Identify the damage. Know the signs. Deer do not bite off cleanly, but tear the plants, leaving a ragged edge from the ground up to six feet. They usually feed early morning or evening and may leave behind tracks or scat. Rabbits snip off stems, leaving a clean angled cut, not ragged, torn edges as do deer.
Plants deer love. Besides the list of deer resistant plants, it’s good to know which ones they consider a special treat: Azalea, Arborvitae, Apple, Blueberry, Burning Bush, Cherry, Clematis, Coleus, Cosmos, Daylily, English Ivy, Hydrangea, Impatiens, Lily, Magnolia, Mountain Ash, Rose, Maple, Peach, Plum, Rhododendron, Chrysanthemum, , Geum, Hosta, Tulip, Trillium, Phlox, Pansy, Petunia, Sweet Potato Vine, Yew, Zonal Geranium and garden vegetables.
Plants deer avoid. Unappetizing plants often have coarse, fuzzy, bristly, or spiny textures, as well as intense aromas. Also, food preferences vary by region and with individual animals. Following are a few “deer resistant” plants: PP When I see this Japanese Maple I’m floating on the clouds!
Annuals: Ageratum, Borage, Ice Plant, Pincushion flower, Marigold, Verbena, Zinnia.
Perennials: Allium, Aloe, Artemisia, Calla lily, Bachelor’s button, Bellflower, Black-eyed Susan, Bleeding heart, Lupine, Catmint, Century Plant, Chives, Columbine, Daffodil, Delphinium, Dusty miller, English lavender, Fennel, Fern, Forget-me-not, Foxglove, Geranium, Garden sage, Hellebore, Iceland Poppy, Iris, Lady’s mantle, Lamb’s ears, Lily of the Nile, Mint, New Zealand flax, Oregano, Oriental poppy, Oxalis, Parsley, Peony, Rose campion, Rosemary, Russian Sage, Saint John’s Wort, Santolina, Snapdragon, Snowflake, Thyme, Yarrow.
Grasses: Bamboo, Blue fescue, Lemon grass, Miscanthus, Pampas grass.
Shrubs and Trees: American sweetgum, Ash, Barberry, Black locust, Box elder, boxwood, Bush cinquefoil, Butterfly bush, California myrtle, Cascades mahonia, Cotoneaster, Currant, Daphne, Dogwood, English hawthorn, Eucalyptus, Euonymus, European white birch, Fig, Filbert, Forsythia, Hankow willow, Heather, Heath, Heavenly bamboo, Holly, Japanese flowering cherry, Japanese kerria, Japanese maple, Jasmine, Juniper, Lantana, Lilac, Lombardy poplar, Magnolia, Mexican orange, Mimosa, Mountain laurel, Oregon grape, Oregon vine maple, Pacific wax myrtle, Palm, Pieris, Pine Podocarpus, Red elderberry, Redvein enkianthus, Rhododendron, Rock rose, Rosemary, Russian olive, Salal, Silverberry, Smoke tree, Spider flower (grevillea), Spiraea, Spruce, Strawberry tree, Viburnum, Wisteria.
Strategies to repel deer.
- Substitute undesirable plants for delicious (for example rugosa roses instead of hybrid tea roses)
- Make the entryway to the garden unattractive to deer (use plants with strong scents)
- Mix confusing combinations (daylilies and garlic)
- Camouflage or block the view of susceptible plants
- Eliminate unnecessary cover (tall grass and brush)
- Clean up fallen fruit
- Xeriscaping, or reducing the need for supplemental water. (Using native plants)
- Some deterrents include Irish Spring soap, hair, rotten eggs, fabric softener sheets, blood meal, predator urine, hot pepper sprays, moving objects, timed lighting or sprinklers, noises, fencing (at least 8 feet) and dogs.
- Deer are adaptable and will learn. For the most success, change, rotate or overlap different strategies before deer become accustomed to your plan. I’ve use d dog hair at the base of my plants to repel rabbits with some success, as well as small wire cages until the plants grew tall enough to survive the bunnies.
Rotten Egg Recipe: 2 eggs, 2 cups water, 1-4 cloves garlic, (optional 2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce). Blend, ferment for two days and apply on soil and plants to discourage deer.