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Prevent rabbits & deer & squirrels & voles from eating roses

strawchicago z5
6 months ago
last modified: 2 months ago

I notice that TALL roses like Crown Princess Margareta (never eaten by rabbits in its 11th-year as own-root).

What are some tall & fragrant roses, esp. the ones hardy to zone 5? Thank you.

My worst zone 5a winter in a decade made roses so short, I have been busy preventing rabbits from chewing my 100+ own-root roses.

The neighbors are coping with rabbits, one ripped off his wooden fence to install a 6' vinyl white fence so rabbits can't crawl below into his garden:


A 2nd neighbor saw me putting buckets (bottom cut-off) around roses, so he also put plastic buckets around his young veggies to prevent rabbits.


Rabbits jumped over the rocky ditch into my raised bed, so I installed a netting, that works well. Some roses are too big for plastic buckets. I dug rocks from the planting holes and put them into my deep trench to stop tree's roots.


Netting works only if there's brick-build-up to prevent rabbits from digging below and crawl inside.


Rabbits jumped over this tall brick border to eat Comte de Chambord, so I have to put bamboo sticks around Comte.


Bamboo sticks works well to protect a newly bought rose from Antique Rose Emporium. Bamboo Sticks are sold for $4 per many 6 feet canes, I cut them to the height desired:


Comments (40)

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    I have two 20-year old Flower Carpets, one is eaten by rabbits, the other is never eaten. Why? There's a clump of daffodils growing next to the safe rose. Rabbits can smell poisonous daffodils and stay away. Same with fragrant Hyacinth (also poisonous), Below thornless Bohemian Rhapsody has been safe from rabbits in its 7th-year as own-root, thanks to Hyacinth next to it:


    Daffodils are very invasive in my black-gumbo clay, so instead of killing them, I chopped up the leaves and sprinkle around roses to deter rabbits. It works well, along with fencing:


    Back in 1997 with my former rose garden, I put metal fencing around and baby rabbits dug below to crawl under the fence.

    So I planted a bunch of marigolds, that DID NOT WORK, rabbits ate the marigolds. I sprinkled garlic powder, plus cayenne pepper powder around my annual flowers, rabbits still ate them.

    I smeared Irish Spring Soap on my brick border, rabbits still jump over a a tall brick border. However they stay away from poisonous plants like rhubarb, daffodils, or hyacinth leaves.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    If I start a new rose garden, I would install a 3 feet tall fence, after seeing how rabbits can jump easily over a tall brick border.

    Menards sells 36 inch x 36 inch rabbit-metal-panel at $12 each, each panel has locking hatch to the next one. so I would need 4 of these if I want a square enclosure for a 3' x 3' area:



    https://homeguides.sfgate.com/easy-fence-keep-bunnies-out-85482.html

    An excerpt from above link: "Posts for the Rabbit Fence

    Metal posts with a cross-section shaped like the letter T, known as T-posts. You can easily and safely pound them directly into the ground . Sink the posts deep enough so that the flat anchor plate is fully buried in the soil. T-posts usually come with a generous supply of metal clips that you use to attach the fencing to the posts."

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  • joeywyomingzone4
    6 months ago

    This is great information about the daffodil leaves!! I'm hoping to plant daffodils around my new garden because they are so pretty in spring but I didn't realize they were good for keeping out rabbits. My best tall rose for not getting eaten from below is Queen Nefertiti because the lower branches are so thorny that it seems to keep the rabbits away. She blooms at the end of 3ft canes and always puts on a beautiful show.

    strawchicago z5 thanked joeywyomingzone4
  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    6 months ago

    Medallion. Have you grown dark desire, sector aisle Or Quietness? There is another I'll come back and update.

    strawchicago z5 thanked Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    6 months ago

    All of my roses are also caged except for the upper level and front area. I have a lot of Daffodils so maybe that is why they don't bother those in the front. Medallion is a great tall healthy blooming fragrant rose.. Tall and narrow. Moonlight in Paris also grows tall and narrow Do you grow quietness, Dark desire Or septerd isle? Have you considered Bordeaux Citiscape?

    strawchicago z5 thanked Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley Thank you for those recommendations (Medallion, Dark Desire, Moonlight in Paris, Quietness, Scepter'd Isle, Bordeaux). I grew Scepter'd Isle back in 2012 and gave it away, it was tall & didn't like it scent. That was before the rabbits came.

    I grow roses for scent alone, and hope to find amazing scent in tall roses.

  • smilingspring
    6 months ago

    Paul Ricault is great! Extremely tall and no rabbit damage… if there were I wouldn’t know. Moderate fragrance. Gertrude Jekyll is also good, great fragrance. No good pictures of her this year. Lady Ashe aka Dixieland Linda is fantastic on all accounts, will try to get a photo of her when she blooms.

    I have a few lighter colored blooms right now also, but badly damaged by thrips that I’m not sure how to handle…

    strawchicago z5 thanked smilingspring
  • rosecanadian
    6 months ago

    Straw - I'm glad my suggestion of bamboo poles worked for you!!! :) :) Makes me feel great to help you once in a while. :) :)


    You are really creative in keeping those rabbits away. I wish I could offer some suggestions for tall, fragrant roses....but you already have Peter Mayle which is the only one I can think of.

    strawchicago z5 thanked rosecanadian
  • rosesmi5a
    5 months ago

    Daffodils work below the ground too: I encircle my lily bulbs with daffodils planted @ 6" away from the bulb. The Daffodil bulbs work to keep voles from eating the lily bulbs.


    Remember that the leaves of the daffodils go dormant by July.

    strawchicago z5 thanked rosesmi5a
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    smilingspring Your garden is my dream .. so enchanting and gorgeous. Thank you for your tips on TALL and FRAGRANT roses: Gertrude Jekyll, Lady Ashe, and Paul Ricault (sold by High Country roses and Hummingbird roses).

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    5 months ago

    Since @smilingspring mentione Lady Ashe, I thought Id mention Aloha as well. since LA is her sport. Here with high humidity and rain, Aloha will BS and defoliate, but still blooms alot even in high heat, retaining her cupcake like form. Shes more sprawling that others I mentioned in my garden and can use some support. ... or perhaps she could just use a heavier Spring pruning.

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    I have Aloha as 4th-year own-root. It's short in my zone 5a, at 2.5 feet max in late fall. Now in spring it's only 1 foot tall and got eaten by rabbits in lowest leaves.


  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    I went through the old posts in Houzz on "TALL ROSES" and below were suggestions on tall & fragrant roses: Reine des Violettes, Jude the Obscure (grafted), Brother Cadfael, Liebeszauber, Benjamin Britten, Voodoo, Orange Parfaits, Louis Odier, Gertrude Jekyll.

    I add own-root About Face to the above list, this spring my 5th-year own-root About Face is the same height but 3 times wider than Lavender Crush climber (grafted). Rabbits don't eat either. Below pic. was taken last summer.


  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    @strawchicago z5, I wonder if Lieb would grow that tall for your . Here it makes a wonderful, healthy and bushy plant reaching about 4ft tall. Are you looking for roses that height. Another I thought of is Star of the Republic, but in your zone it may have some die-back. Zaide might be a taller substitute for Aloha. I could name some others which either lack fragrance or have single/semi-double flowers.

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  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Vaporvac - yes, good thinking on Zaide...that one was tallish for me. :)

    strawchicago z5 thanked rosecanadian
  • smilingspring
    5 months ago

    @strawchicago z5 thank you! You’re my garden hero!

    Got a photo of Lady Ashe today, but please excuse the thrip damage. She is tall and good fragrance… had a baby bunny nesting under her.

    strawchicago z5 thanked smilingspring
  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    SmiliningSpring - beautiful!!! Looks great and those blooms!!!!

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    smilingspring Thank you. My philosophy is never to post for popularity nor to impress, but for truth, and it means A LOT to hear your wonderful feedback.

    I love the color of your Lady Ashe's bloom, and your rose looks great & very healthy.

  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Straw - sounds like you need to get some cats or convince the feral cats to come and live in your yard.

    strawchicago z5 thanked rosecanadian
  • Brandon Garner
    5 months ago

    Other than Bliss Parfuma, Golden Buddha, and Rise n Shine the blasted rabbits just bite the rose canes and leave the on the ground regardles of thorniness. I have found chicken wire and garlic to be good deterants.

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  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    5 months ago

    Brandon, I also use chicken wire when I initially plant and as a foil as they mature. I figure while they may eat the taller branches, at least they wont chew them to the ground. Its worked really well. I could cage them taller, but its not very attractive and impedes the natural growth form. As I mentioned, I also cage entire beds with higher fencing mainly for the deer. Thats difficult to deal

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Vaporvac: Agree that deer are harder to control than rabbits. Deer eat all the upper branches, versus rabbits eat the lower branches (so the upper buds are intact). We no longer have deer here thanks to industrial expansion (warehouses being built on the corn field behind my house).

    Roses Unlimited is having a summer sale today June 11 at $15 per gallon. But I skip this sale thanks to ZERO AUSTINS. I won't buy roses as "bunny treats". Will buy larger air-pots (12-gallon each) to test for zone 5a winter-survival if I pile up bags of leaves on the outside to insulate, plus pile up wood-chips to a height of 1 foot to protect the crown.

    Rabbits and chipmunks can't climb up the tall spiky air-pots, I'm very happy with the 12 air-pots (7-gallon each) bought (thanks to Hoang Ton's fabulous roses in air pots). I Roses are super-healthy in air-pots thanks to fast drainage in my heavy rain climate. Below roses are band-size from LongAgoRoses and gallon-size from Roses Unlimited. Pic. taken 6/4/22:


  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Yes, Straw - your roses look amazing!! Uber healthy! And really good that they're unclimbable. :)






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  • jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.
    5 months ago

    Wanted to say hello to you Straw and great ideas! :-)

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  • portlandmysteryrose
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    I am sending my sympathy! Clever pot solution, Straw! I only get intermittent critter damage because I am inner city, but something has sure decimated a number of smaller roses over the years! Squirrels get young canes and lop off budded stems every spring which is especially frustrating when it happens on my non remontants. Something uprooted my ’Rook’ Gallica several years ago. Grrr. I think a forum friend is going to help me out with a start. 🎉 My collie is my main garden fiend these days. I bought fencing at Lowes and corralled the entirety of back garden beds. I installed pound-in posts between the panels and attached the panels to the posts with twist lock tree ties for easy removal. Collie proof fence below. Carol





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  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    He looks so innocent! I should do that. I have chicken wire with bamboo stakes, but yours are so much classier.😉😊

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  • sharon2079
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    I love your collie..... I lost mine due to cancer. He was 5 and I was devastated..... He was my 3d collie, but he was my special rose buddy..... He knew not to dig in the yard, so whenever I was pulling weeds, he would almost sit in my lap so he could sniff the dirt off each one.... I miss him so much.... Here is a link that has a picture of my collie. His name was Oracle. https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5740303/lavender-lassie

    So I want you to know that I really appreciate you and thank you so much for posting the picture of your beautiful collie,

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  • portlandmysteryrose
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    @Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley Ha, ha! I had chicken wire and stakes for years, too. The Lowes fence panels and posts were on my wish list and arrived as birthday and Mother’s Day gifts a few years ago. No jewelry here. I’m a plants, soil and hardscapes kinda gal. 😁 Carol

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  • portlandmysteryrose
    5 months ago

    @sharon2079 Our collies are so dear! You have my deepest sympathy for your loss. It takes real courage and determination to get through an unexpected loss like that. I love your description of your collie sitting close and sniffing the soil! Collies are so sweet natured, sensitive and bright but also quirky. I think of them as dignified goofs. Your beloved rose buddy sounds very special. Mine is named Nova because she’s our family superstar. My daughter has high functioning autism and Nova is her rock. Carol

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    jim1961: Good to hear from you, I love to see your pic. of Gracie and your old cat too. You post the best bush-shot pics. of roses, that helps to see its size in cold zone. Thank you.

    portlandmysteryrose Funny that I have the same impression of your fence as Vaporvac: SO CLASSY !! Collies are the most gentle dogs. Nova is a great name. Good news about high functioning autism (Asperger's): according to Wikipedia, a high % overcome that by adult age into superstars with strong intellectual traits. But they need more guidance in social areas than others.

    My daughter with mild Asperger's graduated #4 out of her high school of 800 kids. She will finish college in 3 years & took 16 college-credit classes in high school. She never care for boys but very focused in her career, being the first college freshman ever to score perfect on the national actuary exam in her statistics & computer science field.

    sharon2079 I'm so sorry for the loss of your collie Oracle, memories keep loved ones closed to our hearts, and memories are like being with our loved ones 24/7, even when they are gone.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Alana in SC once suggested onion peels to deter rabbits, and I agree. Onion peels' odor gets stronger as it aged. Will have my husband put his coffee grounds in a separate bucket for compost, since both onion peels and coffee grounds have the strongest odor in my compost ... rabbits don't feast in my compost for that reason.

    Mixing onion peels with coffee grounds produce the most long-lasting odor to repel bunnies.

    The web stated that rabbits don't like black-eyed Susan but they ate 50% of my black-eyed Susan, which I don't mind since it's invasive in my dense clay.

    I like this info. from the web: "Many farmers also swear by soaking corncobs in vinegar and placing them near the targeted areas."

  • portlandmysteryrose
    5 months ago

    Thank you both, @strawchicago z5 and @Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley, for cheering me on with your perceptions of my ”classy” dog fence. We do what we have to do for our roses, right? I am sending supportive thoughts to everyone here dealing with the big forces of destruction—deer, rabbits, voles,…

    @strawchicago z5 Your daughter’s wonderful achievements are inspiring! High functioning autism/Asperger’s wiring adds to the grand mix of humanity; it brings special gifts and exceptional talents, fresh perspectives and social and emotional challenges that remind us all that humans require scaffolding and accomodations to function well. The world just hasn’t caught up yet with the understanding that it has been engineered for people without HFA/Asperger’s, and a broader design is needed to give everyone our best shots!

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  • jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.
    5 months ago

    Great to see you posting strawchicago z5...I have been reading through your threads...

    And enjoying all the cool photos!


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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    I have been checking the thickness or roses' leaves between my fingers. Saw 3 big rabbits and 2 baby rabbits in my garden.

    Rabbits leave the THICK LEAVES roses alone. These THICK LEAVES or TALL roses are NOT eaten: L.D. Braithwaite (3' x 3' as 2nd-year own-root), Princess Charlene de Monaco, Sweet Mademoiselle, Moonlight Romantica, Dee-lish, Savannah, Lavender Crush, About Face, CPM, Lady of Shalott, Zeph Drouhin, Orchid Romance, Evelyn, Prairie Harvest, Pat Austin, 100% thornless Bohemina Rhapsody, Bolero, Duchess de Rohan, James Galway, Radio Times, Double Delight, The Squire, Blue Mist, Perfume Breeze, Strike-it-rich, Lynnie, Lavender Crush, Tess of d'Ubervilles, the Dark Lady, Gene Boerner, La Reine, Veteran's Honor.

    Glossy leaves: Rouge Royal, Baronne de Rothchild, Aloha, Lagerfeld, Flower Carpet, Abraham Darby (only 5% lowest leaves eaten).

    Rabbit devour the THIN or DULL LEAVES or SHORT roses, such as Teasing Georgia, Well Being, Barcelona, Comte de Chambord, Annie L. McDowell, Carding Mill, W.S. 2000, Sonia Rykiel, Gruss an Teplitz, Wise Portia, Pretty Lady Rose, Big Purple, Mary Magdalene, thornless Yves Seedling, Golden Celebration, and Munstead Wood.

    Any brick border needs to be near 2 feet tall, rabbits can easily jump over a 1.5 feet tall border.

    The chance of rabbits eating the glossy leaves is less than the dull leaves (tend to be thinner & less disease resistant).

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Re-post below info. that Andrea (floweraremusic) gave:

    flowersaremusic z5 Eastern WA

    8 months ago

    Straw, most of my Austins stay green during winter. My larger ones are:

    Crown Princess Margarita

    Strawberry Hill

    Spirit of Freedom

    Misc. large roses that stay green:

    Eden is always green.

    Dortmund, an old Kordes shrub/climber. Produces abundant hips, too.

    Souvenir de la Malmaison, climber

    Jeannie Lajoie

    Mme Isaac Pereire

    Raspberry Cream Twirl

    Large rose bushes that turn brown and defoliate at the first sign of cold weather:

    Darlow's Enigma

    Therese Bugnet turns red first, but quickly turns brown and drops leaves.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    This morning I got poked really bad by accidentally picking up a branch of The Dark Lady (with tiny thistles). Then it occured to me that I should prune dense and nasty prickles roses (Radio Times, Mary Magdalene, Munstead Wood, Orchid Romance, Queen Nefertiti), then place their branches AROUND young roses. It's like a thorny trap to keep rabbits away.

    Rabbits can't step on nasty thistles and eat roses at the same time.

  • rosecanadian
    3 months ago

    Straw - good idea! Bwahahaha!!

    strawchicago z5 thanked rosecanadian
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    ALERT: THE SCENT OF ALFALFA ATTRACT ALL ANIMALS, including squirrels, dogs, rabbits and deer. From the web: "Deer love to eat alfalfa hay and will flock to established alfalfa plots. Animals like rats, dogs, bears, and bloodhounds have some of the most incredible noses ... These animals can detect a scent from a considerable distance and have a good sense of taste as well."

    I saw how squirrels ate my rootings in June, so I chopped up strong scent Italian Basil and put in my air-pots. The scent of Basil stopped the squirrels from eating roses in air-pots. I used invasive mint before to repel deer from my roses in the front.

    My TALL air-pots never have squirrels jumping in it, until I fertilized them with a STRONGER DOSE of alfalfa, since I'm out of ORGANIC Nature's Care soluble fertilizer.

    Thank God that the squirrels didn't eat the 10 buds of 4-months old Augusta Luis (bought as band-size from LongAgoRoses), see below:


    Early June a rooting did great, until I fertilized with alfalfa tea, squirrels are attracted to the scent of alfalfa and ate that rooting 1/2 off. Same with another 2 rose rootings: squirrels jumped into the pot and dug up both, after being fertilized with alfalfa tea.

    Besides squirrels, ALL ANIMALS are attracted to the smell of alfalfa, including rabbits, deer, and dogs. My 19-year-old daughter wants a pet bunny, and she asked me to get alfalfa to feed her future bunny.

    One time I poured a bag of alfalfa meal into the planting hole, and a dog broke away from its owner to rush to me. That dog was FAR AWAY (at least 1/4 acre away). I'm amazed that animals can sniff that far. That same evening, that dog which lived 3 houses away, broke loose from its home to my backyard in search of alfalfa. The dog was so attracted to the alfalfa smell that it came back the 2nd time. The owner came to my backyard looking for her dog.

    Years ago, when Ingrid had a problem with rabbits eating her roses in CA, she mentioned that she fertilized her roses ONLY with alfalfa meal. I wish I had known this earlier to inform Ingrid so she would not have quit roses altogether thanks to rabbits and drought.

    These pests have sensitive nose, farmers used to dunk corn-cobs in vinegar to repel rabbits. Another suggestion is to soak stinky ammonia in paper towel and put that in pots to repel squirrels and chipmunks.

  • smilingspring
    2 months ago

    Squirrels are digging in all my freshly sown seed of perennials and Hardy annuals. Going to try this out thank you strawberry!

    Also… probably not going to track down alfalfa now lol. Afraid of any more critter pressure

    strawchicago z5 thanked smilingspring
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