on Photos to Enlarge)
It might come as a surprise for some, but did you know that our most
destructive landscape pest in this market is our favorite, cute,
furry, cartoon character, the Cotton-tailed Rabbit? As a horticulturist,
I consider them to be our number one enemy. They are more destructive
than any plant disease or insect that we encounter. Considering the
fact that we now maintain over 30 residential and commercial landscapes,
we see our share of rabbit destruction.
In my opinion, rabbits are grossly over populated in many urban areas
largely due to a lack of predators. Few hawks, foxes or coyotes hang
out in most residential neighborhoods and, thus, the rabbits flourish.
This seems to be especially true in Leawood and Overland Park. In
most cases they wreck havoc with plants during the night time hours,
although some have become very brave and very tame, and they may
choose to munch on our “salad bar” at any time of the
day or night.
I am a firm believer that if you cannot beat ‘em (or shoot
them, however, most of our local city ordinances do not allow that),
you might as well join ‘em…or at least learn to live
with them. In other words, if your plants are constantly eaten by
our furry friends, then you may want to consider choosing plants
that the rabbits do not find as appealing. We have continued planting
rabbit food in our landscapes for several years by ignoring their
taste. It has only recently occurred to me that we need to adjust
our plant selection and recommendations for those clients in Bugs
Bunny’s most heavily populated areas. In order to accomplish
this, I have begun to pay close attention to our local rabbits’ preferred
diet. After becoming very frustrated, I believe that I now have a
good sense of what they like and what they do not like as well.
If you prefer a life filled with fewer rabbits in your garden, try
1. A pellet gun, since it is usually very effective in eliminating
the pest and is also very quite so you do not disturb your neighbors.
2. A good sling shot, and an operator with a lot of practice and
a hand full of marbles, can be a very effective means of population
3. An outdoor cat. They are great hunters. Those clients of ours
with outdoor cats have very few rabbit problems, although they may
have dead rabbits carried into their homes on occasion.
4. An outdoor dog, or at least one that spends a lot of time outdoors.
Most of our clients with dogs still have rabbit problems, but fewer
problems than those without dogs. The dog must be somewhat aggressive,
if you get my point.
5. Trapping the critters. You can do it yourself or hire a company.
What you do with the prisoner after capture is up to you. You will
needs lots-o-luck for this one.
6. Spraying your plants (at least those that you and the rabbits
share) with a product called Liquid Fence. It is available at most
garden centers, including Grass Pad. It is very effective when it
does not wash off which occurs after every rain and/or substantial
overhead irrigation. Try using a surfactant or spreader-sticker product
with the Liquid Fence for better adherence to leaf surfaces. You
can buy the pre-mixed product, but I prefer to buy the concentrate
and have the option of mixing it to whatever strength I feel is necessary.
This stuff smells like catfish stink bait as its best, or a sewage
treatment plant…ask Kristin, she spilled some in her car last
year. And, oh yes, it is not cheap.
7. Avoid planting the following since they are rabbit favorites:
• Anything in the Daisy Family, including Black-eyed Susan (Rudibeckia),
Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea), and Asters
• Roses, including our favorites such as Nearly Wild and Knock-out
• Lythrum (now against the law for us to sell or purchase in Kansas)
• Hypericum, Barberry (yes, they must like the thorns), and Quince
• Liriope, in any cultivar
• Coralbells, including Palace Purple
• Hostas, in some cases they like Hostas as well as, if not better, than
• I have also seen rabbits limb-up numerous large shrubs including China
Holly, Burningbush, and Rose-of-Sharon
8. Plant the following that are more resistant, or perhaps less tasty:
• Persian Catmint
• Russian Sage
• Lamb’s Ears
• Astilbe, including Visions
• Inkberry Holly
• Junipers, including low-growing and upright cultivars
9. Please visit the following website: http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/getrecipe.zsp?id=74586
Please note that no rabbits were injured in the making of this newsletter.
Landscape Enemy No. 1
Rabbit damaged Nearly Wild Rose
Enemy No. 2