Rabbit-Proof Flowers and Plants

Rabbit-resistant plants keep bunnies at bay

Bluebell flowers with light purple flowers in garden

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

While they may be cuter than other garden pests, damage from rabbits creates a real problem when it comes to outdoor plants. Keeping rabbits from eating your plants can be a time-consuming process, from driving them away with repellents to installing chicken-wire fences, or even relocating them after successful captures using a Havahart live trap. If it's true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it's helpful to consider overhauling your backyard landscape with shrubs, native plants, ground covers, perennials, and annuals that rabbits avoid naturally.

There are a variety of plants and flowers that rabbits won't eat. The bonus is that most of these species are also deer-resistant, offering double protection from common pests. There is a drawback, however, as some of these flowers are toxic plants—so it's important to exercise caution in growing them around children or pets.

In general, these are the qualities in flowers and foliage that deter rabbits:

  • Leaves that are jagged, prickly, or spiky, like yucca
  • Flowers that are toxic, like Lenten rose or foxglove
  • Leaves and flowers with strong smells, particularly mint, lavender, and yarrow
  • Leaves that are fuzzy or leathery
  • Plants with stems that are sappy

Rabbits, like humans, have different tastes in food. The plants listed below are avoided by most rabbits, but results can vary based on the specific animals in your garden.

Shrubs and Sub-Shrubs 

Butterfly bush plant with purple flower spikes
Butterfly bush

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Adam's needle shrub
Adam's needle shrub

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

cotoneaster plant
Cotoneaster

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Perennials

New England asters
New England asters

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

poppy
Poppy

 The Spruce / Leticia Almeida 

candytuft flowers
Candytuft

The Spruce / Kara Riley

Bulb Plants

Yellow hearty daffodils with orange blooms
Daffodil

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Annuals

Blue ageratum with blue flowers and bees
Flossflower

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Trees

Japanese maple tree
Japanese maple tree

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Vines and/or Ground Covers

Virginia Creeper
Virginia Creeper

​The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Foliage Plants

While the above-mentioned Vinca minor does put out a blue flower in spring, many gardeners grow it more for its shiny green leaves. For those who do not mind growing a plant that puts on more impressive foliage than flowering display, the following plants may be of interest:

'Silver mound' artemisia plant with silver-green lace-like leaves clumped over mulch
'Silver mound' artemisia

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Poppenga, R.H. Poisonous plants. Molecular, Clinical and Environmental Toxicology Experientia Supplementum, vol 100, 2010, Birkhäuser Basel. doi:10.1007/978-3-7643-8338-1_4

  2. Blount County Master Gardeners. Common Garden Plants That Can be Dangerous To Humans, Pets, or Livestock - by R. Lieber

  3. Butterfly Bush. University of Maryland Extension.

  4. Zhang Q, Zhang Y, Peng S, Zobel K. Climate Warming May Facilitate Invasion of the Exotic ShrubLantana camara, PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 9, 2014. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105500

  5. Lily of the valley Convallaria majalis L. The University of Georgia - Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.