Act now to save your valuable or slow growing plants!  I just took a walk around my yard to see how all my favorite plants have fared the winter.  Last week was all good, but today my jaw dropped.  My espalier Crabapple chewed, my Serviceberry chewed, my Oakleaf Hydrangea eaten to the snow line…..the list goes on and on.  Those fluffy-tailed creatures that so many people love will turn their nemesis over the next month and beyond.  Like all animals, the rabbit needs to eat.  With 2010/11 being so cold and snowy my guess is that a lot of our furry friends succumbed from the cold and lack of food.  The individuals that survived are eager to make use of these warm temps and lowering snow levels by eating what they can in a hurry.  Instinct tells them it will get cold again with snow so they go nuts eating the newly exposed soft twigs that were sealed under ice and snow for 3 months.  What you can do to save your plants goes like this:

  1. Dig a trough around the base of the plant but far anough away that they can’t stand on their hind legs and nibble.  Note:  Rabbits will devour bark when hungry.  I see it most on Burning Bush and Serviceberry.
  2. Pile snow on top of any plants that can be completely covered.  BUT remember that if is can’t be completely covered you are only building a ladder for the rabbit to get higher up on the plant/tree.
  3. Cover with burlap or a tarp until the snow melts.
  4. Get out the live trap and take them to your cabin or out in the country.
  5. Buy rabbit repellent and spray on the snow around a plant.  This will work in conjunction with some of the ideas above.

The next couple days are important to get on the bandwagon if you really want to keep your special plants in form.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the gnawing teeth of a rabbit totally massacre thousand dollar dwarf evergreens.  Some plants can rebound, but others are a lost cause.  Good Luck and feel free to FB, call, or email if you need advice.