The Rabbit Lists

With shorter rabbit-resistant plants around them, the wire that protects the zinnias doesn't show.

I’ve been getting lots of questions from people lately about what they might plant that rabbits won’t eat. It seems they will mow down just about anything–even thorny roses and barberry. I’ve lived in my particular neighborhood in West Des Moines for 10 years, and rabbits have always been a problem. Deer don’t venture into my near-the-freeway neck of the woods (fingers crossed to avoid jinxing), but rabbits are a big problem. So, I’ve put together lists of what has proven safe in my yard.

My vegetable garden is fenced with two layers of wire – one is the so-called rabbit wire (worthless against rabbits, but works for dogs) and a second layer is 24″-tall chicken wire. Metal fencing works–nylon just sharpens their teeth. There are a few things here and there in the yard that live behind protective circles of chicken wire (zinnias, roses, clematis,  all tree trunks, poppies, and lilies), but everything on the lists below are avoided or bothered very little by rabbits during the spring-summer-fall growing season.

A closer look reveals the wire. Shhh. Don't tell the wabbit!




Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
Aquilegia (Columbine)
Catharanthus roseus (annual vinca)
Cleome hassleriana (Spider flower)
Iberis (candytuft)
Impatiens (I. walleriana and I. hawkeri)
Lobularia maritima (Alyssum)
Mirabilis jalapa (four o’clocks)
Ricinus (castor bean)
Tagetes – some are safe, some are not

Centranthus ruber (Jupiter’s beard)
Convallaria (lily of the valley)
Geranium (hardy)
Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
Hypericum patulum
Paeonia (peony)
Penstemon (flowers may be eaten)
Perovskia (Russian sage)
Salvias, particularly perennial/hardy species
Saponaria (soapwort)
Sedum (some short types are nibbled)
Stachys (lamb’s ear)
Vinca (perennial ground cover)
Most aromatic herbs (rosemary, sage, lemon balm, oregano, thyme, etc.)
Most ornamental grasses (Calamagrostis, Miscanthus, Pennisetum)
Trees & shrubs
(These have least winter damage)
Buddleia (these die back to the ground every year anyway, and then recover nicely)
Juniperus (my favorite is the columnar ‘Taylor’)
Physocarpus (Ninebark)
Sambucus (Elderberry)
Syringa (Lilac)

Ampelopsis (porcelain berry)
Lathyrus latifolius (perennial sweet pea)


6 thoughts on “The Rabbit Lists

  1. Instead of planting animal resistant plants, I recommend using a repellent spray. A hungry rabbit or deer will eat whatever they want, even plants that supposedly don’t taste good to them. I’ve tried planting certain stuff, but they still attacked my plants. Now I spray defence on them and it keeps the rabbits and deer away. The stuff is amazing. It’s organic. The only one with the OMRI logo on the label.
    This is the spray I mentioned:

    1. Yes, if animal populations are heavy, they will eat things they don’t like to keep from starving. I use Liquid Fence on my plants if I can’t tolerate any damage at all (as when plants are very young), but it’s rarely necessary on plants they don’t like. Repellents also must be reapplied frequently in spring, especially during the rainy season. I’ve got a life, and spraying repeatedly is one more thing I prefer to cross off my list.

  2. I’m not sure of Latin names, but isn’t heuchera coral bells? I planted two in my yard and they were devoured overnight. It may have been ground squirrels and not the rabbits, but they found them tasty. Oh, and if you want to please their little palates, plant flowering kale. Stripped that down to the “skeleton”.

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