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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - July 03, 2014

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Pests
Title: Rabbit-proof Plants for Texas
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Do you have a list of flowers that rabbits will eat or will not eat so I know what to plant or avoid? I have a year-round rabbit population in my neighborhood and wish to co-exist with them without them eating anything other than the grass.

ANSWER:

Best wishes with your wildlife garden plans. Hopefully living/coexisting with nature will be an effective strategy instead of trying to fence your garden and keep the rabbits out.

Looking online, Maria Iannotti has a good list of plants that rabbits like to eat and some they usually avoid in her article Rabbit Proof Plants on the web.


First, a few interesting points that she writes about rabbits. Rabbits forage for food year round. Apparently you can tell the difference between deer and rabbit browsing because rabbits produce a clean cut. Deer must tear off their food leaving a ragged stem. But when food is scarce, just like deer, rabbits will eat just about anything. So there is no absolute list of rabbit-proof plants.

Rabbits love many vegetable plants, fruits and berries.
Rabbits prefer the succulent new growth of trees and shrubs.
Plants with a strong scent or fuzzy leaves are not preferred.

Jeff Schalau at the Arizona Cooperative Extension has grouped deer and rabbits together for his list of Deer and Rabbit Resistant Plants.

In Texas, Howard Garrett, The Dirt Doctor has a Rabbit Resistant Plants article on his website. He also writes about a natural organic granular repellant.


Lastly, Barbara Medford has answered a previous Mr. Smarty Plants question also from Plano, Texas about sun tolerant plants that are rabbit resistant.  She says, “To start with, there are no truly deer or rabbit proof plants. And sometimes rabbits, like people, will be choosy and make different choices in one yard than another right down the street. If they are hungry enough, they will eat any of these plants, and even when they're not terribly hungry, will nibble the fresh new growth on plants they would ordinarily avoid. Most browsing animals prefer not to eat plants that are aromatic or prickly but, again, in times of drought or bad weather, they'll eat what they can get.”

 

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