Do you suspect that it’s the deer in your area that have been munching on your garden plants? Deer are the bane of many a gardener’s existence. All the hard work, planning and investment that goes into a garden can be quickly undone. Sometimes, so quickly that an entire garden can be wiped out in a single morning! Yes, as beautiful as deer are, they are unwelcome predators in a carefully planned garden.
Luckily, there are some steps that can be taken to protect your precious garden from perky deer. That being said, if there is a scarcity of food in the area, from urban sprawl, overcrowding, or an extraordinarily difficult winter, deer will try almost any plant.
The only way to completely fool-proof a garden from deer is by fence or other barrier. And, even a fence must be pretty high to keep a determined deer out. However, in most cases there are some less obtrusive ways to dissuade deer from making your garden their salad.
Plant Bitter-tasting Flowers
Daffodils are a bulb that bloom early and repeatedly throughout the springtime and offer a wide selection of colors and varieties. They can be classic shapes and sizes, miniature or extra-large, with smooth edges or frilled, and more. They are beautiful and easy to maintain, and, perhaps most importantly, are bitter and unpleasant for deer.
Dahlia are another variety of bulb that offer an incredible diversity in their appearance. They have such a wide range, in fact, that the novice would be surprised to find such different flowers can all be called dahlias. One could easily provide a varied, beautiful, colorful garden bed using only dahlia. Like daffodils, dahlia are not palatable for deer, so a garden consisting of the bitter blooms would be unlikely to attract the lasting attention of hungry deer.
Pink Muhly Grass
Other Plant Deterrents
Another tip for keeping deer out of your flowered areas, if you are planting varieties that are more pleasant for deer to eat, is to plant a border of low lying bitters around your flowers. By creating a perimeter of unpleasantness, the deer will likely not see your garden as a food source as readily. Spiny barberry is an excellent example of a plant that can truly be used as a deer deterrent. It is perhaps one of the only “deer proof” plants.
There are many others, also, that can used to create a natural protective fence, like delphinium and veronica. Muhly grass is another plant that deer do not like, and it is extremely attractive, easy to maintain, and uses little water, even being able to survive drought.
If none of these options work for you, a spray bottle of cayenne pepper and water is a possibility. A light spray of the hot mixture can help a lot. Once a deer samples the spicy plants, they will quickly move on to greener pastures. Use caution when making and using the mix, however, as not only will it deter deer, it can also burn your skin and eyes.
With proper planning and care, you can create a garden that brings you joy and beauty, and is free from hungry deer.