If you have a garden filled with verbena in an area with a rabbit population, you may be worried about them getting eaten by the critters. Rabbits are generally not garden-friendly, so it’s normal to be concerned. So, do rabbits eat verbena?
Well, yes and no. Rabbits usually avoid verbena because of the rough leaves and sharp flavor. However, they may end up eating it if they are really hungry and there is no other food available.
Rabbits are generally flexible when it comes to their diet. However, it does take a lot of desperation for rabbits to really take a bite out of verbena. As I pointed out earlier, they have to be really hungry.
Why Do Rabbits Eat Verbena?
Rabbits are herbivores by nature and will eat most plants they come across, and that includes those that include roots, stems, leaves, and flowers. They generally like to eat young plants, and this also applies to your verbena.
Under normal circumstances, rabbits mostly prefer to eat grass, hay, and leafy plants. But because they are opportunistic feeders, they will eat almost anything that is available, even if it’s not something they would normally eat.
So, we can say that the main reason rabbits eat verbena is because they are available and accessible.
Rabbits generally eat whatever lies on their part, especially when they’re very hungry or their favorite foods are scarce.
This includes flowers, especially the petals. However, they don’t eat all flowers as some are simply not edible enough or contain toxins that can potentially harm them when consumed. Most wild rabbits are usually able to identify foods that are toxic, but this might not always be the case with domesticated rabbits.
In general, it’s almost impossible to predict the dietary habits of rabbits, which is why no single plant is rabbit-proof. This is why, regardless of what flower or plant you have in your yard, you should always be a step ahead in ensuring they are kept safe from possible attacks by rabbits and wildlife. Most of the time, this means making them inaccessible.
Signs Rabbits Are Eating Your Verbena
Rabbits can move at any time, so it’s possible to spot them early in the morning, late afternoon, evening, or night. Generally, rabbits come out when there’s little to no human activity. But besides seeing them, there are certain signs that can show that they’ve been to your garden or yard. These include:
- Piles of droppings around the area where your verbena Is planted
- Tunnels or tiny holes near the base of shrubs or in your garden bed
- Rabbit furs in front of holes leading to a burrow
- Grazed plants, which may include your verbena
- Small footprints in the soil or mud
- Damage (usually small teeth marks) to tree barks
How To Keep Rabbits from Eating Verbena
Protecting your verbena from rabbits often requires a combination of different methods.
One of the best ways to keep rabbits from entering your garden is to use fencing. While this might take some time and effort, it will serve as a permanent solution once it’s set up. In other words, you won’t need to reapply repellents every time there’s a shower.
One thing to note when installing a fence is the height. Rabbits typically don’t jump more than 2 feet, so you will want to set up fencing that is at least 2 feet high or more. It’s best to use a wire fence that has not more than 1-inch openings; smaller is better. This could be a rabbit wire or a chicken wire fence.
Use stakes to support the fencing while anchoring the bottom with landscape pins. This will keep the rabbits from wiggling through underneath. Some wild rabbits may attempt digging under the fence; to prevent this, the lowest 2-3 inches of the fence should be buried into the ground.
Similarly, you can use a chicken wire cage if there are just a few plants you want to encircle.
If you want to protect only your verbena, then you can just focus your efforts on protecting that particular area. In this case, you can consider targeted coverage. This usually involves wrapping or covering the plant with a garden fabric, then supporting the fabric with with hoops.
This method is quick and provides an easy way to shield the entire bed or area of verbena or any other flower or plant of interest from possible rabbit attacks. Ensure the fabric is well secured (anchored) on all sides.
When it’s not practical to use a fence, you can scatter scents around your verbena or garden that rabbits don’t like. There are certain odors that are offensive to rabbits; sprinkling them around the verbena plants can potentially keep them away. Some of these scents can also repel deer. I have listed a good number of them below:
- Rotten eggs
- Fish emulsion
- Talcum powder
- Hot pepper
- Dried sulfur
- Citrus peels
You can apply these items by dusting/sprinkling them around the plant or diluting with water in small bottles and spraying them.
WARNING: Don’t apply vinegar or ammonia directly to the plant. Instead, pour them into small jars or containers with tiny holes to let out the smell. Then, place them around the garden.
It is worth mentioning that repellents may not always be effective. Besides the fact that you need to reapply them often, especially after the rain, some rabbits may get used to the smell over time.
Instead of preparing your own repellent or using an item from your kitchen, you can purchase one.
Like the natural options, chemical repellents can be applied to any plant, tree, or vine that needs protection from rabbits. They usually have an unpleasant scent, taste, or texture, which is supposed to deter rabbits.
However, some of them may not be safe to use on vegetables or other food plants. As a result, you want to read the label and directions to be sure it’s something you can use. If you’re looking for options, consider LIQUID FENCE, which is safe to use for deer and rabbits.
It’s worth mentioning that just like natural repellents, commercial repellents usually work for a short period and need to be reapplied, especially after a downpour.
Another method you can try out is to use scare tactics. This way, you won’t have to chase the rabbits yourself. However, this is a temporary fix because sooner or later, the rabbits will realize that it will cause them no actual harm.
Examples of scare devices are sparkly streamers, water sprays, and motion sensor lights. All these can scare off rabbits initially, but over time, the rabbits can get used to them and just ignore them.
The only exception is when you use actual animals like dogs to chase the rabbits away.
If you live in an area with a lot of rabbits, chances are that you will have other wild predators around, such as owls, hawks, and foxes. These animals don’t usually pose much danger to family pets. So they can be allowed to hunt rabbits.
Having said that, to be on the safe side, you’re better off with your family dog or house cat; these are effective deterrents.
Even though rabbits are herbivores by nature, there are still many plants and herbs they like to stay away from. If you can incorporate some of these into your yard, you can deter them.
Here’s a list of such plants:
- Bee balm
READ MORE: Do Rabbits Eat Hostas?