Garden Plants That Rabbits Love to Eat

Having rabbits as backyard pets can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, if you also have a garden, those cute little critters can quickly become a nuisance as they munch their way through your carefully tended plants and vegetables. Knowing which plants rabbits tend to avoid can help you design a garden that meets the needs of both you and your long-eared friends.

An Overview of Rabbit Behavior in the Garden

Rabbits have voracious appetites and broad palates when it comes to garden plants. Here are some key things to understand about rabbit behavior that will help you design a rabbit-friendly garden:

  • Rabbits are herbivores – They feed exclusively on plant material including leaves, stems, roots, vegetables, fruits, and flowers. A rabbit’s diet in the wild consists of grasses, clovers, and forbs.
  • They prefer young, tender vegetation – Rabbits especially love seedlings and young plants which are more tender and contain higher levels of nutrients and moisture. Established, woody plants are often left alone.
  • They have continually growing teeth – Rabbit teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. Chewing on plant materials helps wear their teeth down to a proper length.
  • They tend to return to favorite feeding areas – Once rabbits find a reliable food source in your garden, they will likely return again and again. Protecting young plants until established is key.
  • Rabbits feed most actively at dawn and dusk – Keeping an eye on the garden during peak feeding times can help deter damage. Rabbits are less active in the heat of day.
  • They feed close to hiding spots – Rabbits feel safest when they can quickly escape perceived threats. Limit cover nearby the garden to dissuade lingering.
  • Rabbits have individual preferences – While some plants are generally less or more appetizing to rabbits overall, preferences can vary. You may need to experiment to see which plants your rabbits favor.

By understanding these tendencies and preferences, you can make your garden a place where you and your rabbits can both thrive.

Best Rabbit-Resistant Plants

Here are some of the best options for plants that rabbits tend to avoid based on scent, taste, texture, or other factors that make them unappealing. These can be incorporated into an ornamental or edible garden that rabbits are less likely to devastate:


  • Lavender – Rabbits tend to dislike the strong scent
  • Daffodils – The bulbs are toxic to rabbits
  • Foxglove – All parts of the plant are poisonous
  • Poppies – They find the sap distasteful
  • Marigolds – The pungent odor drives rabbits away
  • Zinnias – Prickly leaves and bitter taste deter rabbits
  • Petunias – Smelly leaves make them less appetizing
  • Salvia – Rabbits dislike the aromatic foliage
  • Snapdragon – Distasteful or inedible to rabbits


  • Mint – Strong smell and taste deter rabbits
  • Oregano – Rabbits avoid its potent flavor and scent
  • Chives – The oniony smell and taste repel rabbits
  • Rosemary – Rabbits dislike the piney scent and flavor
  • Lavender – The fragrance keeps rabbits at bay
  • Sage – rabbits are adverse to its savory scent and taste


  • Potatoes – Toxic foliage and underground growth deter rabbits
  • Asparagus – Spiky ferns surrounding spears protect from rabbits
  • Corn – Sturdy stalks and minimal ground cover discourage nibbling
  • Artichokes – Thorny leaves and stems keep rabbits away
  • Onions/Garlic – Strong scent drives rabbits away
  • Fennel – Licorice-like smell deters rabbits
  • Eggplant – Prickly leaves make it less appetizing

Ornamental Plants

  • Rhododendron – Toxic leaves make it rabbit-resistant
  • Hydrangea – Unpalatable foliage deters rabbits
  • Lantana – Rabbits dislike the smell of the leaves and stems
  • Yucca – Sharp, spikey leaves discourage nibbling
  • Rose of Sharon – Coarse leaves are avoided by rabbits
  • Columbine – Distasteful to rabbits, especially when mature
  • Butterfly Bush – Rabbits don’t care for the pungent leaves and stems

These plants can form the basis of a garden that meets your needs while also discouraging rabbit destruction. Combine plants rabbits dislike with physical barriers like fencing to protect any vulnerable plants.

Garden Plants Rabbits Love to Eat

Unfortunately, the plant preferences of rabbits don’t always align with those of gardeners. Here are some of the most irresistible plants to rabbits that are best avoided if rabbit damage is a concern:

Flowers and Ornamental Plants

  • Tulips – A favorite spring bulb of rabbits
  • Pansies – Rabbits love the tender petals and leaves
  • Hostas – A staple food source for rabbits in the garden
  • Roses – Rabbits munch on leaves, buds and new growth
  • Sunflowers – Rabbits nibble seeds, leaves and young stalks
  • Impatiens – Soft leaves and flowers are delicacies for rabbits
  • Petunias – Rabbits find the tender foliage delicious
  • Carnations – Young plants and flowers get devoured by rabbits

Vegetables and Herbs

  • Carrots – Sweet roots and feathery greens are irresistible
  • Peas – Young shoots, pods, and developing peas attract rabbits
  • Beans – Germinating seeds and seedlings are rabbit candy
  • Lettuce – Rabbits can decimate whole lettuce plants literally overnight
  • Basil – A favorite herb of rabbits to nibble on
  • Cabbage/Broccoli – Rabbits love munching the leaves and heads

Fruits and Berries

  • Raspberries – Rabbits dine on ripening berry canes all summer
  • Blackberries – Canes and ripe berries are quickly eaten by rabbits
  • Strawberries – Ripening and ripe berries don’t last long around rabbits
  • Apples – Fallen fruit and low branches with fruit attract rabbits
  • Cherries – Rabbits stand on their hind legs to reach ripening cherries

Trees, Shrubs and Vines

  • Grapevines – Rabbits damage developing shoots and nibble grapes
  • Roses – The bark, leaves, buds and flowers are all rabbit treats
  • Blueberry Bushes – Rabbits feast on the branches, leaves and fruit
  • Fruit Trees – The bark and any low-hanging branches and fruit are at risk
  • Blackberry Bushes – The canes, leaves, and berries are irresistible

Protecting the plants that rabbits find most tempting will be key to preserving your garden. Physical barriers like fencing are the best option for safeguarding vulnerable plants.

Deterring Rabbits From the Garden

Keeping rabbits out of the parts of your garden they are likely to damage the most takes some clever planning and consistent monitoring. Here are some tips to deter rabbits from treating everything as their personal salad bar:

Use Fencing

Fencing off the entire garden or specific areas is effective at keeping rabbits out physically. Use the tightest mesh possible to prevent entry by young rabbits. Bury the bottom several inches underground to thwart digging underneath. Make sure the fence is at least 2 feet high.

Remove Hiding Places

Rabbits feel safest eating very close to thick cover or piles of brush where they can quickly escape. Keep the perimeter clear.

Apply Repellents

Spraying or dusting plants with organic repellents formulated to discourage rabbits can provide temporary protection. Reapply after rain or watering. Common repellents include hot pepper oil, garlic oil, and predator urine.

Add Deterrents

Place sticks, rocks, plastic forks, pine cones, or other uncomfortable obstacles in and around plants to irritate rabbit paws and discourage lingering. Move them frequently so rabbits don’t get used to them.

Use Scare Devices

Motion-activated sprinklers, noise makers, and bright lights can frighten away rabbits temporarily. Vary the location and mix up types for best results.

Allow a Sacrifice Area

If you simply cannot deter rabbits from your entire garden, designate a small area with plants they can nibble without limiting their food supply completely. Provide tasty alternatives like twigs and hay nearby.

Get a Dog

Dogs that patrol the yard and garden are excellent rabbit deterrents. Their scent and activity discourages rabbits from sticking around. Even small dogs are threatening to rabbits.

Be vigilant, especially with young plants. Start control methods before damage begins or after the first nibbles are detected. Persistence and adapting to the rabbits in your yard are key to finding the right anti-rabbit strategies for your garden.

FAQ About Plants and Rabbits in the Garden

What are the best flowers to plant that rabbits won’t eat?

Some of the best rabbit-resistant flowers include lavender, daffodils, foxglove, poppies, marigolds, zinnias, petunias, salvia, and snapdragons. Rabbits tend to dislike the strong scents, prickly textures, and bitter or toxic properties of these plants.

What vegetables can be planted that rabbits won’t eat?

Some vegetables that rabbits tend to avoid include potatoes, asparagus, corn, artichokes, onions, garlic, fennel, and eggplant. Their toxicity, spines, smell, or taste make them less palatable to rabbits.

What type of fencing keeps rabbits out of gardens?

The best fencing to exclude rabbits uses a very tight mesh, at least 1-2 inches or less. The fence should be at least 2 feet tall and have the bottom portion buried a few inches underground to prevent digging underneath. Chicken wire will not keep out young rabbits.

Are there any herbs that rabbits don’t like to eat?

Strongly aromatic herbs like mints, oregano, chives, rosemary, lavender, and sage are normally left alone by rabbits. The pungent scents and flavors seem to deter them from munching these herbs.

What smell will keep rabbits away?

Strong scents are one of the best deterrents for rabbits. Garlic, hot peppers, predator urine, vinegar, and essential oils like peppermint, clove and tea tree can repel rabbits when sprayed or sprinkled around the garden. Reapply frequently.

What plants can be planted near rabbits?

Choose plants with tough or hairy leaves, milky sap, prickles, and strong scents. Focus on mature plants versus tender seedlings. Native grasses, sedges, milkweed, and elderberry are examples of plants that tend to withstand rabbits well. Provide alternative foods like grass hay.

What is the best rabbit repellent for gardens?

Effective natural repellents to deter rabbits include hot pepper wax, garlic spray, predator urine granules, and soap-based products. Look for products specifically formulated to repel rabbits. Reapply them frequently to renew protection, especially after watering or rain.

With some strategic planning and diligent protection methods focused on excluding rabbits and deterring them from munching your plants, it’s possible to co-exist with the rabbits who share your garden space. Use a multifaceted approach for best success in keeping your landscape safe from rabbit destruction. Be persistent and don’t get discouraged – with time you can gain the upper hand!


Living side-by-side with rabbits in your garden landscape poses some unique challenges when it comes to protecting plants. By understanding rabbit behaviors and preferences in the garden, choosing resistant plants, and using strategic deterrents, a garden can be created that meets the needs of both plants and rabbits. With persistent and adaptable tactics like fencing, repellents, and careful plant selection, your precious greenery and rabbits can be dissuaded from destroying the fruits of your gardening labor. A tolerant and multi-pronged approach is key to success when it comes to sharing your garden with these infamous plant-munching culprits.