The holidays are right around the corner, and there are many pumpkin growers among us. However, this is also the prime time for rabbits to feast. We all know rabbits love to eat many fruits and vegetables in your garden but are pumpkins on the list? Here’s what I found.
Rabbits enjoy eating pumpkins as they’re sweet and contain a variety of minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin A and C. However, pumpkin can be too sweet, and rabbits will go looking for some leafy greens to balance their diet. Rabbits will also munch on multiple pumpkins rather than finishing a specific one.
But I wanted to look further. How much of the pumpkin plant will rabbits eat? And how do you stop rabbits from eating them from your garden? Let’s explore this a bit more.
Will Rabbits Eat the Pumpkins in Your Garden?
Most of the time, rabbits won’t bother eating pumpkins in your garden, but they will nibble off a few leaves. However, some homesteaders have more destructive rabbits. A big factor comes down to how many greens you’re growing around the pumpkins.
Will Rabbits Eat Pumpkin Leaves?
So, just how safe are your pumpkin plants from rabbits? Will they eat the fruits, leaves, or both?
Rabbits like to eat tender leaves and new growth on pumpkins, as well as small fruits. However, they prefer to eat other plants such as lettuce, beets, beans, and other tender greens. If you’re growing any leafy green vegetables, rabbits are more likely to be nibbling off of them than they are with your pumpkin plants.
In general, you might not need to worry about rabbits eating the leaves off of your pumpkin plant, especially if you have other tender leafy vegetables growing. However, you might not be off the hook just yet. Other pests like deer like to get into the pumpkin patch and grab a free meal or two, so keep your eyes out.
How Do You Stop Rabbits From Eating Your Pumpkin Plants?
If you do have rabbits eating your pumpkin plants, you might have a hard time finding out exactly how to stop them. However, there are a few methods that you might find work for you.
Here are some of the best ways to stop rabbits from munching on your pumpkin plants:
- Deer or rabbit repellent
- Trapping (you can also use live traps to relocate them)
If you decide to fence your pumpkin plants in, make sure there aren’t any gaps in the fencing as rabbits are great as squeezing through. Also, check to confirm the fence is flush to the ground. A good fence to use is chicken wire, although it may be difficult to surround your pumpkin patch with it, depending on its size.
Deer repellent is surprisingly effective on rabbits as well. Whether it’s a putrid smell or bitter taste, the rabbits are similarly affected, so it may be worth a try to apply some around or on your pumpkin plants (if it doesn’t hurt the plant). A downside to using most repellents is that you might need to reapply it once a week, especially if some of it washes off in the rain.
Lastly, when trapping rabbits, many effective cage options exist for live trapping. Whether you relocate the rabbits or not is up to you. It may be a good idea to contact animal or pest control to review all of your options.
What’s a Natural Rabbit Repellent?
If you’re not wanting to use chemicals or other harsh means to deter rabbits from your pumpkin plants, there are some natural alternatives.
Some natural repellents to keep rabbits out of your pumpkin patch include predator urine, dogs and cat, and blood-meal. These scents signal to the rabbits that predators could be close by. If they’re cautious enough, their instinct will tell them to steer clear.
First, if you know which natural predators the rabbits have in your area, you might be able to buy their urine from gardening or hunting stores. Urine from rabbit predators like foxes or bobcats can help keep rabbits away and cautious.
If you’re not a big fan of urine (I don’t blame you), consider using a dog or a cat to patrol the property. This might require some time and investment (if you have to install a fence for example), but dogs and cats can be effective at keeping rabbits out. While rabbits are much faster, don’t be surprised if your pet catches one and drops a carcass on your doorstep every now and then.
Last, and potentially the easiest option, is to use blood-meal. Like predator urine, when rabbits smell blood-meal, they likely consider the area to be dangerous as sense there could be a threat on the property. Blood-meal is also a nitrogen fertilizer, so it’s a double win for your garden. Just be careful how much nitrogen you give your plants as it will often encourage branch and leaf growth, but not fruit.
Which Smells Keep Rabbits Away?
As mentioned above, there are a few smells that rabbits either find repulsive or to be an indicator of a potential threat.
Along with predator urine and blood-meal, you can also use dog or cat hair, hot sauce, and sometimes garlic and coffee grounds to keep rabbits out of your garden. While the effectiveness of these smells can vary, the most likely ones to work are the ones that use a predator’s scent.
By saving your dog’s or cat’s hair after trimming, you can spread it out in the garden for some potential rabbit deterrent. If the rabbits smell the hair, their instincts might tell them to stay away. Pet hair is also a good solution compared to many sprays because it won’t wash off in the rain.
If you don’t have any dog or cat hair around, you can try making your own hot sauce or spray to help repel rabbits. To start, combine hot sauce or cayenne pepper powder with water and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle. The dish soap will help make the solution stick and helps coat the surfaces. The solution shouldn’t cause any damage to the pumpkins, so you should be fine spraying a light layer on and around them.
You can also use crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, vinegar, ammonia, and coffee grinds. While some of these options may not work as well as others, it’s worth a shot to experiment and develop an effective rabbit repellent for your pumpkin plants.
Which Plants Do Rabbits Hate?
Another approach you can take is planting some vegetables around the pumpkin patch that rabbits don’t particularly like. If they get the sense that there’s food they don’t like, they might not look past it and find the pumpkin plants.
Plants that rabbits don’t like and will avoid are asparagus, onions, rhubarb, tomatoes, leeks, potatoes, and squash. Additionally, some scented herbs like basil, mint, oregano, and parsley are strong-smelling and can make rabbits turn the other way.
If you have the space and time to grow some of these plants around your pumpkin patch, it could be worth the trouble. Plus, it’s more food for you! I did mention squash as a plant that rabbits normally avoid, however, this does not include pumpkin. Rabbits can still eat pumpkin leaves and fruit, especially if there isn’t anything better for them to eat.
Some other plants that could work are catnip, lemon balm, and garlic. Consider planting this near or outside your pumpkin patch, and take some notes of which ones worked or not to try to replicate any success.
Rabbits can be a real pest to have in the garden, literally. If you’re growing pumpkins this year, you shouldn’t really have to worry about rabbits too much as they prefer most other vegetables. However, you still may want to keep an eye out for any deer, mice, or slugs eating your pumpkin plants. If rabbits do become a problem, consider employing some of the methods mentioned above.
As an alternative point of view, if you’re big into permaculture, then consider making it easier for the rabbit’s predators to live near your property. Building owl houses might be a good investment.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a good and safe repellent for rabbits, then this rabbit repellent on Amazon is a good option.