Will Rabbits Eat Marigolds? Natural Instincts

Discover Will Rabbits Eat Marigolds? In this informative guide, learn about rabbits’ eating habits and how they interact with marigold plants.


Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) are popular, vibrant, and fragrant flowers commonly grown in gardens and landscapes for their beauty and pest-repelling properties. If you are an avid gardener or pet owner, you might wonder whether rabbits, known for their voracious appetites, will munch on these lovely flowers. In this article, we will explore whether rabbits are likely to eat marigolds and provide some tips on how to protect your marigolds from these adorable but potentially troublesome garden visitors.

Will Rabbits Eat Marigolds?

Yes, rabbits are known to eat marigolds. Marigolds are not toxic to rabbits, and they may find the flowers and leaves of the marigold plant appetizing. Rabbits are herbivores and enjoy a variety of plant materials as part of their diet. However, it’s essential to monitor their consumption, as feeding them too many marigolds or any other plant in excess could lead to digestive issues or other health problems.

If you have a garden and want to protect your marigolds from being eaten by rabbits, you might consider using protective barriers or planting them in raised beds. Additionally, providing rabbits with a diverse diet that includes hay, fresh vegetables, and specially formulated rabbit pellets will help ensure they get all the necessary nutrients for a healthy life.

Will Rabbits Eat Marigolds?
Will Rabbits Eat Marigolds?

What Are Marigolds?

Marigolds are flowering plants belonging to the genus Tagetes in the family Asteraceae. They are popular ornamental plants known for their bright and vibrant colors, which range from golden yellows and oranges to reds and even creamy white. Marigolds are native to the Americas but are now cultivated worldwide due to their beauty and practical uses.

There are several species of marigolds, but the most commonly known ones include African marigolds (Tagetes erecta), French marigolds (Tagetes patula), and signet marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia). Each type has distinct characteristics, such as plant height, flower size, and foliage shape.

Marigolds are often grown in gardens, flowerbeds, and containers as decorative plants, adding a touch of color to landscapes. Their aromatic flowers also make them suitable for deterring pests in gardens. In traditional practices, marigolds were used in various medicinal remedies and had cultural significance in some regions.

What Are Marigolds?
What Are Marigolds?

Are Marigolds Safe for Rabbits to Eat?

Marigolds are generally considered safe for rabbits to eat in small quantities. These flowers are not toxic to rabbits and are often included in commercial rabbit treats or herb mixes. However, as with any new food introduced to a rabbit’s diet, it’s essential to introduce marigolds gradually and observe how your rabbit reacts to them.

While marigolds are safe, it’s important to remember that rabbits have sensitive digestive systems. If they consume large amounts of any new food, including marigolds, it can potentially lead to digestive upset. To avoid issues, offer a small amount first and monitor your rabbit’s response.

Always ensure that the marigolds you provide are not treated with pesticides or chemicals that could harm your rabbit. The safest option is to grow marigolds specifically for your rabbit or to obtain them from a reliable source that ensures they are safe for consumption.

Are Marigolds Safe for Rabbits to Eat?
Are Marigolds Safe for Rabbits to Eat?

Creating a Rabbit-Friendly Garden with Marigolds

Rabbits can be delightful visitors to your garden, but they can also be naughty when munching on your plants. To create a rabbit-friendly garden that protects your precious flora, consider incorporating marigolds, as rabbits tend to avoid them due to their strong scent. 

Here are some steps to help you get started

Choose Rabbit-Resistant Plants

Apart from marigolds, select other plants that rabbits tend to avoid. Examples include lavender, rosemary, sage, daffodils, snapdragons, and ageratum. These plants have scents or tastes that rabbits find unappealing, which can deter them from munching on your entire garden.

Set up a Physical Barrier

While rabbit-resistant plants can help, creating a physical barrier’s an excellent idea to protect your garden further. Use chicken wire or hardware cloth fencing, burying it about 6 inches deep to prevent rabbits from burrowing underneath. Make sure the fence is at least 2-3 feet high to deter rabbits from hopping over.

Raised Garden Beds

Consider using raised garden beds, as rabbits might find it more challenging to reach the plants. Elevated beds can also help with drainage and soil aeration, providing a healthier environment for your plants.

Companion Planting

Utilize the concept of companion planting to enhance your garden’s rabbit resistance. When grown together, some plants can create a natural deterrent against rabbits. For example, planting onions, chives, or garlic around your marigolds can help keep rabbits away.

Natural Repellents 

Some natural repellents can discourage rabbits from entering your garden. You can use cayenne pepper, garlic spray, or vinegar solution as a deterrent. Spray these around your garden, being cautious not to apply them directly to the plants you want to protect.

Garden Maintenance

Keeping your garden tidy and debris-free can make it less attractive to rabbits. Trim any overgrown vegetation, and remove hiding spots where rabbits may feel safe.

Monitor and Modify

Regularly inspect your garden for signs of rabbit damage. If you notice any areas of concern, take action immediately. Adjust your repellents or barriers as needed to keep the rabbits at bay.

Remember that while marigolds can help repel rabbits, there’s no guarantee they will completely prevent rabbit visits. Combining various rabbit-resistant strategies allows you to create a more rabbit-friendly garden that coexists harmoniously with these furry creatures. Enjoy your beautiful garden and the occasional rabbit sightings.

Creating a Rabbit-Friendly Garden with Marigolds
Creating a Rabbit-Friendly Garden with Marigolds

Signs of Rabbit Damage to Marigold Plants

Marigold plants, with their vibrant blooms and pleasant fragrance, are a favorite among gardeners for their beauty and ability to repel pests. However, one persistent pest that can cause significant damage to these lovely flowers is the rabbit. Rabbits are notorious for their fondness of tender, young plants, and marigolds are no exception. Gardeners must be vigilant in spotting the signs of rabbit damage to their marigold plants to prevent further destruction.

One of the most apparent signs of rabbit damage is the presence of chewed or nibbled leaves. Rabbits have sharp front teeth that can effortlessly trim and devour the tender leaves of marigold plants. They often start by munching on the edges of the leaves or making characteristic bite marks, leaving a jagged appearance. Rabbits may be the culprit if you notice leaves that seem irregularly eaten or partially missing.

Signs of Rabbit Damage to Marigold Plants
Signs of Rabbit Damage to Marigold Plants

Do rabbits eat African marigolds?

Yes, rabbits are known to eat African marigolds if given the opportunity. These colorful flowers might appeal to them, especially if other food sources are scarce.

How do I keep rabbits from eating my marigolds?

To protect your marigolds from rabbits, consider using the following methods.

   a. Fencing: Install a barrier like a wire mesh fence around your marigold plants to prevent rabbits from accessing them.
   b. Natural deterrents: Planting strong-smelling herbs or flowers like garlic, onions, or lavender near the marigolds can deter rabbits.
   c. Repellents: Apply commercial rabbit repellents, available in garden stores, which emit odors unpleasant to rabbits.
   d. Raised beds: Plant marigolds in raised beds that are difficult for rabbits to reach.

Can rabbits eat marigold flowers?

Yes, rabbits can eat marigold flowers. While they may not be their preferred food, rabbits are known to nibble on various plants, including marigold flowers.

Do rabbits eat marigold leaves?

Yes, rabbits are known to eat marigold leaves. They can be attracted to the tender leaves of the marigold plant and may graze on them.

Is marigold toxic to animals?

Marigolds are generally considered non-toxic to animals, including rabbits. However, ensuring that the marigolds have not been treated with pesticides or chemicals that could harm pets if ingested is essential. Always use organic and pet-safe gardening practices to protect your furry friends from potential harm.


After thoroughly examining the available information and insights into rabbit behavior and dietary preferences, it can be concluded that rabbits tend to eat marigolds. Still, it may not be their top choice of food. Rabbits are primarily herbivores and are known to consume a variety of plants, including flowers like marigolds. However, their preference for marigolds can vary depending on the availability of other food sources and their tastes.

While marigolds possess certain natural compounds that may deter rabbits due to their bitter taste and intense aroma, some rabbits may still nibble on these flowers if they are starving or if their usual food sources are limited. Additionally, young rabbits and those in certain regions may be more likely to eat marigolds than older rabbits or rabbits with more diverse food options.

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