Do you discover half-eaten tulip leaves in your garden every spring? Here’s how to keep bunnies from eating tulips.
I love all the bunnies that we have living around our property, but they just can’t seem to resist nibbling my tulips every spring. Even if I put out tasty treats like fresh lettuce and carrots for them, they still go right for the tulips. I would understand if the tulips were the only things available to eat, but everything is super green and fresh at this time of year, so it’s a bit annoying to find raggedy, half-eaten leaves on all my favorite white tulips that I wait all year for. Luckily, there’s a pretty easy little recipe that you can try for homemade bunny repellant and when I actually get around to making it and using it, it works quite well! It’s worth the few minutes of work to do this in April or early May so you can have beautifully perfect tulip leaves to go with your tulips once they start blooming, which is usually early-to-mid May around here. Here’s how to keep bunnies from eating tulips!
A Couple of Different Options for Dealing with Bunnies Who Eat Your Tulips
I just can’t in good conscience not mention the absolute easiest way of dealing with bunnies who eat your tulips. If this is your first year growing tulips and you’ve gone out to your garden to find them almost eaten to the ground, and now you’re panic-searching for a solution because you’re sure that your tulips have been absolutely destroyed, I promise you there’s no real need to worry. One solution to this problem and the absolute easiest thing you can do is to do absolutely nothing. The tulips store enough energy in the bulb from last year, so even without the leafage to interact with the sun’s rays, your tulips will keep growing. In my experience, there comes a point after a few weeks where the tulip growth just takes off and they out-grow the bunny nibbles, the bunnies seem to lose interest, and your tulips will finish their growing season and bloom beautifully anyway. The leaves may be a little raggedy looking, but they’ll mostly survive without too much issue. So doing nothing is a perfectly fine option. 🙂
If you’d like to take a more pro-active approach and try to keep the nibbles to a bare minimum, you can make this recipe for homemade rabbit repellant.
How to Keep Bunnies From Eating Tulips With Homemade Rabbit Repellant
The best solution is usually the simplest one in cases like these. Oftentimes this is just because the easiest, most simple solution is the one that you’ll actually do because it fits most easily into your plans for the day. If you don’t have time to actually implement a solution, then it’s pretty much pointless.
With that in mind, the first thing you can try is just to get a large container of cayenne pepper and sprinkle it fairly heavily in a ring around each of your tulips or your tulip clumps.
The bunnies won’t want anything to do with the spiciness and they won’t want to cross it. You’ll need to re-sprinkle your cayenne pepper after it rains or after heavy winds.
If you have small children or pets who frequent the gardens where your tulips grow, you’ll want to stay away from this solution. The cayenne pepper can irritate pets’ lungs if they ingest it or breath it in and young children might get some of the pepper on their fingers and then touch their eyes, which wouldn’t be very fun.
One other slightly more involved solution you can try is to make a mixture of about 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of cayenne pepper, and about 4 crushed garlic gloves. Let it sit for a couple of hours, then strain the mixture using cheesecloth and transfer it to a spray bottle. Spray the leaves of all your tulips directly whenever you notice bunnies starting to nibble and the next time they come back, they’ll find they don’t like the taste so much.
There are also commercial rabbit and deer repellants that you can buy. I haven’t tried these, but the reviews seem to be pretty good, so these might be something to consider if you feel like you really need to pull out the stops. Be warned, one reviewer said that these products smell terrible, but that they’re worth it.
Physical Barriers to Keep Rabbits Away From Tulips
If your plan is to build a physical barrier to keep rabbits away from your tulips, my suggestion would be to use something made from a fairly heavy gauge of wire. My grandma had a farm growing up with chickens, geese, and ducks in pens and hundreds (literally hundreds) of bunnies that ran freely around her property. Actually, she still does have the bunnies and it’s kind of a dream come true for kids when they visit her property. 🙂
What we learned from having all those bunnies everywhere is that they can dig around or chew through just about anything if they want to. Chicken wire is no match for them, and they’ll chew a hole right through wood in no time as well, so I’d say to stay away from those materials because you’ll probably just end up having wasted your time and money. Bunnies are adorable, but they’re tough.
What other solutions have you used to try to keep bunnies away from your tulips?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.