If you have marigolds in your garden, you might occasionally notice that they are getting nibbled – and if so, you’re probably searching with some frustration for the potential culprit. Marigolds are a very beautiful addition to the garden, but not when they get munched to death, so let’s find out, do rabbits eat marigolds?
Yes, rabbits will munch up your marigolds if you give them the chance. Rabbits love greenery and they will not waste an opportunity to eat marigolds if they find them. You may notice marigolds that have been nibbled and are missing leaves, and if so, rabbits are a likely culprit.
Why Do Rabbits Eat Marigolds?
Rabbits eat a huge variety of different greens, and they enjoy marigolds, particularly pot marigolds. Some marigolds are irritating to rabbits, however, so you might notice that they munch on some kinds and totally ignore others.
For example, pot marigolds (sometimes called calendula) are perfectly harmless to bunnies, and people feed the petals to their pet rabbits from time to time. Other kinds, however, such as French marigolds, are irritating, and bunnies may avoid them.
You might find rabbits still eat even the heavily scented French marigolds from time to time, since rabbits do not have an infallible sense of what they should and shouldn’t eat. On the whole, however, irritating marigolds will be left untouched and only the other varieties will be eaten.
Different rabbits have different tastes, and not all enjoy marigolds. You may find that you can grow these beautiful plants without any problem, or you may find that the resident bunnies eat every flower – it just depends on the local rabbits and their preferences.
How Do I Know If Rabbits Are Eating My Marigolds?
Other vegetarians will munch up your marigolds too, so before you assume it is rabbits causing the issue, what signs should you check for? After all, you don’t want to spend time rabbit-proofing your flowers and then discover that actually, it was deer who were munching on them.
There are some clear signs of rabbits, so look out for the following in your garden:
- Droppings – if you find small, rounded, dark droppings, these have probably come from rabbits. These droppings are usually around the size of peas, and they will almost certainly be found in your garden if rabbits are coming in to explore (although you may not always see them if there is a lot of foliage in your garden).
- Damage patterns – look at the damage that has been done to the plants. Rabbits tend to cut large, neat chunks out of flowers, and they go for the tender, young shoots first. The bites will be very clean, not ragged – it might look more like somebody snipped your plants with shears than a rabbit has munched on it.
If you still aren’t sure, you could try setting up a wildlife camera. Rabbits tend to come out at dawn and dusk, so you are more likely to see them in your garden as the light is fading or the day is beginning than at any other time.
A wildlife camera will tell you for sure what’s eating your plants – and you might get some adorable shots at the same time!
How To Stop Rabbits From Eating My Marigolds
So, what can you do if you don’t want a bunny to start munching on your pretty flowers? After all, planting and tending to a garden is a lot of work, and a rabbit can scoff the lot in just a few minutes. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to protect your plants from these voracious munchers.
Tip One: Plant Things They Don’t Like
Just because you want marigolds doesn’t mean your other plants have to be rabbit-friendly. You may find that if you limit the rabbit foods in your garden, fewer bunnies will make the effort to come in and browse. There are many plants that rabbits aren’t fond of, so try putting a few of these in the ground.
You may find it especially effective to do this around the borders of your garden. Rabbits are less likely to venture in further if they can’t see or smell anything appealing to them, and you may manage to get your marigolds by unnoticed – although you won’t always.
There are many things that rabbits don’t like, although they will eat almost anything if they are hungry enough. However, some unpopular rabbit plants you can try include:
- Bee balm
- Black Eyed Susan
- Periwinkle (planted with care as these are toxic to other pets)
- Red hot poker
As mentioned earlier, bunnies dislike certain kinds of marigolds and may not bother eating them. Try planting French marigolds instead of pot marigolds, as these may prove less popular with nibbling noses.
Surrounding your marigolds with spiky plants could also be a viable alternative. Rabbits are vulnerable to spikes just like any other creature, so spiny bushes or plants may help to protect your marigolds from being eaten. If you can find plants that rabbits dislike the smell of, this may also help.
There are many options, so find something that suits you, and make an anti-bunny border around your garden. With any luck, the bunnies won’t come in because they’ll see your garden as uninteresting.
Tip Two: Lift The Marigolds Off The Ground
If you have planted your marigolds in pots or tubs, you can lift them away from the ground and out of the reach of bunnies to ensure you can still enjoy their beautiful blooms. You may get a shelf, a bench, or a raised platform to position your plants on.
This is one of the best ways to keep your marigolds safe if you have planted them in containers, although obviously, it’s no good if you have planted them directly into the ground, and it won’t keep your other plants safe from rabbits.
Tip Three: Buy A Rabbit Repellent
Repellents aren’t one of the best ways to keep rabbits of your flowers, but they can work in a pinch. The problem is that you will need to constantly reapply them, especially if you live somewhere with a lot of wet weather. If you don’t, the smell will simply wash away and the rabbits will come back almost immediately.
Of course, this is both time-consuming and expensive. You have to keep purchasing the spray, and you have to keep reapplying it, possibly as often as every few days, which can be frustrating and eat up a surprising amount of your valuable time.
You can make an alternative repellent at home if you don’t want to buy sprays. Crack three eggs into a gallon of water and stir them, and then allow them to rot. This solution can be sprayed on your plants to keep rabbits at bay, but be aware that it will stink!
You may find that the smell is worse than the rabbits, even if it does protect your plants!
Tip Four: Have A Thorough Tidy Up
Look around your garden, particularly in areas close to the marigolds. Where would a rabbit hide? Are there bushes to duck under, flower pots to dive behind, or long grass to hop into? If the rabbit has plenty of cover, it will feel much more at home in your garden and will come in more often.
Try moving things around by your marigolds, removing what you can to make the space more open. Remember, rabbits are vulnerable to predators and will be wary about moving in big, open spaces if they don’t have cover to dive into.
You can therefore discourage rabbits from coming into your garden by taking away their hiding spots. Cut back shrubs or long grass, tidy up any messy corners, and minimize the shelter so that rabbits are more reluctant to come near the flowers. You can do this in all parts of your garden, or just the areas you particularly care about.
Tip Five: Build A Fence
A more expensive but probably more effective option is to put up fencing to keep the rabbits out. However, bear in mind that if you do this, you will need to dig the fencing into the ground as well as fencing above the ground.
Rabbits are keen tunnelers and they are perfectly capable of going under fences. You should dig to about a foot down to make it hard for them to burrow under.
Before buying, consider the size and quantity and make sure the openings are small, like this one at Amazon. Fences with openings of 2 inches will not be enough to keep all the rabbits on the outside.
Fences are one of the most successful ways to keep rabbits out of your garden and away from your marigolds, provided you have done the fencing properly!
The simple answer to the question is that rabbits eat some marigolds, but there are other kinds they aren’t as fond of, so planting these in your garden or adding fencing, tidying up, and spraying rabbit repellents may work to reduce the damage that can be done by bunnies.