rhododendron being eaten!

glorysbrite(z6PA-Berks)April 30, 2011

I am shocked! The rhododendron we planted last fall is being eaten! I didn't think anything would eat them. The plant appears healthy but it is being eaten from the top down. I noticed a hole about 2 inches across at the base of the plant & suspect whatever is coming out of there is dining on my plant. We live in the woods. The plant is in the woods at the edge of a field. I can't imagine what is coming out of a hole that size, but it is a new hole.

What do you think it is & how can i get rid of it?


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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Deer perhaps? Unfortunately, they love azaleas and rhodies. Some rabbits eat them as well. They cause the most damage. I do not have deer in the city but THE solution (to me) seems to be a high fence or planting deer resistant shrubs. Deer can come to nibble when the dogs are inside and repellents have to be reapplied often after rains. But they do work; sometimes. I have read that Olga Mezzitt and PJM are considered resistant in some books but note that is not my opinion as I have nottried growing those.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 8:20PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Deer will eat them, rabbits (usually in winter), squirrels will eat the flower buds. They aren't immune to animal damage :)

Here, there is a climbing cutworm that will devour entire leaves, but not leaf mid rib and of course not stems.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 8:53PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Hi Glorysbrite.

I also live in Berks county. We are getting lots of holes in the ground but they aren't what is eating the rhododendrons. Our holes are caused by skunks looking for grubs, and voles coming out of the ground. Most of the damage is caused by deer browsing. Deer live at the edge of the forest, so you are in prime deer habitat.

I put in a deer fence last year since the deer had even found a way to push the branches through the deer netting I was getting from Weaver's Hardware near Fleetwood. The netting had worked for several decades, but during the winter of 2009-10 the deer had caused too much. Deer damage is fairly easy to recognize; deer only have lower teeth in front and cannot make a clean bite. They tear the leaves and branches off. They cause the most damage in winter, especially after the first snow.

Having dogs or neighbors with dogs is the best way to keep deer away. I have a website that details other methods to prevent deer damage at:


    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 3:59PM
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