Shrubs rabbits don't like?!

annika_sApril 10, 2011


We bought this house just outside of Milwaukee last June. I believe the previous homeowners spruced up the landscaping just prior to putting it on the market, as some of the shrubs looked very young.

Today I was outside and noticed that all four spyrea shrubs they had planted have been really badly damaged by rabbits eating them. They've been gnawed to stumps.

What shrubs work well for this area that rabbits don't like?

I do want a dogwood shrub (white-rimmed green leaves, red twigs in winter) to replace the rhododendron that isn't thriving; I also plan on keeping the boxwoods as they fared the winter well and the rabbits I suppose weren't interested in them. Will the rabbits eat the dogwood?

I'd like some more shrub recommendations, something that stays compact, maybe about 18"-24", and I'd love some purple- or red-leafed recommendations in addition to something in the same bright green the spyreas were.

The area is in front of an east-facing home and so does not get sun in the afternoon or evenings but does get sun in the morning.


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I've had rabbits eat everything from rose bushes to a small blue spruce! Some chemicals work well for me in the summer (Liquid Fence, etc.). But in the winter, if they're hungry enough, they'll devour just about anything.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 10:04AM
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Ah the suburban nemisis strikes again! Sorry to hear that. As the previous post suggested rabbits will eat anything if they are hungry enough and similarly what they choose to eat depends on the time of year. The worst problems I have with bunnies is in the winter. They will strip the bark of anything to get a source of water which is why they do it. Poor devils are basically really thirsty.

There is really nothing safe. Nurseries sell bunny resistent plants but these are not normally shrubs... that said they do not eat holly or juniper.

My solution to this problem is putting up a temporary fence around them which I take down when the weather gets warmer.... or....

Usually this problem is really bad when the snow is really high.... why they do not eat the snow is a mystery... seriously. Anyway this is usually from Jan onwards and the answer to the problem lies in Christmas. Buy a real tree and after you are done with it, cut it up and put the branches around some of the more sensitive plants. This is enough to distract them and hopefully they'll go and chew something in the neighbors yard.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:36PM
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The best remedy I have found is chili powder or cayenne pepper powder. I buy the ultra cheap stuff at dollar stores and sprinkle it around the base of the plant and on the exposed leaves. The rabbits don't like the smell, will try to lick it off their feet and they learned a valuable lesson.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 10:21AM
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del5(5 WI)

We found that the rabbits ate our spirea for the first few winters after we planted them, and now don't bother them anymore. (it saved me from having to prune them!) Now the rabbits just eat on my perennials during the spring and summer. I have surrounded many of the clumps with chicken wire. The shininess wears off after a few weeks, and then they blend into the flower beds and you don't even notice the wire.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 11:50PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

The rabbits ignored my Ivory Halo dogwoods.

They tear up burning bush, weigela, shrub roses, fothergilla, clethra and the list goes on and on. They'll suprise you and eat stuff they normally wouldn't eat even with their favorite plant right around the corner!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 8:45PM
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Ament(5a SD)

See, that's my trouble, I've got loads of grasses, all kinds of different weeds and such growing all over in my yard, not to mention all sorts of things in the neighbors yards... yet those blimy devils have to come munch in my garden? Gah!

I do know I have garter snakes wandering around in my yard too, so my next task for myself is to build a cairn in my back yard near the garden out of rocks that I already intended to remove from my ditch out front(who ever planned the ditch planned poorly. No cloth to prevent weeds under those rocks) So hopefully I can acquire a neighborhood snake or two to scare the garden robbers away.

I truly do not know much else to do, And I truly don't want to have to sic my heeler after it every time I spy it in my garden.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 4:26AM
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