Irises forum: What Critters Eat Iris????

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Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Aug 5, 2016 6:00 AM CST
I took some of my iris north to my small cottage and made an iris bed last month. Yesterday I get a call from my neighbor that something dug them all up and some of the rhizomes appeared to have been eaten. We have no groundhogs in the area so that particular animal is eliminated. My neighbor thinks the culprit is squirrels. Would squirrels eat iris??? I am told that deer do not like them.
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Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Aug 5, 2016 6:21 AM CST
Well I googled this question and what came up was rabbits, moles and voles. It stated that rabbits love eating the rhizomes of iris. I don't think we have any voles but I know we have rabbits and moles. Would milorganite keep them away??
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Name: Liz
Concord, MA (Zone 6a)
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Dachsylady86
Aug 5, 2016 6:26 AM CST
I think rabbits definitely will munch on them, because I have them in my yard. One of my newly planted rhizomes was dug up the next day and all the roots were eaten. Grumbling
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Aug 5, 2016 6:41 AM CST
Yikes, looks like I got a huge problem then.
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Aug 5, 2016 6:43 AM CST
I have loads of rabbits here, and in the winter they will eat the leaves when food is scarce, but otherwise leave them alone. When I plant the new seedlings they love to try to take a bite and pull them out, but then they usually drop them and don't eat them. I've never seen one eat the rhizome though. Ground squirrels will take a bite once in a while.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Aug 5, 2016 6:47 AM CST
Hmmm, we have lots of different kinds of squirrels, black, grey, fox, red, & ground squirrels as well as chipmunks. The cats in the area have cleared out most of the chipmunks though.
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Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
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grannysgarden
Aug 5, 2016 8:22 AM CST
I have a lot of squirrels of all kinds including some dark black ones. The reds usually leave when the gray one come but I can watch them chasing each other all about the woods. They have never eaten an iris. I have chased them away from an iris bed as they sort through them looking for more crocus bulbs. Maybe they do not go after my irises because more desirable foods are available. Shrug!
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South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
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Polymerous
Aug 5, 2016 8:24 AM CST
We have lots of rabbits here, but they seem to not bother the irises. We had (until we finally, recently, fenced them out) lots of deer, too. Deer definitely don't eat the irises.

That said, something has eaten the foliage on some of my irises down to the ground. We also have gophers, so I am thinking that land-traveling gophers is the problem.

Raccoons will sometimes tear a patch of iris apart, in search of worms or grubs, but they won't eat any of it. They just leave the rhizomes lying scattered on top of the ground. Glare

I hope that you can find (and fix) your critter problem!
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Name: Liz
Concord, MA (Zone 6a)
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Dachsylady86
Aug 5, 2016 8:31 AM CST
I haven't had any issues with critters eating leaves, just roots on occasion. Hopefully they just took a nibble and are done now Cindy.
Name: Gabriel/Gabe Rivera
Charlotte, NC (Zone 7b)
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Cuzz4short
Aug 5, 2016 8:33 AM CST
WABBITS and squirrels! Grumbling they usually only yank my transplants in not rooted. The story of my summer 2016. Squirrels want the rhizomes because they assume they're nuts. Rabbits are just pricks of nature and don't want irises to survive.
Gimme it and I'll grow it!
Name: Gabriel/Gabe Rivera
Charlotte, NC (Zone 7b)
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Cuzz4short
Aug 5, 2016 8:35 AM CST
I've also found throw up mold here and there because the rhizomes probably don't taste that great Rolling on the floor laughing critter Karma
Gimme it and I'll grow it!
[Last edited by Cuzz4short - Aug 5, 2016 8:35 AM (+)]
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Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
Hybridizer Irises Butterflies Charter ATP Member Birds Cat Lover
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Hemlady
Aug 5, 2016 8:42 AM CST
Well thanks everyone. So it is most likely rabbits. I am going to replant them and sprinkle some milorganite to see if that deters them.
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Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
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Lestv
Aug 5, 2016 8:52 AM CST
If the roots are eaten that could be moles or voles. They will eat the roots. Never had a rabbit eat a rhizome. Nibble on Japanese iris leaves rarely. With leaves you can spray them with ground cayenne pepper in an oil solution. I suppose sprinkling the pepper on the rhizomes would work too. Not sure I would use oil with the rhizome.
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Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
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grannysgarden
Aug 5, 2016 10:01 AM CST
Moles are carnivores. They eat worms, grubs and adult insects in the garden. Damage you find on plants is unlikely to have been made by a mole. Voles on the other hand do eat plants and they use mole tunnels to navigate. That makes moles undesirable because they pave the way for the voles to your juicy bulbs, potatoes, rhizomes, grass and even tree bark after all the lovely garden bulbs are gone and when the grass is in winter dormant stage.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Aug 5, 2016 10:28 AM CST
We are lucky here--no moles in our part of the county. So voles have no tunnels to follow. You might try chicken wire until the roots attach the plant in place.

Region: California
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UndertheSun
Aug 5, 2016 11:20 AM CST
Like other have said, voles, gophers, (tree and ground) squirrels, rabbits (when food is scarce), deer (when food is scarce), crickets, grasshoppers, wireworms and other grubs, wild pigs and borers.

Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Aug 5, 2016 12:25 PM CST
I have heard that blood meal will deter rabbits, but I haven't used it. It might be too high in protein for iris if you get it too close. I used to plant marigolds around my veggie garden, as rabbits don't like them.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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grannysgarden
Aug 5, 2016 12:26 PM CST
I plant marigolds among my irises. Last year the seeds scattered and I have small groups of marigolds all in the driveway.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Aug 5, 2016 2:45 PM CST
tveguy3 said:I have heard that blood meal will deter rabbits, but I haven't used it. It might be too high in protein for iris if you get it too close. I used to plant marigolds around my veggie garden, as rabbits don't like them.


I tried blood meal to keep out squirrels....I couldn't see where it helped, at all. I *think* the cayenne pepper (ground stuff, not flakes) did more good Shrug! . I'd also heard that "big cat" scat would deter them...preditor smell....but, While I haven't tried BIG cat scat (lions, or tigers !!), the "neighbor hood cat scat doesn't deter ANYTHING, but me !! Nothing like picking up a dried "rhizome" that ISN'T a rhizome !!
Name: Becky
Middletown, PA (Zone 6b)
5sillydogs
Aug 5, 2016 3:18 PM CST
My Boston Terrier eats iris rhizomes. Then again, there isn't much that he won't eat.

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