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what is digging up my new plants?

Posted by dlhein 5 (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 14, 12 at 8:02

I planted three corydalis lutea about 2' apart and another one about 8' from those. The next morning one of the three together and the lone one 8' away were out of the ground laying next to their holes. The dirt was all piled around the holes. It looked like someone was neatly getting ready to plant them! And I couldn't see that any of the plants were eaten and no animal evidence in the vicinity. I have planted a lot of plants back there and this has never happened. Has anyone you ever heard of this? And why just those two both times and not the other two? I am so baffled by this. What should I do? Yesterday after replanting them I sprinkled some Milorganite about in a circle about a foot away from each one because I do that to deter deer (which we don't have a major problem with) from my hostas just to be safe and it seems to work. I know I probably shouldn't fertilize a plant that soon, but it was just a small amount far from the plant. And this morning the same two were dug up in exactly the same way again! javascript:emoticon(':cry:') It almost looks like a person did it, but I can't imagine who would. What should I do? I'm afraid if I move them to another location whatever is doing this will mess with the two that haven't been messed with yet. Thank you.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: what is digging up my new plants?

Do you have cats around. It could be that that place was their bathroom and digging up the plants was just coimcidental.

Whatever critter it is they can be deterred with cayenne pepper--try getting it at the dollar store. Sprinkle cayenne all around the area. If it is a cat he will get a mouthful of hot stuff when he grooms himself and so will other animals if it's not cats. Once it discovers he's getting it after going in your flower beds he'll stay away

RE: what is digging up my new plants?

This has happened to my newly planted plants before. It could also be racoons or squirrels. Squirrels often dig up my potted plants looking for buried nuts, I believe. Racoons are very smart animals. After the first hole of the three corydalis grouping did not result in the food they were looking for, the racoon decided digging up the other two did not deserve the effort. Using cayenne pepper has not helped in my case. I use Critter Ridder as a deterrent. Animals don't like the smell but it has to be reapplied after a rainfall, which can be expensive. However, once my plants have been in the ground for awhile they are not as likely to be dug up because it requires more effort. In that case I often find a hole beside the plant.

RE: what is digging up my new plants?

I've had squirrels do that, too. They just like to dig where it's soft I think, looking for something to eat. Putting a few rocks or bricks around new plants can help, or plastic forks with the tines sticking up. Agreed, once plants get settled in, they're unlikely to be molested that way.

RE: what is digging up my new plants?

Squirrels want to see what you planted, if it is good to eat. I have had them go behind me digging up bulbs almost as fast as I planted them, just leaving them lying on the ground. I know because I caught them at it. One dug up a fern three times in a row before I put some rocks around it. The last thing they dug were three big eucomis bulbs, didn't nibble them or anything, just upended them. Stinkers. Try putting blood meal around your plants, sometimes that works. Sometimes I think they are more curious than hungry.


RE: what is digging up my new plants?

Squirrels are a possibility. They repeatedly exposed the roots of a large hosta "fragrant boquet" that I planted a couple of years ago. Last year it came back in the spring but as a very reduced plant. it was so badly damaged I dug it up, divided it and re-potted it in 5 different small pots and am nursing them back to health on my screen porch.

Back in the 90's I was planting a large order of various spring bulbs. I had placed the bags of bulbs where I wanted them and had started back at the beginning of the line and started planting. I came to a spot where a bag of crocus bulbs was missing. I looked all over and couldn't find it. I finally gave up looking. Later, around Christmas, I happened to notice something about 50 feet off the ground in a crotch in a large Red Oak. It was the very distinctive color of the bags of bulbs that I had planted in the fall. A squirrel had apparently carried it into the tree and left the bag there.
As I think more about it the neatness you describe doesn't sound like squirrels which I've observed to be very messy when digging among my plants, throwing the dirt everywhere. It sounds more like a cat or a raccoon and my money would be on a Raccoon looking for grubs or worms. If you have outside water and food bowls for a cat or dog they will take pet food or things they've dug up and wash them in the water bowl. Makes a big mess but is a sure sign they are working your yard.

RE: what is digging up my new plants?

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 12, 12 at 22:35

Try bird or deer netting over the area propped up with sticks covered with upside down containers such as 20oz soda or juice bottles on the sticks. I've also used wire coat hangers stretched out, then pushed back together to form the sticks to hold up the bottles & netting.

I love corydalis lutea or fumewort after 1st seeing it in photos of Europe. If the corydalis lutea is damaged, just cut it back and it will recover if you can keep it moist. A friend gave me a clump one late July day and it wilted on the ride home. I divided it up since there were many seedlings in there, cut it back to 3" tall leaving just stems, & potted. By spring they had good roots & transplanted fantastically despite the rough treatment. If you can get those new plants to flower & set seed you'll have them again in spring because it reseeds easily everywhere here sun or shade. I have even just tossed the cut back portions in places where I want it to grow & whoola seedlings in spring.. They transplant best when small and aren't happy in pots, but seem to recover fine once planted out.

RE: what is digging up my new plants?

If it happened at night, it was probably a raccoon, opossum or skunk. You loosened the soil nicely for them so they can look for worms, etc.

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