Woodside Guide to Reducing rabbit damage
Fencing – the best way to keep rabbits out of the garden is by installing rabbit proof netting. Remember that rabbits are burrowing animals, so the netting should be partially buried in the ground, and gates need to be netted as well. Problems can occur if there are rabbits on the site when you put up the fencing – they will be trapped in! Make sure you clear the site of all rabbits first.
Plant Guards – using the same principle as above, but for individual plants which require specific protection, and is nearly always necessary for young trees and shrubs in rural areas. Recent hard winters have caused big problems with rabbit, hare and deer damage, so the placing of tree guards should not be overlooked.
Spraying – a locally developed product, but now sold on to a new dealership, “Grazers” can prevent damage to plants. It works by making the plant taste nasty, so the rabbit may take a bite and then decide not to bother any more, and moves elsewhere unharmed. It can be an expensive solution to the problem, but if you’ve planted something really special, which you particularly wish to protect, then it may be money well spent. Also helps against deer, hares and pigeons
Plant selection – Here is a list of plants that rabbits may find unpalatable, that has been put together over many years in the garden industry. Apparently rabbits’ tastes vary from group to group, so the list is made up of suggestions only, and is not set in stone!
Perennials: Acanthus (Bears’ Breeches) – spiky and tough
Aconitum (Monkshood) – poisonous, rabbits seem to leave it alone
Agapanthus – needs a sunny, sheltered spot
Ajuga repens (Bugle) – all types excellent ground cover
Alchemilla mollis – cottage garden favourite
Astilbe – requires a damp soil and semi-shade
Bergenia (Elephants’ Ears) – large fleshy leaves; good ground cover
Cortaderia selloana (Pampas Grass) – sharp leaves put off rabbits
Dahlia – both bedding and perennial types
Echinops (Globe Thistle) – friendly to bees and butterflies
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) – thrives in full sun
Lupinus (Lupins) – popular in informal planting schemes
Nepeta (Catmints) – soft hairy leaves and insect attracting flowers
Primula – mostly requiring damp conditions and semi-shade
Rheum – both ornamental and edible rhubarbs
Sedum (Iceplants) – fleshy, almost succulent type foliage
Stachys lanata (Lambs’ Ears) – soft woolly leaves, good ground cover
Verbena – slightly rough leaves, and spectacular flowers
Bulbs: Alliums – members of the onion family, large globes of flowers
Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite) – very early spring flowers, bright yellow
Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrops) – iconic flower heralding the end of winter
Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) – lovely blue flowers, very underrated
Narcissus (Daffodil) – apparently also poisonous to dogs
Tulips – statuesque flowers of various shades in late spring
Shrubs: Aucuba (Spotted laurel) – marbled leaved evergreen
Bamboos – Not personally recommended, as my daughters’ rabbit eats these!
Buddleja (Butterfly Bush) – fragrant flowers a magnet to butterflies
Buxus (Box) – classic dwarf evergreen hedging plant
Ceanothus (Californian Lilac) – needs sheltered site, perhaps against a wall
Cistus (Sun Rose) – aromatic foliage, cheerful flowers in pink or white
Cornus (Dogwoods) – superb winter stem colour
Cytisus (Broom) – needs a sunny site, flowers in cream, yellow or orange
Elaeagnus pungens maculata – evergreen, with variegated leaves
Escallonia – evergreen, sometimes struggles to overwinter in this area
Euonymus – good tough ground cover, may climb if planted against a wall
Fuschia – hardy types. Remarkably good performers, with pendant flowers
Hydrangea – traditional, reliable shrubs, easy to grow
Lavatera – attractive flowers in shades of pink. May suffer in severe winters
Philadelphus – highly fragrant white flower, every garden should have one
Rhododendron – exuberant flowers from late spring . Needs acidic soil
Ribes (Flowering Currant) – smells a bit unpleasant, but attractive flowers
Rosemary – essential culinary herb, has suffered in recent winters.
Syringa (Lilac) – curiously out of fashion, pretty flowers with incredible scent
Weigela – very overlooked summer flowering shrub. Attractive, easy and tough
Climbers: Clematis – wide variety available to flower in almost every month
Lonicera (Honeysuckle) – popular twining plant, good for birds and insects
Trees: Betula (Birch) – graceful tree suitable for small gardens, good for birds
Eucalyptus – surprisingly hardy with aromatic foliage and attractive bark
Laburnum – poisonous to many things, but nevertheless spectacular
Pinus – most pines are too spiky for rabbits to bother with.
Prunus (Cherries) – stunning spring blossom, and good for wildlife
Sambucus (Elder) – Attractive flowers and foliage, berries loved by birds
I would be very interested to hear about plants you have found to successfully avoid rabbit damage – just let me know so I can add to this list! Emma.