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What Flower to Plant That Rabbits Don’e Like

Find out what flowers to plant in your garden that rabbits will not eat.

Back in early March, I bought two flats of purple Verbena and planted them in the flower bed in front of my house. Since then, there has been plenty of rain as well as perfect sunny days.

Purple verbena planted in flower bed.

This mix of water and sunshine has made the Verbena flourish into nice size mounds quickly. I spaced the plants apart from each other knowing they will fill in the bed over time, but they are doing it at a much faster rate than I expected. :-)

This flower bed has held a few different types and colors of flowers since we moved into the house 4.5 years ago.

I love pink flowers and pink Verbena, but found it is a total waste of money to buy, plant and take care of since the rabbits and cute little bunnies that live in my neighborhood love pink Verbena.

pink Verbena in flower pot

Chomp… chomp… they would eat every pink flower head in my front garden. Even the smallest bunny – cute as they can be would somehow be able to jump up into the pink Verbena I had planted in pots on my deck and nibble down every flower. :-(

I planted pink Vinca in the front bed and deck planters one summer. It did very well, but I had to water it daily for it to thrive. Sometimes two times a day when the summer heat was intense and above 95. (Practically every day from July to early September).

Planting Pink Vinca

Vinca also is an annual, so I had to buy it and plant it each year. Too much time and money spent when I am not a passionate gardener. I like pretty flower beds around my house, but only when they need little maintenance.

Last summer I noticed that my next door neighbor, Diane… yes, two Diane’s living next to each other. :-)

I noticed that she had big beautiful mounds of purple Verbena in her flower bed in front of her house. Every flower head intact, while my pink Verbena flower heads were munched down to the stems.

Mr McGregor chasing Peter Rabbit out of his garden
From The Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

I felt like Mr McGregor shooing out Peter Rabbit from the pink Verbena in the flower bed.

I feel that the rabbits are in their natural habitat and I don’t like being mean to them, especially the bunnies. :-) I even tried stinky spray to keep them away, but nothing really worked.

Purple Verbena planted in flower bed.

So this year I gave up on annuals and the color pink and planted purple Verbena that will come back every year.

Flower bed in front of my house in the early evening.

I am more than thrilled at the growth rate and as soon as I can get out to the local garden center I will buy some fresh pine straw to mulch around the mounds.

Flowers That Rabbits Don’t Eat

  • Marigolds
  • Geraniums
  • Vinca
  • Begonias
  • Ageratum
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Strawflower

 Rabbit Resistant Perennials

  • Purple Verbena :-)
  • Salvia
  • Yarrow
  • Lavender
  • Catnip
  • Lantana – in warmer climates
Mums planted in barrel style planter on deck.

Now that I can be outdoors more and the garden centers in my area are open, I have to decide what flower to plant in two empty barrel-style planters on my deck. I have 8 planters total. I tried Lantana last year, but it didn’t come back. :-(

I would like to plant something that will come back every year like the Mums and Wandering Jew (Purple Heart) that the previous owner of the house had in the planters when we moved into the house. They are still coming back every year in 6 of the planters.

Wandering Jew planted in planter

I loved the pink Vinca, but it needs too much watering to thrive all summer.

What do you plant? What color flowers do you like?

As you can see from my choices, I like pink and purple. :-)

Flowers that rabbits don't like so they will leave your flower garden alone.

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25 Comments

  1. What can I plant that squirrels will not eat do know cause I can not have anything in my yard except cactus. Please let know if you can help. Thanks from Arizona.

    1. Hi Sylvia – I wish I could help you, but I am not familiar with what types of plants, flowers and shrubs grow in Arizona. I am from the east coast and only know what works here. Have you done a Google Search for your growing zone – asking how to deter squirrels in Zone number? I am sure you will find an answer that will help get your cactus some leafy friends. :-)

  2. Diane, thank you for all of your experience and tips in this post. I used to be so much better at picking flowers for my beds and they would thrive. As I have gotten older I forget which ones did well the previous years and buy the wrong ones. Then I am disappointed and have to spend more money. I took a picture of your tips with my phone and I will be able to read your advice while at the nursery. YAY. It is way too early for Michigan weather to be buying and planting flowers or anything for that matter. I will have to wait weeks to even start looking. Thank you again. I love your posts.

  3. Your flowers look beautiful. Good idea with the verbena. I also try to do pink verbena.
    Pine straw is conveniently available at stoplight at 76 (Dutch Fork Road) & Wessinger and also at Metts Construction in Chapin (on 76 past Hardees).
    PS AllABoutFabrics is open today & tomorrow by appointment — 2 hour shopping. Make appointment online. I can hardly wait to get some fabric.

  4. Oh to have flowers in a yard! Yours are so pretty. I live in central Texas and I have planted Verbena and Vinca because I was told the deer won’t eat them (several of the neighbors planted them along with me). Sadly, the deer ate them down to the dirt! We do not have a lot of deer, but apparently an alert went out to them that there was a feast in my neighborhood one evening! I planted them just before dusk and the next morning they were totally chomped (including the neighbors)!!! We have tried so many different plants and they are gone the next day, so I have given up on having pretty flowers in my front yard. :-(

  5. Hi Diane!
    I am a “passionate” gardener and very fussy about my color combos. But we live in an area of pretty opposite conditions as you have so my expertise would probably not be useful to you. (We are in the central Oregon high desert, zone 5, but I only do zone 4 plants because of the desert flux. Our temps can run from 35 to 85 in the same day….. frequently!) We have more invaders than just Peter Cottontail! Deer, gophers, field mice, marmots, and the occasional elk or farm animal escapee are frequent visitors. My remedy is a fenced off area for the tasty plants that we both love! There are many plants that they won’t eat, so we can have the best of both worlds. Have you tried the many colors of California poppies? While they are annuals, they reliable re-seed every year. So that means they always come back! And our visitors won’t eat them! Happy spring!

  6. The purple Verbena will be just gorgeous in no time!

    I must tell you a cute story about Marigolds. Years ago I had a neighbor who was having trouble with the bunnies chomping on her vegetable garden. I advise her to plant Marigolds because they do well in Wisconsin and that the bunny rabbits don’t like them. She followed through, planting the entire outer edge of the garden with Marigolds. They were lovely–for awhile. She called me early one morning to come over and use her front door. I thought that was odd because we always used the side door, but I was obedient. She let me in and walked me to the back of the house to look through the patio doors. There were 3 bunnies chomping the Marigolds down to a mere 3″. Unfortunately the Marigolds never did well after that and had to be replaced. I felt so bad since I had made the recommendation. Oh well. :-)

  7. Look up Gaura….it comes in white and a beautiful raspberry colored pink. It’s a perennial that will grow in your area and low water use. I think you will like it’s look.
    I have the white one by my pool here in AZ. It grows in a variety of climates. I love watching the flowers dance in the breeze and butterflies and hummingbirds love it!

  8. Diane, Miniature Crepe Myrtles grow well in pots and come back in Oklahoma (zone 7). They are lovely rounded small plants.

  9. And I fed my rabbits at my old house ?. No dogs or cats for me (allergies) so they were my outdoor “pets”. My nursery did what you did and suggested rabbit resistant plant options. They didn’t eat my flowers but, instead, hopped up into the pots and took afternoon siestas every day. Now, I get to deal with moose and deer who just pull everything out of the ground by the roots whether they like it or not. Your flowers look beautiful ❤️

  10. This is so funny! We have lived in this house for 15 years and never had a problem like you described until ….this year! I love hosts and have a planter box full . On a recent trip to Costco, I grabbed a bag of 15 assorted hosta. I planted some in pots and some in a bed by the back deck. Out of the 15 bulbs, only Two had leaves. The rest were rootie looking things. I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for those. To my delight they began to shoot up tiny stems! After a few days , they were gone! Nibbled to nubs! Not only the hosta babies, but the creeping Jenny was also on the menu. My husband’s cousin suggested the most brilliant thing. Put jalapeños in a spray bottle with water and spray liberally. Won’t hurt the plants and the critters don’t like the taste. I’ ve been doing it now for a while and it’s working! I give them a spritz in the morning when I let the dog out every two days now that hey are growing up. I give an extra spritz after the rain. Maybe next year you could try the pink a la jalapeños. Thanks for your blog. You have such good ideas and lots I can relate to! I enjoy looking at people’s IG s and blogs about home improvement, but I’m about to attempt a faux brick wall ( although I’d like to have one!) stay well and keep these great ideas coming! ?

  11. Good morning Diane…like you, we have experimented n our yard what does and does not last/work. Have you considered Rio? It is a somewhat tropical looking plant, and it is really hardy. It lasts from spring through fall. It comes in a bush or a vine–we have both, planted in pots. Rio can be found at Home Depot and comes in pink and red (that I have seen). I love your purple verbena. We have it growing on our side yard and it comes back each year, fuller and fuller.

  12. There is a product called Soil Moist (and some other similar products) that you can mix with the soil in your planters. It absorbs water, then releases it as the soil dries. It works well to help reduce watering.

  13. I have the purple verbena planted in my front bed as well. I have it planted with lambs ear. The two together are absolutely beautiful! Especially in the evening. They almost look iridescent. The purple against the silver soft ears. Highly recommend the combo.

  14. Living in SC, I have found several plants that require little maintenance for planting beds
    Daylilies ( Roycroft) is a SC mail order vendor near Muriel’s Inlet and I have these in many colors including pinks. We used to make a day trip to purchase in pots and walk their grounds
    I like spirea – there are large background specimens like bridal wreath (white) and smaller shrubs like little princess with beautiful magenta pink blooms
    Agapanthus in shades of light lavender to almost black purple (do well plant in clumps they like crowding)
    Living on the water in your wet areas do you have iris? Have you ever been to the Iris Festival at Swan Lake in Sumpter SC? Incredibly beautiful!

    As for pots…even things that say Full Sun struggle without a little shade in SC July and August ? but try adding some coir fiber and water retaining beads…Here are my favorite perennials for pots in the full sun like your deck. I often put in an annual or two to create instant contrast as the perennial plants can take a bit longer to bloom than those available in the Spring at local garden centers.
    Coreopsis (all shades of yellow and some pink)
    Verbena
    Flax Lily (variegated frond offers contrast)
    Salvias/Sage
    Phlox
    Zinnia (annual that comes back)
    Balloon Flower

  15. Hello Diane, I love to see what your up to in your beautiful lake house, the flower beds will be super pretty I am sure.
    We have been having problems trying to get flowers and plants this year due to the lockdown, but have managed to order some online, my favourites for the hanging baskets are always trailing begonia, they are so huge by the time summer hits and give so much colour, but I do love so many other palnts.
    Thanks for sharing and happy days.xx

  16. I’m happy to see this post since I’ve been wondering what rabbits eat. We moved to a new area this year and are seeing bunnies in the garden. I put a leaf lettuce plant in the ground for them to eat, but I don’t want to plant flowers that they will destroy. The rest of my lettuce will go in an elevated raised bed, about 3 feet above the ground, so I hope the bunnies won’t find a way to get up that high!

  17. Verbena Bonariensis would look fabulous with blanket of its little cousin. Light and airy but about 3ft tall. Gives some movement if it gets breezy. One chop back at the end-of summer or in the early spring. Butterflies love it as do seed eating little birds. We have lavender, looks lovely when flowering but is a days job to cut it back in September.. Then looks ugly for a while until now when it is starting to shoot for next months flowers. Thats with our climate in S W France. Enjoy it all!

  18. Hello. Thank you for the much needed advice. I will definitely try to plant purple flowers. Speaking of pink flowers, last week, squirrels decided to eat the pink… plastic flowers I planted last year as a last resort, after I realised that one huge groundhog (living under the pool deck) and many squirrels ate everything I planted in my backyard. I thought for sure they would not eat plastic, right? Unbelievable!

    This year I ordered saffron bulbs (saffron crocus or crocus Sativus) from a local producer (it seems that saffron can be grown in North America). I think I will try to grow them indoors to make sure no animal eats it before we do!

  19. Lavenders would look really nice with your verbenas, and the gray-green color looks very cool in the hot weather. They should grow well there, unless you have very heavy clay soils, in which case you may need to amend with lots of sand (and maybe some humus).

    Pam

  20. Diane, I’m really surprised about the Vinca (periwinkles). That’s what we plant in Texas for summer color. Very drought tolerant and blooms til first freeze. Glad you found what works. P.S. Don’t let the Wandering Jew escape the pot or you will never get rid of it. Very invasive.

  21. Don’t give up on the Lantana! I’ve had a couple years where it hasn’t come back, but for the most part it has. Try putting a little extra mulch around it before it starts getting cold. This is the 4th or 5th year mine has come back here in Northwest Georgia. Thankfully, it loves the heat so I rarely have to water it at all in the summer.

  22. Miss Huff Lantana is a perennial in your zone and should most definitely come back for you every year. I planted it but didn’t like where it was so the next year I moved it. It died…it doesn’t like to be moved. If you get some make sure you plant it where you want it to stay. Without running drip irrigation to your barrel planters there is no way not to hand water them in the summer at least once a day and often more often with it really heats up. How are your hydrangeas doing in the front bed?