Deer in the garden

This page is under construction. It will offer a list of plants that are resistant to deer and some other solutions.

Deer are one of the biggest problems facing NJ gardeners. Deer like the doe pictured above in our mum field, are a pest in Union County. They can be found from one end of the state to the other. They cause damage in several ways. They do the most damage in browsing or eating plants and can strip the leaves off plants in overnight. The other major type of damage deer cause is the rubbing or wearing on tree trunks and saplings by bucks in the late summer/ fall. The antlers of the bucks are covered with a velvety covering as they grow. In the late season this dries and they are driven to rub this off of the antlers. They usually do this on small trees and saplings. This rubbing strips the bark off the trees and causes damage which cannot be repaired. If you are in an area that has deer, you can protect the trees by wrapping them with some material to shield them. Even cardboard can help temporarily. The wrap should go from ground level to 5'.

Repellents can be used to protect plants. There are several different types of repellent. Some work by smell. Others work by taste, bitter or using hot pepper to repel. Some combine the two. Most are liquids which can be sprayed  on leaf and stems of plants. This must be repeated throughout the season as the plants grow and, also, as the repellent wears off. "Milorganite" is an organic fertilizer, which has shown good results as a repellent for deer. It is made from sewage sludge but very safe for people and plants. Again, it should be repeated as necessary. In New Jersey, we have found what may work real well in some spots, may not work well at all in others. You may have to experiment to find the one that will work best for you.

Try to choose plants which deer do not like. There are no deer proof plants and deer can vary in their likes and dislikes. In areas of high deer populations, they can eat anything to a damaging level. Usually plants with coarse leaves, like Rudbeckia, Miscanthus, Buddleia, etc., are not in favor with deer. Plants with foliage that has an odor are usually avoided. These include Lavender, Nepeta, Caryopteris, Southernwood, Monarda. Plants with thorns( Hollies, roses, barberry, etc.) are less likely to be browsed, but again in areas of high deer populations, deer will eat any of these starting with the tender new growth, thorns or not.

Deer netting and other types of fencing can be used reduce deer damage by surrounding plants or gardens. Black nylon netting is not as noticeable as fencing is but is also not as durable.. 



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