Does this Azalea Still Have a Chance? Rabbits Trunk-Chopped it to a Stub

Dang it… I just noticed today, this was just laying on top of my landscape rocks/pebbles, lol.
Rabbits ate the trunk.

I just re-potted it (3gal regular garden pot) and put it in the front-yard last week (it’s lived it’s entire life in the backyard, protected with wire-fence on gates).

Luckily nothing in the backyard was eaten… because I installed chicken-wire-fence on my 2 side-gates that lead to the backyard last year.

Does it still have a chance?

I just remembered… trunk-chops all the way down to a stub is sometimes done for bonsai azalea.

But, I think that’s usually done in spring?

I also just re-potted it 1-2 weeks ago… so it was already still healing from that.
No major root-work… just scratched the surface roots to expose nebari, lightly combed & trimmed the sides and bottom of rootball, and kinda just slip-potted it into same size pot with a little fresh soil. (basically… went from a 3gal plastic nursery pot into a 3gal ceramic pot with very minor rootwork).

Rootball is large (filled entire 3gal pot) and is healthy.

It’s getting quite hot nowadays (SoCal, zone 10b) and it’s pretty much summer now. Does it have a chance?

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Yikes - what pesky critters! There’s definitely a chance the trunk will produce new shoots, so you can continue to water when the soil starts to dry out.

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Another one bites the dust.

Tho, this time rats I’m sure (neighbor caught +6 rats last year), and this was in my backyard where it’s protected with 3’ wire-fence from rabbits.

It looks like it should make it tho… a lot of trunk and branch-stubs left.

What’s maybe more disappointing is that they decimated almost my entire crop of newly successful/rooted azalea cuttings, there were like 15-20 per pot. Only 7 cuttings left now, lol. Been working on those for 6-9 months.

So, I made a new small pot of cuttings. Starting over, slowly.

The rats also started eating my J maples, again. This young Katsura was very bushy and healthy and about 3’ tall; but, it’s been eaten down to 1’ tall (just like last year).

The young Kiyohime (in front of the young Shishigashira) was also bushy and healthy… now only 1 skinny twig leader remains lol. At least they left one twig. The shishigashira in the back also got its’ top eaten off. Last fall was eaten worse tho (to a bare stick).

I moved them all, because I noticed my j maples and azaleas only get eaten at 1 particular spot, next to my spa-pump and north facing wall. The ones at the other corners of my yard or other walls never get eaten.

I‘ve been thinking, why? …maybe because my neighbor has his trash cans and kitchen right next to that area, on the other side of that wall. Maybe rats are attracted to it.

Also, I just remembered his bbq grill is right there too…literally on the other side of the wall where my azaleas/maples always get eaten. If the wall wasn’t there, it’d be 6-12” away (very close).
Maybe after the rats eat the bbq drippings, they hop over for some satsuki/maple salad/dessert.

Hopefully their new locations are better.

Wood rats gnaw off branches to use as nesting material, not for food. Put your trees up on benches rather than on the ground, to make them less accessible. The rats in our neighborhood seem to prefer shimpaku, JBP, ume, and camelia, especially the flexible, tender branches. They are less interested in native junipers, and wired branches. Traps in their paths can be a deterrent; peanut butter is good bait.