will squirrels and other rodents eat sprouted nuts?

hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)February 15, 2014

I have some Quercus mixchauxii and Aesculus flava growing under lights that will be moved outside in about 6 weeks. The nuts are still attached to the seedlings.

I know that squirrels will eat acorns. I hear they usually avoid Aesculus nuts as they aren't that tasty...but will they still get them once they're sprouted and attached to a seedling?

Will I have to concern myself with coming home one day to tipped over pots with snapped off seedlings that have been...um...denutted?

I also have some Q. coccinea stratifying, and those I will plant directly outdoors (although in containers at least to start) - I was thinking of building a chicken-wire cage for those - should I anticipate making it large enough to put the larger seedlings in as well?

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Hungry squirrels will eat anything! Make the cages big enough to protect your seedlings for a year or two.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 11:44AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

whether they eat the nut or not.. odds are.. they will dig in the pot.. and dig out your seedlings .... to see if there are any others..below ...

i have a lot of choice words.. when discussing tree rats ... and that is one of the nicer ones... lol

there was a recent post... about someone designing a protected area ... was that jon doe and his pvc post??? .... j0ndo3 .. see link

apparently his problem is not just squirrels ...


Here is a link that might be useful: 5 pages down.. who knew ...

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 2:17PM
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Yes. I've had the tree rats dig up 1yr old seedlings to get at what's left of the acorn.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 9:46PM
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Yes, they sure will, grin. They will even pull up tamarack that were plug grown, to see if there is anything good there too. However, the little bushy tailed pests can be usefull. If you have a species where the tree will still grow when a part of the nut is eaten, you can tip out a pail of nuts in the path and leave. The squirrels will eat the blunt end of the acorn and bury the bitter embryo end for later. If it was a big pail of nuts, they don't eat all of them later and you get trees....lots and lots of trees, all within 50 feet of the paths. With chestnuts, it has to be every few years that you do this, or they will eat them all. The population builds up if you tip out a pail of chestnuts every year. However, there will still be some seedlings, just not as many.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 6:04AM
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You better believe rodents will ruin a run of buckeyes. It doesn't have to be squirrels, throw in chipmunks and smaller rodents too. I have started large runs of aesculus and white oak in a greenhouse situation and found both of them dug up and on-end or roots missing, or the nuts ripped from the cotyledons. They are generally safe mid-day, but I ended up having to grow them inside two deep trays, so that I could lid them up between dusk and dawn and even then have come in and found damage from foraging mid-day. As long as a nut is attached to the growing tree, it's a potential target.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 10:39PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

So if I build this "cage" - it should be something like 1" or smaller mesh so little critters can't get in?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:56PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'm reminded of the horror I felt when I went out to my patio one afternoon to discover that two flats of just germinated camellia seeds had been turned into crumbs. Grrrrr! They had been given to me by a camellia breeder and I had stored them in the fridge all winter, wrapped in moist sheet sphagnum. Every seed germinated!

I eye all squirrels with suspicion after that, lol.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 4:31AM
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You better use 1/2 inch woven wire, they can chew in through 1 inch chicken wire. Ask me how I know that, grin.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 6:33AM
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oh ya... especially hazelnuts..... keep them in a crate or somewhere protected.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 12:59PM
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cuz'n D - I feel your pain - but offer this as solace:
I had a chance to visit with a retired agronomist back home in AL who collected camellias and rhododendrons/azaleas - and had done so since the 1960s. He told me that of the thousands of rhodie/azalea seedlings he'd grown, fewer than a dozen were 'throw-aways' - but he'd never grown a seedling camellia that was worth keeping; he only used them, any more, as rootstocks to graft the newest, latest varieties onto.
But...those exciting new selections had to be a select or chance seedling at some point... didn't they?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 9:07PM
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So often they're mutations off sport branches from random somatic mutations and just vegetatively propagated from then on. It was often spelt out in licenses for some royalty protected stock I grew that if any branch would throw a sport, it belonged to the original breeder whether they produced it or not. I've seed grown a lot of Pink buckeyes, and planted more than a few of them on my property. There is a lot of variance in leaf pigmentation and even shape, but as you said.......most were keepers. Then again, I wasn't out to develop anything new or unusual. I grew them because they were not available through local sources and they weren't cheap when they did become available.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 9:28PM
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Ahh...now that you remind me, calliope, I'd forgotten about budsports. Back in the day, when Dad & I were collecting & propagating camellias, one of my faves was the Betty Sheffield series - think they were all budsport variants of the original.

Here is a link that might be useful: Betty Sheffield Supreme camellia

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:07AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Squirrels of various species eat greenery, seeds, nuts, sprouted nuts, plant buds, flowers, bark, bulbs, insects, reptiles, even bird eggs and baby birds. I've seen both grey and fox squirrels rob nests of both eggs and hatchlings - not sure about red squirrels.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:21AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Oh Rhizo to lose all those seedlings sounds painful!!

I bought some Corylus americana seedlings from the NH State nursery in 2008. They are not huge shrubs yet but are steadily producing a few nuts and have thrown a couple seedlings.

I found one of the seedlings a few years ago and potted it and put it in the seedling nursery. It still had the nut attached to the seedling. Some dang rodent got into the pot and dug it up, and ate the nut!

So last year I found another larger seedling. This time it didn't have the nut attached any more and it was not assaulted by a rodent. It's now sitting in its pot in the garage, waiting to be planted this year. :)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:54PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Update -

One of the buckeyes and one of the oaks have each dropped the remains of the nut. Seems awfully fast. The buckeye nut looked slightly "shriveled" but still had some heft to it...but I was watering and lightly touched it and found it was no longer attached - it came off cleanly from the stem...is that normal on a 6 week old seedling? The little tree has 4 nicely formed leaves and is about 12" tall. Still under a grow light as we have 8" of snow outside right now.

Same with one of the oaks, it came off very easily the other day.

Maybe by the time they go outside, the nuts will be gone entirely...

As far as the plants themselves, since I haven't had them eat my bean plants (at my old house this was the favored treat of several critters) I might be safe as long as no nut is attached...what do you think?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 9:13AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I did notice that only 8 of 15 crocuses and about 6 of the 12 daffodils I planted last fall came up...there are some holes in the vicinity.

However, they don't seem to bother my established daffs across the sidewalk from these ones.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 9:16AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

When I start oak seedlings, I have them in individual small pots. Then place the small pots in a very large pot (like at least 2 ft in diameter) over which I drape wire netting. I can water through the netting.

I suppose the rodents could chew thru the large plastic pot, but they haven't yet. Maybe I've just been lucky.

Chipmunks are also VERY fond of Cherrylaurel seeds! They can smell them a mile away.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 9:26AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Dave - do you secure the netting or just lie it over the pot? Can you link me to an example of what you use?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 10:06AM
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