Something's Eating My Sweet Potato Vines

cherigw(Z7 OK)June 16, 2007

I've had the lime green SPV in pots on my patio and in various beds in my yard for the past few years. This year, I planted two pots with starts. . . one disappeared by the next day, the next went a couple days later. I bought a couple more on Friday and set them up on a patio cart (36") to pot up later. This morning, all of the leaves on one were chewed off at soil level, the other had only 2 leaves left. They did not completely eat the leaves, just chewed them off at ground level. Can't be rabbits because they couldn't get to the top of the cart. . .I'm thinking squirrels. Anyone else have this problem. . .I really want to do these two planters in SPVs!!

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

The easiest way I know of to figure out what sort of pest is eating your SWP is probably to scatter flour or talcum powder on the ground around the plant and see what kind of tracks are left behind the next morning. Of course, if it is raining where you live, this probably won't work.

When something is eating my plants it is usually deer, who leave more ragged torn edges, or rabbits, who nibble down to the stalks. I don't have a lot of squirrels, though, and the dogs generally keep them away from the cultivated portions of our property.

One way to deter whatever it is would be to spray the foliage and stems with hot pepper spray or to sprinkle it with cayenne pepper from your spice rack.

I've linked a hot pepper spray recipe for you. Do be careful about spraying the foliage in full sun or if the temps exceed the 85 to 88 degree range. Sometimes pepper spray burns tender foliage, esp. if it is in full sun or if the weather is hot.

If the prospect of possible burned foliage makes the hot pepper spray an unwelcome idea, you can buy animal repellents like Critter Ridder or any of the many other varieties at nurseries and home center stores.

Good luck,


Here is a link that might be useful: Homemade Pesticides/Repellents

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 8:12PM
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cherigw(Z7 OK)

Dawn..Thanks!! I don't think it's deer. I'm in a fenced yard in the middle of OKC. I've about decided that it is my squirrel "friends". I think I'll try the cayenne and/or hot pepper spray. The weird part is that not 20 feet from where they are feasting, I have a large planter with a SPV that is HUGE. . . and they don't touch it!! Kind of like my kids. . .tomatoes HERE, but not THERE!!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 6:49PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


All the wild things that eat in my garden will often select one plant over the other. For example, they will eat one pepper plant but not another. Or, they will ignore the hybrid sunflowers growing OUTSIDE the fenced-in garden and then jump into the fenced-in garden to eat the hybrid sunflowers that are growing there. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it.

I think the pepper spray ought to work if it is squirrels. They even sell bird seed now already treated with pepper to deter the squirrels from eating it.

Hope you are able to save the SPVs from whatever it is that's munching on them.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 8:07PM
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