Rabbits are the bane of many a gardener's existence, and if you are finding you cannot grow certain edibles or ornamentals without losing them to bunnies, you may need a repellent. Blood meal, while not the most effective repellent out there, has been known to discourage rabbits, at least for a time.
What Is Blood Meal?
Blood meal is the dried waste product of the slaughterhouse industry. Due to its high nitrogen content, blood meal is often used as a garden fertilizer: the NPK ratio is 12-0-0, meaning it contains no phosphorous or potassium but large quantities of nitrogen. It is available at both feed stores and garden centers, though it can be pricey at the latter. In addition to use as a fertilizer, it can have repellent effects against some garden pests, such as deer or rabbits.
Effectiveness Against Rabbits
Blood meal often discourages rabbits from eating desirable plants. You can either sprinkle it around the garden or on the plants in dry form, or combine it with enough water to make a spray, then apply that with a spray bottle for even misting. You will need to reapply it after rain, as the blood meal will get washed away. For use on ornamentals, spray more often in the beginning, concentrating the spray on the surfaces rabbits usually go after.
Signs of Rabbit Damage
Before you purchase blood meal and distribute it around your yard, check that it is in fact rabbits that are causing the damage. Unlike deer, which rip flowers and leaves off with blunt teeth that leave jagged edges, rabbits clip cleanly at a 45-degree angle. Rabbits are also shorter, so usually can’t reach anything above 2 feet or so; if you have damage occurring significantly higher, it is unlikely to be the work of bunnies.
Blood meal may not work in all situations, and you should not use it on edible plants. Substitutes that may also repel rabbits and are safe for use on plants you intend to eat are black pepper and bone meal, both of which can also be sprinkled on in the garden and then washed off before you eat. Fencing, however, works the best. You can even use electric fencing, as long as you warn children of the risk of shock and keep an eye on pets until they learn to stay clear.