What is killing my PG hydranga

suggiJuly 4, 2012

Could voles have killed my PG hydranga. It is 15 years old, 7' tall and always beautiful and healthy. Is in full sun and hardly ever even watered it. This year it is dead and my neighbors (who never waters anything ever) is in beautiful shape. I took a piece that still had a couple of half dead leaves on the end (rest is just dead branch) to the local nursery and since he could not find signs of bacteria or fungus he asked if we had voles. We do and he said maybe voles tunneled to the roots of the tree and is draining water away from it. He said to spray castor oil around the whole area with the hose attachment to get rid of them but not at 80 drgres or over and it has been hot and seems it is going to stay over 80.

We also have moles and chipmunks and squirrels, etc. We have been overrun this year with wildlife including woodchucks, fox, coyotes, racoons.

Please, any thoughts. Will it come back or do I have to take it out? I wish I could try the castor oil but do not know when or if the heat wave will be over this summer.

Thank you for any help.

PS could you do it at night when it is under 80 even though the next day would be 80?

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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Voles do eat plant roots which can kill the plant. Dig up your Hydrangea to see if it still ahs a good root system or not.
Castor Oil, sprayed on your lawn, has been used for many years to deter moles. The Castor Oil is reported to coat the insects the moles eat making them distasteful to the moles. Since the moles do not like the taste they leave to find better flavored food. Since Voles are vegetarians
that probably does not work on them, although you might think the Castor Oil would still coat plant roots.
The only reason to not spray Castor Oil if temperatures exceeed 80 degrees is if you are covering a shrubs leaves.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 7:27AM
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gardengal48

If your plant is 'just dead branches' and has no leafy green growth, then yes, it is most likely dead. Remove it and replace it. The only effective precaution against voles is caging the root system - wrapping it loosely with chicken wire. Works not too bad on young, smaller plants - larger plants generally do not require as much protection.

I would find it highly unusual for a 15 year old hydrangea to be killed outright by voles. I'd suspect some other, probably pathogenic, cause. Digging up the plant since it is dead already and taking the rootball (or healthy portion of it) into best local nursery for diagnostic help or to your county extension office is a good start.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 4:14PM
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suggi

gardengal - Guess what, I could not believe it - I pulled slightly at the hydranga and it came right out of the ground with no problem. There were no roots at all.

How do you cage the plant with chicken wire - do you put it in the hole you dig for planting and place the plant in the middle? Sounds like a good idea but how far down does the chicken wire have to go?

Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 12:01AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Chicken wire has a mesh of 1 or 2 inches and it will not be an effective deterent for a mole which can squeeze itself through much smaller openings. Hardware cloth with a 1/4 inch mesh probably would be a better choice.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 8:43AM
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