Monthly Archives: June 2015

How to Discourage Thumper from Eating your Plants

In this garden, rabbits would tend to avoid tiger eyes sumac (center, yellow), elderberry (upper left) , Karl Foerster grass (upper right)  and fuzzy lamb's ears (lower right.  But they would relish the tall garden phlox (at left, pink) and prairie winecups (bottom, center).

In this garden, rabbits would tend to avoid tiger eyes sumac (center, yellow), elderberry (upper left) , Karl Foerster grass (upper right) and fuzzy lamb’s ears (lower right. But they would relish the tall garden phlox (at left, pink) and prairie winecups (bottom, center).

When I was a child, my sister owned a white bunny named Thumper. Although Thump didn’t have a sparkling personality, he was an OK pet, and it was fun to watch him munch grass in the back yard.

Nowadays, I have one or two Thumpers who visit my yard. Steve, my cat, discourages them sometimes, so at least my yard isn’t Wild Kingdom like my neighbor’s place across the street. But the critters still damage my garden occasionally.

As a result, I’ll be installing more rabbit-resistant plants. Note that I didn’t say rabbit-proof. If rabbits are hungry enough, they’ll eat just about any plant. So I’ve been developing lists of some of my favorite plants that reportedly are rabbit resistant, and I thought I would share them with you.

Generally, rabbits don’t like plants that are smelly, prickly, fuzzy, oozy (as in white sap-producing), leathery, fibery or toxic. Think about it: Would you want to chomp a mouthful of prickles? That’s why you won’t find me chowing down on roses, for example.

My preferred rabbit-resistant trees include Eastern redbud, hawthorn (especially Russian), honey locust, mountain ash, oak, pine and spruce.

Rabbits don't like munching on roses' prickles.  So they would likely leave this Livin' Easy rose alone.

Rabbits don’t like munching on roses’ prickles. So they would likely leave this Livin’ Easy rose alone.

My favorite shrubs that deter the furry critters are butterfly bush, barberry, dogwood (such as Isanti), purple smokebush, sumac, cotoneaster (especially hedge, or C. lucidus), daphne, viburnum, broom, rose and mockorange (especially Cheyenne).

As for resistant perennials, I like agastache, yarrow (such as paprika), English lavender, catmint (as in Little Trudy), bleeding heart, coneflower, day lily, penstemon, goldenrod, salvia, hardy geranium (such as the long-blooming Rozanne), lavender cotton (Santolina), soapwort, sedum, veronica (especially V. pectinata and V. prostrata), orange carpet hummingbird (Zauschneria garrettii) and yucca (as in the dramatic, yellow-and-green color guard yucca).

Then, of course, there are bulbs to consider: ornamental onion (Allium), daffodil, Siberian squill, winter aconite, snowdrop, hyacinth and autumn crocus (Colchicum—beautiful, but poisonous).

For more information about plants that are resistant to critters, check out this Colorado State University publication.

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Filed under Landscape Design, Plant Geekiness