Geraniums are a popular choice for ornamental garden flowers due to their vibrant colors and beautiful foliage. These hardy plants are versatile and can be grown in containers or in the ground, making them suitable for various garden styles. However, a common concern for gardeners is whether these beautiful plants are at risk of being eaten by rabbits. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore this question and discuss ways to protect your geraniums from rabbits.
Do Rabbits Eat Geraniums?
The answer is yes, rabbits will occasionally eat geraniums and other ornamental plants. While geraniums are not a primary food source for rabbits, they are not toxic to rabbits and they may eat the leaves and flowers.
Rabbits are herbivores and will eat a variety of plants, flowers, grasses, and foliage. Geraniums just happen to be one of the many options they forage from gardens.
How Much Damage Can Rabbits Cause?
Rabbits can potentially cause significant damage to geranium plants by chewing on the leaves and flowers. An adult rabbit can eat 1-2 pounds of plant material per day. Over time, repetitive feeding can defoliate plants or even kill them.
Damage tends to be more severe in the spring when new growth emerges and in the fall. Rabbits feed more heavily during these times. Some interesting facts about rabbit feeding habits include:
- Rabbits have a preference for tender, succulent plant growth.
- They feed primarily during the early morning and late evening hours.
- Rabbits can reach plants up to 2 feet off the ground when standing on their hind legs.
How to Protect Geraniums From Rabbits
There are several methods you can use to protect your geraniums from rabbits:
- Use fencing: Employ mesh netting or wire to physically keep rabbits away from geranium plants. The fencing should be at least 2 feet high and buried 6-12 inches underground to prevent rabbits from digging under it.
- Apply repellents with the scent of predators: Using fox urine, coyote urine, or predator droppings around the perimeter of the garden can deter rabbits. The scent will make them believe a predator is nearby and they will avoid the area.
- Use taste or smell deterrents: Apply pepper sprays, chili pepper, or mothballs close to the plants. The strong flavor or scent will discourage rabbits from eating the geraniums. Be cautious when using these methods, as some chemicals may be harmful to other animals or plants.
- Plant rabbit-resistant plants, shrubs, or bushes: Planting these around the garden’s perimeter can make access more difficult for rabbits. Examples of rabbit-resistant plants include:
- Russian sage
- Remove cover and hiding spots: Rabbits prefer areas with plenty of cover to hide from predators. By keeping the area around your geraniums clear of debris, tall grass, and other hiding spots, you can make the area less appealing to rabbits.
- Install motion-activated sprinklers: These sprinklers will startle rabbits when they come near your plants, deterring them from entering the area and eating your geraniums.
- Have a pet dog or cat: Pets, particularly dogs, can help deter rabbits from entering your garden. The presence of a natural predator will make rabbits think twice before venturing into the area.
Rabbits do eat geraniums, but there are effective ways to protect your plants from these furry pests. By using a combination of fencing, repellents, deterrents, and other strategies, you can minimize the damage caused by rabbits and keep your geraniums looking their best. Remember to monitor your garden regularly for signs of rabbit activity and adjust your protection methods as needed.
In summary, while geraniums are not a primary food source for rabbits, these opportunistic herbivores may still cause significant damage to your plants. By taking preventative measures and implementing the strategies outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your geraniums remain safe and continue to add beauty to your garden. Keep in mind that rabbits are part of the natural ecosystem, and a balanced approach to managing their presence can help both your garden and the local wildlife to coexist harmoniously