A Gardening Pro Shares the “Secret” Potion You Need to Try in Your Garden (It Really Works!)

published Apr 23, 2024
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Spring time nature background with flowers.
Credit: UWMadison / Getty Images

In springtime, gardens start showing signs of life after a dormant winter: Shoots start to peek out of the ground, of course, but you’ll also start seeing a lot more activity from butterflies, birds, and other creatures too. One you might not be so fond of, if they’ve munched away at your pretty home-grown flowers before? Rabbits.

Not to be too Elmer Fudd about it, but the rabbits in my own yard drive me absolutely bananas. I learned quickly after moving into my home that I simply couldn’t keep tulips safe around them so I just don’t plant any. These days, my biggest annoyance with them comes from the absolute frenzy they unleash in my two extremely prey-driven dogs.

So when I overheard Liz Sinclair, a friend and Midwest-based gardening consultant — with an absolutely drool-worthy personal garden, I’ll add — talking about the way she keeps rabbits away, I was, ahem, all ears. Sinclair says the secret she swears by is a potion made up of eggs, milk, and water.

“I want to preface this by saying that I love rabbits and I have never been someone who wants to keep wildlife out of the garden,” says Sinclair, who owns the consulting business Aster + Lupine. “In general, I think gardening is about putting the right things in the right place so that you don’t spend so much of your time fighting against nature.”

That said, she notes, “I love tulips. After long winters in Wisconsin those early spring blooming flowers mean so much to me.” Unfortunately, she noticed rabbits also love tulips, and she wanted to redirect their attentions to other plants in her yard so that the buds had a chance to actually bloom.

Fortunately, while listening to a favorite gardening podcast, Plantrama, Sinclair picked up the recipe for a secret potion that has helped keep rabbits off her tulips for the past three springs. Here’s the recipe.

  • One raw egg
  • 1 cup dairy milk
  • 1/2 gallon water

Mix thoroughly, then pour through a fine mesh sieve or strainer to remove any clumps. From there, add the mixture to a spray bottle and spray directly onto tulips and other plants you want to keep safe from hungry rabbits.

Why does this weird mixture work? Well, rabbits are herbivores, so the smell of animal products is a lot less enticing than the smell of pure, unadulterated garden greens. The key is to re-spray every few days, especially following rain, as the mixture (and its scent) does wear off over time.

Sinclair warns that this potion should only be used on ornamental plants. “You don’t want rotting milk on your tomatoes,” she advises. But she also notes that there’s no unpleasant lingering smell for humans (although her dog does think it smells “delicious”).

Don’t want to make a new batch every time? Sinclair says she often divides batches into freezer bags so that she can use a little at a time, but you shouldn’t store this in the fridge for much longer than a week. The night before she wants to spray, she pulls a bag out of the freezer and puts it in the fridge to defrost. Sinclair adds, too, that you should make sure to wash the spray bottle after use by filling it with soapy water and spraying until the nozzle is cleared.

Sinclair loves this method for protecting her tulips, which flower for only a short time in early spring. But she says she’s also used it for any fresh plantings she wanted to give a little added protection to so they could get established before becoming a rabbit’s lunch.

That early intervention is key, she says: “In general, if you’re trying to keep animals away, it’s better to act sooner rather than later before they form the habit of coming to those favorite plants.” But even if you’re a little late, there’s no harm in testing out this secret potion to help keep rabbits away from any prized flowers — it won’t harm the rabbits, it won’t harm your garden, and it uses cheap ingredients you already have on hand. If you’re battling hungry rabbits, it’s worth giving this secret potion a try!