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Rabbits eating butterfly plants!!

14 years ago

I'm at my wit's end. Many butterfly plants that were listed as rabbit-resistant online and in books are definitely NOT rabbit-resistant.

Here's some background info: I've planted a 12-foot circular butterfly garden in our cul-de-sac. As we're the only house on the cul-de-sac, the rest of the property is a grassy park where rabbits are known to roam.

After planting the garden, I noticed a few casualties the next day. So I bought some Liquid Fence for deer/rabbits and sprayed it like crazy around the garden. (BOY did it smell bad!!) ... But the next day, there were still several uprooted/nibbled on/destroyed plants.

THEN my Dad bought some "rabbit guard" fencing and installed it around the whole garden. I also read that rabbits dislike the smell of dog fur (as it's a scary predator smell), so I stuck tufts of my dog's fur every foot or so around the fence. Then we went on vacation for five days while our neighbor watered the garden.

Upon a close inspection this morning, I found even more destruction ... A sunflower is missing, my only New England aster is gone, several Zinnias are gone, two swamp milkweeds are toppled over, my lavender has been nibbled down considerably, and my yarrow has been COMPLETELY defoliated.

This is the lavender. It wasn't big to begin with, but so many of the leaves have been nibbled to stubs!

Here you can see the defoliated yarrow. I really hope it doesn't die. You can also see the fencing in the background.

What in the world am I doing wrong??? I can see no signs of rabbits crawling under the fence (it's buried in mulch), and I read everywhere that rabbits don't like to jump fences. This fence is around 2 feet tall or slightly taller.

I'm about to try Scoot's Rabbit/Deer Repellant. This spray actually makes the plants taste bad, so I'm hoping it works. I don't know what else to do!

Does anyone else know of good butterfly plants that are definitely rabbit-resistant?? Or have any other ideas on how to prevent rabbit destruction in my butterfly garden?

Thanks so much ... :(

Comments (12)

  • 14 years ago

    If you've done all that and stuff is still being eaten then it may not be a rabbit. It could be a deer. They can easily get over a rabbit fence. Other critters who destroy and eat stuff are groundhogs and squirrels.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Deer Resistant Landscape

  • 14 years ago

    Join the club! Rabbits have chewed the newly planted swamp sunflowers I planted in my meadow, as they do just about anything that's not behind impenetrable bars. That's why I have my garden behind a 6' tall fence.
    Rabbits even eat the sunflower seeds in broad daylight that fall to the ground beneath my bird feeder - this feeder is close to the house, so I watch them through the window. They're surprisingly big, much bigger than the cute little bunnies you see for sale at Easter time, so they can probably jump a 2' tall fence.

  • 14 years ago

    I bet it's deer. Whenever I've used rabbit fencing it's kept the rabbits out.


  • 14 years ago

    I feel your pain Mayzu!
    The absolute only way we could keep the rabbits from eating everything is with a rabbit-proof fence. And even occasionally, they get past that.
    Sometimes, if you can protect the individual plants (or groups of them), with chicken wire fencing until they get older, they're not as tasty to the wabbits. It isn't attractive to have all that fencing everywhere, but you still get your flowers.
    Good luck!

  • 14 years ago

    Rabbits dig under fencing, chew through vinyl fencing, squeeze through wire fencing with openings bigger than about 1" and jump over 2-3' high fencing. Those waskely wabbits!!

  • 14 years ago

    The best thing that happened in my yard is hawks. No rabbits left so far. I couldn't raise sunflowers at all. My sister calls them bobbits because they will cut down things and leave them.

  • 14 years ago

    LOL runmede....about the "bobbits".
    I wonder if placing green leafy veggies around the plants would work??? Maybe they'd be too full to eat the butterfly plants?
    When I've seen that they just cut the plants off and leave them, I wonder if they are just after the water in them?
    Maybe you could also leave a plant saucer full of water in the area??? Its hard to know, though, if doing these things will just attract them more.

  • 4 years ago

    Rabbits get water from plants, only.Fencing really is the only way to keep them out. Plant thing rabbits love, mixed in with the stuff you dont want them to eat, you might get lucky. Only fencing works.. In AZ, rabbits each cactuses for water, not kidding. Ohhh cut up watermelon they love, lol.

  • 2 years ago

    Our local rabbits eat our butterfly bushes, lavender and rosemary (occasionally), honeysuckle, some sage species, wormwood (yes, it's supposed to be poisonous, but our rabbits eat through entire bushes), and more. I don't 100% trust any article that tells you what they "tend" not to eat... I've been burned over a dozen times. You have to test it in your own garden... my local rabbits have damaged or completely eaten every plant that they "tend" not to eat. We have acres of vegetation that rabbits eat so it's not like our rabbits are starving... maddening.

    As the above poster wrote, although unsightly, fencing is the only method that has worked for me (liquid fence, "scarecrow", blinking lights, ultrasonic stakes, etc have all failed for me).

  • 2 years ago

    Chicken wire.

  • 2 months ago

    I had the same problem with rabbits destroying my butterfly plants. This year, only one butterfly plant came up. I up a huge tomato cage with chicken wire surrounding it.