Are squirrels hurting or helping my rhododendron?
I have a rhododendron in my backyard, next to or around several pine trees. I have seen squirrels grabbing clusters of leaves off the rhodi bush, they are coming back time and time again, like 7-10 times !!! I know they are using it to make their nests. I am wondering are they harming my plant or are they actually helping it by pruning it ?
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Could be either,
If the leaves are green and are being removed by the squirrels they are up to no good and damaging your rhodo. The leaves are needed for photosynthesis.
If it is in the dormant state, the leaves become dry and are expected to drop, so they are available for other uses.
Best to you.
Guess this depends whether you love your plants more than the squirrels. Here's pruning facts https://www.rhododendron.org/v34n3p125.htm Here's deterrents https://homeguides.sfgate.com/can-repel-animals-rhododendron-buds-91016.html Here's live trap info. https://forums.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/threads/squirrels-ate-my-rhodie-and-azalea-buds.3168/ Traps https://www.amazon.com/Havahart-One-Door-Chipmunk-Squirrel-X-Small/dp/B000BPAVCG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1544452914&sr=8-3&keywords=havahart+squirrel+traps Please don't trap them when they have babies in spring do it now if you need to.
Probably neither. Squirrels have no interest in them.
Give the squirrels something to nest with. Scraps of fabric, cut up old dish towels, etc. If they are nesting they will grab it. So will the birds so be prepared.
Spray your rhododendrens with Liquid Fence Concentrate to keep squirrels away, or spray with garlic spray. Squirrels will gain entry to your attic if not discouraged. Trim any branches near your home, and note that they are capable of easily scaling textured brick.