Rabbit Proof Plants

Rabbit feeding on plants
Akio Tsuji / EyeEm/Getty Images

Rabbits dine out all year. They will devour tender shoots in spring and gnaw through bark in the winter. You can tell when rabbits, not deer, have been chewing on your woody plants because there's a clean cut. Deer do not have teeth on the top front of their mouths and must tear off the plants they munch on, leaving ragged stems.

Rabbits have large incisors, similar to rodents, like squirrels and mice.

But rabbits have 2 pairs of both upper and lower incisors, while rodents have only one. (Rabbits are not rodents. They are classified as lagomorphs.

I wish I really could tell you which plants are rabbit proof, but as with other animals, rabbits can surprise you. They do have their favorite foods and those they tend to avoid, but when food is scarce, they will eat just about anything. So use the following lists as a guide, but don't expect them to be fail safe.

Some Favorite Plants that Rabbits will Eat

The list of plants that rabbits will eat, or at least sample, is too long to include, but here are a handful of their favorites.

Vegetables, Herbs, and Fruits

Most tree fruits and berries are also rabbit treats.

Annuals and Perennials

  • Asters
  • Baby's Breath (Gypsophila paniculata)
  • Bachelor's Button (Centaurea cyanus)
  • Bellflower (Campanula spp.)
  • Clematis
  • Cockscomb (Celosia argenta cristata)
  • Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
  • Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea) [Just the flowers]
  • Crocus (Crocus hybrids)
  • Gayfeather (Liatris spicata)
  • Gazania (Gazania rigens)
  • Great Masterwort (Astrantia major)
  • Hosta
  • Lilies (Lilium hybrids)
  • Lupine (Lupinus)
  • Impatiens (Mostly the flowers)
  • Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)
  • Marguerite Daisy (Felicia amelloides
  • Mountain Bluet (Centaurea montana)
  • Pansy
  • Phlox
  • Rose Moss (Portulaca grandiflora)
  • Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) [When they are seedlings]
  • Sweet Pea (Lathyrus latifolius)
  • Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
  • Tulip
  • Violets
  • Wishbone Flower (Torenia)

Shrubs and Trees

Rabbits prefer tender woody plants with thin bark, so new plants and shoots are at the most risk. If you have a shrub they keep gnawing on and you can't protect it, tosses a branch or two on the ground might keep them content enough to leave the shrub alone. They will go for the easy meal. Better to sacrifice a couple of branches, than the whole plant.

  • Apples/Crabapples (Malus spp.)
  • Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)
  • Barberry (Berberis)
  • Burning Bush (Euonymus spp.)
  • Chokeberry (Aronia spp.)
  • Deutzia (Deutzia sp)
  • Dogwood (Cornus spp.)
  • Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
  • Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles)
  • Fothergilla (Fothergilla spp.)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
  • Honeylocust (Gleditsia spp.)
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)
  • Ironwood (Carpinus spp.)
  • Juneberry/Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)
  • Linden (Tilia spp.)
  • Maple (Acer spp.)
  • Mountain Ash (Sorbus spp.)
  • Oak (Quercus spp.)
  • Poplar (Populus spp.)
  • Rose (Rosa spp.)
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
  • Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria)
  • Spirea (Spiraea spp.)
  • Sumac (Rhus spp.)
  • Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)
  • Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Rabbit Resistant Plants

It should be no surprise that plants with strong fragrance or fuzzy leaves, like lavender and black-eyed Susan, are less popular with rabbits. Unfortunately, these plants won't deter them completely. Rabbits grazing in your flower beds will simply eat around the plants listed here.

Vegetables

Annuals and Perennials

  • Agastache Ageratum
  • Allium
  • Blue Star Amsonia hubrichtii
  • Anemone (Anemone x hybrida)
  • Angelonia
  • Artemisia Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Astilbe
  • Azalea
  • Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus)
  • Basil
  • Beard Tongue (Penstemon)
  • Bee Balm (Monarda)
  • Begonia
  • Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Blanket Flower Gaillardia
  • Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)
  • Iberis (Candytuft)
  • Butterfly Bush Buddleia
  • Canna
  • Carex
  • Blue Mist Shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
  • Catmint (Nepeta)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia)
  • Crocosmia
  • Daffodils (Narcissus hybrids)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis)
  • Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum)
  • False Indigo Baptisia australis
  • Geranium, Cranesbill
  • Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis scorpioides)
  • Geum
  • Ginger (Asarum spp.)
  • Ice Plant (Lampranthus)
  • Iris
  • Lamb's ear Stachys byzantina
  • Lantana
  • Larkspur Lungwort (Pulmonaria)
  • Maiden Grass (Miscanthus)
  • Lavender (Lavendula)
  • Marigold Tagetes
  • Moss Pink (Phlox subulata)
  • Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia)
  • Mums (Chrysanthemum) (Not guaranteed)
  • Oregano
  • Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa)
  • Poppy (Papaver)
  • Petunia
  • Rosemary
  • Russian​ Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
  • Salvia (Sage spp.)
  • Sea Holly (Eryngium)
  • Sea Thrift (Armeria)
  • Sedum
  • Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus)
  • Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)
  • Spanish Bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
  • Speedwell (Veronica spp.)
  • Spider Flower (Cleome)
  • St. John's Wort (Hypericum)
  • Thyme
  • Tickseed Coreopsis
  • Verbena
  • Vinca
  • Zinnia

Trees and Shrubs

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
Juniper (Juniperus)
Spruce (Picea)
Fir (Abies)

If you are interested in how to deter rabbits, check out Controlling and Deterring Rabbits in the Garden.