Friday, May 14, 2010

Okay, so who or what is eating my plants?

I've been enjoying the growth of my Asiatic lilies when yesterday I noticed the stems were being partially chewed through. Yesterday I staked the bent stems back up and even sprayed them with some hot pepper wax spray, only to find today that they were cut off at the bottoms. My back yard is entirely fenced in, and deer usually eat the buds is it rabbits?

I planted a bunch of veggies in containers on my deck (which I'll post about later). I've been watching the radish seedlings, thinking everything was okay--until I woke up to this today:

And I went to a native plant sale last weekend (added 12 new plants to my garden which I'll highlight in another post) but one of them is now just a short stump:

What's going on? And what am I going to do about it? Any suggestions?

Today I am thankful that I can share disappointments with garden blogging friends and seek out help and suggestions.

Words and photos ©Thanks For Today, by Jan Huston Doble


  1. Yeeouch! Jan, that is just horrible. I am so sad for your poor lilies, not to mention your radishes and lovely native plant. :( No idea what is doing it (long-necked deer??) but I hope you figure out and manage to protect the rest of your garden. How devastating!

  2. Ouch! I can't offer any ideas as to what's munching your plants, but I can offer you my condolences. The photos of the broken lilies--in bud!--really made me flinch. I hope you find your culprit soon.

  3. I know that is so frustrating!
    It looks like rabbit damage to me. They chop off the branches to my young shrubs during the winter. One of the shrubs had nothing left but about an inch of the trunk.

  4. Oh no. I would be so upset especially when everything was looking so good. I wish I had a suggestion. Here the rabbits chew the things they like right down to the ground so (based on that) I wouldn't guess them??? I don't have deer so no idea about their habits. I hope you can figure it out soon and stop it.

  5. It is horrible to see such damage, I hope you find the culprit soon and can deal with it.

  6. Jan,

    I think you need a toad! I released three of my tadpoles, now toadlets, into my garden this week. Fingers crossed that they survive and grow to help me out in the garden. First one to show its ugly face I'll name Jan, as promised. Hope you find your culprit. The Putterer

  7. HI Jan, our daughter had this same problem with her lilies and figured it was either squirrels or rabbits. As it was usually happening overnight they opted for rebbits, but didn't catch either culprit in the act. It's a hard situtation to deal with.

  8. Hi Jan girl .. that is a BIG frustrating problem ! .. I'm with Linda thinking it might be squirrels or rabbits .. but never being able to SEE what is happening .. well if the hot pepper spray isn't working how about neem oil ? it really sticks to the plant and it might discourage what ever is eating it with the oily substance to it ?
    I use it too fight lily beetles.
    Hey ! Thanks for the gloves girl !!
    They arrived yesterday and husband had a great chuckle over them and me with them on : ) too cute !
    Thanks ! Good luck with that pesky what ever it is ?!!

  9. I hope it is not some restless teen ager who goes along and snap off your plants.

    There are some boys who who pluck people's flowers as they walk along the road.

  10. Oh how frustrating! I tend to think it's the squirrels. They did the same thing to a huge Jade plant I had once. One limb at a time...-- Randy

  11. Thanks guys (and gals:-)) I'm sure it's not deer as they would need to jump the fence and there are no 'prints' in the mulch, which they clearly leave in the front yard. It could be rabbits, because I don't see them in the day at all. Squirrels, OTOH, are running rampant around here--but I didn't know they would chew these down like this. They always dig up my tulip bulbs so I'm used to that but didn't know they'd 'saw' stems right off! I just planted these asiatic lily bulbs and have never had them before. I have lots of daylilies and the deer like to eat the BUDS but nothing has ever happens to those stems. I guess asiatic lilies are not safe in my yard. Luckily, they have left a bunch of them alone and they are blooming beautifully, & I'll post those to my bloom-day blog post tomorrow;-) Darn critters!!

  12. That's horrible! God! I can't even image what pains those babies went through.
    I'm not sure what could have cause them. If they were pests, I suggest you spray garlic + chilli + onion spray on them which would keep pests away. I'll get you the exact method of preparation. I gotta verify my notes...

  13. Chandramouli, it's too late for these plants this year, and I've already soaked them with 'Hot Pepper Wax' spray! If that doesn't work, I don't think anything will. Perhaps the critter has no sense of taste or smell?! My yard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat, after all--so perhaps I should be taking it as a 'compliment' that these critters find it so hospitable??!!

  14. Haha, Karen, Thank you for your thoughts;-) I haven't seen any long-necked deer here--but it sounds like a reasonable explanation (silly as it is;-) I have a feeling it's rabbits.

    Hi James, thanks for your condolences;-) We gardeners all feel the pain when someone elses plants get eaten!

    Hi Robin, it looks like rabbit damage to me, too. So sorry about your shrubs! The little critters are so cute, but they are so destructive of things we want to keep! Too bad they can't read 'do not touch' signs;-)

    I still don't know if it's rabbits, for sure, Kathleen--but maybe they just like to chew & bite things apartm & it's not until after doing so that they find they're not crazy about the taste? I don't know--some critter is getting away with murder, that's all I know!!

    Thanks, Gilly. If I do find out who the culprit is, I will post a photo!!

    Hello, Putterer...glad your toad-babies are growing up now. Geez, I guess I should feel honored that you are christening one with my name, especially with the ugly face, as you put it?! I'm not sure how I feel about that, actually...Hmm.

    Sorry about your daughter's lilies, Linda. Unless I see it happening I may not know 'for sure' who is doing it, either--but I've narrowed it down to rabbits or squirrels. Squirrels are in great abundance here, but I've never seen them chew stalks right off like that, although I know it's quite possible/even likely;-)

    Hi Joy, so glad you are smiling over the gloves...they aren't so bad, right?!?! Hope you can actually use them! I will make a not of the neem oil for future consideration!!

    Hi Ann, that is so annoying when kids do destructive things like that. I'm sure that isn't the case here, though...because it's a fenced-in area, not easily accessible for others. Plus, they haven't done that with any of my plants in the front yard, right next to the sidewalk. One year, some kids DID grab pumpkins off my front porch and smashed them on the street, however. My daughter was younger and was very sad at the time;-(

    Randy, that's interesting (albeit maddening) about the squirrels destroying your jade plant limb by limb. If I catch the little critters in action, they are going to hear a thing or two from me! I am SURE it is the squirrels that have eaten my radishes, though...since they are in pots on the deck & bunnies usually don't get up on decks;-) I would have made a pot just for them had I known they were so hungry! They have NO manners whatsoever!

  15. The same thing happened to my mother-in-laws lilies last year. She caught a squirrel in the act doing it. This year she put a little wire cage around them. So far it has worked. Although squirrels are pretty persistent when they want to eat something I guess the lilies just weren't tasty enough to bother climbing over the wire cage. I saw a squirrel eating the leaves off of one of our burning bushes the other day - I had no idea they even eat leaves. Good thing the burning bush is invasive so I didn't care that it was being eaten.

  16. I could definitely help you if the lilies were chewed at the ground-that would be voles. I've had my share of disappointments from them. Sounds like it might be rabbits or squirrels. Noticing the rabbit damage here it seems they tend to chew the leaves off before the stems so I am inclined to think perhaps squirrels like Randy said. Even they might be the culprits on the Bowman's Root. So frustrating! It's a shame the hot pepper spray is not working but hopefully they'll move on soon.

  17. Ick! How horrid! Do you have chipmunks where you live? Mine are wreaking havoc in my garden, but mostly tunneling. They do munch on things, however.

  18. If this were my garden, the culprit would be a woodchuck. They sneak around in the night and eat plants they like right down to the ground. I've had the experience of stepping outside in the morning, staring at an empty spot and trying to remember what had been growing there the previous day! If the plant turns out not to be a favorite, they just bite off the stems and leave them lying there. Two years ago, I came out every morning to find two or three daylily flower scapes bitten off. The d*@! critter didn't seem able to remember that it didn't like daylilies! Good luck identifying your culprit and finding a solution. -Jean

  19. Oh no how frustrating! I can only sympathize with you and hope you find a solution soon. Interesting that the pepper spray didn't deter the little varmint.


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