“Giving your best to potted plants (and your worst to bunnies)”

By Mary Reedy, Sugar Creek Gardens
Published: Saturday, Jun. 19 2004 – St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Q. Help! This must be the worst year for rabbits; nothing seems to work. Do you know of any product that really works? Please hurry before my garden is all gone!
– Susan in St. Louis

A. Susan, it does seem to be a banner year for the bunnies! You can ask 10 people and get 10 different suggestions, ranging from mothballs, human hair, garlic, baby powder, pepper sprays, used kitty litter, etc.; all with limited success for somebody at some time.

However, there is a new product on the market called “Plantskydd.” It is a deer, rabbit and elk repellent that is non-toxic and environmentally safe. The active ingredient is dried animal blood (pig or cow) plus vegetable oil to make it stick to plants. It’s been proven effective to last up to six months.

Plantskydd works by repelling the bunnies before they eat your plants because they associate the odor with predator activity. In the past some pepper-based type sprays gave disappointing results because the rabbit had to actually taste the treated foliage first then decide it was unappetizing; after they are attracted to a feeding area, it’s more difficult to make them leave. The “fear-based response” gives the bunny family reason to look for dinner elsewhere. Plus the pepper-based sprays had to be reapplied regularly. The vegetable oil works as a binder to the plant, and the manufacturer says this why it lasts longer and doesn’t require re-application after rains.

Almost the entire staff at Sugar Creek Gardens has tried Plantskydd this year, as we all have bunny problems ourselves. So far, it is working. It definitely stopped them from chewing all my woodland phlox, one of their favorite meals! Also my early hostas have not been touched since I treated them (you do have to spray new growth as it appears).

A couple of cautions: because it’s dried blood you’re spraying on your plants it’s a little startling to see them become dark red when you first use it. However, the normal plant color returns in a couple of days. Also, it really stinks! So hold your nose when using; the odor does dissipate in a little while, outdoors. (But don’t store the opened bottle in your house or you’ll swear you have a dead creature hiding somewhere).

It’s not for veggies or fruits, however; and as with all products read and follow the label instructions. It comes in both a ready-to-use spray form and a soluble powder form for mixing.

I should humbly add I used to be a little smug about NOT having bunny issues in my garden because I relied on my cat, Chloe, to deter them with her cat smell. But after 17 years of watching me garden, Chloe is a rabbit wimp and would rather sleep all day than chase Bugs & Co. away from my flowers!