Deer resistant roses?

holleygarden Zone 8, East TexasAugust 12, 2010

I had my eye on 'Cramoisi Superieur' for its red blooms. However, the area where I want to put it has numerous deer running through it. Anyone here that grows CS know if deer love it or (hopefully) avoid it?

If CS is deer candy, can you suggest a rose that deer seem to avoid? I have heard that they love the moderns much more than the OGRs, so hoping someone will have a suggestion.


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ALL rose buds in my experience are deer candy. However, it possible that the small buds of CS are less attractive than the large buds of modern roses. Also, CS has such twiggy, all crazy angles growth of a typical china that maybe the buds don't stick out of the bush as helpfully as those of other roses.

How tall are your deer? Here we have short deer. I cage my new roses until they are 4-5 feet tall, after which the deer might nibble them, but don't eat them entirely up and kill them.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 5:43PM
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Terry Crawford

It seems my first flush is the most desirable to the roving horde. They aren't picky...they eat moderns, Austins, shrubs, climbers, Bucks...

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 8:54PM
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My deer eat all roses, including miniatures. Sometimes they just crop off the buds and blooms, other times they will eat almost the entire plant. I actually had a deer pull up a miniflora and eat the entire thing. After having them kill almost my entire rose garden, I redid the beds, replanted, and put an electric wire fence around the entire area. Now they only eat any stems that happen to extend beyond the fence, and they nibble on a few minis I have planted in the front of the house.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 10:03PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Roses are one of those that deer zero in on. They also target rose relations like cherry trees. To cope with this you need effective fencing, otherwise favored plants will probably make little progress, due to repeated nibbling down to fragments and stubs. Keeping them completely away from your plants with a physical barrier is the only sure protection.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 1:54PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

No, deer do not eat all roses. The rule of thumb is, the more modern the rose [class], the more likely the deer will eat it. Chinas are pretty safe. The deer never touch rugosas, gallicas, centifolias, damasks, moss or musk. Rarely, China, hybrid musks and hybrid perpetuals. Sometimes tea and noisette and Bucks. Always, hybrid teas, floribundas, wichichurana hybrids (like New Dawn), and lots of modern shrubs.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 3:33PM
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lori_elf z6b MD

We have a very high deer population here, and the deer will eat old roses too -- rugosas, gallicas, damasks, moss, etc. They are only stopped by a barrier or electric fence, and the deer off sprays will work only if you are diligent about reapplying. I have had fence failures and found out the hard way how much deer love to eat my roses.

That said, I have two roses outside of my fence that the deer don't touch -- one is "Red Fairy" (very infrequently nibbled) and the other "Baby Ballerina" (never seen deer damage). Both are scentless with tough shiny leaves.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 4:07PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

Thanks for your replies.

Jackie - I have no idea if we have 'short' or 'tall' deer. They are white-tailed, not mule deer. Does that tell you something? Fencing for a few years may be an option, but I don't want it to be a permanent solution.

Terryjean - do they eat the later flushes? Do they damage the rose bush eating the first flush, or just delicately take off the blooms? :)

Phil - this was what I was afraid of. Right now, I have a planter at the spot I want a permanent planting, and the deer have chewed on everything that has not been marked 'deer resistant'. An electric fence in this area would not be allowed.

bboy - :( I was so hoping to plant my favorite plant - roses - in this space. I may have to go to plan B (but I don't want to!!!). I had actually put one of those little supermarket mini roses in the planter as an experiment, and it was pulled up within a few days. That's why I decided I'd better do some asking here before I planted anything permanent.

catsrose - that is what I have read! Do you have specific experience with this? This is the thread of hope I have been holding onto with my plan for a rose-filled area. :)

lori - Not sure how many deer actually go through here. Think it's just a couple of mothers and her children right now. (but I don't really know) I really wanted a rose with a scent, but thanks for the suggestions.

This area would need at least 3 CSs to fill it, otherwise, I would just plant one and take a wait and see attitude. I don't want to go to all the trouble of preparing this bed for these roses if they aren't going to make it in the long run. I wonder if anyone has any experience (good or otherwise) with deer and Chinas? (Still holding out hope!)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 6:40PM
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So far, the deer have left my Snow Pavement rugosa roses alone...for the most part. They have chewed on Therese Bugent, but not been back. The John Cabot roses are chomped on periodically, but they're still trying to bloom!

I have three baby deer this year (and two does) who travel back and forth along our creek. So far, they've ignored most of the beds against the house...but I plant a LOT of lavender, salvia, blueberries, butterfly bushes and lilacs, along with cosmos, alyssum, veronica, and lots of herbs. I need to put more herbs in the kitchen garden (where the deer have been trying things) and that may help.

As for electric wires, I've read that before, but it doesn't work here. We have a five wire electric fence around the horse pasture. I've watched the deer jump over it, crawl through it and shimmy under it. In fact, a few years ago, one of our baby horses watched the deer and started crawling through the fence from the winter pasture into the summer pasture. Thank goodness, he's too big to do that, now :)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 7:07PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

Very hungry (or even very thirsty) deer will eat anything, but, yes, my rule of thumb is based on experience. I have a herd of about 12, of which three (mother and two bambis) spend most of their day here. I have 400 roses of every class which is enough of both numbers and variety that the deer can be choosey and I have watched their choices. For instance, they walk right past the rugosas on either side of drive, past Cl Cecile Brunner and then stop and snack on Veilchenblau. They stroll past Mutabilis, Comtessa du Cayla, and Maman Cochet just to munch down Buck's Golden Unicorn. I now put the less appetizing roses where the deer mostly travel and the favorites closer to the house and behind deer resistant shrubs. I also have a little pond where the wildlife, including the deer, can drink. I think this helps a lot because because a tender, well-watered rose is going to be delectable as much for its moisture as a food if there are no nearby sources of water.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 11:17PM
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Around here, the folk wisdom is that deer won't jump what it can't see through. Makes sense-there could be a cliff or river on the other side.
I used to have a picket fence all around this place-because that's what my grandmother had. It worked somewhat but not completely. I think a solid, tall wood fence would do the trick.
I have never seen such damage as this year. Something got the phlox, speedwell, hollyhocks, Gruss an Teplitz, Quatre Saison damask. Not one blossom on QSD, and it usually blooms all summer.
No deer poop or footprints. It looks funny. We have a rabbit hanging around, but some of that stuff is too tall for it.
They seem to leave older roses alone. They used to eat my gallicas, but don't anymore.
Last spring they really nailed things, and what they didn't, the hail got. I really wish I'd never gotten rid of the fence. I was feeling sorry for the guys out there trying to paint it in 90 degrees.
Last spring I started an eglanteria hedge along the front, figuring to feed them and keep them out at the same time, but eglanteria is a huge job to keep nice. I'm starting to think about cotoneaster.
They don't eat saponaria, geraniums, marigolds, pansies, chives, pinks, lilacs, spirea, Therese Bugnet, and (I think) the albas, except for Chloris which is thornless. They don't seem to bother Harison's Yellow, madame Plantier, or madame Hardy. I think white roses seem to be safer. Some of this, I could be wrong. I'm trying to remember everything all summer.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 11:48PM
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Deer love roses. All roses. They may well like some better than others. If they have a choice, they will eat the ones they like best. If you only offer them rugosas, they may grumble, but they'll eat the rugosas.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 12:27AM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

LL - I had wanted a red rose in this area, but may have to go with a white. Thanks for the suggestion.

catsrose - the deer just wander through this area, so perhaps a China would make it fine. I think your observation about water is key. When I have noticed any damage around my other plantings, it has been during periods of drought.

kaylah - thanks for the list. Perhaps white roses would be a safer consideration. hmmmmm.......

rosefolly - lol! That is one worry. There are no other roses close to this area, so it may be too tempting for them to overlook.

Well, thanks everyone for the suggestions and for their experiences. I may, in the long run, put a few roses in this area and just experiment on my own. At least I have some suggestions to try. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 2:57PM
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jim_w_ny(Zone 5a)

I have some areas where he deer don't go. One a stone walled raised bed, another a large arbor (pergola) with a concrete but low wall. Then of course big climbers or Ramblers are safe. It does seem that some roses are less edible than others. Can't figure that pattern though.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 8:44AM
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We don't all have the same species of deer. California Mule Deer will browse any tree or shrub with young, succulent new growth. That includes all "deer-resistant" plants like Coastal Oak. Mule Deer don't eat much grass and instead specialize in our hard scrabble scrub for 90% of their diet, including conifers. Texas has its own mule deer that will eat mesquite. Anything that eats mesquite will surely eat any rose.

White tailed deer are different and eat a fair amount of grass. We don't have them. :\

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 2:18PM
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I think it also matters if the deer have food available. We live in an area surrounded by fields and pastures, with a few trees along the creek. The creek has had water in it all summer (all the rain back in June). The deer around here are pretty picky, except for the babies, who will try many plants, but usually only once :)

Ten miles away, where housing developments have recently been built in a more forested area, the same kind of deer will eat almost anything planted in yards. They've lost their fields and don't like to eat pine trees, so they adapt and start eating gardens. Then, it's time for a deer fence!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 2:31PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Preferences vary with individuals and circumstances, such as season. Effective fencing maintained in effective condition takes variables out of the equation. Needs to be secure at the bottom and at least 7' tall.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 2:58PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

Jim - it would be nice if they had a pattern. Like, thornless roses they eat, thorny roses they leave alone, or red roses they like but white roses they don't. Perhaps it depends a bit on the type of deer. I had forgotten there were different types until someone brought this up earlier.

berndoodle - We only have white-tailed here. The mule deer are in West Texas. Not sure where the line is drawn, but not close by here. You're right - anything that eats mesquite would surely eat a rose! lol Maybe the white-tailed deer around here will not be quite as aggressive eaters. (fingers crossed)

LL - that's actually sad that the deer are so hungry. There has not been a lot of development around here, so maybe the deer here aren't so hungry and will leave the roses alone! :)

bboy - unfortunately, fencing at this location will not be allowed. Alas, that is probably the only way roses can be truly deer-proof.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 5:37PM
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Holleygarden- I know, it is sad. People get upset with the deer eating their gardens, but that usually happens in areas where builder's have expanded into formerly undeveloped farmland. The deer may be a pest in the garden, but they're beautiful to watch out the window, while I work :)

You might want to try the Therese Bugnet rose, which is a pretty pink/lavender (according to the pictures, as mine is too young to bloom yet) and is supposed to be less attractive to deer. Marie Bugnet (her little sister) is a pretty white rose. Marie and the Snow Pavement rose are listed as being less attractive to deer on the Northland Rosarium website. That's why I got the Snow Pavement rugosas and they are nice little roses.

One other thing that might help, is to plant herbs around the roses. The deer around here, do not like Hidcote lavender and catmint, which both look nice with almost any rose. Good luck with your roses!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 2:55PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

LL - I have thought about planting deer resistant plants around the roses, but didn't think that would make any difference. I thought they would just trample everything to get to the roses. But, if that is not the case, I am thinking perhaps your suggestion of Snow Pavement roses with deer resistant companions may keep them at bay. :) Thanks for letting me know!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 6:32PM
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Holleygarden- My snow pavement rose just started to bloom and it's beautiful! I'll try to take a picture tonight. It's a pale lavender...which looks great with the catmint :)

As for whether deer resistant plants work, they seem to be in front of the house. I have a couple of damask roses I planted this year, with Hidcote lavender in front of them. I had some spaces in the lavender and just got some more to add in (they're not available at our Lowe's until end of July). Anyway, the deer chewed on the ends of the roses. I planted the lavender that night...and (so far) they haven't been back.

Again, my deer aren't hungry, just curious, so the lavender fragrance may be enough to keep them away. A hungry deer would probably ignore the lavender.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 4:26PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

I would love to see a picture!

Yes, I suppose it's going to be a gamble to plant any kind of rose depending on the deer that pass by, and how hungry they are in any given year. I just can't NOT plant a rose, though!!!! I've tried to talk myself into other plants, but a bed without a rose is just incomplete, IMHO! lol

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 6:16PM
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There are more deer in North America now than there were before the Europeans came to the New World. We've very nearly wiped out their predators so they are out of balance. In the absence of the balance provided by predators, any animal species will breed until either it reaches the point of mass starvation, or a massive epidemic drastically reduces the population. (Only human beings have the capability of avoiding this trend, and so far we aren't doing it.)

This is why they come and eat in our gardens.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 2:20PM
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Theoretically the deer could easily jump over our six-foot tall fence, but I think they'd want to see where they'd be landing before they tried that. It's a solid wooden fence, and the white-tailed deer around here aren't quite tall enough to see over it. They can't see through it anywhere either. The part of the yard enclosed within that solid fence is the only area where the deer don't go in our yard.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 2:41PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

Rosefolly - you are right. I see much more deer now than in the past. There are quite a few hunters around here. Perhaps they will keep them at a reasonable number. As for humans, aren't we generally our own predator?

Mary - I have heard that deer will not jump over something they can not see. I never thought about them seeing through the cracks! I bet the fence is a great addition to your garden, not just for keeping deer out, but also as a great backdrop and to keep winds down, like the stone walls they have in England.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 7:59PM
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Holley, yes, I love our fence. When first having it installed in the Dark Ages, the consideration was practical; we needed a secure place for our children and dog to play without danger of wandering into the street.

As soon as the fence went in, I began to notice how nice the trees and other plants looked set off against it. Just as we had hoped! And in all the years since, I've enjoyed all the landscaping with that fence as a background. Even if we had never had children or a dog, the fence would have been a wise investment in landscaping beauty, just as much so as, say, a pergola, a boxed planter, or anything else in the yard.

We didn't choose it as a solid fence because of any knowledge of deer habits at the time; we just thought it would look good with our house and yard. In retrospect now, though, a solid 6-foot tall fence is the kind of fence I'd recommend to anyone living in the proximity of deer.

Best wishes,

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 7:24PM
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After 3 years of the deer eating all of our tulips, last year they began eating the roses and everything even next to the house. Enough already. We live in the country in central New York. After lots of reading I put a single electric fence wire around the 1.5 acre lot and tied plastic shopping bags between each post. The bags flap in the wind. The tulips, roses and everything were untouched this year!!!! Lighting took out the fence charger after about 6 weeks, and still no deer.

Try the flapping in the wind plastic thing.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 9:21PM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

George - what a great idea! I really like this idea - I have enough plastic bags and it seems simple and effective. Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 6:54PM
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