Home Grown

Tips and resources for farmers and gardeners

Planting for Deer Resistance

Nuisance deer that frequent the home garden often browse new plantings or established plants with tender new growth. Some mature plants may be unaffected, but for others the browsing can be fatal.

Deer can threaten young trees, especially, and the damage caused by their browsing or rubbing with their antlers can be permanent.

Some plant species are more palatable to deer than others. Include plants favored by deer in your garden and you can expect frequent dinner guests.
Frequently, ornamental plants used in landscaping are preferred by deer because they are fertilized and irrigated, making them nutrient-rich and moist. They offer the animals protein, energy-rich carbohydrates, minerals, and salts.

Deer should be discouraged immediately when signs of damage appear.

There are three basic options for discouraging deer:

•    Exclusion. Deer are excellent jumpers. Fences need to be at least 8 feet tall to keep deer out.
•    Repellents. Repellents will reduce the damage cause that deer cause to vegetation but will not eliminate it.
•    Habitat modification. 

Selecting plants that are deer-resistant has long-term benefits, and if done properly, it will help reduce deer damage to landscapes and gardens.

Lists that have been compiled of deer-resistant plants offer guidance in plant selection, though most of them are based on trial-and-error data rather than controlled scientific studies.

For a list of perennials that are deer-resistant, visit the Gardening with Perennials website.

Another list has been compiled by The Morton Arboretum.

Look What I Found In My Garden by Lori Tambakis

Source: University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Andrew Holsinger

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