by Diane Linsley
You've probably heard the saying, "A weed is a plant in the wrong place." I think we should say, "A deer is an animal in the wrong place." I love seeing deer in the mountains, but I want to eliminate the herd that hangs out in my garden.
After doing research for this article, I was delighted to find that most of the plants in my garden are deer-resistant. The few that are not deer-resistant - like fruit trees, tulips, daylilies, and some vegetables - just happen to be the plants that I've been fighting to save from the deer for many years.
Most of the annual and perennial flowers are doing fine without protection. If I grew plants that were not deer-resistant, they would have died out long ago. That being said, there are no "deer-proof" plants - only plants that the deer leave alone most of the time.
Tips for Deterring Deer
1. Surround plants that are susceptible to deer damage with deer-resistant plants, especially strong-smelling ones like lavender, rue and feverfew.
2. Set a radio in the garden overnight. In my experience, deer despise talk radio. Unfortunately, they get used to it after a while.
3. Commercial deer deterrents sometimes work, but they are very expensive. You can make your own by blending up smelly plants that deer dislike, then straining the mixture and putting it in a spray bottle. Spray the liquid on susceptible plants.
I've also tried mixing egg whites with tabasco sauce and crushed garlic. This sticky mixture can be spread on susceptible plants with a paintbrush. It works for a little while -- until the sprinklers wash it off. Experiment first with a small spot on the plant to make sure the mixture doesn't damage the plant. I used this mixture with variable success on daylily seed pods (which are deer candy) before I switched to physical barriers (wrapping the pods with netting fabric attached with a safety pin).
4. Physical barriers work best. In our garden, every young fruit tree is surrounded by its own cage. These giant cages are made by pounding T-posts into the ground, then wrapping chicken wire fencing around the T-posts. Small plants like lettuce and young roses are protected with tomato cages. If the deer are very persistent, cover the tomato cage with netting, which lets in sunlight, but keeps out browsing deer.
Here's a list of our best deer-resistant flowers from seed.
Deer-Resistant Annual Seeds
Deer-Resistant Perennial Seeds