How to Keep Rabbits from Eating Tulips (Must Know)

How to Keep Rabbits from Eating Tulips
How to Keep Rabbits from Eating Tulips

Everyone loves vibrant tulips in spring, but no one loves watching rabbits devour them.  A variety of solutions exist for ways to deter rabbits from ravaging your tulip gardens, such as physical barriers, live traps, home remedies, bulb treatments, and repellent variations like sprays, granular, electronic, and clip-on.

Everyone’s gardens are different which means no one solution will work for every rabbit and tulip situation.  The most significant factor that impacts which deterrent to use is the location of the tulips.  If your tulips are in small bunches throughout your landscaping fencing wouldn’t work.  Using other plants to help distract rabbits only works if those plants blend well with your garden.  It’s called a “deterrent” since nothing is 100% effective at keeping rabbits away from tulips.

Don’t despair, through the use of multiple methods most rabbit issues can be resolved. 

What are the Solutions for Keeping Rabbits from Eating my Tulips?

  • Physical Barrier – Best used with contained areas, as well as areas chemicals could harm
  •  Store Bought Spray – Perfect for multiple patches of tulips
  • Granular Repellent – A superior chemical barrier that is effective in most weather conditions
  • Electronic – An excellent choice for large areas
  • Home Remedies – Humane, ecologically friendly, and generally cost-effective
  • Home Remedies – Humane, ecologically friendly, and generally cost-effective
  • Clip-On Repellent – Can be used for large areas and doesn’t require reapplication
  • Live Traps – Humane and environmentally friendly
  • Bulb Treatments – Prevents rabbits from eating the bulb so your tulip will have a chance to grow

How Effective are Physical Barriers at Keeping Rabbits Out of Tulip Gardens?

A preventative barrier will keep out most rabbits when properly installed.

When putting in a physical barrier, like fencing, it should be between 36 inches – 48 Inches high to stop rabbits jumping over it.  Also, make sure no gaps exist since rabbits can fit through a 3-inch hole.   Finally, when setting up the fence, you should bury chicken wire ten inches underground to block rabbits from digging underneath.

One advantage of a preventative barrier is that you do not harm the ecosystem, other local wildlife, or household pets.   Also, unlike other preventative measures, it does not require regular maintenance. 

One downside of a physical barrier is the manual labor involved.  Not everyone is equipped to dig a trench to install underground protection.  Also, the cost of a fence can get quite expensive.  Another disadvantage is the aesthetics of the fence, you plant tulips for their beauty, and barriers can detract from that.

How Can Electronic Repellents Keep Rabbits from Eating my Tulips?

Electronic rabbit repellents are motion activated devices that drive rabbits away from designated areas.  They can cover large areas, are environmentally friendly, and humane to use.

The three main types of electronic deterrents are ultrasonic, light, and water. 

Ultrasonic – These emit an ultrasonic sound that scares animals away.   Also, most ultrasonic devices have lights that flash that scare off unwanted evening visitors. 

The advantages of an ultrasonic device are the broad range it covers, no follow up applications, and it’s easy to use. 

The disadvantage of this repellent is that it doesn’t work well around domesticated animals like cats and dogs.  The ultrasonic deterrent repels a variety of animals, so it will also impact family pets.

Light Repellent – Light repellents project a red strobe-like light to simulate fire. 

Two benefits of using electronic light equipment are that it is easy to install and does not require follow up maintenance.

One of the drawbacks of the flashing red light is that it is always on after dark.  Another problem is it only works at night which doesn’t help deter hungry rabbits during daylight hours.

Water Repellent – Water repellents trigger by motion sensors and when triggered bursts of water spray in that direction.  Some water systems also have a light feature for added effectiveness in the evening. 

The benefit of using electronic water devices is that it covers large areas of landscaping.  Also, the equipment is easily concealed in gardens so it won’t detract from the attractiveness of your tulips.

The disadvantage is that electronic water repellents can be expensive up front, but because it is a onetime investment, over time it will be the more cost-effective method.  Another issue is that you may end up with a wet freaked out pet if they trigger the sensor when out frolicking in their own yard.

What are my options for store-bought rabbit repellents?

The most common store-bought products are liquid, granular, and clip-on.

Liquid Repellents – Liquid repellents are sprayed onto the plants directly.  Liquid sprays are commonly made up of unfavorable products, like putrescent whole egg solids, that keep rabbits away due to the odor.  When applied to plants you can smell the putrid liquid, but once dried the smell is only detectable by animals.

One benefit of sprayable products is that they are safe and straightforward to use.  Also, it protects the entire tulip, unlike other methods, the liquid solution can be sprayed even on the highest points of the flower.

The not so remarkable aspect of spray repellents is that they require continuous application in the beginning and require monthly follow up maintenance.  Another problem is the overall expense, the average cost per bottle is $20, which adds up over time.  Finally, sprays are limited by weather and temperature conditions, since it cannot be applied when plants are wet or when the temperatures are too cold. 

Granular Repellent – Granular repellent is spread on the ground to create an odor barrier around the tulips.

The positive aspect of using a granular variety is that it does not require frequent reapplication.  Also, the granules can be spread in most weather and temperature conditions.

The not so remarkable aspect is that granular products has a limit to its range of effectiveness.  The granular method will not be useful in averting rabbits from taller plants.

Bone Meal – Bone meal has a distinct unappetizing smell to rabbits which discourages them from going near specific areas.  Black Pepper can be added to the bone meal to increase its overall potency. 

In addition to discouraging rabbits from eating the tulips, bone meal can add valuable nutrients to the soil. 

The drawback to using bone meal is that it can attract other unwanted critters such as raccoons, coyotes, and dogs.  Because bone meal is just that, bones, it is appealing to numerous animals. 

Clip-on – Clip-on repellents are small plastic narrow tubes that carry an obnoxious smell.  These can be clipped directly onto the tulip or a nearby fence.  Clip-on devices are said to have a two-foot radius.

Though the clip-on is plastic, most are bio-degradable minimizing the unfavorable impact on the ecosystem.  Also, clip-on deterrents do not endanger either wild or domestic animals.  Another plus to clip-on units is they last up to eight months.

Unfortunately, clip-on deterrents are not the prettiest accessory for your tulips.  Also, clip-on deterrents are not the most convenient of solution since they require you to collect and dispose of them once they’ve expired and no longer emit an odor.

Are there Home Remedies to Keep Rabbits from Eating my Tulips?

For many, home remedies are the most appealing option.  They are often less expensive and generally do not cause harm to others or the environment. 

Hair– Human or predator hair scattered in and around the tulips will give the impression a predator is in the area. 

This method is simple and free.  But the downside is not many people want hair tumbling around their lovely tulips.  If you do want to try it, dog or cat hair will also work.

Predator Urine – Predator urine is available in stores, but if you have a dog or outdoor cat their urine is also helpful in repelling rabbits, plus it’s no cost to you. 

The downside is the urine smell, unless extremely concentrated, will weaken or wash away with time and rain.  Also, it is difficult to control where the urine is released. 

Sharp-Edged Gravel – Sharp-edged gravel helps to prevent digging.  Because of the gravels unpleasant texture, most animals will shy away from digging in that area.  Sharp-edged gravel works well with preventative barriers, negating the need for an underground chicken wire. 

Sharp-edged gravel needs to be mixed with other gravel and can be more expensive than chicken wire.  Also, sharp-edged gravel may cause harm to your pet’s paws.

Clover and Alfalfa – A more rabbit friendly option would be planting clover and alfalfa away from your tulips.  Clover and alfalfa tend to be favored by rabbits, so its presence may prevent interest in your tulips.

Not all yards have the space for planting rabbit food.  Also, there is nothing to stop the rabbits from eating the one crop then moving onto the tulips.  Using this method in tandem with another preventative measure is wise.

Plants That Rabbits Dislike – Rabbits are not a fan of the smell of catnip, garlic, onions, lavender, or marigolds.  Adding some of these unappealing plants to your garden may keep rabbits at a distance.

Unfortunately, not all of these plants are visually compatible with many landscapes or tulip gardens.

Live Humane Traps – Using a catch and release program can help with removing rabbits from your area.  Releasing rabbits away from your home may work for a short time, but because of their prolific nature, new rabbits will soon arrive.

Garlic and Capsaicin Spray – Making a home-made spray is an easy and cheap way to deal with rabbits.  But like store bought sprays it will need to be applied several times and continuously after that.

The nice aspect of homemade sprays is that they are more cost-effective than store-bought options. 

Soaking the Bulb – You can soak a tulip bulb in a capsaicin and garlic bath before planting.  Soaking the bulb will help dissuade rabbits from digging up and eating your tulip bulbs.  Unfortunately, once the tulip breaks ground, you will need to employ another deterrent to keep rabbits from the fresh new tulip shoots.

Numerous options are available to save your tulips from rabbits.  Engaging multiple deterrents is the best way to ensure the best protection for your tulips.  

Related Questions:

What Other Animals Eat Tulips? Deer and most rodents will indulge themselves in tulips and tulip bulbs.

Are Tulips Poisonous to Animals? Tulips are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. 

What Other Spring Plants Do Rabbits Eat? Most vegetable and fruit plants, most flowers, and some shrubs.