Hydrangea Rabbit Damage - Already!

whaas_5a(5A SE WI)November 20, 2009

So the grass is still green out here and in my area I have limited rabbit population.

I typically see rabbit damage in Feb and March.

After taking a walk through the yard I noticed a few stems eaten to the ground on a couple roses and my Macrophylla "Twist and Shout".

My question, I know I'll lose any flowers for old wood, but is there any concern with the rabbits pruning this particular variety at this time Or is it nothing to worry about...just like the weigela and spireas?

I don't want to go out there and cage them if I don't have to. Its already looking goofy out there with cages around my Fothergillas, Witchhazels and Viburnums.

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gardengal48

You'd lose the old growth and potential flower buds anyway in your climate without winter protection, so I'd evaluate just how much damage you are willing to tolerate and proceed from there :-) Do you want to start over each season with a ground level plant? Rabbits are not an issue in my area - deer are - but the hydrangeas in my new garden are enormous and apparently never bothered by deer. If they were, I'd be inclined to provide some sort of fencing to keep them away. Ditto with the bunnies.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 11:07AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

These plants are under my baywindow in the front yard (protected location) so I don't know if fencing is an option for my personal tastes.

So bascially I'm giving up buds on old wood and size to a point?

If its not inhibiting its ability to put out new stems at a good pace, then I'm not worried...same with the roses, they'll have to be pruned anyhow.

I just didn't know if I need to be worried if they take em to the ground.

Plants that I do worry about are witchazels and fothergillas since they are so slow growing around here.

Another plant is burning bush, they get destroyed by rabbits and don't recover....not necessarily a bad thing, lol.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 1:04PM
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ginkgonut(4)

At work, because labor is in short supply during the spring season, we cut back all our ES and TnS's to nearly ground level in the fall. No harm done and they bloom fine. All that old growth dies over the winter anyway.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 5:29PM
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mycitygarden

whaas,
you SHOULD worry about your fothergillas & rabbits. Each winter now I've had rabbit damage (maybe not this year b/c my trusty mutt discovered the 8 babies' nest under my quick fire hydrangea??!!!) & last year they ate my fothergillas (as well as my oakleaf hydrangea). Try the spray like liquid fence; it should work, although you should spray it more than once over the winter. Good luck!

MCG

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 5:20AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I have a yellow lab that will chase them out of the yard when present...but they eat the plants at times of the day/night that I'm not around/sleeping.

The fothergillas are already fenced in with chicken wire.

I put down rabbit scram around the Hydrangeas but sounds like I don't need to worry about them getting eaten anyhow. I want to keep them at 3' tall...label says 3'-5'...too new to find out where exactly they end up in my area. So if they are 5', then the rabbits might be doing me a favor. If I could only train them to eat these and my spireas.

I should say I am thankful for the hawk's nest in my backyard...I bet she is scooping up those bassards.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 4:23PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

My rabbits are picky. Don't bother the Fothergilla or certain Hydrangeas. Limelight, Tardiva, does just fine unprotected. However the rabbits REALLY like the PeeGee, chewed it to the dirt.

Maybe in fencing, you could choose a more attractive fencing, which will blend in a bit better. My galvanized fence grays out after some exposure to sun and winter weather. Can rather disappear with some time on it, no sparkle left to the galvanized wires. Also the black plastic "chicken wire" stuff is pretty invisible around a cage type device. Rabbits don't seem to chew thru it, for me.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 12:56AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I wish I had your rabbits in my area!

Its late November and this is what they hit already...

Fiesta Forsythia
Magic Meidland Rose
Twist and Shout Hydrangea
Dwarf Korean Lilac
Black Chokeberry
Birchleaf Spirea

Its like a food fiesta for these buzzards.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 10:35PM
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