Well, it happened, Rabbits ate ALL of my Burning Bushes

ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)April 13, 2014

Ken, you called it. You said this would happen.

My husband is furious, and I am heartbroken. For all of you who think no one should have a Burning Bush because of invasiveness, please keep those thoughts, and your gleeful schadenfreude to yourself.

We did everything humanly possible to protect them. We had 7 foot fencing, 1 foot tall of heavy 2 stone all around the fencing to keep the rabbits from digging under.

But that didn't stop them. Not by a long shot. I can see their handy work. They dug huge holes way back from the fencing and tunneled all the way under to the shrubs. We had 4 feet of snow almost ALL winter. How did they do this?

My husband said he is done with this. Since 2009, in this particular planting spot, and it's right along the road which makes no sense, we have lost everything we've planted either due to voles, rabbits, sunscald and one year anthracnose.

They left my Golden Raintree, and Forsythias alone. If they had killed my GRT my little girl would be in tears. She loves that tree....

All our work, and all that fencing! OMG $500 in fencing and stone alone. Part of me can't help but be touched at the thought of baby bunnies being sustained by our bushes, during a horrible winter where they may be died otherwise. My dh is just done. He said he's embarrassed and what will the neighbors think. Which is funny because I'm usually the one who worries about those things, but this time he is. While we were outside glumly surveying the death and destruction, our next door neighbor was slowly walking by with his dog,and I felt the need to say something. I said the bunnies got us again and he laughed and said you need to find something they won't eat. Plant a maple like we have. We don't have to fence it or anything, the rabbits leave it alone..He looked like he genuinely felt bad for us.

Dh looked online and said there is absolutely nothing they won't eat. He was thinking of trying pine trees but now won't since he said bunnies will eat anything when desperate. He said it's either maples or a fence. Maples are cheap and grow like weeds.

Now I know why the only things out here are maples and conifers. NO ONE has bushes or flowers planted or anything.

If you got this far thanks for letting me vent. I've got pictures of the mess. When dh wakes up I'll have him add some. It looks like a giant Burning Bush graveyard. 11 shrubs murdered at the hands of bunnies...

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Ken, you called it.


you are welcome .... lol ... no.. wrong answer ... i mean.. translating it to YOU WERE RIGHT ... i cant hear that enough.. around my own house... lol .. so i have to get it from you guys...

welcome to reality ... rabbits are vermin ... and not to be encouraged ... as i previously said.. so i will not repeat it ...

mine all worked above the snow.. your history of them tunneling under snow.. makes no sense ...

mine also girdled shrubs ... striping the bark.. not eating the center wood on a variety of stock .... again.. you confuse me ...

i have a lot of damage... now that the snow is gone.. 2 or 3 feet up a branch/trunk ... where they worked their magic ABOVE the snow line ... i have what used to be a 5 foot paladin lilac .. dwarf huh??? ... that is about 8 feet wide.. now half is 5 feet tall .. the other 3 feet ... lol .. no flowers on the shortened stuff ... and they did eat it all on that ... i wouldn have thought deer damage.. but i didint see any tracks in the deep snow ... or it was done before the snow.. and i missed it ....

but the upside is.. that you are going to learn about what i mean when i say that most of what you planted.. you can run them over with the truck ... you cant kill most of these things ... as i recall you not having anything that foo foo ...

so tell hubby.. to suck it up.. and trim everything effected to about 3 to 6 inches.. and watch how mother nature responds ... with no insult to the root system.. you might be pleasantly surprised how well everything responds... growing to near the same size by fall ... this is the next prediction.. and i will look for the 'you were right' post in fall ... lol ..

and try to contemplate.. anything lost ... is a planting hole for something new...

and while you are at it ... may as well dig out the burning bushes ... as apparently they are fodder.. and irritating.. not to mention that which you dont want to hear about .... sometimes.. regardless of your wishes.. certain plants just arent worthy ... of the space provided ...

look forward to the pix.. i am guessing.. they are not going to be as bad as you think they are ... yesterday i cut down a 10 by 15 foot shrub... to 6 inches.. i have no worries.. it will come back ablazing .... though i will miss its flower show.. but the other 20 of them..will take care of that ...


ps: and tell hubby.. who cares what the neighbors think.. we dont garden for them ... live and learn.. its all a learning curve ....

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 9:47AM
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mary4b(4b WI)

I'm very sorry for your loss. I have lost all of mine as well in the past, and only have one this year that rabbits didn't get, so I'm hopeful. However, your story makes me realize that I shouldn't count my chickens...next year, a different bunny might discover and kill my new bush.

I also want to say...it is a complete loss of energy and emotion to worry about what neighbors think. Your yard is for your own pleasure. I'd put all my energy into finding a solution.

Unlike Ken, I would get rid of those burning bushes. If you keep them and they do grow, you're likely to just lose them again next year and have to start all over. Because I wanted one so badly, I let myself try "one more time" in a new spot, but if it doesn't work out for me, it will be the last time. Also, mine is just part of a larger plan, so it's not like I lose the whole "look" if my one shrub gets killed.

There are certain trees/shrubs that bunnies love, and burning bush is one of them. I'd find shrubs that bunnies do not like. Yes, sometimes they'll eat anything in desperation, but that's rare. I'd get on the forums and internet shrub/trees/grasses lists and find out which ones are on the "bunny proof" list.

Re...maples, fence, or nothing. The bunnies left your Forsythia and your GRT alone, so the fact is that they WILL not eat just anything. They make choices. If you choose something they are unlikely to eat, you're probably going to be ok. You can also try all of those nasty sprays that people concoct/buy.

Let us know what you do! (Maples and fences can certainly be beautiful.)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 10:47AM
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jadie88(7 MD)

Ken, this is at least the third time in two weeks that I've seen "Ken was right..." You are on a roll!!

So sorry about the rabbit-attack! I spent all winter worried about voles, but so far so good. We see quite a few rabbits, but there are several well-fed foxes around doing their job.

Surely the investment in the fencing is not a loss, though...I imagine it looks nice! Maybe give your husband a year to cool off, then ask Ken what to plant there! :)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 8:21PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I don't think we have burning bushes here (only during fire season), but we do have rabbits, gophers and voles. Every single hole that gets dug for a new plant receives a gopher basket first. Then the plant is planted and a foot or two of gopher wire (smaller openings than chicken wire) is put on top of the earth around the plant. Nothing can tunnel in, or eat through that wire. You might want to try that.

Sorry for your loss.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 8:28PM
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I used to put a 2' cage around our BB but now they are large enough not to be bothered by the rabbits. Never had a problem with them digging under the caging. What I do have a problem with is something eating the leaf buds, which I'm assuming, is bird as rabbits can't fly or climb.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 8:52AM
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ilovemytrees(5b/6a Western, NY)

First off, thank you, everyone, for responding,and for your supportive comments. I appreciate it very much.

We now believe it was voles that killed our shrubs. Based on the fact that all the nibbling occurred under the snow line, none of it above. Plus we found some vole tracks we didn't notice before, and there were holes dug next to some of the trunks as if they were trying to get down to the roots.

I will post pictures later this week. It's raining out and getting ready to snow. I'll show all 11 shrubs. I would love it if you guys would look at them, and tell me whether you think it was rabbits or voles. It would mean a lot for us to know either way. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 2:39PM
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mary4b(4b WI)

I had wondered about that when you mentioned tunneling in your original post....it sounds likely that voles were the culprits.

Here's an article about it from PA this spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2014 vole damage

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 4:58PM
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