Deer Resistant Plants? Fact or Fiction?

Raise your hand if deer like to graze in your garden. How many different tactics have you tried to protect your plants? Have you tried hanging bars of soap from tree limbs, sprayed predator urine or scattered human hair around flower beds?

While these inventive measures may work temporarily, a long term solution requires a holistic approach. First, you have to give up the idea that you are ever going to deer proof your garden. Unless you build a 7-foot tall fence around your place, there’s not much you can do to keep them out. Next, make your garden less appealing to deer. Stop planting their favorites like tulips, roses and hostas and choose plants that deer are less inclined to eat. A few plant characteristics to look out for are fuzzy foliage, an antiseptic aroma and a bad taste.

Are there plants that are 100 percent deer resistant? No. The truth is that deer will eat anything when food is scarce, but if your garden is filled with plants that deer find unpleasant, there is a good chance they will move on to the delicacies in your neighbor’s yard.


12 Responses to Deer Resistant Plants? Fact or Fiction?

  1. How about voles? It’s been an endless battle. They are now starting to attack our established holly. Help!

    • Roberta says:

      Try a castor . Oil based repellant. Works for moles and may work for voles also

    • Maureen Stettner says:

      Sounds almost as bad as the voles we had in our motel room east of Grand Teton National Park last summer. We ended up sleeping in our SUV that night! Did you know there are lots of ridges in the floor of an SUV? What a nightmare! The next morning the innkeeper brushed it off and gave us no compensation for it.

  2. Richard Holsworth says:

    Garlic spray sometimes helps but I’ve found that a BB to the butt a few times makes them avoid things. They are fast learners and always look to see if I’m looking out the window.

  3. George McGilliard says:

    I have had excellent success keeping deer out of my small orchard by hanging blood meal filled panty-hose feet or cheesecloth from the farthest outside branches.

  4. Judy Kirkland says:

    So far, the deer have not bothered my bearded iris, euphorbia, daffodils, or helleborus roses

  5. Linda Lyle says:

    When we first got our lakehouse, I thought how cool it would look to have azaleas line up along the ridge that over looks the creek in our backyard. The neighbor came over while I was planting them and she just sighed and didn’t say much except to “keep my eye on them.” The next week when I came back, the deer had not only eaten the blooms, but every single one of the plants down to the ground. I did a bit of research and later planted lambs ear and daffodils along the “deer” path and alliums next to the deck. They have stayed put for three years now.

  6. […] Raise your hand if deer like to graze in your garden. How many different tactics have you tried to protect your plants? Have you tried hanging bars of soap from  […]

  7. Ulrike says:

    I do hang ‘IRISH SPRING’ (the original scent) shaved with a knife and placed in small muslin bags. I put wooden stakes in the ground, about 2ft tall and use thumbtacks or pushpins to secure the muslin bags. Mostly in my vegetable garden. I watched deer walk up to the garden and as soon as they smell the soap, they turn and walk away. It really works for me.

  8. Andy Cotterman says:

    Milk and water (50/50) spray is almost 100% effective. It will last through several light rains.

  9. sandy says:

    Anyone ever tried fox urine? I bought a bottle at a coop, put it on cotton bundles, placed bundles inside an old vented tin, hung tin on a wreath stand in my garden. There was no evidence of deer; but I did have to re-urine-ize the cotton after a rain.

  10. Betsy says:

    This has worked for us for both deer & bunnies: Measure out a gallon of water, put 1-2 cups in blender with two eggs (no shells!), pour all into sprayer & apply to plants. It doesn’t wash away with rain (think of how hard it can be to clean dried eggs off a plate), but new foliage will need to be sprayed as the plant grows. The theory is that the eggs are animal protein, and deer & rabbits won’t eat it for that reason. Whatever the reason, it’s worked well for us. I’ve seen deer sniff and walk away from hosta they ate for breakfast the day before. Worth a try; it’s certainly not expensive and doesn’t smell bad — to people, anyway.

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