Rabbit Proof Plants for Mountain Gardens

10/02/2020 | Ken Davis Flowers, In the Garden, Landscaping, Pests, Shrubs

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

Not all baby bunnies are cute, especially when they eat a new Euonymus to the ground or wipe out those pretty pansies and tulips! Jackrabbits are born with a full coat of hair and opened eyes, and only spend one day in the nest before beginning to forage. Cottontails are less precocious but may spend their entire lives living and breeding in one suburban backyard. Rabbits gravitate toward their favorite plants throughout the growing season: relishing pansies and tulips in the spring, and snacking on impatiens, oakleaf hydrangeas through summer, lettuce and spinach in Autumn, euonymus and wintercreeper through winter, and the cycle continues.

Rabbit Eastin Plant

You are not the only one in the neighborhood with rabbit issues. Walk the houses near you and see what other gardeners are planting. If you see rabbits leave your neighbors’ yards intact, they will ignore the same plants in your yard. Here is a link to the entire list of rabbit resistant plants. The most popular bunny-proof plants compiled by the Watters staff for beauty, ease of grown, and rabbit repelling traits are list here in this ‘Top Choice Awards.”


Columbine flowers may look delicate, but rabbits avoid these hardy perennials. Columbines thrive in the same environments rabbits often roam, including alpine gardens and partially shady woodland gardens. Columbine plants are short-lived perennials, but your plants will self-seed in a non-aggressive way to create a stunning garden every spring.


Peony – hybrids are seldom bothered by rabbits. Tree peonies can sometimes be bothered by rabbits, so choose your specimens carefully if rabbits are a problem in your gardens. If you aren’t sure what type of peony to grow, just ask. Rabbit proof peony is herbaceous and hibernates underground through winter with other garden perennials. Tree peony maintains above ground wood stems rabbits are attracted too.

butterfly bush miss molly
Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush is a woody shrub, something rabbits tend to avoid. Butterfly bush hibernates underground like a perennial flower above 6000′ altitude; with the spring thaw quickly sends up vigorous shoots. Through summer, this plant bears dozens of honey-scented flowers that attract all butterfly species. Butterfly bush grows best in 6+ hours of sun with average soil.

Grow Low Sumac

Grow Low Sumac is the brightest orange and red in the Autumn landscape. Native to Arizona and very tough. Quickly covers slopes and banks with just a few plants in even the toughest of soil. The glossy, green foliage is fragrant when brushed against, or leaves are crushed. Works well in border plantings, backed by taller shrubs and perennials.


Snapdragon flowers seem to fit a rabbit-pleasing plant profile, but the bitter taste repels all rabbits. They are deer resistant too! Snapdragon bloom best in Autumn and early spring gardens through frosty nights. Plant snapdragons with 6+ hours of sun and rich soil. Although sold alongside annuals, with a protective layer of mulch, snapdragons come back the next season.


Vinca is tough for its leather leaves, and stiff stems rabbits hate. Vinca is rarely bothered by disease problems or bugs. Plant annual vincas in full sun to ensure vigorous plants and abundant blooms. Perennial vinca can grow in shade or sun and never bothered by rabbits.

Russian Sage

Russian Sage bush are noxious to rabbits that contained natural repellents within the foliage. This summer beauty has a fuzzy, tough texture rabbits find repulsive. It’s a go-to shrub for low-maintenance perennial borders. Give it as much sun as possible, even in crummy mountain soil. You’ll discover wands of bee-friendly blooms from early summer through fall. Russian sages need no deadheading to perform for many years in your landscape.

These are just a few of the rabbit-proof bloomers you’ll find at Watters Garden Center. Take a look at this Pinterest Board with more rabbit-proof suggestions. Better yet, visit us for a personal tour of the pretty plants these furry little guys leave alone.

Free Garden Class as Watters

October 3 @ 9:30-10:30 Fall ‘To-do ‘list for a Healthy Yard

Get the most out of your landscape with this easy to use checklist of fall care. Bring the color out of your fall gardens, reduce bugs next spring, or simply put your landscape to bed with easy-to-use tips.

October 10 @ 9:30-10:30 Autumn Colors Best Enjoyed at Home

Landscapes in Autumn can be stunning, but only with proper planning.

This easy-care advice brings the silver and blues out of your evergreens, showcasing brilliant foliage and wild colored flowers. Make this the brightest fall of all!

October 17 @ 9:30-10:30 Fall Containers that Bloom like Crazy!

After this class, you’ll have what it takes to design great container gardens that sparkle in the afternoon heat. Learn proper water, the best foods, companion plants, and more. Everyone is going to comment on your potting success! Bring your own container or buy a new one, and we’ll have design stations open, with expert advice on hand.

Until next week, I’ll be showing off the rabbit-proof bloomers here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or  FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .