Rabbits and Deer Won’t Eat These Flowers, Shrubs, Herbs, and Trees

Some years, rabbits eat the foliage on the crocus, some years they don’t. Deer eat the lilies and take a few flowers off the hydrangea. Or both of them eat the crocus under the tree, but not next to the patio. Or vice versa. But one thing is certain: rabbits and deer will always eat the tulips.

plants rabbits and deer won't eat

There are actually a few plants that rabbits and deer won’t eat.

It can make you feel like you need a guard tower and security lights to keep your plants safe, because it’s impossible to predict which will be grazed or outright consumed by deer and rabbits each season.

From personal experience, most damage seems to be done in early spring when food sources are somewhat limited (compared to summer) and mating season is underway. But a hungry animal in any season will eat just about anything, even plants that are poisonous.

As the saying goes, your best defense is a strong offense. Install plants that deer and rabbits don’t care for and you’ll have far fewer nights weeping into your pillow.

Ideas for discouraging rabbits and deer from eating your plants

plants rabbits and deer won't eat

Caught red handed

Deer, rabbits, squirrels, and most animals are discouraged by aromatic plants like strong herbs (basil, rosemary); plants with spines like Prickly Pear; plants with tough leaves (lamb’s ear); or plants with milky sap. Use these deterrent plants near your more tempting plants and animals may leave them alone.

New plants are more likely to be nibbled on than well established, large plants. Protect new transplants and early season growth as long as possible with perimeter fencing, milk jugs, or deer, squirrel, and rabbit repellents.

The best way to keep rabbits and deer from dining on your plants is to fence them off. It’s unsightly yes, but a physical barrier works better than anything else.

I’ve had great success with bottled repellents like Liquid Fence that are made with putrescent egg solids – animals appear to take one whiff and wander off. The downside is that you have to spray after every rainfall, which can become expensive during a rainy season. To enjoy finely scented blooms, spray repellents around the shrub or flower and not on it.

As far as your vegetable garden is concerned, nothing but onions and garlic are off limits to deer and rabbits.

Buy on Amazon: Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit Repellent

 

Flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees that are rabbit and deer resistant

Table is ordered by Botanical name. Click to reorder by common name.
Spp.=all species
Common Plant NameBotanical Name
Glossy AbeliaAbelia grandiflora
Fir Abies spp.
Vine MapleAcer circinatum
Japanese MapleAcer palmatum
YarrowAchillea spp.
MonkshoodAconitum spp.
AgaveAgave spp.
Carpet BugleAjuga spp.
AlbiziaAlbizia spp.
Alliums (chives, onions, cleome)Allium spp.
Naked Lady Amaryllis belladonna
Pearly EverlastingAnaphalis margaritacea
PussytoesAntennaria
ColumbineAquilegia spp.
Manzanita, Kinnikinnick, PinematArctostaphylos spp.
Pink Sea Thrift, Sea PinkArmeria spp.
Sage (Artemisia)Artemisia spp.
AsterAster spp.
False Spiraea (Astilbe)Astilbe spp
Basket Of GoldAurinia saxatilis
BegoniaBegonia spp.
BarberryBerberis spp.
BergeniaBergenia spp.
Swan River DaisyBrachycome iberidifolia
Butterfly BushBuddleia spp.
BoxwoodBuxus spp.
Duster, Fairy DusterCalliandra spp.
BellflowerCampanula spp.
Cedar Cedrus spp.
Hackberry, SugarberryCeltis spp.
CentaureaCentaurea spp.
Snow-in-SummerCerastium tomentosum
Dwarf PlumbagoCeratostigma plumbaginoides
RedbudCercis spp.
Curl Leaf Mountain MahoganyCercocarpus ledifolius
Flowering QuinceChaenomeles spp.
Chamisa, RabbitbrushChrysothamnus nauseosus
Rocky Mountain BeeplantCleome serrulata
Lily Of The ValleyConvallaria majalis
Littleleaf CordiaCordia parvifolia
CoreopsisCoreopsis spp.
Golden SmokeCorydalis aurea
CotoneasterCotoneaster lucidus
HawthornCrataegus spp.
CrocusCrocus spp.
CypressCupressus spp.
DahliaDahlia hybrids
Dalea, Prairie Clover, Indigo BushDalea spp.
DaphneDaphne spp.
DelphiniumDelphinium spp.
DianthusDianthus spp.
Bleeding HeartDicentra spp.
Dragon's HeadDracocephalon spp
BrittlebushEncelia farinosa
Turpentine BushEricarmeria laricifolia
Fleabane, Showy DaisyErigeron spp.
Wild Buckwheat, Sulphur FlowerEriogonum spp.
California PoppyEschscholzia californica
EuphorbiaEuphorbia spp.
Apache PlumeFallugia paradoxa
Blue FescueFestuca ovina ’Glauca’
AshFraxinus spp.
Blanket FlowerGaillardia grandiflora
Cranesbill, Geranium Geranium spp.
Maidenhair TreeGinkgo biloba
Creeping Baby’s BreathGypsophila repens
English IvyHedera helix
Straw FlowerHelichrysum bracteatum
Blue Avena Oat GrassHelictotrichon sempervirens
DaylilyHemerocallis spp.
CandytuftIberis spp.
HollyIlex spp.
BalsamImpatiens spp.
IrisIris spp.
JuniperJuniperus spp.
Chuparosa, Hummingbird Bush, BeloperoneJusticia californica
Japanese Rose, Japanese KerriaKerria Japonica
Red-Hot PokerKniphofia uvaria
Dead NettleLamium maculatum
LantanaLantana spp.
LavenderLavandula spp.
LeucophyllumLeucophyllum spp.
Blue FlaxLinum lewisii
LupineLupinus spp.
Crown-PinkLychnis coronaria
Tansy AsterMacaeranthera tanacetifolia
MagnoliaMagnolia spp.
Creeping Oregon Grape, Oregon GrapeMahonia spp.
FernsMany Species
Blackfoot DaisyMelampodium leucanthum
Bee BalmMonarda spp.
BambooMost Species
Forget-Me-NotMyosotis scorpioides
DaffodlisNarcissus spp.
CatnipNepeta spp.
OreganoOriganum spp.
LocoweedOxytropis
Japanese SpurgePachysandra terminalis
PoppyPapaver spp.
Virginia Creeper, Engelmann IvyParthenocissus spp.
Beard Tongue, PenstemonPenstemon spp.
Creeping PhloxPhlox subulata
SprucePicea spp.
PinePinus spp.
Jacob’s LadderPolemonium caeruleum
Potentilla, CinquefoilPotentilla spp.
Douglas FirPseudotsuga menziesii
FirethornPyracantha spp.
OakQuercus spp.
Mexican HatRatibida columnifera
SumacRhus spp.
Currant, GooseberryRibes spp.
RosemaryRosmarinus officinalis
Boulder RaspberryRubus deliciosus
Gloriosa Daisy, Blackeyed SusanRudbeckia hirta
Sage, SalviaSalvia spp.
SantolinaSantolina spp.
SoapwortSaponaria ocymoides
SaxifrageSaxifraga spp.
Pincushion FlowerScabiosa spp.
Squill (Bluebell)Scilla spp.
JojobaSimmondsia chinensis
GoldenrodSolidago spp.
Texas Mountain LaurelSophora Secundiflora
Lamb’s EarsStachys byzantina
Prince's Plume Stanleya
Feather GrassStipa spp.
SedumStone Crop
SnowberrySymphoricarpos albus
LilacSyringa spp.
Golden BannerThermopsis divaricarpa
ThymeThymus spp.
VerbenaVerbena spp.
Speedwell, VeronicaVeronica spp.
ViburnumViburnum spp.
PeriwinkleVinca spp.
Sweet VioletViola odorata
WisteriaWisteria spp.
California FuchsiaZauschneria californica
Hummingbird Trumpet, Orange CarpetZauschneria garrettii

 

Sources:

Colorado State University Cooperative Extension

University of Arizona Cooperative Extension

Oregon State University Extension Service 

Todd’s Google+ profile

About Todd Heft

Todd Heft is an organic gardener and freelance garden writer who lives in the Lehigh Valley, PA and has gardened for most of his life. When he isn't writing or reading about organic gardening, he's gardening. His first book, "Homegrown Tomatoes: The Step-By-Step Guide to Growing Delicious Organic Tomatoes In Your Garden" is available on Amazon now. Google
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10 Responses to Rabbits and Deer Won’t Eat These Flowers, Shrubs, Herbs, and Trees

  1. Claude Girardi says:

    We live in a new Florida gated community. Planting flowers around the shrubbery area for the last 3 years has seemed like an effort in futility against rabbits eating the flower petals. They apparently like the taste and tenderness of the petals. I had tried everything from expensive sprays, to hot cyan type mixture in water with a sprayer, to garden lights with motion sensors, with no success. Then, since we had a large rosemary herb patch, I snipped off about 30 to 40 4″ to 6″ sections and just pushed them into the flower plants center. Voila! Success. The scent is so strong on the rosemary herb, that the rabbits have stayed away permanent, now for the last three weeks, and the rosemary does not lose its scent, even after it dries.

  2. Gambil Quail ate every flower from 12 plants of alyssum within 48 hours of planting them in a large circular bird bath that I turned into a floral garden. A few bare stems and leaves remain. I didn’t expect that to happen. What would deter bird destruction?

    • Todd Heft says:

      Best way to avoid that in the future is to not plant flowers in a birdbath. It was too easy for the birds to see, and isolated from other plants. In the garden use bird netting to keep birds off of plants.

  3. Jeannine Harding says:

    What kind of grass can I plant that rabbits will not eat? Is there a spray or granules that will keep rabbits out of my yard? Liquid Fence is useless!The company refunded my money when I provided picture of before and after using Liquid Fence. Thank you.

    • Todd Heft says:

      There is little that rabbits won’t eat, unfortunately. Liquid FEnce works well for me, but it must be frequently applied, especially after rain.

  4. LM says:

    Oh these pesky rabbits ate all my asters!!!

  5. serena says:

    someone has just eaten my lavender!!!! rabbit or deer?? anyway doesn’t make much difference… also they are eating flowering sage…

    • Todd Heft says:

      Lavender is a little tall for rabbits, so probably deer. As I say in the article, at times deer will sample or eat literally any plant – they’re the most notorious grazers.

  6. Martin Rennhackkamp says:

    Rabbits just ate a new Rosemary down to the ground!

    • Todd Heft says:

      Rabbits are a gardener’s worst enemy. My recommendation is to spray Liquid Fence around and on your garden plants – they absolutely hate the smell and it “trains” them not to eat in that spot.