There are some furry critters that will nibble just a few flowers or fresh shoots from your garden, and that’s okay. But rabbits, well, they can go too far.
When they start consuming such large portions of your precious flowering plants that you stop using the word “cute” to describe the babies, or you don’t find Bugs Bunny to be quite so funny anymore, well, it’s time to take action.
While there are lots of planting, maintenance, and fencing strategies that might keep rabbits out of your garden, one of the easiest tactics is simply to grow flowering plants that the rabbits will leave alone.
If these big-eared pests have become a big problem for you, there are lots of attractive flowering options they won’t gobble.
Just remember, no plant is guaranteed to be 100 percent rabbit-proof. There’s always that youngster who will eat anything – once.
Or, if forage is in super short supply in your area, or a drought or extra-rainy season is killing off their preferred food sources, they may chomp on anything to survive.
Under normal conditions in a temperate and thriving landscape, these choices will help you say goodbye to rabbit diners. Here’s the A-list I’ll be sharing:
Ready to grow some beautiful flowers that rabbits won’t touch? Consider these:
1. Allium (Allium spp.)
Ornamental perennial allium bulbs bloom in soul-satisfying shades of blue, purple, or bright white, and options range from six-inch minis (A. christophii) to six-foot mammoths (A. giganteum).
You may not enjoy their pungent scent – they’re also known as ornamental onions for a reason – but rest assured the furry rascals won’t like their onion smell either.
Plant flowering allium in borders, rock gardens, or anywhere you need a splash of color.
Allium Bulbs – All In One Mix
They’ll do well in the sun and can tolerate partial shade, growing well in Zones 4-9.
Learn more about how to grow flowering alliums in this guide.
An all-in-one mix of purple and white allium bulbs is available from Eden Brothers in bags of six, 12, or 18.
2. Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Not only are the bright blue blooms of this mint relative bird and butterfly magnets, you can use anise hyssop leaves in your cooking in place of mint.
Bugs and his buddies, on the other hand, don’t like these flowering plants that grow two to four feet tall on square stems.
Plan for the flowers to bloom from midsummer to fall, and think about propagating cuttings to plant in other places where bunnies like to dine.
Anise hyssop is hardy in Zones 4-9, and will grow in full sun to part shade.
Read more about growing anise hyssop in your garden.
You can purchase anise hyssop plants in three-inch containers from Nature Hills Nursery.
3. Bee Balm (Monarda spp.)
Bees and other pollinators adore it, rabbits, not so much.
This perennial herb grows three to four feet tall and blooms in a profusion of pink, red, violet, or white starting in summer and not letting up until early autumn.
Bee balm requires full sun and prefers moist soil that drains well. It’s hardy in Zones 4-9.
You can learn more about its medicinal value by reading our bee balm growing guide.
You can find bee balm seeds at Eden Brothers in packets of various sizes.
4. Begonia (Begonia semperflorens)
These old-fashioned beauties add a punch of color anywhere it’s needed in the flower bed.
Wax begonias may have green or bronzed leaves and pink, white, or red single or double blooms.
You’ll find flowering begonias that will thrive in whatever light you’re able to offer, from full sun to part shade.
My favorite part of growing these to deter munching bunnies is that you can also take cuttings to root and plant in containers indoors in the winter.
You can grow begonias as annuals pretty much anywhere in the US, or they can be grown as perennials in Zones 10-11.
Begonia plants in pint containers, hanging baskets, and six-packs are available from Home Depot.
5. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
This cottage garden favorite is one flowering perennial that marauding rabbits will pass over.
Plus, it provides those appealing daisy-type golden or deep red flowers in average soil. It will need full sun, though, and it won’t grow well in containers, so plan to plant it in raised beds or in the ground.
Otherwise, black-eyed Susans are low maintenance and will tolerate drought. They’re hardy in Zones 3-9.
Learn more about growing black-eyed Susans in this guide.
You can find black-eyed Susan seeds in packets of various sizes available at True Leaf Market.
6. Catmint (Nepeta catarina)
Catnip’s more subdued cousin catmint grows in average soil and produces subtly scented gray-green leaves followed by blue, pink, or white blooms.
They’ll keep coming throughout the summer if you cut it back mid-season.
This easygoing plant will grow in full sun to part shade and just about any type of well-draining soil. Average is fine!
This perennial gets about a foot tall and is hardy in Zones 3-9.
Learn how to grow faassen’s catmint in this guide.
Catmint seeds are available from Eden Brothers in various packet sizes.
You can also buy pots of ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint from Nature Hills Nursery.
7. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Chives are members of the onion family, that includes garlic, leeks, and spring onions are a secret weapon against bunnies who are treating your garden like their personal salad bowl.
Like the ornamental Alliums described above, chives make a good flower garden addition, too, since they boast beautiful light purple flowering pom-poms late in the season.
They’re also tasty perennials. Oh, and this is probably the only natural, non-toxic pest deterrent that tastes great as a topping on baked potatoes or baked into cheddar biscuits.
They grow best in fertile, well-draining soil and full sun, though they’ll also persevere in part shade. And they’ll usually make a comeback if you let them reseed.
I have thoroughly enjoyed a garlic chive plant (A. tuberosum) I got more than a decade ago for this very reason, another allium relative with similar growing requirements and white clusters of blooms.
Check out our guide to learn more about growing chives.
You can find common chive seeds (A. schoenoprasum) in various packet sizes available at Eden Brothers and bare root A. schoenoprasum ‘Cha Cha’ chives from Burpee.
8. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
You’ll be depriving certain hopping pests of dinner, but you won’t be missing out on drama or beauty when you grow these showy 18-inch-and-up spikes of pink, rose, white, and yellow flowers.
They’ll start busting out all over in June and continue the show through late summer.
It used to be that all foxgloves were biennials, so they didn’t bloom until the second year after planting. Now, some new varieties have been bred to flower in year one.
All types of foxgloves are fairly easy to grow if you have moist, well-drained soil. Remember to keep them well-watered during dry spells.
They like part sun but are also a solid choice as a perennial for the shade garden. Old timers will tell you that the hotter your growing area, the more shade foxgloves require.
Foxglove ‘Arctic Fox’
Most importantly, don’t plant foxglove anywhere young children will encounter them. They are poisonous!
Foxgloves are hardy in Zones 4-10.
You can find ‘Arctic Fox’ plants available at Burpee, or for mixed color seeds specially bred to bloom the first year, try ‘Foxy,’ also from Burpee.
9. Hardy Geranium (Geranium spp.)
Here’s another flowering plant that deters nibblers with its scent.
This is the hardy perennial I’m talking about, aka cranesbills, not those annual red geraniums that are actually a close relative, known botanically as Pelargonium.
Different varieties of hardy geraniums bloom in shades of blue, pink, purple, and white.
They produce mounds of dark green foliage and vibrant colored, five-petaled flowers. The leaves act as a deterrent with their subtle lemony scent.
They’re a great choice for native plant gardens, and areas with light shade or full morning sun.
‘Rozanne’ Hardy Geranium
One of the many reasons I love hardy geraniums is that you can readily grow more by rooting cuttings in water.
Learn more about cultivating and propagating cranesbill geraniums in our growing guide.
You’ll be rewarded with a long-lasting perennial that blooms from late spring to early fall.
Hardy geranium cultivars like ‘Rozanne’ are available in #1 containers from Nature Hills Nursery.
10. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
The tasty herb with its tiny pink or white flowers is a culinary delight, just not to rabbits.
They have a tough time scaling raised bed walls, so plant oregano along the ground and save Thumper and Bugs’ favorites – like tender young petunias – for planting in raised beds or hanging baskets.
A perennial, oregano grows in average soil and tolerates drought and heat. It will need full sun to do its best. This summer favorite is hardy in Zones 5-10.
Check out our oregano growing guide for more information.
Greek oregano seeds are available in various packet sizes from True Leaf Market.
11. Salvia (Salvia spp.)
Our cute hopping buddies tend to leave this cheerful flowering plant alone, maybe because of its scent.
Salvia is a genus in the mint (Lamiaceae) family, so its aroma will probably be just fine for you.
It’s a handy option if you live where it’s hot or dry but still want brilliant color. In colder climes, salvia is also known for its chill tolerance.
And you’re bound to find at least one variety that suits you. Salvia can be perennial or annual, and some types are semi-woody subshrubs or groundcovers.
If you’ve already planted your garden, you can find complementary salvia varieties in colors like red, purple, and blue that grow from one to five feet tall, depending on your selection.
Salvia ‘Red Hot Sally’
Take a look at our growing guide for the A-Z steps of growing this rabbit-resistant beauty.
‘Red Hot Sally’ salvia seeds are available from True Leaf Market in packets of 1,000.
12. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
This cottage garden, dried-flower, and bouquet favorite is also the rabbit’s least favorite. A win-win!
Yarrow is a drought resistant perennial that requires full sun and well-drained soil, and it grows best in Zones 3-9.
It’s dependable, long-blooming, and available in shades of pink, salmon, orange, red, white, and yellow, whatever you need.
A. millefolium ‘Gold’ Yarrow
Find detailed information about growing yarrow in our guide.
And revel in the possibilities from our list of hardy yarrow cultivars to grow. How about neon yellow?
Find gold yarrow seeds by the packet or in bulk from Eden Brothers.
13. Zinnia (Zinnia spp.)
These bright, cheery annuals are easy to grow in full sun. They come in a variety of sizes, from dwarf miniatures to those that grow four or five feet tall.
And they offer plenty of color options, from a pretty pastel pink to neon green.
My favorites are cactus zinnias (Z. elegans), which are mammoth and arty. When they’re flowering, I like to keep a single bloom in a bud vase on my bathroom vanity.
Z. elegans ‘Super Cactus’
To me, they look like brightly colored mini haystacks. Instant cheer!
A variety of zinnia seeds are available from Eden Brothers, including a ‘Super Cactus’ giant mix in several packet sizes.
Hop On Down the Trail, Nibbling Bunnies!
Remember, there’s always a slight risk that rabbits will find some flowering plant in your garden to be to their taste.
For one thing, they’re constantly on the run from predators, so when they pause to eat, they’re happiest to get concentrated nutrition from those heavily fertilized bedding plants you’ve just purchased and planted.
They also like the tender sprouts of your perennials or flowering vegetables. If you’re able to keep them away with fences or other barriers while your plants are small and appealing, that’s a good strategy.
Also be extra cautious and protect young plants, woody shrubs, and even the trees that have delicious new growth, during times when wild food isn’t available for whatever reason.
Happily, a combination of all these strategies can usually make it possible to minimize or eliminate damage from these cute little creatures.
I have found that gardeners and even researchers in different areas have different ideas as to which flowering plants are rabbit-resistant. So be sure to experiment if you’re having trouble.
Let us know in the comments below if you’ve hit on a flower that seems impervious to furry little marauders with big ears, quivering whiskers, and wide eyes!
And if all this info about picking flowering plants has you in garden planning mode, read these other helpful guides next:
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