The Q&A Archives: Groundcover safe from rabbits

Question: Rabbits seem to eat everything green. I just bought creeping perisinkle vinca for groundcover, but am wondering if I should plant rosemary instead (which I've heard they don't like. What is your opinion?

Answer: In reality, if a creature is hungry enough, it will eat whatever it can find, making it impossible to predict what rabbits will eat from region to region or year to year. Smooth, tender green foliage with a high moisture content is more highly sought than foliage that is rough, waxy, hairy, fuzzy, thorny or fibrous. (Silver or grey foliage often displays one or more of the latter characteristics.) Vegetables such as beans, cabbage, carrots, greens and peas are rabbit candy; corn, cucumber, peppers and squash are safer. Strongly scented or flavored plants for barriers include catnip, lavender, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, santolina, and thyme. However, young, tender autumn sage (Salvia greggii) foliage may be sampled, while chaparral sage (S. clevelandii) is left alone!

The most effective control method is to exclude rabbits with fencing. Wire mesh should be 30 inches above ground and buried at least 3 inches, with the wire bent outward to inhibit burrowing. Fencing an entire area often is impossible but surrounding favored individual plants with a ring of wire mesh is practical. Tender new growth is more palatable than tougher, mature growth, and large plants sustain foliage loss that would stress young plants. Protect transplants until they establish and then remove the wire if you don?t like the aesthetics. Prevent rabbits from chewing young tree bark by surrounding trunks with tree protectors or hardware cloth cylinders, placed several inches away from the trunk.

Below is a list of plants reported to be less favorable to rabbits. But, as stated earlier, if they're hungry, it's all fair game! Good luck.

Agave spp.
Aloe spp.
Blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)
Blanketflower (Gaillardia spp.)
Buckwheat (Eriogonum spp.)
Calliandra spp.
Dasylirion spp.
**Euphorbia spp.
Hesperaloe spp.
Hummingbird bush (Zauschneria californica)
Justicia spp.
Mexican bird of paradise
Mexican hat
*Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens)
Penstemon spp.
*Poliomintha maderensis Lavender Spice (TM)
*Sage (Salvia clevelandii and others)
Superstition mallow (Abutilon palmeri)
**Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora)
Texas sage (Leucophyllum spp.)
*Turpentine bush (Ericameria laricifolia)
*Wormwood (Artemisia spp.)
Yellow bells (Tecoma stans)
Yucca spp.

*Aromatic plants
**Toxic parts

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