Pity me--deer AND black walnuts!

carylissFebruary 18, 2007

Just need to vent a little. Seven years ago I thought I found paradise when I moved into my 150 yr old house with 3 semi-wooded acres. . .

I have wasted so much time and money planting things which have either been eaten or have failed to thrive. Anyone ever notice how the deer resistant plant lists and the black walnut resistant plant lists are almost mutually exclusive? :(

Now after reading posts here I'm worried about my 40 hybrid tea roses planted in a fenced garden just outside of the dripline of a huge BW tree (roses weren't on the BW lists I had . . .).

So, here I am, pouring over plant lists again. My yard may not be the neighborhood showplace I always wanted but I will win this battle!

Anyone in a similar situation?

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forest_girl(z5 MI)

I don't have the deer problem, but I can certainly sympathise with the black walnut problem. I have just had to adjust what I grow near that tree.(It isn't always what I would like to grow.) I have a lovely peony, iris and daylily garden near it, and fill in with anuals, such as calendula, larkspur, poppies, forgetmenots, love in the mist, and zinnias. Each year I find a few more plants that work. I've never tried roses, but I certainly would be hesitant to plant a large number of something without previous trials.
I wish you luck and hope you find plants that work for your situation.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 11:39AM
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Oh God YES, I TOTALLY EMPATHIZE with the deer problem anyway. We have black walnuts, but we have enough acres that it doesn't matter (the only thing that grows around them are the wild black raspberries and some short roses that are native to here apparently).

Deer are four legged vermin! The ONLY thing, and I mean the only thing out of the dozens of different plants I've tried over the years they never nibble on is bamboo. They usually leave my herbs alone as well.
They usually clip off the new daffodils that are coming up so I don't get flowers. They nibble on the bearded iris I have, but luckily they don't get the flowers since they come up later. They've even pulled out the thuja (green giant) that were newly planted, luckily I noticed them laying on the ground and replanted them. GRR! They eat my green plums off the tree, eat their leaves and totally defoliate any fruit trees I plant. Roses? HA! The only rose I have that actually grew at all (I've got 15 and the biggest one is the one that I let brambles grow around it because I didn't get around to weeding it) still gets eaten but not as much. I HATE deer. Also, we have trouble with any time we have 'good' soil from our chicken coop spread, the mice and raccoons dig the plants up anyway. It's SO frustrating!

The best way I've found to keep these vermin away is:

For small shrubs and short plants, get lots of sticks and push them into the ground around the plant, as well as make sure they are taller than the plant will be. When those (expletive) deer come browsing around, they will hit their noses on the sticks and usually spare your plants. I've kept them away from my daffodils and some of my lillies that way. It's also easy to find sticks (the branches stay there for the season, and add to the soil too).

For larger stuff like saplings and bushes, unfortunately the best thing to do is either get some posts and string bird netting around the whole thing. Make sure that no branches will stick out, or they'll get those. It's not pretty, but at least your tree will survive.

I've also started planting mint in our lawn and around my climbing rose bushes (they're 5 years old and the ones still living are about 6 INCHES high). Just make sure that you don't mind if it spreads, it's very invasive.

Other stuff that has survived the deer hordes (they come right up to our house and eat the plants!) with not much damage:

Wisteria vine - got gnawed on by a rabbit in winter but came back just fine
Herbs - especially lavender, mint, catnip, valerian, etc.
bamboo - never gets touched, amazing!
ornamental grasses - I have zebra grass, no problems
Iris - they might nibble them when it's the first green in spring, but usually that's it. You can still get flowers.
Daffodils - mine get cut down to the ground in spring, so I only get flowers if I put sticks in the ground >:(
Thuja - once they get bigger they usually don't bother them
Pine trees - we have to protect them in winter because the vermin- er I mean deer browse them in winter

Everything else they browse (that I've planted).

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 4:09PM
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Thanks for the plant lists mersie. I'm working on lists of plants that I've had luck with as well--both around the black walnuts and the deer.

I've used mint as a ground cover around the base of some trees. It is invasive, but where I've used it I consider that a bonus. I don't mind it growing into the lawn (which is pretty weedy anyway) because it smells SO good when you mow it!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 10:39PM
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forest girl - how far are your peonies from the black walnuts? I've seen peonies on both the tolerant and interants lists.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 7:03AM
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I only have one large black walnut tree. My hosta is growing fine there. (?) The deer are a menace! Thus far (two years) they have stayed away from all of my daylillies, hosta and basic shrubbery like boxwood, golden thread, barberry, japanese maples, and a couple of yews I have. They have certainly taste tested my spruce trees, hydrangea, mondo grass, and azaleas but have since left them alone. Maybe a large dog in the yard is your answer for the deer issue?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 4:47PM
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ziggy___(z5/6 PA)

Have you tried any of the non-walnut tolerant plants? My understanding is that they do chem warfare with other plants only when stressed and trying to compete for survival. There are some walnuts and butternuts on my parent's land, but there is no difference in what will grow under them and what will grow away from them.
Are you sure there aren't other reasons why certain plants don't thrive... pH, moisture, etc...?
As for deer, they like to taste anything new to them. An unfortunate thing around here is that the deer seem to have learned that plants with fencing or other deterents probably taste especially good and are worth getting at. I finally bought a 50 lb recurve and plan to get a deer license this fall. Too suburban for guns.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 3:35PM
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Well, around here one thing you can plant that the deer don't touch are lamb's ears. Be careful and deadhead the flowers before they go to seed or they will take over, though. Not sure if they are black walnut tolerant. They've also left our lavender alone.

They love hosta, nearly every evergreen I've planted, forsythia, lilac, daisies, geraniums, dahlias, zinnias, daylilies, lilyturf, beebalm, almost everything. And what they leave alone the groundhogs and rabbits devour. Makes you wonder why we bother!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 10:06PM
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Whenever I have a chore I don't want to do in the garden, I go on Garden Web and sound off about Black Walnuts. I have read that although every part of the tree contains juglone, the roots are the killers. Also, juglone does not travel far from the root, so another root must come close or touch the Walnut root for the juglone to be fatal. This would put deep rooted plants such as peonies at greater risk. This also would explain the inconsistant testimony as to what will or will not grow in proximity to a Walnut.
I moved to this house with 17 peony divisions, stars in my eyes and thrilled to death to have Walnut trees ringing the garden area. After I learned about juglone, I freaked. All of my plants were in the soil. Next, I became obsessive and made a little map of the peony plantings numbering each plant and writing each summer how they do. Of the 17, three are not thriving. They are far from dead, but their blossums are few and they have many blasted buds. They are all at different distances from the Walnut. One is a Crinkled White and two are called Pillow Talk - these I don't think are sold any more.
I think that I can attribute sickness to the Walnuts, but few out and out deaths. My credo is: look for shallow rooted plants. Japanese Anemones come to mind.
Since juglone is a toxin, why can't they develop an anti- toxin? Something water soluable to be applied to the soil around the plants?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 1:42PM
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njtea(NJ Z6)

Caryliss and Mersiepoo, it sounds like you each have some acerage. Why not find a hunter to help control the deer population? Here in NJ we have a long bow season and that's helped bring down the size of the herd that frequents my place.

That said, however, there is ONE doe who is totally undeterred by anything I do to try to keep her out of my yard/flowers. She'll stand there and wait until the charging dog gets about 20' from her before she runs. This is the first year I've not had any tomatoes 'cause she's eaten every single one; she's worked her way under netting and into a small confined space to eat gray dogwood; Sunday before last I was awakened by the dog just about going out the bedroom window as the doe was right under it eating hosta flowers. She was still in the yard when I got the dog to the door and opened it.

However, something tells me that within the next few weeks, she will be history.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 2:32PM
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I feel your pain...my dog is just learning about protecting her garden...but I have to be cautious, since she'll just keep going after the deer have left her property...never leaves the block, but she stops to snack on the neighbor kitties food!

Anyway, black walnut. Mine is rather mature, but with a pretty vertical habit. Thank goodness it's on the corner of the property, goshdarn it that it's right over the house and fills up my gutters with nuts! And twigs!

My philosophy with it has been to plant things I get for free, or nearly free, under it. Toss 'em in, see how they do, no skin off my back if they fail. Also, anything that is potentially invasive...should be hardier, right?

Within the drip line:

I have 3 roses that are doing rather well, though this is their first season. Two are from someone's overgrown bramble, one was a distressed Drift I got at Lowes...creeper.

I have 2 hellebore (Lenten rose) I got off season the first year I lived in the house. They've done splendidly...maybe 3x in size in 4 years?

Colorado columbine, artemisia, oenathera (evening primrose), irises, vinca, all looking great. Had a wayward day lily come up this year, and I think the white yarrow was wild...I don't recall planting it. I tried to transplant some pretty colored yarrows, but didn't take care of them, so by no means should their failure dissuade you. I also have a concrete block wall back there that I'm constantly planting creepers and climbers in...the thyme and sedum do great, the clematis is apathetic...but I think there may be other forces at work there.

Plenty of folks in my neighborhood have old growth azaleas under theirs...we are Azalea City, and they look great.

My biggest loss was a Harry Lauder's Walking Stick (Corylus contorta). It was transplanted in the heat of August (CL find, this lady wanted it out of her yard NOW), and was rather mature. Not sure if the shock or the walnut killed it, but it didn't make it even to winter. I left it in, though, since the bare branches are the most attractive part, and I don't have anything else to go in there yet...

Outside the drip line:

Lambs ear, lilac, peony (first year),

I have an ornamental cherry tree (Kanzan) about 15 feet away, and is seems to be just fine.

My modern, hybrid azalea is hanging on, but certainly not thriving.

Hope this helps...


    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 4:10PM
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I feel your pain...after years of planting and having everything die...I learned of the dreaded toxicity of BW. I have had success with a honeysuckle shrub as well.
I also have this:

Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n Gold’ EMERALD ‘N GOLD EUONYMUS

2-3 ft. (Zone 5) Small green and gold variegated leaves are on this well known plant. The leaves will turn pinkish in cold weather and has been known to climb a trellis or wall if planted close enough.

My neighbor has one planted under his BW and it is climbing the trunk!

We live in a rural area but, at a private lake association...we see some deer but I've not had any trouble with these two that I mentioned.

Since it was just this past year that we learned of the BW issue...I'm still trying to figure things out myself.

Did plant some Sweet Drift which is a ground cover rose well under the drip line yet still getting sun and it is thriving. I planted three close together making it look as if it's a small shrub. It is abundant with roses and blooms from spring through the first frost.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 9:29AM
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Here's a photo of the three ground cover roses I put together to give a small shrub appearance. They are covered in roses and have tons of blooms yet to open. They've been planted since the beginning of the month and just continue to thrive.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 11:50AM
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I finally bought a house and am so thrilled I can have vases and vases of peonies filling my home in May, but learned that black walnuts are deadly to these plants. I've seen differing reports on the distance from the trunk to plant peonies. Is right outside the dripline far enough? I have a spot 40 feet away from the tree and am wondering if that will do the trick? What's your distance, forest_girl?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 11:12AM
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