10 Plants to Grow for Your Pet Rabbit, pet friendly gardens

10 Plants to Grow for Your Pet Rabbit

Of course, there are many more than 10 plants to grow for your pet rabbit. When I first sat down to make a list of possible plants to include, I stopped at 160…However, some of the plants you may not be able to grow in your garden because the soil is wrong, or it’s too shady.

Or you may not like the look of some of the plants which are listed as suitable for your pet bunny to eat. Don’t feel guilty about this: the garden is being shared between you and your pet rabbits. Aesthetically speaking, your preferences count for more than the bunny’s!

Inspiration for this article came from the combination of the Easter Bunny, April being National Pet Month and the fact that many of the lists for pet rabbit friendly plants are exactly that – lists. Which may not be terribly helpful if you’re not a relatively knowledgeable gardener and / a new pet owner!

Where in your garden could you grow rabbit friendly plants?

To begin with, let’s look at some different places in the garden where you might want to grow rabbit friendly plants. This will affect which sort of plant should be grown. For example, a ‘treat plant’ that should only be eaten in small quantities wouldn’t be planted where the rabbits can always access it.

  • in the rabbit pen, for them to nibble at anytime
  • in an area of the garden where the moveable run is situated; this may be on grass, but you could include other plants
  • as part of your herb garden
  • within your kitchen garden or vegetable plot
  • in an orchard
  • as part of a wildflower meadow
  • on the edge of a woodland area
  • pond borders
  • wildlife friendly areas of your garden
  • within the main herbaceous border planting schemes; these may be formally planted, cottage garden style, a native species planting design, contemporary style planting. All could contain rabbit friendly plants.

Some of these areas may have occurred to you, some might surprise you. But because there is such a range of safe plants for your rabbit to eat, you have lots of options. Whatever your garden style there are plants to grow for your pet rabbit that will fit in.

rabbit, vegetable garden, pet friendly gardens, kitchen garden


Plants to Grow for Your Pet Rabbit – Important

There are a few key points to bear in mind if you’re planning on growing plants for your bunnies to eat: –

  • Your rabbits do not instinctively know all the plants that are bad for them. Like us, they may eat something and then discover it disagrees with them. This could be a minor, like a small amount of diarrhoea but it could be more serious, possibly fatal.
  • Organic gardening – best for your bunnies and best for you and your family.
  • Botanical Latin – marigolds appear on many rabbit friendly lists. Not all marigolds are the same! Calendula, aka pot marigold is fine for rabbits, whilst Tagetes, aka French marigold is not. I have given the correct, Botanical, name as well as at least one of the common names in the lists below.
  • Roots, shoots, leaves, flowers – some parts of a plant may be fine for rabbits to eat, others may not be. For example, the domestic Apple, Malus: the fruit, but not the seeds, are okay; leaves and twigs or branches are fine.

white rabbit among daisies, outside run, pet friendly gardens, pets in the garden

3 Shade Loving Edible Plants to Grow for Your Pet Rabbit

Rainbow Swiss chard, Beta vulgaris species, is a decorative addition to your kitchen garden all winter. The leaves are pretty enough for Swiss chard to be included in your flower border. It provides fresh leaves for autumn, winter and early spring, and can be grown as a cut-and-come-again vegetable.
rainbow swiss chard grown in rows, grow your own vegetables, edible gardens, cultivation

Parsley, Petroselinum crispum, should provide young leaves for most of the year. Both this herb and the chard would happily grow in containers, Parsley in a fairly small one.

Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus, flowers add colour to the darker corners of your garden. Both leaves and flowers are rabbit food. This could be a good option where you’re short on space as nasturtiums are trailing plants and will enjoy growing in a hanging basket.


2 Trees to Grow for Your Pet Rabbit

Apple, Malus domestica, would be my first choice. If you have the room, a standard tree will provide twigs from pruning for your bunny to gnaw on. Apple tree branches put in the rabbit’s run are safe if eaten and offer play potential.

Hazel, Corylus avellana, is such a useful small tree. The young leaves in spring are a tasty addition to your rabbit’s diet and the twigs are good for nibbling. You can coppice Hazel to provide plenty of ‘pea sticks’ for your kitchen garden. Or you can let the tree mature and harvest the hazel nuts and cobnuts.


3 Sun Loving Edible Plants to Grow for Your Pet Rabbit

Cucumbers, Cucumis sativas, can be grown outdoors or in a greenhouse. There are different types for each situation, so check before buying seed or a small plant! Talking of small plants, if you’re growing cucumber just for your rabbits, one of the mini cucumber varieties would be a good idea.

Strawberry, Fragaria ananassa, is usually a rabbit favourite. They eat the leaves, and, if you have any to spare, the fruit. Strawberries can be grown in hanging baskets, containers, as edging along a sunny border or in a designated strawberry patch.

Strawberry 'chelsea pensioner'

Peas, Pisum sativum, are so tasty fresh from the garden that its just as well that your pet rabbits like to eat the pods! They will happily nibble, the actual peas, leaves and tendrils too.


2 Wild Flowers to Grow for Your Pet Rabbit

Of course, you may consider these to be weeds rather than wildflowers! But actually, that’s fine, as you can just feed a few to your bunnies as part of your weeding regime.

Daisies, Bellis perennis, are not found in as many lawns these days. Too many chemicals and hard weeding techniques have taken their toll. Which is a pity, as making daisy chains will amuse small children and rabbits delight in eating them. Both flowers and leaves are edible for humans too.

Chickweed, Stellaria media, is an ephemeral plant, so has many generations during the growing season. Just as well you have rabbits who’ll eat it! It’s good for hens and humans too (try the fresh leaves in a salad)

You, Your Garden and Your Pet Rabbits

The Easter Bunny may bring chocolate eggs, but sometimes, just to turn it around, a pet rabbit is given as an Easter present. April is National Pet Month in the UK and, with longer daylight hours and warmer weather, can be a good time to introduce a rabbit into your family and garden.

pet rabbit, plant pots, herbs, pet friendly gardens, container planting

Pet friendly gardens are an important topic at Plews; we are animal lovers and pet owners as well as gardeners. And we enjoy designing gardens and planting schemes that include plants for your pets to eat. We are keenly aware of some of the issues that pet owning gardeners may experience and if a Garden Consultancy is more relevant than a new Planting Design, we’re happy to help!

Of course, if the rabbits in your garden are unwelcome visitors, we have some ideas for planting that can help there too!

Do contact us for personal help to make your garden a relaxing place for you, your family and your pet rabbits, in National Pet Month this April and year-round.


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