RABBITS!! So cute — and yet so frustrating! If you are seeing sharp, clean angle cuts near the ground on your tender plants, yup – it’s rabbit damage. They prefer tender new growth, but in winter will eat twigs and bark. A clean nip about 24” off the ground or snow level tells you they’ve been by. Their tooth marks are usually about 2 mm wide. Smaller marks are probably mice.
A physical barrier, even temporary, can help. Try a fence of galvanized wire mesh about 18”-24” tall. The mess should be in 1” grid, with 6” buried beneath the ground. Attach the fence to posts with twist ties or plastic zip ties so you can easily remove, roll, and store it at the end of the season. Protect individual trees by encircling them with half-inch hardware cloth. It should stand about 24” above the anticipated snow levels.
Repellents can also be effective. Keep in mind that taste repellents protect only the parts of the plant they contact. In spring, when new growth is rapid, you’ll need to re-apply to any fresh new growth.
It might help to eliminate some of their absolute favorite plants such as clover and apples. Their preferred habitat is a sunny, bluegrass lawn and their heaviest feeding periods are the hour or two after dawn and an hour after sunset.
Plants Reported to be Rabbit Resistant
It can’t hurt to use plants that are considered ‘rabbit resistant’. We offer no guarantees that rabbits will leave these plants completely alone. They are reported to be less bothered by rabbits. Your experience may differ.
Adiantum pedatum (Northern maidenhair fern)
Athyrium filix-femina (Lady Fern)
Baptisia australis : (Blue false indigo)
Betula species (birch)
Campsis radicans (trumpet vine)
Cercis canadensis (Redbud)
Coreopsis species (tickseed)
Cornus species (Dogwood)
Dicentra eximia (Bleeding heart)
Dryopteris marginalis : (Eastern wood fern)
Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium)
Helianthus decapetalus (Ten petaled sunflower)
Helianthus microcephalus (Small woodland sunflower)
Heuchera. (coral bells)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Liatris spicata (Sspike gayfeather)
Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree)
Phlox subulate (Moss phlox)
Pinus species (Pine)
Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon’s seal)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern)
Prunus species (Cherry)
Quercus species (oak)
Rhus species (sumac)
Ribes species (currant)
Rosa species [spiny only] (shrub rose)
Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan)
Sambucus species (Elderberry)
Sedum ternatum (Three-leaved stone crop)
Solidago species (goldenrod)
Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver root)
Viburnum species (Viburnum)