rabbit damage

(Question)

This was clearly a hard winter for creatures and a rabbit has eaten the bark off most of the bottom of our burning bush. Can it survive this or is it likely dead? thanks.

(Answer)

It was the winter that wouldn’t end, for sure!

The real life of a plant is in the root so the rabbit may have damaged only the shoots of your burning bush shrub.

It is fortunate that burning bush, Euonymus alatus, is a shrub that tolerates severe pruning also called rejuvenation pruning. You can cut off the damaged stems down to below the damaged bark. The stems can be as short 6″-12″ above ground. Be sure to follow good pruning practice of leaving no damaged, dead or crossing shoots.  In a fews weeks, it should recover, and it may be healthier than ever. It may, however, take a few years for the shrub to grow back to its current size.

A great guide to pruning that most Master Gardeners have in their libraries is The Pruner’s Bible by Steve Bradley. The following link to a pruning guide of the Purdue University Coorperative Extension might also be helpful to you:

https://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/ho-4.pdf

Let us know what happens.  I’d be interested to know.