Question of the Week – Number Two: January 21, 2021

“What can I do to discourage rabbits in my landscape and garden? They are wrecking all of my plants.”

If this is a familiar face in your flower or vegetable garden, perhaps there is hope. But it won’t come easily. (Photo from the University of Florida)

If I had an answer to this one, I might get knighted! Rabbits rank up there with deer.

I had a rather lengthy reply all typed up and ready. I mentioned using repellents, but having to retreat every time it rained, and that the results weren’t all that good.

I mentioned using blood meal as an organic fertilizer. It’s all-nitrogen, and since pansies like nitrogen, it would have been great for my pansies, but the dogs liked to roll in the blood meal. It made for flattened pansies and smelly dogs.

I said I’d discovered that planting ryegrass gave the rabbits an alternate food source, and that that always helped lure them away from my pansies.

Planting pansies and other rabbit favorites in large patio pots gets them out of harm’s way. It has been a great way around rabbit problems in the Sperry home landscape for the past 25 years.

And I wrote that I ended up planting my pansies and other winter color in large patio pots, higher than the rabbits were able to reach.

But then I read the long accounts posted by New Mexico State University (out where they have several species of rabbits, including jackrabbits with those really long ears!), the University of Florida and Penn State University. Talk about diverse parts of America.

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These fine schools have elaborate details of dealing with rabbits. I’m just going to give you links to their pages and let you read for yourself.

I will warn you ahead of time that both New Mexico State and Penn State talk about a couple of ways of controlling rabbits that I am uncomfortable endorsing (guns and encouraging snakes), but I’ll leave that up to you. I just can’t feel my finger muscles typing those words when it comes to bunnies.

New Mexico State offers this advice from out where the rabbits roam free.

Pennsylvania State University finds rabbits going after their landscape and garden plants just as many urban Texans do.

Note that the University of Florida may have the most practical solution: chicken wire fencing with 1-inch mesh. The fence should be 2 feet tall, and it should be inserted 6 inches into the soil. That sounds simple enough unless you happen to cage the rabbit inside the fence accidentally like a Texas A&M vegetable specialist friend of mine once did.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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