants?
Rabbits have sensitive noses, so strong scents can deter them from nibbling on plants. Here are some tips for repelling rabbits:
Plant flowers, herbs, and vegetables with strong fragrances. Rabbits tend to avoid plants like lavender, rosemary, mint, garlic, and chives. The strong scent overwhelms their senses.
Use chemical repellents around the perimeter of your garden. Look for rabbit repellents that containputrescent whole egg solids or capsaicin at nurseries and garden centers. Reapply after heavy rain.
Create physical barriers to protect plants. Chicken wire fencing, hardware cloth, or wire mesh will keep rabbits from accessing plants. Bury the bottom edge to prevent rabbits from digging underneath.
Add a scarecrow, fake predators like plastic owls or snakes, or aluminum pie pans that clang together in the wind. Rabbits frighten easily and will avoid anything unfamiliar.
Apply used coffee grounds, human hair clippings, or ammonia-soaked rags around plants. Rabbits dislike the strong odors.
Add a shelter dog to your backyard. Many dogs will scare away rabbits just by their presence or chase them if seen. Supervise your dog and rabbits should avoid your yard.
Flowers, Shrubs, or Plants That Rabbits Don't Eat
When selecting plants for your garden, focus on these varieties that rabbits tend to leave alone:
Sweet alyssum is a fragrant annual flower that grows low to the ground. Its tiny white or purple flowers bloom all summer long. The scent deters curious bunnies, making alyssum an excellent option as a border or accompaniment to other flowers rabbits love to eat. Plant it around roses, lilies, and tulips to protect them from hungry rabbits.
With fuzzy blue or white flowers, ageratum is another annual that rabbits avoid eating. It’s known for being heat and drought tolerant. Plant ageratum in full sun or partial shade and it will thrive with minimal care. Use it as an edging plant or filler in containers. The blooms attract pollinators like butterflies.
Lantana is a perennial shrub that produces clusters of brightly colored flowers. It’s popular for its long bloom time, often lasting from spring until the first frost. There are many cultivars to choose from in shades like red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and white. Lantana is highly rabbit resistant and requires little maintenance. Plant it in beds, borders or pots.
Also called calendula, pot marigold is an annual herb grown for its sunny yellow and orange flowers. It has a distinctive pungent odor that drives away rabbits and other pests. Pot marigold is easy to grow from seed and will thrive all summer with minimal watering required. Use it in herb gardens, mixed borders, and pollinator-friendly plantings.
For a continuous display of color in shaded beds and borders, wax begonia is a great choice. This annual bedding plant has succulent stems with glossy leaves and rose-like flowers. It comes in a rainbow of colors including red, pink, orange, yellow and white. Wax begonia thrives in partial shade and moist soil. Rabbits tend to leave it alone, making it ideal for areas prone to rabbit damage.
The spiky flowers of snapdragons give them a resemblance to small open-mouthed dragons, giving them their common name. These fragrant perennials produce tall flower spikes that come in colors like red, pink, yellow, white and purple. They bloom spring through fall and most varieties withstand light frosts. Snapdragons deter rabbits with their bitter taste. Use them in beds, borders and cutting gardens.
Salvia produces long lasting blooms on tall spires in shades of red, pink, purple, blue and white depending on variety. This hardy perennial is part of the mint family. Rabbits dislike the fragrance of salvias. Plant these in masses along borders or walkways. Many salvia varieties attract hummingbirds with their tubular flowers.
Also known as spider flower, cleome is an annual that can reach 3-5 feet tall. It flowers from early summer until frost with unusual spidery blooms in white, pink, purple or lavender. Cleome thrives in hot, sunny locations with good drainage. The plant has a pungent scent that repels rabbits. Use cleome as a background plant or specimen in containers.
Globe thistle is a clump-forming perennial that produces round purple flower heads the size of softballs. Its sharp, spiny foliage and bitter taste deter rabbits and other animals. Globe thistle grows 3-4 feet tall and does best in full sun and dry conditions. Use it as an architectural feature in flower beds and borders. The colorful blooms attract bees and butterflies.
Although rabbits avoid it, cats love this aromatic perennial herb in the mint family. Catnip is very easy to grow in average soil and full sun to partial shade. Give it plenty of room to spread since it grows rapidly. The leaves have a minty scent that drives away rabbits. Catnip can be used to make tea and is a great plant for pollinators.
All pepper plants, including sweet bell peppers and spicy chili peppers, are ignored by rabbits. Pepper plants need warm weather and full sun. Plant them after the last spring frost when soil and air temperatures have warmed. Mix pepper plants into edible gardens, borders or containers on a patio or deck. The colorful fruits can be harvested for weeks once they start ripening.
With its silvery-green foliage, wormwood is grown primarily as an ornamental plant. It has a strong bitter taste and pungent fragrance that deters rabbits and other pests. Plant wormwood in hot, sunny spots with well-drained soil. Use it to form borders along paths or walkways. Wormwood can also be planted along with herbs like lavender and rosemary that rabbits avoid.
Geraniums are popular annual bedding plants that produce mounds of colorful blooms. Standard garden geraniums come in shades like red, white, pink, salmon and purple. The distinct scent of geraniums repels rabbits, making them ideal for flower beds, window boxes, and mixed containers. They grow well in average soil with at least 6 hours of sun. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowers.
The foliage of potato plants contains solanum, which is toxic to rabbits if ingested. Rabbits will avoid munching on potato plants, making them a smart addition to vegetable gardens prone to rabbit invasions. Grow potatoes from seed potatoes or pieces of potato with “eyes”. Plant them in fertile soil in full sun 4-6 inches deep and 8-12 inches apart. Potatoes can be harvested by gently digging around the plant to find the tubers.
With papery, daisy-like flowers, strawflowers bloom all summer in colors like red, pink, orange, yellow and white. They get their name from the dry, straw-like appearance of the seed heads. Strawflowers hold up beautifully as cut flowers. In the garden, their taste and texture deter rabbits. Use strawflowers for borders, beds, containers and wildflower meadows. Plant in full sun for the best floral display.
Shirley poppies are annual bloomers with tissue paper-like flowers in a mix of colors including white, pink, rose, crimson and red. The blooms sit atop long slender stems and last only a day or two before new flowers replace them. Shirley poppies thrive in cool weather and reseed themselves each year. Rabbits avoid the poppy’s bitter, milky sap contained in the plant's leaves and stems.
Crown of Thorns
Crown of thorns is a succulent shrub covered in sharp spines that rabbits avoid. It produces showy flowers in bright colors like red, orange, yellow, white and pink throughout the year. Provide crown of thorns with full sun and well-drained soil. Water occasionally but allow the soil to fully dry out between waterings. Use this tough plant in south-facing beds and borders. Handle it carefully due to the two-inch long thorns.