Do Animals think Virginia Bluebells are tastey?

Hooti(z5 NY)

Hi-I just put in some Virginia Bluebells rootstock. I have my trillium covered because I know everything that walks or hops on four legs and is furry is hiding behind trees waiting to eat them. (one leaf fell out between cage wires and was bit - can believe it? lol) Anyhow was wondering if Virginia bluebells are deer candy too or do they fare better?

in LVX'

Laurette

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susanswoods(Z6 VA)

I don't know about deer but it looks like the rabbits find them tasty. Several of mine got munched the other night.

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birdgardner(NJ/ 6b)

I've got lots of deer, and they've never touched my Vir. bluebells, nor have the groundhogs or rabbits. Bluebells increasing all over the place now.

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ArborBluffGirl(8)

My bluebells and trilliums have yet to be munched and I live in a fairly forested area. Have you tried a hideous smelling/tasting spray that repels rodents? I make my own and it works pretty well at keeping creatures at bay.

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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

We haven't had any problems with munching on bluebells at all. But we haven't had problems with trilliums, either. We have grandiflora and 3 other varieties.

Living in the yard here, we have *huge* groundhogs, good-sized rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, moles, other minor critters that travel through. No deer. Your trillium problem may be with deer.

Good luck,
Linda

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Hooti(z5 NY)

Hi-thanks for the responses!

I have my trillium covered for now (and will probably cover the bluebells-I just bought 30 more one dollar wire baskets from the "dollar store". It is not, of course, a good long term plan, but I figure it will let them get established and then a nibble or two wouldnt be catastrophic.

It would be really interesting to have a discussion between people that get alot of damage from animals and those that do not. It may help us pinpoint some important deciding factors that lead to some long term solutions.

Of the top of my head I would guess that there is less damage in established plants. Do you all find this? I think that they just have to taste anything new - like changes attract their attention. I think digging up beds attracts more attention than just slyly slipping a plant in. I would also guess that less crowded and less domestic areas (more native species overall in the mile or so circumference and less foreign species) get less problems than an area that is split up two acre squares of foreign grass and a couple native flowers. But all this is guesses.

I get moderate damage, but I have a pond that draws animals right through my woodlands. I like the animals and if it comes to animals or plants the animals win. But I really want both and I am a very stubborn woman.

One of the things I am doing is planting native species that spread faster that animals can eat when it is established. I dunno if it will work or not, but I do know that there is little damage in late spring to early fall when food is plentiful and any real problems occure when food is scarce. Of course one has to have enough room to be able to plant food sources AWAY from choice treasures *grin*.

All in all we have to work at increasing awareness of "the masses", because if we split the entire country into two acre lots that have been bulldozed flat and replanted with foreign species and mowed lawns then we just cannot have some of these species unless we turn summersaults to protect them.

I think these are some important issues for all of us to discuss and be leaders in.

PAX
Laurette

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MarcR(z 8 OR)

Get a few dogs like Border colies or Irish Wolfhounds and train them to stay on your property. That is the best way to deal with predation.

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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Interesting questions, Laurette.

Too tired tonight to really follow up, but I'll try to toss in a couple of the simpler things, from my perspective. I'd like to keep this going, though. Critters are a problem for gardeners, but I suspect that they are more crucial problems for native species because of the land-use issues you mention. Both these plants and these animals are going through major adjustments.

The points I can address tonite........

First, it always depends on the animal. And on the 'environment' that animal is adapted to.
Yes, when food is abundant, there is less damage to our treasured plants.... Unless one of them is particularly tasty to a particular animal. Then, it's just fate [wry grin].

Often, less damage in established plants. Could be newness. But most established perennials also are chewier, tougher, stringier and often more toxic than the new growth.

Newness, turned beds, etc, is an absolute heads-up for squirrels and birds anytime, and for groundhogs in early spring. Rabbits don't seem to care, nor do raccoons. Groundhogs don't care later. I have no garden experience with deer, but from their general feeding patterns, I would suspect that anything vaguely resembling a new shoot would be a magnet for them. Again, later in the season, they would probably be better fed and less selective.

[quote]
I would also guess that less crowded and less domestic areas (more native species overall in the mile or so circumference and less foreign species) get less problems than an area that is split up two acre squares of foreign grass and a couple native flowers. But all this is guesses.
[unquote]

Very complicated. Broad overview, you may be correct. But in specifics........... We are in an old small-city neighborhood, within a mile of a small river. We have established animal colonies/nests galore. But we have also had great luck in growing natives, including endangered natives. Sounds unlikely, but when you use the term 'food source' re animals, you need to include all of them. Lettuce patches, garbage cans, clover and other edibles in lawns, windfalls from fruit trees, garbage cans, half-finished snacks from students walking by, garbage cans...... Our actual plantings may suffer less damage, even in stressed times, than do those in more 'natural' areas.

Linda

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fatso(z5 OH)

Bluebells are very appealing to either rabbits (or perhaps squirrels), as my blooms are eaten up every year. I finally gave up on them... For whatever reason, I've never had a trillium eaten...

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jillmcm(z6 PA)

Frankly, I'm convinced that local populations of deer may have varying tastes under normal conditions. The deer at my Mom's eat things that have never been touched here, and vice versa. Of course, when the population levels get too high, anything will get eaten.

I do find that my natives typically attract the deer less than my neighbors' exotics. I have a game trail running through my yard, but typically not a lot of damage unless the herd is stressed, in which case they'll eat anything. New shrubs are the exception to this rule - I do have to cage them until they're established. Just about everything we've planted has seemed equally delicious in its first year...

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oogy4plants(6B MD)

Apparently they are not as tasty as may apples. All the may apples I planted had the tops eaten off and none of the other plants including bluebells and emerging trillium have been touched. There are just the stems sticking up now. I hope they come back next year. I don't know if it's bunnies, squirrels, or what. I don't think the deer go back there but I may be wrong if they are sneaky.

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jillmcm(z6 PA)

Case in point! :) Nothing ever touches my may apples, but a trillium needs a cage. Go figure. May apples are pretty tough - I'm sure they'll come back for you.

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