Roses Decapitated

asongbird(MAz6)June 26, 2014

I live in a historic district of Salem; no deer about. I have a planter that is about 18 inches off the ground, and in this planter I have several kinds of plants including a rose bush (planted just a few weeks ago). I had several beautiful, full red blooms on the bush, and sometime in the late afternoon something took three of them looked as if they were cut just under the bloom...essentially decapitated. I have no idea what did it...there was a cat in the yard earlier in the day...squirrels have never bothered my other roses...barring human mischief, any ideas? One bloom, still intact, was on the ground, a second torn in half, a few petals in the road at the end of the driveway. We are talking a window of opportunity of about an hour, broad daylight.

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Are you sure there are no deer around? It sounds like deer damage.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 12:09AM
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I had that happen to! ...I think its a deer

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 12:27AM
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ratdogheads(5b NH)


    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 5:41AM
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I have personally seen squirrels take a fully open rose bloom, pick it, and then eat it like corn on the cob - rotating it and munching until it was all gone (took the squirrel about 2-3 minutes because it was a large bloom and a small squirrel). Does not happen very often, but it does happen.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 9:32AM
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Weird thing about squirrels is...they have their own little feeding station, and on that particular day we didn't see a single one....

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 9:49AM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

OR someone cut them.

We have had that happen, with roses that were adjacent to the street.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 4:17PM
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If the stems were cut at near perfect 45 degree angles, the culprit is a rodent (squirrel, rat, rabbit, etc.), or someone with a pair of scissors or clippers who took the time to cut at an angle. If they were bitten off irregularly, or straight across, or otherwise appear "torn", you either have a deer, cow, horse or other large herbivore. There's no mystery to it. How the ends of the stems look will tell you all you need to know about who's to "blame". Just because squirrels have a feeding station doesn't mean they aren't also eating your roses. Whatever catches their eye is what they'll eat. Whether you've ever seen one there or not, they go everywhere. Also, just because you've never seen rats or mice means nothing. Put out a trap and see what you catch. I've caught more than my share, even where none have ever been seen. Kim

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 4:59PM
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the_morden_man((Z4-Z5) Ontario, Canada)

It's a squirrel or a chipmunk. Both will happily do this to rose buds they can easily reach.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 8:34PM
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It's rabbit damage, rabbits go after my roses all the time.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 11:54PM
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the_morden_man((Z4-Z5) Ontario, Canada)

Rabbits will generally consume more than just the buds. They rarely stop there and will eat and chomp down the canes and consume leaves as well. Squirrels and chipmunks are only interested in the buds.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 10:17AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

If it's within a few steps of the sidewalk, I bet it was a young male human, especially since they were red roses. Otherwise, roseseek has good advice as usual.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 4:24PM
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Thanks Michael. You obviously have also read the research showing males are attracted to red while females are more likely to be attracted to pastels. Men pay way too much for the red roses at Valentine's Day and other holidays. Women are much more likely to pay far less for the pinks, yellows, lavenders and whites. Men "buy in to" the hype that a red rose says "love". Women accept it but don't buy in to it. Kim

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 5:00PM
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Maybe they are thinking passion and thus the red. It's funny that red costs more than the pastels. I would think pastels would show imperfections more often and the red would hide it.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 12:17AM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

I've lost a few rose buds to squirrels just before they open, and what I've noticed is that "my" squirrels tend to go after only those showing red color. My poor 'Eugene de Beauharnais' planted at the base of a tree in my front yard lost its whole first flush again this year, and I decided to put it in a pot next Spring. Into the same tree I trained 'Baltimore Belle' and while it blooms near-white, the unopened buds show dark pink. All the buds on the one cane running up an angled main branch into the canopy were munched, but those lower down and "hugging" the trunk were left alone. 'Louis Philippe' and 'Pierre Notting' also lost buds that were within easy reach of the ground, but now that they're growing taller, the buds are safe (I'm guessing the squirrels are too heavy to climb into those roses, and can eat only what they can reach from the ground). None of my roses with light-colored buds had any damage, and also none of my red Hybrid Teas in pots were touched (again, they were too tall from the soil-line in the pots to be easily reached). In all these cases, no leaves or stems were damaged.



    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 2:36AM
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Two followup comments:
one it might be a coincidence but there was a cat in my yard again and this morning another Rose was decapitated ....
two only the red roses seem to be eaten!

Although at first I suspected human vandalism, I've come to the conclusion it is indeed probably an animal either squirrel or cat.

The cut is even, straight across, and literally just where the bloom meets the stalk. We are talking full blown roses, not buds.

I don't mind squirrels, jn fact have "tamed" one or two in past years, this was the first red rose bush I planted and never had anything like this happen before. I'll take logical environmentally safe repellent steps for next round of blooms.

thanks so much for your help.

This post was edited by asongbird on Sun, Jun 29, 14 at 12:43

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 12:33PM
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It's some sort of rodent. The cat wouldn't pay attention to the roses normally, but it WOULD have been attracted to a rodent eating your flowers. Kim

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 12:39PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I wouldn't rule out rabbits either it those are in your neighborhood. I've seen them climb into my pots to feast too!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 2:46PM
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