The deer ate my hellebores

Fleur(z5)February 26, 2004

I couldn't believe it when I went out to check my 2-year old hellebore bed today. It's been free of snow for about a week plus. Plants were fine when I first checked but today there were leaves and chewed off stems all over the place. The new growth may still have a chance though. Hope their lunch kills them.

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I am very sorry to hear that. I have been told that hellebores are deer resistant.
I have some near the street where the deer do wander and hope they stay away.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2004 at 8:30PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Hellebores are considered highly deer resistant, but starving deer (like starving people) will eat anything, even if it's poisonous. I would spray the bed, and cover it with deer netting, well weighted down. But if the deer are starving--and they must be--they will try to remove the netting. Be glad you don't have yews, rhodies and azaleas.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2004 at 7:20AM
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The hellebore probably will recover, laceyvail must be in deer country and is absolutely correct.

I have deer, but the deer are healthy and leave the hellebore alone. In other parts of town they commonly see herds of deer, up to forty in a group wandering this time of year eating everything they can reach. They are known to eat Mountain Laural which is non-edible too. They destroy whole landscapes.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2004 at 7:32AM
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Laceyvail - We've had a lot of snow but the snow is melting off and there's a lot of stuff getting exposed now. Saw 15 "signs" of deer throughout the gardens yesterday. I have rhodies, azaleas and yew too, covered, sprayed and so far, untouched. Thank heavens the peonies aren't up yet.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2004 at 10:53AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Fleur, peonies are among the highly deer resistant plants. And yes, bruceNH, I am in deer country, and am a garden consultant whose specialty is gardening in deer country. It's transformed the way people have to garden.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2004 at 7:16AM
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NewPenny(z8a-7b WA, USA)

Have you tried hanging chunks of Irish Spring soap around the area you want to keep the deer out of? They where mowing my few trillims down untill I tried this. I used a hacksaw to make about 2" square chunks then tied them to bushes with fishing line letting the soap hang down on the fishing line far enough to be close to the plants I wanted to protect. I also left some at about nose lever for the deer. I don't know if it will work for you but it couldn't hurt. If you don't have bushes or tress nearby to hang them from you can use sticks or something I guess. I wouldn't lay them on the ground as I think the rain would melt them faster and the soap might be bad for plants in concentrated doses.

Take care, Penny

    Bookmark   April 3, 2004 at 5:56PM
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gardengirl_3(z3 MN)

I have 12 to 20 deer that visit,also 60 hosta plants. Last year not one of the hostas were lost,my hellebores was new last year and that also was left alone.Waiting to see if it survived our cold winter,I have it in the shade,should it be in more light? My husband has a feeder in our back yard and that is most likely how I have managed to keep them all.I really find alot of useful info on these sites,thanks! Carol

    Bookmark   April 7, 2004 at 9:56AM
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enjayare(z6 NY)

Someone on another forum mentioned buying a cheap laundry basket as a temporary quick 'fence' until the plants get alittle larger.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2004 at 4:27PM
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nightsunshine(z5 NE Indiana)

We also have a deer feeder, so far it's kept them away from my flowers and fruit trees. Corn and hay are cheep compared to replanting. Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2004 at 10:46PM
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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

In 1990I had a national tour garden for the Daylily Society. I had 800+ named cultivars and a few thousand seedlings. Not a bloom was touched. In 2000 I was on a regional tour. Over 20 percent of ny blooms on named varieties and most of my seedlings were lost. Last year, I lost over 95 percent of my blooms. Of over 100 mature asiatic and oriental lilies, I got 3 total blooms, and most of the plants eaten to the ground. They have eaten my yew hedge, they are even eating the multiflora roses in the fields, not the leaves, but the spiny canes themselves. In a wooded park near my home I counted over 100 species of wildflowers in 1993. In a search last year I could find only 17 species. Many of those lost are on the protected list and some are endangered. There are no tree or shrub seedlings less than 5 years old. They have all been eaten. In about 30-50 years as the old trees die, the woodlands will die as well with no new growth to sustain them.

One evening last month I counted a herd of 27 deer in a field across from my home. The carrying capacity of the open woodlands around here (a residential community in SE Pennsylvania) is estimated to be 4-5 deer per square mile, and now we have over 50 times that number in some areas. That's 5000 percent too many. They are starving to death and eat everything in sight. And yet every attempt to allow a hunt to cull them is met with resistance by the Save-our-Bambis crowd.

I no longer attempt to grow real lilies, and am dropping out of daylilies as well. This year they started on the dafodils, and even on scilla. Both of these are toxic to them, but they don't care. They are now eating the Rhodos and hollys. Soon, I will be unable to grow any garden flowers at all, unless I destroy the beauty of the garden by covering everything in deer-proof cages, hardly a beautiful vista. It is discouraging to say the least.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2004 at 11:49AM
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Yes, they eat hellebores, and monkshood and kalmia and hostas and daylilies and iris and...
So far they haven't touched digitalis, convallaria, echinops, eryngium, daffodils, squills, chionodoxa, snowdrops. In spring it seems they will eat just about anything, perhaps because the fawns do not yet know what will give them stomach aches. We have about 100 deer per square mile and they're looking very prosperous on lawns, hay fields, corn fields. It is illegal to feed deer here and more deer and doe licenses are being issued but aren't being taken up. So far my deer fence is keeping Bambi at bay but out in the woods they have eliminated the native blueberries, azaleas, iris, junipers, young maples and other tree seedlings. They haven't eaten spruce so far so spruce is what is taking over from what used to be white pine and maple.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2004 at 1:31AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I do not understand "Bambi lovers" who seem to think that allowing animals to overpopulate, live in constant malnutrition, starve to death at times, and destroy the very environment they are trying to live in is kind and loving. The only means of controlling deer population now that their predators are gone is hunting. Some communities have brought in teams of itinerant bow hunters to control deer populations where gun hunting is not possible. Other communities have tried and have been stopped by PETA or local "Bambi lovers." Destruction of the environment and starvation is cruel and the result of ignorant sentimentality rather than real respect for and love of nature.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2004 at 8:17AM
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ldygardenermd(Z7 MD)

George (et all) you don't have to have an unattractive garden to have one that deer don't eat in. Deer can be low to high pressure and what they eat will depend on how many and how much habitat is left. There are TONS of things that you can do to deter them. There are lots of plants that can be planted that they won't eat, but like what was already mentioned a starving deer will taste most anything and possibly eat it! I live in a medium to heavy pressure area depending on the season. In years prior I have lost most every hosta in my yard, along with other items like Rhodies and small leaf hollies. I have learned a few things to help prevent deer damage.

Stinky plants. Anything with a strong odor will be by passed by deer. The strong odor prevents them from being able to smell the air which is one of the ways they stay alert for danager. There are a lot of commerical "odors" that can be bought and sprayed onto plants. There are also recipes that you can make yourself. Milorganite smells awful it is an organic fertilizer and it is a wonderful deer deterent!!! Predator urines are also good placed around your yard in plastic containers in a manner that would mimic their behavior (i.e. marking a tree here and there around your property) There are sachets with blood meal in them (or you can make your own using muslin sachets) blood meal screams danger to a deer and will help send them out of the yard. There are clips that contain a potent combo of garlic and almost rotten egg. These clips you clip right to the stem of the plant in danger and they do work!

In areas of taste there are systemic tablets that you can plant with your new plants. The plant takes the tablet up into its system and when the deer bite it, well it isn't the same sweet flavor they knew and loved. You can make things using garlic, hot pepper and rotten eggs to spray on your plants. Mix it with wilt proof or something similar for extended life. You can also buy premade sprays as well.

I am by no means a bambi lover but I am realistic and as more and more land is developed and more and more apex predators are killed off there is nothing left to hunt the deer to keep the populations in check. I will not give up gardening because of the deer I will just work with every possible item to run them off my property. If you make it hard enough for them by assulting their sense of smell and taste they WILL go elsewhere for their meals. I mean they are like us, they want to eat where they food and atmosphere are nice! There is a book called Deer Proofing your yard and Garden that has a lot of information. The site I linked sells products that work great.

I have a multi layers of denfense for my garden beds and I have a profusion of flowers and plants growing and looking great. It is the first year in four years that I have hostas!

Here is a link that might be useful: Deer Busters

    Bookmark   April 25, 2004 at 4:22PM
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