Today’s story appeared to me ironically enough after I took some heat for suggesting marigolds might deter rabbits (among other pests like aphids). My experience gardening comes from real life, trial, and error, and conversations with my gardening friends and groups. Like anyone, I hear a good tip, I try it, and if it works for me, I keep doing it and probably tell other people about it so they can try it—not live by it, I don’t have that kind of power, people!
Do rabbits eat marigolds? Well, not every rabbit is the same, but I’m sure many will. Marigolds are sweet; heck, humans eat them! Maybe that’s the trick; fill the floppers up on marigolds!
The worst-case scenario of trying is you end up with an inexpensive but pretty flower garden around your vegetable garden that attracts pollinators: win-win! Is it scientifically proven? I certainly can’t find hard proof either way, and I wouldn’t expect to.
In my own garden, I have planted marigolds around my tomato plants every year since the first time someone said they’d draw aphids away from my tomatoes, and I don’t know what voodoo is behind it, but by golly, it has worked for me. I fear saying it out loud (I am knocking on wood before and after this sentence), but my tomatoes are prolific, rarely diseased, and aphids don’t seem to bother my tomatoes anymore, at least not enough to ruin any crops. As for rabbits, well, I’ve never had a rabbit touch my garden either, and I see plenty of them hopping around the yard eyeballing it. All I ever get are birds plucking at my blueberries, and squirrels munching on my cucamelons, neither of which are anywhere near my marigolds. None of this proves anything, though.
What I love about gardening is the trial and error of it all. What works for you, might not work for me, and vice versa. That’s the fun of it. I would never have believed a saucer of beer would kill slugs, but now here I am, serving an open bar around the base of my brassicas every Summer. And hey, I have a friend who swears the ring of marigolds works to repel rabbits in his garden. Maybe there are onions planted in between them, and THAT’S what’s keeping them away. I have no idea, people, don’t shoot the messenger! If you do have a marigold-loving rabbit, perhaps using them as a trap crop and planting them on the opposite side of the yard is the trick to lure them over! See, isn’t trying stuff fun?
But then, of course, today’s author Rob Faux definitely has an opinion. Do rabbits eat marigolds? Well …
In today’s story, “Rabbits Don’t Like Marigolds”, Rob Faux and his wife wanted to start a garden in Wisconsin without using chemicals. To keep rabbits away, they decided to plant marigolds as a natural fence around the plot of vegetables. The next morning, well, you’ll find out what happened, but all I have to say is that maybe their rabbits don’t hate marigolds, but they sure did fill up on them to save the garden! Still a win in my book!
Enjoy More Stories of Animals in the Garden
This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years, and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that turn stories of animals in the garden into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope this story does for you as well. Enjoy!
Rabbits Don’t Like Marigolds
By Rob Faux
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. ❖
By Rob Faux, published originally in 2019, in GreenPrints Issue #116. Illustrated by Marilynne Roach
What do you think? Are marigolds effective pest deterrents? Do rabbits eat marigolds? Leave a comment and share it with us!