Who eats my hostas and heucheras?

danissDecember 26, 2010

As my hostas beds are expanding someone also realized that there is a nice salad bar nearby..I know that rabbits eat hostas but I have never seen one around. We have deers but this time it was not deer. This someone nibbles on one varieties and constantly completely devours another to the ground. This time I placed a net over the hosta that was nearly erased early Spring and it has grown back nicely, and the next morning this hosta was eaten to the ground UNDER the net! This someone also eats buds of young (2-3 feet) Japanese maples and recently ate all of my heucheras to the ground. I believe it happened because no more hostas are around at this time.. I know this someone visits the garden at night or early morning.. Can it be rabbits, or may groundhog I saw only once nearby my plant bed? Any ideas..


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Groundhogs do like hostas, but they have never eaten my heucheras. Sounds more like rabbits, they do like tree buds.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 7:04PM
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Wow! I have rabbits now!!! Do you think it will be helpful to place a live trap? I know I can search Google for 'How to get rid of rabbits' but I believe the experience of the gardenweb members and especially the hosta lovers will be the most helpful. This past season was the worst for me. I planted a small division of rare tree peony with only one branch and one bud, given to me by a friend, and a few days ago I found out that the bud was gone!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 8:03PM
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Eh, I'm not agreeing with the rabbits and heucheras.

I have lots of heucheras, front and center and I've NEVER had a bunny nibble on them. Even when all my hostas are treated with Liquid Fence, they still do not go to my heucheras.

If you have rabbits, you've probably seen rabbits.

And if you have snow on the ground, you'll see rabbit tracks.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 8:23PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

rabbits are rarely seen .. but what they leave behind.. is unmistakable ... see link .. and the idiot golden thinks they are a delicacy .... lol

any chance at a pic of the damage ... words alone lead to speculation alone ...

obviously.. unless you have monster rabbits.. their damage is going to be limited to a foot or so .. they wont be nibbling buds at 4 feet.. unless you have some REALLY big rabbits ... lol ...

odds are.. you have some of both.. plus a few others ... most of my rabbit damage involves them severing a leaf.. and then hopping away .. w/o eating it ..

if you want to live with the rabbits.. get rid of the Kentucky blue grass lawn .. and plant a meadow.. now that is a real salad bar for the vermin ... i usually have 2 to 4 rabbits on the 5 acres.. and never had a rabbit damage a plant.. they prefer the dandelions.. clover .. yarrow[??].. etc.. in what i call a lawn ... when you enforce a monoculture lawn.. you really dont give them any alternative.. but to go into the flower garden ...

good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: more abundant than rabbit kids

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 9:20AM
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Did you notice there are 31,900 results for "rabbit droppings" ? Isn't the internet a useful tool?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 11:55AM
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Yes, I know that I can search the internet and I will do it as soon as I find out who could possibly do this damage. I have never seen rabbits, rabbits tracks or what they leave behind (thank you Ken) around my property, but I know there are rabbits in our area (town). I posted my question on here instead of searching the web thinking that those on here would be more familiar with my problem and grow similar plants as me - hostas, heucheras. Unfortunately there is no picture, we had a snow storm last night and everything is now under at least 2' of snow. Just imagine 1-2" stems from the ground and that is what is left from the hostas and heucheras. I have 5 heucheras and all of them were eaten to the ground one night a couple of weeks ago. I know this was not done by a deer because my 3 Cathedral Windows were eaten to the ground even covered with a net, and the net was still intact. Cathedral Windows and Holy Mole are the favorites of this someone; other hostas are only nibbled while some are left untouched. I also do have many japanese maple seedling that are 2-3' (not 4') and the buds on many are gone. I only have possible 40 to 45 hostas and am afraid to expand my beds until I found out who is doing this. Then I will search the internet on how to get rid of him or keep him away from my plants. Could it be squirrels? Any ideas?
Thank you.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 2:30PM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

Maybe you should think about buying or borrowing a game camera.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 5:13PM
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There is always a Critter Cam or Game Camera to see what is doing it. Cost anywhere from $40 on up but might be worth it to identify the culprit. Available from your local Bass Pro or any other sporting good store.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 7:25PM
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bernd ny zone5

Whoever eats all the whole leaves of Cathedral windows must have a big stomach, or it is a whole family visiting. I had woodchucks eating beans and mowing down campanulas in the past until construction workers chased them out. Woodchucks (ground hogs) have hands and can pull down maple seedlings to taste buds. My single rabbid sleeps under a mugo pine and leaves droppings, loves heather, but hostas?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 7:46PM
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This time of year, could it be reindeer?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 8:19PM
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I have some of the nastiest grey squirrels known to man. They will eat my garden hoses, but they have never touched my hostas.

I don't have woodchucks, so I don't know if they'd eat hostas/heucheras or not.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 8:32PM
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Never though about the camera! Probably a good idea, and I will look into it... This someone really has a big appetite.
Thank you.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 9:41PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i dont understand how a tall deer .. can eat under a net ... ergo.. i am thinking small ...

and i dont see the deer putting the net back after eating ... though if they were that cooperative.. perhaps i would be a bit more lenient towards them.. lol ..

but i think you missed my point.. or more likely.. i didnt make myself clear ...

you need to sherlock this out.. we cant tell you so you can go research it ...

it is not like some wraith mysteriously hovers down to the ground and attacks ...

deer.. being large.. leave cloven hoof prints in soft garden .. and a large version of what look like monster rabbit droppings .. and tend to rip and tear off the leaves ...

rabbits.. well.. you saw the link ... leave no prints ... and tend to cleanly slice the leaf petiole at the ground.. and then nibble away ... they do not tend to destroy a whole plant.. and more often than not.. cut a leaf or two.. then hop away without eating them .. and that really PO's me.. as i can accept a little damage to feed mother nature.. but that is just wasteful.. whats that all about ...

i presume this happened in summer.. and you probably dont have a pic to help us.. but i dont know how we get past pure speculation without some further observations from you ...

BTW ... went out for a walk in my 20 degree winter up here in MI ... in a foot of snow.. i saw rabbit tracks.. and deer tracks ... and if they are here in miserable winter.. they will most likely be here.. come spring ...

check out the link again ...

good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: after your walk about.. substitute 'deer' in the google search ....

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 8:40AM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

If I had to guess it would be woodchucks.
You've already seen one.
Another poster says they eat hostas.
They could get uhder your netting.
They can & do climb trees - re your maple.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 4:39PM
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�Deer putting the net back after eating..:) Ken, you are a funny guy and I like reading your posts.
It reminds me of a friend who swore that his large sized dog could, in his owners absence, reach the pot on the stove, open the lid, eat what was inside and then place the lid back :0
I did remove deer from my suspects� list at this time. Also because we installed a fence on three sides of the property, they can still come from the front of the house, but I believe it can happen once or twice per season and not every 3-4 weeks. I still believe it is not a rabbit as I have never seen its presence. Truly I am not a good candidate for Sherlock Holms, as I lost in this game. Probably the camera will be my Dr. Watson and I will post pics on this forum if my problem will come close to being resolved.
Thank you everyone.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 9:21PM
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I agree with idea of getting a game camera. Keep us posted with the results!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 5:56PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

unless your fence is 8 feet tall .. it will not stop deer ...


    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 10:24AM
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