hostas and deer

birdgardenerNJ(z6 NJ)May 9, 2004

We have a shady to partial shade area where we want to plant hummingbird-friendly plants -- rhododendrons and columbine, and also coral bells -- but now we want to plant hostas and have heard deer like them. Are there any kinds of hostas that deer will leave alone? They are a big problem in our area.

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giboosi_alttara(z6 CT)

No, the deer will eat them.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2004 at 12:35PM
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All of them.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2004 at 4:52PM
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That should mean the deer will eat all hostas.

Love your website alttara.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2004 at 5:01PM
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birdgardner(NJ/ 6b)

I spray with Deer-off mostly on the underside of the leaves and they have not touched my hostas and the hostas look gorgeous.

Knock on wood.

There actually is one kind they leave pretty much alone - it is a plain green, about nine inches high, very spreading, with pointy leaves, washed-out pale lavender flowers. A very blah and non-descript kind of hosta.

The other birdgardner

    Bookmark   May 11, 2004 at 5:54PM
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they are one of deer's favorite snacks- they like juicy things with bland to sweet flavors.

they've even hopped the fence around my folk's pool to get at them after I moved them in there for safety- but we've got pushy wildlife here, after two generations of my dad trying to tame them...

    Bookmark   May 20, 2004 at 8:51AM
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yjtj(5/6 NY)

i planted a bunch of hostas close to my house this year. i put some irish spring bars throughout the plantings along with dog hair, so far so good. now if i could just stop the rabbits and rodents from eating my shrubs in the winter. i am also going to add mothballs to the mix, better safe than sorry.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2004 at 11:46PM
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giboosi_alttara(z6 CT)

The deer around here laughed maniacally at any spray I tried, and I tried many. They ate off every flush of leaves the hostas put up, until they (the hostas) eventually died, in a lot of cases. I lost over a hundred hostas after moving them here last year, before fencing.

Thanks, Sara!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2004 at 9:30AM
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good luck !!

did you know that you can also eat hostas .. like a sweet spinach taste

ours are still here, but i saw some eaten down the road ,,once word gets out its too late

buffet !!!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2004 at 11:04PM
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yjtj(5/6 NY)

i just have to say the deer did not touch my hostas. not sure if it was the dog hair or the irish spring. could also have been they are so close to the house and near were the dogs go potty. anyway, i did not lose a single hosta.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2004 at 12:59AM
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Hostas - "Yum!" Deer candy. :-) We had a dozen or so different varieties and all were consumed with equal relish.

We've tried just about every deer-proofing idea (Irish Spring, dog hair, cayenne pepper, a 'rotten egg' mixture, half a dozen different sprays, etc.) with little to no success on our wooded lot. Actually, Bobbex spray worked reasonably well but you need a VERY strong stomach to apply - it smells absolutely nasty! I know, I know, that's the idea. :-) It is also difficult to apply because it settles quickly and tends to clog the sprayer. My neighbor has some success with deer fencing, but I don't personally care for the look.

My solution? FERNS!!! Over the past 10 years I've re-homed almost all the hostas to friends w/o a deer problem, and we've replaced them with ferns. Every year I get a few more. They come in a wonderful variety of colors, shapes, textures, and sizes, and they seem to thrive in the same growing conditions that made the hostas so happy - plenty of water, partly-to-mostly shady, and lots of organic material. The young deer occasionally sample a frond, but for the most part the deer around here have plenty of other dining selections and don't seem to bother the ferns much.
Well, they don't EAT them, I should say. They do enjoy a nap in the nice cool fern beds on hot summer afternoons, and have flattened them a few times. LOL!

I love hostas and wish I were able to grow them in mass quantities still, but for my sanity I've decided to go with the flow and stop fighting with the deer. I keep just a few hostas now, in highly visible locations so I don't forget to treat with the spray on a regular basis.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 1:57PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

other hummingbird friendly plants - cardinal flower and royal catchfly. cardinal flower is a shade loving plant and royal catchfly needs some sun but will do okay in part shade...both are hummingbird favorites -
hostas are deer favorites - once you plant them and attract the deer - they will eat other things that might not normally eat after the hostas have been munched to little sticks...

    Bookmark   September 20, 2004 at 5:50PM
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birdgardenerNJ(z6 NJ)

Thanks so much to all of you who have posted replies and suggestions! We are holding off on the hosta idea, since the consensus seems to be they are "deer candy". But the other plants are doing great, including coral bells, monarda, and "Lady in Red" Salvia. We had some hummingbirds this summer, though mainly at the feeder. Maybe next year they will notice their private garden...

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 3:28AM
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Spigelia is a hummingbird, native plant for shade, but I don't know what deer think of it. Also, hummingbirds are reputed to use the soft fibers of cinnamon ferns to make their nest. The ferns should do well in a moist, shady spot.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 4:49PM
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Shag(z4 MT)

Wherever I've planted hostas mixed in with other perennials, the deer have left them alone. Maybe they don't like to get their noses down in amongst the "smelly" perennials in order to get a bite of hosta. They do eat the hostas that are more off-by themselves, or in a large hosta planting. We have a huge deer problem here, too.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2004 at 10:51AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Pulmonaria make a good hosta substitute, though there are not nearly as many different varieties. They do, however, offer the same large leaf look, and deer have no interest in them. Other highly deer resistant plants for shade include lamiums, lamiastrums, aroids, polemoniums, Hakonechloa,Chasmanthium,and Calamagrostis brachytricha (the last three are grasses that do well in shade), and epimediums (of which there are many types), carexes and liriopes. This is not, by any means, a complete list.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2004 at 7:09AM
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Posie(z3 MN)

Deer do love the Hostas. The only sucess I've had is : early in the spring before they come up lay woven wire over and around the bed where they are growing. Make sure the deer have to walk on or try to walk on the wire..they don't like this at all. I also use some shorter pieces of woven wire to place around the plants. I started doing this before the deer found the Hostas but because we had a dog that peeled all the bark off our trees when she was chasing squirrels. Kept her out and kept the deer out.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2004 at 9:55PM
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Our deer eat not only hostas, but even cedar, yucca, tiarella, itea, and now daffodils! Even close to the house. Even with dogs around. Even with spraying. The truth is that once they find a dining spot, they will come to it and find whatever they can to eat.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2005 at 8:20AM
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This site may be helpful, but I have found that even the "Seldom" category is highly at risk for me. If I stick to the "Rarely", garden thrives.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rutgers Deer Resistance Site

    Bookmark   January 9, 2005 at 8:24AM
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woodside(6 IN)

Deer have never eaten my hostas. they are in the yard at the woodland edge, in the front of our home at the foundation and around some trees in the front. I have never had a problem, not sure why- maybe the woodland area has more interesting food plants. I saw one this morning sampling the elderberry, the annabelle hydrangeas, my rose canes (NO!) and my platycodons. Must be lucky I guess (knock on wood) from everything I read they love hostas.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 10:58AM
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Back before we got our deer fence to work, I could not grow hostas because of the deer and used Rhodea japonica as a substitute.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 1:44PM
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I have found one thing that works well. place a dead deer around the hostas. the other deer will think eating the hostas killed it. thinking it is posionous they will leave it alone...... would anyone have any suggestions for keeping vultures away?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:54PM
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