Nibble proof plants


Nibble proof plants

words by
kristee semmler // the barossa nursery

How lucky are we to live in such a beautiful region like the Barossa. 

Surrounded by vineyards, hills, farmland and native scrub, our Barossa towns get to enjoy the best of country living. 

Often, this country living means sharing our gardens with the local wildlife, even if sometimes, that wildlife isn’t always invited. 

Gardening can be difficult when faced with hungry rabbits, possums and kangaroos who enjoy eating our favourite garden plants. 

These animals may be lovely to look at and have cute little faces. However, they can also have big appetites which include enjoying our well tended garden plants and can do a lot of damage. 

With the right plant selection though, combined with physical barriers, we can happily co-exist with these animals, while hopefully enjoying a nibble proof garden.

Just like human tastes, animals like rabbits, kangaroos and possums enjoy the taste of some plants more than others. 

For example, rabbits and possums both love the fresh buds and shoots on roses and petunias. 

If your garden is frequented by these hungry animals there are certain plants they dislike the taste and smell of and will avoid eating which may be worth planting in your garden. 

Highly fragrant plants such as Rosemary, lavender, catmint and geraniums are generally left alone. 

Other great garden plant options that grow well in our climate and that these animals generally avoid eating include: Salvias, Agapanthus, Diosmas, Aloes, Nandinas, Conifers, Rock Rose (Cistus), Wild Iris (Dieties), Oyster Plant (Acanthus), Butterfly bush (Buddleias), Spireas and many more. 

If you have an Australian native garden, there are many native plant species that kangaroos, possums and rabbits also tend to avoid. 

Once again, native plants with highly fragrant foliage such as Prostanthera (native mint), Eremophilas, Myoporum and Philothecas are found to be unpalatable. 

They will also tend to avoid plants that have spiked, hairy or sticky foliage such as some types of Acacias, Chrysocephalum, and some tea tree varieties. 

Possums and rabbits love veggie gardens and orchards and the food they produce. 

The best way to protect your edible garden is to use a physical barrier. 

On fruit trees, bird netting works well to keep possums (and birds) from eating the fruit. 

Rabbits and hares are well known to ring-bark or strip the bark off of fruit trees and trees which can result in tree death. 

The best way to combat this is a 60cm high wire mesh barrier around the trunk. 

In a vegetable garden, raised beds will help keep rabbits from reaching your crops.

However, a raised bed won’t stop possums and even mice and rats enjoying a munch. 

The alternative is a wire mesh structure or netting structure to cover plants which will protect them from gaining entrance. 

Rabbits, possums and kangaroos are also wary of dogs (and even some cats) and will often stay away if they smell or encounter one. 

Just like we have guard dogs for our houses, we can have guard dogs for our gardens!

There are a number of sprays that can be used on plants which may help deter animals from eating them. 

Products such as Scat and Yates Possum Repellent spray can be sprayed onto foliage as a repellent. 

They won’t harm your plants or the animals and can be very effective tools in managing plant munchers. 

One last tip to help repel possums, rabbits and kangaroos from eating your garden plants is by sprinkling Blood and Bone around susceptible plants. 

These animals have quite sensitive noses and hate the smell of Blood and Bone. 

Blood and Bone can be a very effective deterrent and as an added bonus it feeds your plants at the same time! Winning!

The only downside is it will need to be reapplied after rain or if it gets watered in by sprinklers.

Having the odd plant eaten or nibbled by wildlife is a small price to pay for living in such an amazingly beautiful region like the Barossa Valley. 

With these tips, we can hopefully all live in harmony together and still enjoy our plants and gardens (hopefully nibble free)!

Happy Gardening!

Kristee Semmler


If you have any good gardening old wive’s tales, feel free to share them by leaving a comment online on the Barossa Mag’s website.

I do love hearing a good tale! 

In the meantime, happy gardening!

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