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Rabbits Don’t Like Marigolds

ILLUSTRATIONS BY MARILYNNE ROACH

Even with our first garden, way back in Wisconsin, my wife and I did not want to use chemicals. Our landlord had kindly tilled up a section of ground for us to use—but we knew there were lots of rabbits in our area. We didn’t have the money for fencing and didn’t want to kill the bunnies or spray a toxic repellent, so what should we do?

A friend told us that marigolds are a good companion plant for vegetable crops—and that rabbits don’t like them either. We formulated our plan: We would buy enough marigolds to encircle our garden. The natural fence would keep rabbits out, be a friend to our vegetables, and look pretty, as well!

We planted lots of vegetable seedlings and surrounded the plot with marigold starts. True, the marigolds didn’t look that big after we’d planted them. Most were only two inches tall and had only a single flower. But they were bound to do the job. We went inside for the night, feeling quite pleased with ourselves.

The next morning? Tragedy. Actually, the tiny pepper starts were fine. The little tomatoes were fine. The broccoli plants? We lost a couple, but the rest were fine.

The marigolds? Every last one had been nipped clean right at ground level and stripped of all its leaves. Only the quickly wilting flowers were left.

It’s true. Rabbits do not like marigolds.

And they had just seen to their removal.

This article was published originally in 2019, in GreenPrints Issue #116.


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