What is eating my geraniums?
July 5, 2021 4:45 PM   Subscribe

One of my geranium plants has been completely destroyed by some creature. Details inside.

I have several potted geraniums on a side deck. Today I noticed one plant has been all but destroyed -- all of its branches have been broken off a few inches above the soil, and the branches (with leaves and flowers) are completely gone. They're not cleanly sliced as if by a scissor, but they don't have obvious bite marks either.

I really think these are inaccessible to humans -- or maybe I just hope there's not some random weirdo who broke into my backyard, climbed up onto the deck (it's 10x10, access is from indoors, no stairs from the outside) and destroyed this one plant then took the evidence with them and departed.

Who has broken off these individual stems and taken them away? This is in Los Angeles. We definitely have squirrels, skunks, rats and raccoons in my neighborhood. And deer, but I can't see how a deer could get on this raised deck with no exterior access. Possibly more -- we are in what passes for a SoCal brushy nature area. The deck is at least 6 feet above the ground.
posted by BlahLaLa to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
Did you notice any scat (that is, poops) in or around the area?
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:33 PM on July 5, 2021

Response by poster: No scat found.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:47 PM on July 5, 2021

I have definitely had rats do similar things to my herbs, but they won't go to great lengths to get at them. In particular I have a raised bed enclosed by very much non-rat proof plastic netting, and they ignore it more or less. So I think it's unlikely a rat would climb 6 feet JUST to munch on some geraniums. Any other attractants nearby? Or...any chance they are in your house already?
posted by goingonit at 7:18 PM on July 5, 2021

The chipmunks in my yard randomly destroy plants that they don't even eat. Squirrels are less random, but pretty destructive to garden plants. A rat would climb to investigate.
posted by theora55 at 7:58 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The thing I'm fixated on is the fact that who/whatever cut the branches off this plant then took the entire branch with them to some other place, leaving absolutely no debris behind. It feels like squirrels and other animals might want to eat the flowers and/or leaves, but would they be likely to bite off a branch and carry it off with them?
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:01 PM on July 5, 2021

Best answer: That part I have definitely had rats do. Whole (small) basil plants cut down to 1" above the ground with the rest of the stem and leaves nowhere to be found.
posted by goingonit at 8:06 PM on July 5, 2021

I know nothing about gardening, but I was listening to a gardening call in show on the radio the other day, and it came up that earwigs will eat geraniums down to the stem, and the solution is small dishes of soysauce with oil on top to catch them. *shrug* take this hearsay as you will.
posted by stray at 8:15 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

It looks like a human took starts of your geranium.
posted by Oyéah at 8:47 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Deer regularly eat the blue bells in my yard.The blooms and leaves are gone and what is left is a kind of skeleton. The blue bells bloom again the next year. I do not live in the "country", I believe the deer and other animals have been displaced by wildfires as well as developments that took their home lands.
posted by Cranberry at 12:06 AM on July 6, 2021

Best answer: I have had squirrels do this to my geraniums. Problem was somewhat solved by putting lots of pointy bamboo skewers around them to make it less convenient. (If it matters, this was in London.)
posted by Concordia at 11:22 AM on July 6, 2021

Response by poster: I'm gonna go ahead and guess rats or squirrels, since those are both in abundance in the area. There's no human access (without it being super creepy) so I'm gonna assume no on that.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:06 AM on November 7, 2021

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