Rabbit Proof Plants

kc.sdickc.sdic Posts: 71
Having just got on top of my current garden it looks like we may be moving! The property we are hoping to get has a 3 1/2 foot bank around 2 sides of the garden. (South and East facing). I want low maintenance, so not grass (as I find strimming hard work as I get older). I have read that winter flowering jasmine/lonicera/hedera /virginia creeper and clematis can be used as ground cover over a bank. As this would be cheaper than having to buy lots of plants I am wondering which of these would be rabbit proof? (Can't afford fence to keep rabbits out). Also, if anyone can tell me HOW I use these plants over a bank that would be great too as I can't see any advice on HOW despite spending ages searching. 

For the west border (which isn't a bank) I am thinking about Viburnum Eve Price/Rosa Rugosa / Mock Orange /Acuba  are they rabbit proof?
And Cranesbills? I LOVE cranesbills, are they rabbit proof? 
Thanks in advance. 
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  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 18,541
    I don't think any plant is absolutely rabbit proof as they will eat anything if hungry enough, especially juicy new shoots and buds.  However, the RHS offers this list of plants they like least - https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=209 

    As for planting climbers on a bank, plant at the base, preparing the hole and plant in the usual way, and then, instead of training the stems up a support, trail them up and across the bank and use U shaped planting pegs to hold them down.  That way they'll have a chance to establish before they get blown about.   Having a  few ground cover shrubs such as horizontal forms of juniper, berberis, cotoneaster etc should help them find something to cling to in addition.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 5,551
    I think the RHS advice to protect new plantings (even rabbit-resistent ones) from inquisitive rabbits is sensible.  Pity hardy geraniums aren't on their list... but quite a few of the plants you mention, are.   :)
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 14,023
    I know from experience that rabbits and deer eat hardy geraniums and clematis.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • kc.sdickc.sdic Posts: 71
    Thanks for your responses. Spent days reflecting on all of this and not knowing what to do. Can't afford to rabbit proof the whole garden and it would look awful if I just rabbit proofed the only border in the garden by putting a 3 foot netting fence all round it! Yet, obviously I don't want to spend a small fortune on plants only to get them eaten! I thought maybe I would forget the border and put up a fence and have grass and a couple of trees, but deer may also be a problem and although I can put a cage around the tree it wouldn't stop deer eating the tops off my newly planted trees! Will have to keep thinking. Thanks again. 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 57,212
    Have a fenced nursery area to grow on your plants, either in the ground or in pots, before planting them out ... rabbits like their food young, lush and tender and tend to leave older plants alone most of the time. 

    I know someone with a  garden in a rural area where there are a lot of deer. They’ve surrounded the garden with a hedge of rosa rugosa ... they had to protect it with a lot of wire netting fencing to get it well established, but now it’s around 4 ft high and although it’s regularly ‘pruned’ by deer they seem only to take the young growth and leave the older stuff with the coarser prickles alone. Although this means they lose some of the blooms from the hedge it seems to be enough to satisfy the deer and they have a browse then move on and don’t make their way into the actual garden itself. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,677
    My garden is full of rabbits (and rodents of all sizes) although the deer hereabouts are mostly reds who seem to be much shyer than roe deer or muntjacs. Where I used to live had even more rabbits and also roe deer in abundance. The only part of my garden here that is fenced is the veg patch.
    Rabbits and deer will eat anything but that doesn't mean they eat everything. With lots of plants they'll eat it down to the ground but won't eat it again. I agree with Dove that a nursery area for young plants is useful. I'd also say that, despite what you may hear about carrots, a rabbit's favourite food is nice short grass. So the plants around the edge of a lawn are the most vulnerable, because the bunnies will sit on the lawn feeding then look up and have a munch on what's nearest. Deer are more difficult, being taller and they also eat tougher plants.
    Mock Orange, Viburnum and other woody shrubs will be fine with rabbits, once established, so a rabbit guard for the first year or two will be all you need. But deer may eat the young growth from even a well established shrub, so chose a vigorous type that can cope with some fairly aggressive pruning. With roses, IME deer eat the flowers but rarely the leaves and never the stems, so tall climbers/ramblers do fine, or a thick rugosa hedge which will get eaten round the edges but not in the middle (rugosas have other issues in a small garden though - they can be very hard to control).
    For perennials have fewer bigger plants and if you want something exotic and delicate, grow it in a pot in the 'nursery'.
    If you look at hedgerows, you'll see all sorts of lovely flowers growing happily with absolutely no fences to protect them. Take your inspiration from nature, grow vigorous (and preferably hairy or spiny) plants, consider having a wide path between your lawn and your borders. Learn to grow plants from seed and from cuttings so you have less money invested in them in case of annihilation. Cranesbills are easy to propagate so maybe have a 'mother' plant inside your nursery and plant out 'free' new plants in your borders to replace any casualties.
    It is perfectly possible to have a lush, flower-full garden that is full of wildlife of all sorts.

    On and on the rain will fall, like tears from the star
    On and on the rain will say, how fragile we are
  • kc.sdickc.sdic Posts: 71
    Thanks as ever to you all for your responses and the wonderful pic Raisingirl. As you say Dovefromabove ,if I go in the direction of having a shrub border hedge rather than fence panels I am going to have to protect the young plants for a few years, but perhaps it is a price worth paying. Useful advice about the lawn edge and getting plants eaten. This will be a newbuild garden so nothing currently in it and I will be working with a very limited budget. (Pensioner).  So watch this space as they say :O)

  • Rabbits and deer will eat anything but that doesn't mean they eat everything. With lots of plants they'll eat it down to the ground but won't eat it again. I agree with Dove that a nursery area for young plants is useful. I'd also say that, despite what you may hear about carrots, a rabbit's favourite food is nice short grass. So the plants around the edge of a lawn are the most vulnerable, because the bunnies will sit on the lawn feeding then look up and have a munch on what's nearest. 
    Hi raisingirl. I've been searching for some advice on rabbits and have noticed you seem like you really know your stuff. I notice you recommend a chickenwire fence around young plants - I'm new to gardening so don't really know how long a plant would be considered 'new', and wondered if you can give any advice. If, for example, I were to plant some lupins in March, and fenced them off to keep them away from Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter, how long would it be before the plants would be considered 'mature', as it were? Would it be later this year, or more likely next before I could remove the fencing?

    Sorry for totally usurping this thread, and also sorry for my lack of knowledge! 
  • kc.sdickc.sdic Posts: 71
    Hi VJ - I am sure indeed I know that  raisingirl and others are far more knowledgeable but I am not sure that a perennial (like a Lupin) will ever stop being 'new' in the sense of attracting rabbits. That said the RHS list of plants less attractive to rabbits includes lupins. 
    https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=209
    I think what raisingirl and others were saying is that shrubs (rather than perennials) even if they are listed as 'rabbit resistant' need to be protected until they are more mature and become of less interest to the Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter! Shrubs mature, wood becomes old, new growth is mostly higher up the shrub etc.. As perennials mostly die back and come back the following year, there will always be 'new' in a sense. Could be wrong, but that is the logical answer from my extremely limited understanding of this. 
  • kc.sdickc.sdic Posts: 71
    Not sure why my post only shows SHOW PREVIOUS QUOTES - done something wrong but this is what I said: 

    Hi VJ - I am sure indeed I know that  raisingirl and others are far more knowledgeable but I am not sure that a perennial (like a Lupin) will ever stop being 'new' in the sense of attracting rabbits. That said the RHS list of plants less attractive to rabbits includes lupins. 
    https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=209
    I think what raisingirl and others were saying is that shrubs (rather than perennials) even if they are listed as 'rabbit resistant' need to be protected until they are more mature and become of less interest to the Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter! Shrubs mature, wood becomes old, new growth is mostly higher up the shrub etc.. As perennials mostly die back and come back the following year, there will always be 'new' in a sense. Could be wrong, but that is the logical answer from my extremely limited understanding of this. 
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