Saturday, September 3rd, 2011...6:33 am

Deer-Resistant Plants?

2008 10-04 caught in act Deer 23 by yeimaya

A few people have told me that they only grow plants that deer don’t eat. Sorry. As TheGardenLady understands it, no academic or scientific report will say that there are any plants that deer don’t eat or that are deer proof. There are plants that are highly resistant to deer damage. So it is always smart to plant these plants if you don’t have an 8 ft fence surrounding your plantings. But deer that are hungry or starving will seemingly eat anything if they can get to the plant. And sometimes deer will taste to see if a plant is worth eating.

That is how some of the products or recipes that repel deer work.  See here.  Many leave a residual smell that we humans can not smell but the deer can and find offensive. And they leave a bad taste in the deer’s mouth. But even they aren’t effective 100% of the time. They wash off or new growth isn’t smelly and bad tasting. Or the deer that are hungry learn to tolerate the repellent.

For a list of the ratings of how deer resistant many of the landscape plants are, here is Rutger’s ratings.  Or for links to more deer resistant plant ratings in many of the other states check out this.

A problem that most if not all states have is that the deer population is not in balance with the remaining wild habitat. So a hungry deer will come into your yard. The poor deer probably would prefer to be in a tranquil woods. But because there are so many deer living in the smaller and smaller forests, “Deer are overbrowsing our sapling, shrub and herbaceous plant layers, resulting in widespread declines and local extinctions of native plants, birds, and other wildlife. Ultimately, deer overpopulation is harmful even to the deer themselves. As they destroy their wild forage base, they become increasingly smaller and more vulnerable to disease and starvation.” See here.

In the southwestern parts of NJ and other states in this country, like Michagan State, they are seeing a disease of deer called Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease that is killing deer. See here. Whether the deer are more vulnerable to this disease because not all deer are getting an adequate diet, is for scientists to say, not TheGardenLady. But with so many deer and so few places remaining for them, I wonder……

PS As I write this column, two fawns are cavorting in my back yard. One goes to lie down under a shrub. Finally the mother comes to lead them away. I still get a thrill when I see deer. It is the over abundance of deer and the starvation that concerns me.


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