A couple of years ago the rabbits in our garden discovered that they had a yen for our Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). This was more than a little upsetting, as Virginia Bluebells are probably my favorite native spring ephemeral.

Virginia Bluebells

So I came up with a 2-part defensive strategy. The first part was plastic netting. I’m pleased to report that this strategy has been fairly successful, though applied too late to save many of this season’s Bluebell blooms. It’s curious, as rabbits certainly have the dental equipment to bite through the netting if they really want to. Let’s hope they don’t come to realize this.


It’s funny that I’ve never noticed much color variation among the Bluebell flowers. The buds, on the other hand, range from pink to purple to dark blue.


But given that the flowers are the clear blue of a perfect spring sky, why would you need variation? And the foliage, the newer leaves flushed with a bit of purple, look good enough to eat (but please don’t, as they are inedible).


The second part was not deployed until a couple of days ago, because it arrived pretty late. It’s a finished steel cat silhouette I got from a sign company called threesixtysteel.com. It should work on the same principle as scarecrows, at least I thought it was  worth a try.


It would be nice if the scarecat did away with the need for the netting, which doesn’t look that great. The netting isn’t perfect, especially as it tends to blow off the plants it is meant to protect. People have have suggested other methods of rabbit deterrence, but I find that either the smell is offensive or it needs to be reapplied after every rain.

Virginia Bluebell with False Forget-Me-Not (a non-native)

But I’d rather have Virginia Bluebells with netting than no Virginia Bluebells at all.

53 Comments on “Keep Your Grubby Rabbit Paws Off My Virginia Bluebells”

  1. Those rabbits are so destructive. I put chicken wire around my plants that I don’t want eaten by rabbits. Interesting that the black netting works. When I run out of chicken wire I will try it. This reminds me that I need to wire up the lilies. They loved eating them last year.

  2. I was out this morning using every four-letter word I know. Plants chewed right to the ground. I tried to seal off the areas under the back fence, but securing the entire yard is next to impossible. I saw a program on PBS about rabbits and they are breeding them in captivity on the east coast because they are disappearing. And disappearing is bad why???? They can come get mine – and yours too!

  3. Maybe you need to get the folks from Iowa, Louisiana to help you out. They have a rabbit festival every year, and serve up rabbit recipes ranging from etoufée to tamales. They’ve got to get those rabbits from somewhere! (I went one year, and discovered rabbit’s quite tasty — at least, the farm-raised is.)

  4. These are lovely flowers, I sympathise with your frustration but can offer no solution. The cat is very cute but I am doubtful that it would fool them. You can get Ultra-sound gadgets to scare cats. Would that work with rabbits? We cannot hear the noise but hopefully it would scare them. Amelia

  5. Yes, I agree with your last statement! I planted Va. Bluebells from seed several years ago. It took them about three years to bloom, and then when they did, the rabbits ate them. Repeatedly applying rabbit repellent after the rain gets old fast. So I put cages and Alliums around them. I think I need more Alliums!

  6. Aha! NOW I know why the small patch of bluebells that I planted two years ago simply disappeared: rabbits. I did not know that they were on the Favorite Food list. But now if/when I decide to try them again, I will try the netting. Do let us know if the cat silhouette works! 🙂

  7. I love your title! Grubby rabbit paws, indeed! They haven’t gotten at my bluebells yet but I’m glad to know about the netting. Also the cat! That is really cool. Have you noticed whether it works as a deterrent?

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