Best Plants to Have with Chickens


Posted by Cassie

Having chickens in your backyard is not exactly the easiest way to have a beautiful backyard. They love to scratch and peck, make dust bathing areas, and poop on the back porch. They also love to eat new seedlings and anything that has been freshly planted is prime for scratching (and, often, destroying) in the search for some good worms and bugs.

But with a little work, you can still have a nice area to hang out with your roaming little pocket raptors. Just spray the poop with a hose (no need to pick it up as it is free fertilizer), and encourage an area that you wouldn’t mind being a dust bath. There are also a few strong plants that can survive the onslaught of super hot fertilizer (chicken poop), and lots of disruptions. In fact, I would say if these plants can survive with chickens around, they are probably some of the most hardy plants around. And they are pretty too!


Chickens in the iris bed

Irises

Irises are very hardy plants and they look really pretty even when they are not in bloom. The spikes create a sort of tropical background. Then when the flowers bloom, it’s even more beautiful. Because they grow in clumps, it is difficult for the chickens to get in there and destroy them. When they spread and get too overgrown, you can separate the root rhizomes and plant them in new areas. I recommend planting them pretty close together to create the chicken deterrent effect.


The chickens and Schnoodle near the irises

Roses

Roses are both gorgeously fragrant and chicken-hardy. Because of their thorns, they are not messed with by the chickens.We have about 8 rose bushes in the backyard!


Rose bush and chickens

Others

Spreading plants like mint and daisies also do pretty well around chickens. Our comfrey plants are virtually unkillable, so if you like comfrey for its composting benefits and bumblebees, that’s another great choice. Raspberries, strawberries and other spreading plants that provide food also work, but you have to keep the chickens from eating the fruit! And surprisingly enough, regular old grass does remarkably well with chickens as long as you keep the number of chickens to a manageable number.


Daisies are great because they spread so eagerly

So what shouldn’t you plant around chickens? Well, pretty much any tender, sensitive or rare plant that you would hate to see stepped on, pecked at or scratched up. For example, our annuals like petunias and marigolds stay on our front porch in containers. Others that haven’t done too well around the chickens have been tulips, daffodils, mums and salvias. Some plants you can cultivate with the chickens in mind. For example, hostas are a little sensitive, but can be planted next to a house wall or corner where the chickens don’t have quite the access to scratching them. Or if you really want a sensitive-type plant, you can put chicken wire near it when it is young or first transplanted and then remove it once they grow full-size. As long as it’s not tasty to the chickens, they will leave most full size plants and trees alone.


Sensitive plants are kept separate from the chickens (in the front)


We keep the salvia (with bee) out front, but a full-grown plant might be ok

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5 thoughts on “Best Plants to Have with Chickens

  1. katrina kruse

    Hardware cloth (chicken wire like stuff only square close boxes) on the ground around the plants works well. They don’t seem to like to step on it and they can’t really scratch through it!

    Reply
  2. william

    What are you going to do if you live next door to someone who works in a Chicken Procession Plant? What if the neighbor across the street owns a chicken farm? What if your kid’s soccer coach is an FDA inspector of poultry? What if your Avon Lady’s husband is a veterinarian who occasionally works with parrots, exotic birds or volunteers at the wildlife reserve and works there with birds? What are you going to do if the Bird Flu breaks out and you are often in contact or your family is in contact with such folks?

    Reply
  3. Cassie Post author

    William,
    Those are very strange questions. Chickens are not dangerous at all, and the likelihood of any problems you are insinuating with them is about as likely as when the geese congregate in the pond behind our house or the robins peck in our (or your) yard. Hens with access to water, sunshine, food and space to peck and stretch their legs are often much healthier than any you would find crammed in a poultry/egg plant, which quite possibly could be where you have seen some of the most sickly of birds.

    Reply
  4. Sasha

    Hello Cassie, I enjoy gardening, in England and old English roses are my favourite scent. You’ve inspired me to continue with plan to keep chickens , am I ok to save and use the chicken and rose bush photo? Keep up the good work, inspiring blog, you live in a beautiful place. Sasha

    Reply

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