Shade gardeners love their hostas, but when Peter Rabbit comes along, it can become an all-out war—human v. hare. Ideas for homemade repellents, traps and obstacles number in the thousands on the internet and incredibly entertaining stories of how to outsmart them abound. Read how one gardener's plea for help was answered.
*All names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent gardeners who offered these real suggestions on Facebook. Honestly, you can't make some of these things up!
Mr. McGregor had a big problem and needed some advice. He turned to his fellow gardeners in a Facebook gardening group he belonged to because they always seemed to have helpful suggestions. He posted this question to the group: "The rabbits are attacking my beloved hostas! I have so many, it wouldn't be feasible to spray them all every day. Trapping bunnies is not an option. What can I do to save my hostas?"
Gardeners are typically a friendly bunch who love to share stories and ideas with their comrades. Within an hour, Mr. McGregor had received dozens of responses to his plea for help with the rabbits eating his prized hostas. They ranged from helpful to incredibly entertaining, but who's to say that some of these more outlandish ideas wouldn't really work? Here is an assortment of the many suggestions that were made:
From @SpiceGirlGardener: I make a tea out of hot peppers, garlic and onions and spray it on the leaves, but only on cloudy days. Can you imagine what this person's kitchen and garden must smell like? It might deter more than just bunnies, but only on cloudy days.
From @LionTamer: If you have a zoo nearby, ask them if you can pick up the lion or tiger poop. Put it around the garden to scare away the rabbits. It stinks like crazy but it works. Watch where you step if you visit this garden!
From @SneezyGardenLady: Cayenne pepper makes deer sneeze uncontrollably so they stay away for a while. Note to self: start buying cayenne pepper in bulk. I hope it makes those darn rabbits sneeze too!
From @Bamboozler: I've stuck plastic forks around my plants and they seem to be working. Take that, Peter Rabbit! Poked your eye out, did you? Serves you right. Now maybe you'll think twice next time you try to eat my hostas.
From @SoapySoutherner: I had heard that Irish Spring soap deters deer and rabbits here in Georgia, so I let a bar of it sit in a bucket of water until it turned to slime. Then I put the slimy soap mixture in a spray bottle and I mist the plants with it every time I walk around the yard. If there are slime chunks clogging up your spray bottle, just shake it. It works! Ah, the joys of gardening with soap slime. Deters deer and keeps your plants squeaky clean. At least it would smell better than tiger poop!
From @HunterGatherer: I would eat those rabbits! That would certainly solve the initial problem. But given that rabbits breed like, well…rabbits, you would need to eat an awful lot of them. Rabbit meat—the new chicken?
From @VintageGardener: My great grandmother used to set mason jars upside down in the garden beds where the rabbits had been chewing. She swore the rabbits would see their reflection and be scared away. I just tried it in my own garden and so far, so good. I can relate to those poor rabbits. Some mornings when I look in the mirror, I get scared too. Sounds like a safe, organic option to me.
From @TheGardenSeamstress: Get some cheap green tulle at Walmart and lay it over your garden beds. Weigh down the edges so the rabbits can't get under it. This might work, at least until the rabbits realize they can burrow under it. But how will the pollinators and birds get to your plants? And what would the view be like of your garden from your kitchen window?
From @DeerBlocker: I put up a 9-foot tall deer fence around my property. Now I don't have to worry about it! Fencing is one of few guaranteed ways to keep deer out of the garden. Great suggestion, DeerBlocker.
From @GardenerSuesNews: Plantskydd Animal Repellent is the best rabbit repellent I've used. It is organic, can be used on ornamentals and edibles, and is safe for use around kids and pets. I am using it in my own garden to protect my hostas. It's the only repellent I know of that doesn't wash off in the rain, so I only need to use it a few times per year.
The bite marks on this hosta and missing tulip flowers are a sure sign that Peter Rabbit has paid a visit. Photograph, Susan Martin.
Unfortunately, I didn't get out into the garden early enough this year to apply Plantskydd, and a voracious pregnant rabbit did a number on my hostas. Now that I've spread the granular formula and sprayed some of the plants that were closest to her nest with the liquid formula, she has moved on to my neighbor's yard and my plants are recovering. Since the product also acts as a fertilizer, that is helping my plants grow back bigger and stronger. But darn those rabbits! I feel your angst, Mr. McGregor. In the match of human v. hare, I'm rooting for you.
Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is an avid zone 6 gardener, garden writer and speaker who enjoys spreading her passion for plants to her fellow gardeners. Follow her on Facebook @Gardener Sue's News.
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By Pamela Crawford, author, Easy Patio Veggies & Herbs
Photographs by Pamela Crawford
Pamela has written a great article about mixing herbs in containers. Herbs are natural companions with different textures for interest. The herb mix of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme offers lots of flavor from a small combination loaded with textural interest.
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