How to Keep Rabbits From Eating Pepper Plants

Peppers (Capsicum annuum), ranging from bell peppers to chili peppers, thrive as a warm-season annual in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 1 through 11. Some varieties, such as the "Black Pearl" ornamental pepper, grow as a perennial in zones 4 through 11. Unlike other common vegetables, peppers are not the first choice for hungry rabbits. You may still find these pesky pests feeding on new leaves and young shoots, however. Defend your peppers before it's too late.

Gray rabbit lay on the grass
credit: mkaminskyi/iStock/Getty Images
Don't let foraging rabbits ruin your pepper harvest.

Build Your Defense

The most humane and most effective way to keep rabbits away from your pepper plants is by completely excluding them from your vegetable garden with a rabbit-proof fence. Erect a fence around your backyard using mesh with 1-inch-wide openings or smaller. The fence should measure at least 24 to 36 inches high and go at least 6 inches into the ground. If the thought of fencing in your entire garden sounds like too much work, create a circle of mesh fencing around each individual pepper plant instead.

Create a Habitat Hell

Most rabbits don't like wide, open spaces. They are prey to many animals, and thus prefer landscapes with lots of hiding spots. Modify your backyard landscape to make your garden as inhospitable to rabbits as possible. Clean up all garden debris, thin out dense hedges and shrubs near your vegetable garden, and eliminate stands of weeds and brush.

By creating clear, open spaces around the pepper plants, the rabbits may be encouraged to move on to easier foraging that's more protective.

Spritz On an Anti-Rabbit Spray

If rabbits, deer and other pests are still finding their way in and among your pepper plants, apply a defensive spray to your vegetables. Chop up a fresh jalapeno pepper and a yellow onion and place them into a pot. Add a tablespoon of dried cayenne pepper. Pour in a couple quarts of tap water and boil the mixture for approximately 20 minutes. After the solution has cooled, strain it through a cheesecloth and pour it into a plastic spray bottle. Mist the concoction onto the pepper plants. The pungent smell and spicy taste will keep rabbits and other animals from feeding on pepper fruit and foliage.

Reapply once every three days, or whenever you water your plants or after it rains.

Employ Scare Tactics

The scents of blood or of predatory animals can scare rabbits right out of your landscape. For example, some gardeners have had success sprinkling dog hair or dried blood meal around the perimeter of their vegetable garden. Other gardeners have pounded stakes into the ground every few feet around their vegetable garden, tied a cotton ball to each stake and sprinkled a few drops of fox urine on the cotton balls. Such tactics only work for as long as the smell lasts, however, so you need to reapply it every few days or whenever it rains.

Another idea that has worked for some landscapers is setting up motion-activated garden statues, such as frog decorations that croak anytime something moves. When the rabbits set off the motion-activated sensors, the noise from the garden decorations scare them away.