Chicken Resistant Plants

Chickens will eat the yard until nothing is left if all you plant is what they like.  Start planting some of what they don’t eat, too. 

Important points to keep in mind with chickens in the yard:

  • Different chickens have different tastes.  Someone else’s hens might develop a taste for things like nastursium, while others leave it alone.  Experiment and never buy a ton of anything to start with.  I will leave a newly purchased potted plant where the hens can nibble.   If they ignore it, in the ground it goes the following week.
  • Hungry chickens will eventually eat almost any plants if there is nothing else to forage around or no other good food source.  Check toxicity levels before planting anything.  Chickens don’t normally bother poisonous plants unless they have nothing else to choose from, but also try not to plant stuff that is deadly like foxglove or oleander.  I generally have a mix of fast growing annuals they can munch and chicken proof shrubs and perennial plants.
  • I always put out lots yummy treats a couple of times a day and give them constant access to their feeder and waterer.  I have a modest amount of grass in the backyard that my hens munch on throughout the day so they are never at loss for green stuff.
  • Temporarily fence them out with chicken wire or other portable fencing until plants are more established
  • Fence off the vegetable garden
  • Plant more fruit trees, shrubs, and woody perennials to provide “bones” to the garden so it doesn’t look bare.

Here is an article with some good tips and advice on keeping a nice garden with chickens:


A lot of the plants on this list are also drought tolerant due to the water restrictions we have locally.  For my post about poisonous plants and toxicity, click here. They are not in any particular order so far, I’ll get around to sorting eventually.

Heliotrope *


Salivias ( a lot of varieties!)

Four O’clock (not pictured yet)


Nandina Domestica (heavenly bamboo) I cut off the berries to keep the chickens from eating it if they fall to the ground.




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



Lambs Ears

Sedum “Autumn Joy”(not pictured yet)

Leather leaf ferns

Osteospemum (not pictured yet)

Calla lilies

Asperagas fern

Japanese Anenome

Amarillys Belladona (naked ladies)


Citrus (not pictured yet)



Mother in Law’s Tounge

Limonium (sea lavender)

© 2009 – 2013, .


Chicken Resistant Plants — 22 Comments

    • Be careful, all parts of Lantana are toxic. If they really like it, it might be a good idea to either fence it off or remove it. Lantana can cause a variety of health problems, including lethargy, weakness and collapse of the circulatory system.

  1. What about vegetable plants?? I was thinking of growing potatoes and possibly parsnips and carrots in the small paddock where my chickens live. Would this work??

    • Generally, chickens go after most vegetable plants, and few plants survive in a small enclosed chicken run. Chickens might scratch up carrot or parsnips seedlings before they could get established. Herbs like sage, mint, rosemary, or bay laurel, might work.

      I would not recommend trying potatoes in a small paddock. If potato plants are one of the few green things they have regular access to, there is a very good chance they will eat the leaves. Potatoes (like tomatoes) contain poison in the stems and leaves. Potato plants are in the Solanaceae family (nightshade) and have a toxin, called solanine, in the green parts which cause gastrointestinal and neurological damage. The poisonous plants I have in my yard are left alone by the chickens because there are lots of other edible green things the chickens can forage on. Please see my post on poisonous plants for more links to toxic plants

  2. I’m so happy to find you. I live in NW Michigan. Love my chickens and love my gardens. Now I have a better idea of how to keep all living happily ever-after.

  3. Hi there,

    Very interesting and great to ‘hopefully’ have such a variety of plants and flowers for our chicken run. We only have two chickens but they munch everything…!
    Thanks for putting all this info up. It has helped me a lot.

    Africa Wild Trails Ltd

  4. Hi, just wanted to mention I had 5 pots of beautiful Begonias. The chickens and roosters began to eat away all the flowers. When those were gone, they ate the plants down to the dirt. Next year my Begonia pots will go inside my screened porch and only come out for some sun when the chickens are in their pens! They also went after the Impatiens for awhile, but later left them alone. I do not know why. They have acres of ground to wander in, but always return to the gardens.

  5. My flock decimated my Lantanas with five acres to roam freely. They came upstairs on my deck to do so. Twenty (or less) chickens ate 17 big plants (not in bloom) I must have been lucky because they never showed ill effects.

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  7. I have read the only thing toxic on a lantana plant is the green berries. Lantana is used medicinally in many parts of the world. The ripe berries being black are used by migratory birds. Not an expert just what I read.

  8. My chickens dug my (pretty steep) hill area pretty bad. I would like to plant some low maintenance, drought tolerant flowering plants. Would Heather be a good choice?

    I’d like some advise on this.

    Lisa in Seattle

    • I wish I could offer advice, but I have never grown heather, only false heather, which isn’t actually a heather. My suggestion, based on my SoCal climate would be Lantana, as long as there other edible plants for chickens to munch. , they will likely leave lantana alone since it is on the toxic plant list. Maybe inquire at seattle tilth if they have a good suggestion or your local cooperative extension.

  9. Something that I have found useful in protecting newly planted plants until they get established is, to cut off the ends of a can of bulk corn, pizza sauce etc. and place this over the plant. The cans I use say 6lbs. 10oz. on them (I have a large family). If you don’t have a large family I’ve heard that you can get these at restaurants that discard them, if you’re willing to ask.

    Hope this helps,

  10. Can you please tell me about the black chicken in the Pittosporum picture? I have a bantam-sized hen that looks exactly like your black chicken whose origin I know nothing about (she was a gift). She’s a fabulous layer, almost every single day, of small white eggs. Her feathers have a slight greenish sheen in the sunlight and her tail is more upright and full than that of your bird. I’d love to know what breed she is as I’d like to have more.

    Also, this is a great list…thanks so much for including pictures as a long list of plant names becomes hard to remember.

    • Sarah,

      The chicken by the pittosporum is a large fowl Black Australorp. I am not sure if they come in bantam, but most large breeds have bantam counterparts. Maybe your chicken is a Black Japanese or a Black Olde English. Have you looked at images of those to see if that is what you have? Olde English are very popular.

  11. Thanks for giving me some breeds to start looking at. She was part of a backyard flock of “mutts” that an old guy had bred for generations to meet his needs so I thought she was one-of-a-kind. After looking at some pictures the closest I could get was Sumatran due to her sheen and tail shape, but her head is more like your Black Australorp. I’ll look up the Black Japanese and Black Olde English also. She’s such a great bird–voracious forager and wonderful layer. I feel like she truly earns her keep by being so low maintenance. The only downside is that she’s extremely skittish but maybe that’d be different if I’d had her as a chick.

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  13. Thanks for all the info. Great website. I live in Inglewood so have more heat and less fog than you and am looking into which grapes to grow. FYI your photo listed as Amaryllis belladonna is something different. A belladonna has only leaves in the spring, which die down in early summer and then only a flower stalk in late summer – hence the name Naked Ladies. What you have may be Amercrinum which is a cross of A belladonna and a Crinum Lily or possibly Lycoris or a pink Crinum Lily. If you want some belladonnas just let me know and I also have Crinums and Hymenocallis if you want any.

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