Plants Chickens Don't Eat

Gardening with chickens can be a pleasure as well as a frustration and challenge. Here is a list of plants from my garden (USDA zone 9 - 10/...
By GardeNerd · Jan 11, 2012 · Updated Sep 5, 2012 · ·
  1. GardeNerd
    Chicken Resistant Plants
    Gardening with chickens can be a pleasure as well as a frustration and challenge. Here is a list of plants from my garden (USDA zone 9 - 10/ Sunset zone 22) that I have had success with my chickens leaving alone. For a dramatically different climate, consider looking into deer resistant plants for your zone. A lot of these are also drought tolerant due the water restrictions we have locally. They are not in any particular order so far. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the list based on reports from other BYCers, members at the, or
    Chickens will eventually eat almost any plants if there is nothing else to forage around or no other food source.

    The List From my Yard


    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Salivias ( a lot of varieties!)
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    Four O'clock (not pictured yet)


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    Nandina Domestica (heavenly bamboo)
    Caution: This is considered mildly toxic, but not deadly. I cut off the berries to keep the chickens from eating it if they fall to the ground.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

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    Clivia (mildly toxic-not deadly)

    Purple Heuchera (coral bells, but they ate my green leafed coral bells)



    Lambs Ears

    Leather leaf ferns

    Calla lilies

    Asperagas fern

    Japanese Anenome

    Amarillys Belladona "naked ladies" (Mildly toxic-not deadly)


    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Mother in Law's Tounge

    Limonium (sea lavender) My neighbor's chickens did eat it.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    (not pictured yet)
    Mexican Sage
    Sedum "Autumn Joy"
    Jade (not pictured yet/ Mildly toxic-not deadly)
    Citrus (not pictured yet) *my neighbor's chickens eat it because there is nothing else green in the yard. Mine don't touch it.

    List based on other gardeners reports:

    plants in the mint family (salvias, sages, and mints)
    virginia creeper
    autumn clematis
    creeping phlox

    Some of my other advice if you are just starting out with chickens in your garden....
    I always put out lots yummy treats a couple of times a day and give them constant access to their feeder and waterer. My chickens spend a large part of their day foraging on grass on the lawn. small backyard

    My veggie garden and other fragile plants are fenced off from the area the chickens get to occasionally roam. I do allow them access to those areas either in their pen (a dog exercise pen with bird netting) or when I am able to supervise. At the end of the growing season, I allow them in to help "clean up."

    I have also been using chicken wire around the base of the root zones of plants when I first put them in the ground. I lay it on the ground with any sharp parts trimmed off or poked in the ground. Then I put landscape staples through it to hold it in place and cover with mulch. The chickens avoid scratching over it, but are able to walk on it. This prevents the chickens from digging the plants out before the plants are firmly rooted in the ground. I do still leave many areas open for digging and dust bathing.
    Not everything in my yard has been chicken proof. The chickens did dig out all of my narcissis bulbs, destroyed that area and ate the lower grape leaves on my vines, ate the alstromeria flowers blossoms (my favorites!), the Fushia flowers, and any raspberries they could reach through out the yard. A lot of my other backyard plants are larger and established so they could handle more abuse.

    *For tons of more pictures, how I garden with chickens around, or other details of my urban gardening, hobbies, and coop, visit my blog @

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  1. sluggospud
    For years, mine left the agapanthus leaves alone, but ate the flowers. This year they decided to start mowing down the leaves too :-(.

    Irises (and bulbs) were gone the first year.

    The plants they haven't touched are rosemary and rock roses (cistus).
  2. Scatterknit
    My host as were shredded by the chickens. They were gorgeous. Not anymore. [​IMG]
      GGRinger likes this.
  3. littlelizzy123
    Most of my problems haven't come from actual eating of the plants (unless they are veggies), but the digging they do in the soil to make their "chicken bowls". They love to wallow around underneath things, tearing up the roots so completely the plant dies.
  4. peastix
    My chickens eat agapanthus.They're pretty tough plants though so I'm pretty sure they'll sprout again. At the moment they are little stumps. Doesn't help that they are near the chosen spot to dustbathe so are always in the line of fire so to speak.
  5. CarlyLu
    Asparagus fern warning: My bantie Cochins and Silkie decimate them. I've moved some up high, and they'll actually jump 3 feet up in the air to nab the leaves. They are free range and have a lot of food options, but aparagus ferns are near the top of their list.
  6. poult
  7. ChaddiX
    Staples in my Chicken Habitat:
    Yucca or Joshua Trees
    Agave, Aloe (and many of the other sharp Succelents)
    Palms trees (Washingtonia, Oliva, Sago...)
  8. chicknmania
    Maybe chickens don't eat them, but peafowl love chive buds, apparently. Mine ate off every chive flower bud I had. :(
  9. mymilliefleur
    Great article! My chickens usually don't eat my plants, but they do enjoy digging them up, *sigh* Another plant that my chickens don't bother is Echinacea (purple cone flower). They won't eat it, and it's hard for them to dig up.
      GGRinger likes this.
  10. TheSpiceGirls
    My chickens eat my Asparagus Ferns. I have to put metal rings around them to give them a fighting chance. I think every set of hens has their own individual tastes. Silly Girls!
  11. Hooligans7
    Good list. We found out everything they *like* to eat last summer and fall. In fact I'm thinking of planting a front garden just for them. They love shamrocks and it always grows back. They didn't go after our crepe myrtles or lavender, so that's a plus. They didn't eat any part of the squash, but they demolished all the nearby morning glories, which, we have learned, gets them high (contains an LSD-like substance). So no more morning glories this year!
      GGRinger likes this.
  12. Chikyn
    I tried feeding my chickens some agapanthus and they looked at me like,"The heck did you have me eat?"
  13. lakeandme
    Thanks for the list and for the chicken wire tip. I was so frustrated with my flock in my garden so I tried it and the chicken wire really works. Didn't think I'd ever be able to plant anything new.
  14. Dook
    Great info! I find my chickens LOVE to "help make" garden beds, scratching where I've dug. So when I have freshly planted, I fence off the area to allow the plants to grow a bit, other wise they just get dug out. Not eaten though. BUT I permanetly fence off the veggie garden, as they will eat everything I put in there except parsley, leek and garlic chives!
  15. Buckysmom
    My chickens tend to walk on my plants.I fence off the veggie garden until the first frost,which we had a couple of days ago.I opened the garden gate for them.Now my flower garden is open all the time.I don't mind them munching my blueberries.Maybe their eggs will be full of anti-oxydents .What I need to know about is,can I feed my azaleas and hope if the chickens happen to eat the fertilizer will they be alright?
  16. LalahCatlady
    My chickens destroyed my Hosta (about a foot high) and day lilies. They don't bother the wegalia or adult four o'clocks (they love the baby four o'clocks though). Mostly anything that is just coming up is fair game, but older perennials seem fairly safe. I gave up trying to raise annuals.
  17. Ra_
    My chickens only really bother 2 of the plants I am growing. Crossvine and Camellia Sinensis (Tea). They only peck slightly at my Jacaranda, Bamboo, Weeping Willows, Gardenia and Forsythia. They love my Pensacola Bahia grass and they LOVE the many little weeds that sprout due to me using river bottom dirt with my plantings. Every year about this time I plant a big patch of Winter Rye to insure that they have plenty of greens all Winter.
  18. Di Gibbs
    I know that lantana is poisonous, I have texas sage and they just pick mildly at it so it looks nice, but my fire cracker bush is bare. I am hoping with the younguns grow up they will leave it alone, cause it was fine till we added them to the flock.
    Thanks for the list.
  19. Tanith BHH
    Hi, I was reading through this really interesting article, when I came across the photo of the pittosporum plant. Looking at the photo I noticed the black hen in the middle of the picture: i have a hen that looks exactly the same, but I have no idea what breed it is... Does anyone here know? I'd be really interested if anyone does know, I have always been puzzled by her! Just look at the pic showing the pittosporum. Thanks!
  20. farmboy222
    a jiffy chicken wire ( 3 ft.high ) fence around your planting area will keep them at bay . A few metal stakes to hang it are a good idea , they are easily portable and reusable.
  21. minidonkeys
    I WISH mine would eat mint! Wild mint and catnip grown rampant here and I'm forever pulling it up. I do wish they'd eat the weeds the donkeys won't eat, but isn't that the way it goes? They WILL eat those weeds (plantain, etc) when confined to their pen. Hmm, maybe i should just move the pen around? lol
  22. songbird
    I plant a section of kale along the edges of the garden just for the girls. They love it and so far don't bother to go in and eat anything else while the kale is available. Well..except if they can get at a ripe tomato or cuke from the edge. I wish my chickens liked basil or cilantro. My one pet sheep did way more damage than all the chickens combined! And then there was the time the pony got into the garden...
  23. TenHenAustin
    Other tips: use raised beds with row covers--I recommend using rebar for stakes outside of the wooden bed frames; doing so allows you to put PVC hoops directly onto the rebar, then attach wire (4x4 allows room for working with the beds, chicken wire or hardware cloth at base prevents pecking). We notice that mature peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, squash, and other plants like okra and egglplant, are unattractive to our chickens. In our herb garden, they did not touch fennel, dill, parsley, oregano, thyme, lemongrass, lavender, basil, and some others, though they sure like the soil for a nice dust bath! As we prep to install our winter herbs, we will bird net to keep chickens out and let mother nature in. Note: our herb garden surrounds their run, which is 10 x 16; and raised-bed garden is fenced with gates closed until plants mature--then we let chickens while supervised. Toward end of production, we allow free ranging in that garden, too. In addition we have a 200 x 30 area that has a short (old silt protection w/felt removed) fence. The chickens have found their way around, or over, but usually after plants are mature. We will likely resort to row cover fencing in the future for select vegetables that are attractive, but all in all, we simply let our birds free range, knowing that our benefits outweigh our disappointments (except for the watermelons--they L-O-V-E watermelons!)
  24. nashvillechick
    They won't mess with the roses or trees. In my yard, whether they eat other plants isn't so much the issue as the fact that they dig them up!
  25. Hooligans7
    Quite surprisingly, not only did my two amaryllis plants survive and grow, my chickens do not eat them. They've had plenty of opportunity, too. We're in zone 7a. On the other hand, they are addicted to morning glories and shamrocks, and will eat them all up.
  26. mprivett
    Great list- thanks for sharing!! I will say that my chickens LOVE to snack on my hostas.... grrrr....they take big bites out of the edges of the leaves. Are they sweet tasting to them or something?
  27. kapie9969
    Since i mainly plant things to eat,chickens like it to.I was going to let my chickens run loose in my greenhouse.But there wouldnt be much left after a while.My newest thing is puslane,my chickens love it.
  28. MonicaT
    Beautiful! Thank you! There is a nuisance tree here in Vallejo called alianthus or tree of heaven and unfortunately, my girls WON'T eat it. Fortunately, I'm not a very good gardener of anything other than vegetables, so the flock and I work well together, especially in the fall.
  29. Echolalia
    My chickens will definitely eat provence lavender, russian sage, yarrow & lantana. They might not eat a more mature plant - these were all one gallon plants that I put in the ground. There is a Japanese dimestore chain (DAISO) that sells these things called "Kitty, No!" They're spiky strips that you can put around your plants. It solves the digging problem and helps prevent them from eating the plants.
  30. California_chickie
  31. sck279
    Thank you for this wonderful list...
  32. QueenBeeMom
    Helpful advise, my hubbie is getting frustrated (and me too) with the things the chickens are eating, but more so, the scratching. We have plenty of places for them to scratch that are ok, yet they gravitate otherwise..
  33. Aylala88
    Mine love sweet corn, tomatoes, and watermelon. The chickens and geese both left my irises alone and I plan to plant tulips so I hope they don't bother them.
  34. kluckies
    havent had to much trouble give them alot veggie sraps seem happy
  35. pollitaroja
    I give my chickens oregano leaves and oriental basil in the pot.Then move to safety and it grows again. They are indoors. Watermelon,tomatoes and pumpkin, they love it
  36. leadwolf1
    My chickens ate absolutely every Iris I had planted...they did leave the bulbs :)
  37. PrairieChickens
    My chickens won't touch mint. Is that true for anyone else?
  38. blondiebee181
    So, I don't think my chickens ate them so much, but I had a duck that LOVED to break the leaves off our Iris plants and eat them. I saw a couple chicken gouges in them before too. They don't touch the foxglove, any of the herbs really, (except my ducks love basil) They dont eat lillies and they don't seem to bother the bleeding heart or the malva, just digging around the base for grubs.
  39. themadchicken
    I plant Zinnia's and Dahlia in my annual flower beds and my chickens do not bother them. They do like to walk around and smash them looking for bugs but will not eat any part of the plants, not even the seeds. I mix in annual Dahlia flowers to fill in the spaces between the Zinnian's to block there little trails. Both plants come in a very large selection of color, shape, and size.
  40. KatelynA
    We planted onions, beets, carrots, green leaf lettuce, arugala, beans, and jalapenos. While there were still dandelions in the yard everything else was safe, but once they were gone there were few survivors. They learned they didn't like jalapenos (so funny to watch them try the first one!) and have left the mint and basil untouched. Now they love to dust bathe in the empty beds, as though they are rubbing their voraciousness in our faces.
  41. Tammy N
    Mine have also left my citrus trees alone but they are sifting threw the ground for worms and thank god the slugs love the trees . Good little hens too.
  42. morsekathan
    Mine don't like mint and really anything that has fuzzy leaves. There is a book called Gardening with Chickens (or something like that) and she has lots of plants that they won't eat and beautiful pictures of gardens with chicken happily free-ranging. But frankly, I heard the author talk and I don't believe it. I only have four chickens; they free range in about a 1/4 acre and most everything garden like is gone. Oh, one big plus - they destroyed the English ivy which is invasive in this area.
      GrannyHeeney likes this.
  43. dobimomof4
    My chickens might not eat my Irises but I keep having to bury the rhizomes because they dig them up! It's the only thing planted besides grass in their part of the pasture and i keep having to re bury them! I guess I will have to move them when it cools off!
  44. Cass
    My birds don't eat the plants (which the plant might recover from) they dig up the roots and kill the poor plants. I would like to fence the area, but the person who weeds that garden says "no".
  45. pharmchickrnmom
    So anyone have anything in zone 5 of NY that chickens dont eat??? Mine seem to eat everything! I would like to plant blueberries and a small garden as well as flowers. I would fence these off of course until they are established.
  46. blueberrychickens
    Mine have destroyed the hostas in my I don't think those are safe to plant as un-edible
  47. TheIvoryKitty
    My chickens LOVE jade - they destroyed all of my jade plants. -.-

    I think some chickens will eat anything *rolls eyes*.
  48. RulerOfTheSkies
    My chickens wont eat zinnias
  49. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations, GardeNerd! Your article is featured on the homepage! Thank you for writing it and sharing it with our community.
  50. kilby
    Hi Flos
    Would you be giving them enough variety of fresh veggies that she would not be going after Hostas? Mine don't touch Hostas because they are full grown plants. Young shoots don't have a chance haha I grow organic sprouts. Grow it like wheat grass and they swallow it like it is spaghetti haha Funny They get the younger sprouts also. I have just set up for more intensive growing. Something they can have fresh during the winter with less bugs and flora.

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